The opening day of deer firearms season is highly anticipated by Georgia hunters. That wait is almost over, because the statewide deer firearms season opens Sat., Oct. 22 and continues through Jan. 8, 2023.
“We are shaping up for an excellent deer season. Last season, the buck harvest dipped a little, so hopefully we will have more mature bucks this year,” said Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist for the Wildlife Resources Division. “A reminder for those that hunt out of state to be aware of a new law this year that will help prevent the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease to Georgia.”
The new law states that all hunters who plan to hunt any species of deer in other states, including border states, may only bring home boned out meat, hides, skulls or skull caps with antlers attached and all soft tissue removed (velvet antlers are okay), jawbones with no soft tissues, elk ivories, and finished taxidermy mounts. All other carcass parts must be left behind.
During the 2021-22 firearms deer season, about 210,000 hunters harvested over 214,000 deer in the state. Regulated deer hunting ensures that Georgia’s deer population continues to be healthy and strong and is an excellent way to fill your freezer with a sustainable, healthy local meat.
Over one million acres of public hunting land is available to hunters in Georgia, including more than 100 state-operated wildlife management areas. Many areas offer special hunts throughout the season, including primitive weapons and modern firearms hunts. Hunt dates and locations can be found in the 2022-2023 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide at eregulations.com/georgia/hunting/.
State law allows hunters to harvest up to 10 antlerless deer, and no more than two antlered deer (with one of the two antlered deer having a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers) or a minimum 15-inch outside antler spread.
To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record. Licenses can be purchased online at GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at a license agent (list of agents available online).
All deer hunters must report their harvest using Georgia Game Check within 24 hours of harvest. Deer can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (which works regardless of cell service), at GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661.
For more on deer hunting, including finding a game processor, reviewing regulations, viewing maps (either sex day or the rut map), visit GeorgiaWildlife.com/deer-info.
Remember “ACTT”: Four Simple Firearms Safety Rules from Ga DNR
Hunting repeatedly shows itself as a safe sport.
Out of the hundreds of thousands of participating Georgia hunters, statistics show that only a small percentage are ever involved in any type of firearms incident, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD). For example, with well over half a million participating hunters during the last deer season, Georgia reported only 12 firearms hunting incidents.
One of the ways hunters stay safe is by reviewing and adhering to safety precautions, like the ‘Four Primary Rules of Firearms Safety.’ This safety checklist, comprised of only four items, is covered in all hunter education courses and can be easily remembered with the acronym ACTT:
1. A – Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
2. C – Control the muzzle of the firearm at all times.
3. T – Be certain of the Target and what is in front of it and beyond it.
4. T – Keep your finger outside of the Trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.
For more information on firearms safety, visit GeorgiaWildlife.com/hunting/huntereducation or contact the Wildlife Resources Division Hunter Education office at 706-557-3355.