Fall heralds the arrival of hunting season, mainly dove and deer season. As people head for the woods and fields, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources suggests observing tips to keep the sport safe, and reminds hunters to be aware of laws governing hunting.
Archery season began Sept. 12, and runs through Oct. 9, although hunters may hunt deer with archery equipment through the entire 2015-2016 deer season, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
This season allows hunters to get a jump on harvesting deer before the full deer season begins.
“Early archery season is an excellent time to pattern deer before home ranges shift towards fall food sources,” said Charlie Killmaster, Georgia’s state deer biologist. “Mature bucks often haven’t adjusted to hunting pressure yet and may be more active during daylight.”
Deer hunting not only fills freezers with venison and allows avid sportsmen to pursue trophy bucks, it also helps control the booming deer population.
Last year, 128,545 archery hunters harvested more than 64,695 deer, according to DNR reports.
Ty Cobbler, owner of TC Outdoors in Statesboro, said Tuesday he is seeing a marked increase in business since the archery season opened. Hunting is highly popular in the area, and people are stocking up on ammunition as well as supplies such as new guns, scopes, and game cameras.
He expects the rush to continue as firearms season running Oct. 17-Jan. 10,, approaches. It will be preceded by primitive weapons season opening Oct. 10-16, according to DNR reports on Internet website www.gohuntgeorgia.com.
Cobbler said interest in hunting has always been strong in South Georgia, including the Bulloch County area, but “business has been exceptional” recently. He also noted a marked increase in female hunters over the past three years.
“If you want to be with your boyfriend, you’d better learn to hunt,” he said.
Georgia DNR spokesperson Melissa Cummings urges hunters to follow safety and legal requirements, reminding hunters of a “season bag limit of 10 antlerless deer and two antlered deer.” One of the two antlered deer must have a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers. And during firearms season, deer of either sex may be taken with archery equipment at any time on private land, she said.
“To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, big game license and a current deer harvest record, which is free,” she said in a recent release. “If hunting on a WMA, a WMA license is required.”
DNR rangers also urge hunters to be careful when using tree stands to hunt deer.
“Statistics each year reveal that almost half of all hunting incidents are due to falls or other safety issues with tree stands,” Cummings stated in a release.
Not every tree stand is the same. Hunters should be familiar with their particular model’s features.
Stands should be securely attached, and hunters should always wear a full-body safety harness. They should keep a cell phone within reach in case of accidents and always use a haul line to pull up their guns, unloaded, as well as other gear, she said. Hunters should also not be under the influence of any medications or alcohol that could make them drowsy.
It’s not just deer season that is upon us. Dove season opened Sept. 5, ended Sept. 20, but will re-open Oct. 10-Nov. 1, according to DNR records. Then, the season will re-open Nov. 26-Jan. 15.
Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset and hunters may harvest 15 per day, with 45 total in possession.
Other upcoming seasons include opossum, raccoon and grouse seasons (Oct. 15-Feb. 29);marsh hens season (Sept. 25 –Nov. 15, Nov. 21 –Dec. 8); and falconry (hunting with falcons for squirrel, rabbit, quail and grouse) Oct. 1-March 15.
Licenses can be purchased online at www.gohuntgeorgia.com/licenses-permits-passes, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at a license agent. A list of agents is available online via the website.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.