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Georgia’s Primitive Weapons Deer Season Opens Oct 15, Safety Info from DNR

Nikki MacPherson with her Muzzleloader Buck from Washington County / Ga DNR

Will you take advantage of the upcoming week-long primitive weapons deer hunting season opening Saturday, Oct. 15?

You won’t be the only one! Last year, over 5,000 deer were harvested by nearly 25,000 hunters, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

“Primitive weapons season is a great way to get a jump on deer season,” said Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist with the WRD Game Management Section. “Only a fraction of Georgia deer hunters takes advantage of this season, but it provides you with an early ‘shot’ at a successful harvest before the pressure of the firearms season begins.”

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 hunts. Hunt dates and locations available in the 2022-2023 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide (eregulations.com/georgia/hunting/).

Introducing a young person to hunting this year? Check out this opportunity! A hunter under 16 years of age may hunt deer with any legal deer firearm during Primitive Weapons Season, including during any wildlife management area primitive weapons hunts.

Quick Basics

During the primitive weapons season, hunters may use archery equipment, air bows, muzzleloading shotguns (20 gauge and larger) and air rifles and muzzleloading firearms that are .30 caliber or larger.

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.

All deer hunters, including archers, are required to wear a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist during primitive weapons season. Scopes and other optical sighting devices are legal for muzzleloading firearms and archery equipment.

To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record (free). 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.


Hunt Safely During Primitive Weapons Season

Before you go, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division encourages you to review important safety information.

Primitive weapons, such as muzzleloaders, have specific safety use rules beyond general firearms safety, and these should be reviewed each year before heading to the woods. Following are recommendations to ensure a safe experience:

  • Never smoke in the proximity of a muzzleloader.
  • Use an intermediate device, such as a measure, to pour powder into a barrel.
  • Keep flask and powder containers away from flames and sparks to prevent an accidental explosion.
  • Use only powders specific to each muzzleloader and recommended by that firearms manufacturer.
  • Place percussion cap on nipple only when ready to shoot.
  • The gun is safely unloaded only after removing the bullet, powder and percussion cap. If using a flintlock muzzleloader, remove the bullet and powder, and un-prime the flash pan.
  • Use the recommended loading materials, the correct powder charge, the right diameter and weight bullet and the correct lead material.
  • Treat a misfire as though the gun could fire at any moment.
  • Make sure the projectile is firmly seated on the powder before capping and firing.
  • Never blow down the barrel of a muzzleloader to clear or extinguish sparks.
  • Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Read the owner’s manual and be familiar with its operation before using a muzzle-loading firearm.
  • Handle every gun as if it was loaded.
  • Make sure the gun is unloaded before attempting to clean it.
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs while handling a firearm.

All deer hunters, including archers, are required to wear a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist during primitive weapons season. Scopes and other optical sighting devices are legal for muzzleloading firearms and archery equipment.

For more information on hunting safety, visit GeorgiaWildlife.com/hunting/huntereducation.

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