Deer season is open in Georgia from around mid-September to early January each year. The specific dates depend on the year, the county in Georgia where you plan to hunt, and the season type (Archery, Firearms, etc.). The type of deer (doe or buck) and the limit depends on the county and season.
Always look at the current requirements for licenses, supplemental licenses, and other regulations for hunting in Georgia by visiting the Georgia Department of Natural Resources website.
Hunting Licenses in Georgia
Everyone that wishes to hunt deer in the state of Georgia must obtain a hunting license. You can purchase these online, by telephone, or at retail outlets in the state. People that live out of state and want to travel to Georgia to hunt must purchase a Georgia Non-Resident Hunting License. You cannot use a license from another state.
In addition to the base hunting licenses, deer hunters must purchase a big game supplemental license. A harvest record license is also needed; this is currently free.
Other combination licenses may also be valid in place of the base hunting license, such as the combo hunting and fishing license or the Sportsman’s license. Before purchasing a license, check the regulations, as there may be other discounted licenses or requirements for juveniles or senior citizens, for example.
If you were born after January 1, 1961, you must have successfully completed a hunter education course before you can obtain a hunting license. All courses that are certified by any other state wildlife agency are acceptable.
Youths under 16 are not required to take this course. However, they must be directly supervised by a licensed adult. Youths aged 12-16 may hunt unsupervised after successfully completing the Hunter Education course. Residents can take an online or in-person class and sign up at GoHuntGeorgia.com.
Types of Deer Season
In Georgia, there are three seasons: Archery, Primitive Weapons, and Firearms. Archery season usually starts the second Saturday in September and ends in early January. Archery season opens the longest, with the other seasons opening later.
Primitive weapons season opens next, usually the third Saturday in October, and lasts for one week. The following Saturday, Firearms season opens, and during this season, hunters can hunt with any legal hunting device they choose.
There are also quota hunts held in various areas on certain weekends. These can be open to all hunters or youths under 16 years.
These are limited to a certain number of hunters, and you must apply early in the year to be considered in the drawing for these hunts. Quota hunts can offer the best experience since they are usually in ideal areas where hunting is limited.
Season bag limits for 2022 are ten antlerless deer and two antlered deer. One of the antlered deer must have at least four points. A point is any protrusion that is at least one inch or longer. The antlers must have a minimum outside spread of 15 inches.
Antlerless deer are defined as those having no visible antlers above the hairline. During “Buck-only” hunts or seasons, the deer must have antlers visible above the hairline.
Season Type Regulations
The type of hunting device you can use depends on the open season. Also, ensure you understand what season is open in the county you are hunting in, as it can vary across the state.
During this season, you may use compound bows, longbows, or similar devices that use an arrow as the projectile. You may not use firearms during this season. Arrows must be tipped with broadheads. However, the draw weight, arrow length, and sights are not restricted.
Primitive Weapons Season
Primitive Weapons include archery equipment, air bows, air rifles, and muzzleloaders. Muzzleloaders are exactly what they sound like – firearms that you load through the end of the barrel. You may not use weapons that are loaded from the back of the barrel.
These firearms may be used as long as they are .30 caliber or more. Muzzleloading shotguns must be at least 20 gauge or larger and use buckshot or slugs. Air rifles must be at least .30 caliber or more significant. You can not use any other firearm during this period.
Modern rifles and handguns may be used during this season. They must use centerfire ammunition with expanding bullets (no full metal jacket bullets) and be .22 caliber or larger. Shotguns that are 20 gauge or larger are loaded with slugs or buckshot.
Firearms may not be used 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise. All devices that are legal during Archery and Primitive weapons season are also allowed.
Quota hunts allow a predetermined number of hunters to participate in a special hunt at a particular location on a specific day or days. These hunts are used to conserve the population of deer in that area. Each year’s available hunts may change.
Hunters must usually apply for the hunt they want to participate in by September 1st. The hunting devices that can be used and the type of deer that can be harvested vary by the specific hunt.
Listed below are some of the primary key regulations to keep in mind. While there are many more regulations than these, the ones highlighted below represent the most common infractions. Don’t make these common mistakes.
Hunting from a vehicle under power or across a public roadway is prohibited. Vehicles include a car, trucks, aircraft, and boats.
Hunters must wear an outer garment with at least 500 square inches of fluorescent orange visible above the waist. Most hunters wear a hat and a vest to fulfill these requirements. If you are hunting during a season when firearms are allowed, you must wear orange, regardless of your device.
Hunting without a landowner’s permission is not allowed. This includes power lines and railroad rights-of-way.
Using dogs to hunt deer is not allowed unless you have a special permit. This permit has certain restrictions, including location and area size. This permit is available by application only for select counties on specific dates. If you harvest a deer pursued by dogs, it may be a violation even if they are not your dogs.
Using bait to attract deer is not allowed. This could include grain, corn, wheat, salts, apples, or other feed deer may eat. It is allowed to leave food out for deer, but the area must be removed from all bait for ten days before you are allowed to hunt near it.
CWD in Georgia
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a disease that affects deer and elk and has been detected in bordering states to Georgia. The main symptoms in deer are weight loss over time and gradual difficulty in movement. An infected deer can appear to be unaware of its surroundings and nervous.
Chronic Wasting Disease has not been detected in Georgia to date. There are no specific requirements around CWD and hunting deer in Georgia. However, there are some guidelines to prevent the spread of CWD in Georgia.
To prevent the possible transmission and carrying of the disease into the state, if you harvest an elk, moose, caribou, or any species of deer outside of Georgia, there are some restrictions. Only bring back the processed de-boned meat, hides with no head attached, antlers, skulls, skull plates, and teeth with no soft tissue attached. Finished taxidermy products are also allowed.
Once you harvest a deer in Georgia, field-dress it on the property where it was killed. Do not dispose of unused carcass parts in another location after the deer has been processed. Either return the scraps to the property or dispose of them in a landfill, just as you treat household waste. Never dispose of a carcass or parts in a body of water. If CWD is present, it may survive in the water and infect other animals downstream.
CWD does not affect humans, and since it has not been detected in Georgia, there are no specific guidelines from the CDC on testing deer before consuming them.
If you are concerned and want to have your deer tested anyway, you can contact your local game management office in Georgia to have your deer tested. An appointment is required. The current cost is $40, and you need to submit the head of the deer for testing.
Tagging and Transporting
Once you harvest a deer, it should be field dressed where it was killed. The deer then should be checked in. This can be done on the Go Outdoors GA App on a smartphone, online at GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661 before you move the deer from the area where it was harvested. If you do not have cell phone service, you can still report it through the App.
If you do not have a smartphone, record the harvest date and county on your paper harvest record license before moving the deer. Within 24 hours, check in your deer either online or by calling, as mentioned previously. In either case, take note of the confirmation number and record it on your paper harvest record.
If you plan to transfer your deer to someone else for transporting or processing, you should tag the deer with your name, date, county of harvest, and sex of the deer. The check-in confirmation number must also be indicated on the tag, as it is proof that you have correctly reported the harvest of your deer.
Common Fines for Infractions
Georgia is a member of the Wildlife Violator Compact (WVC). This allows out-of-state residents hunting in Georgia that are residents of WVC member states to be treated the same as residents when they violate any regulation. Any convictions in Georgia could affect the hunting privileges in all other member states.
Fines and court costs can be significant. For example, hunting deer outside of legal hours can result in a fine of not less than $500 and jail time of up to 12 months. Be sure to review and understand all the regulations before taking to the field.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tom Reichner/Shutterstock.com
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- Georgia Wildlife (1970) georgiawildlife.com/hunting/hunter-resources