Georgia is blessed with a healthy white-tailed deer population that provides diverse recreational opportunities and generates significant economic vitality. However, white-tailed deer can present a variety of management challenges as we strive to maintain a sustainable deer population within appropriate biological, ecological, and sociological limits.
While there is no statewide season and bag limit structure that will meet the desires of everyone, Georgia’s current regulations are designed to provide a framework for deer managers to use when establishing site-specific management strategies. Extreme variations in deer densities can exist within an area; therefore, responsible deer management by landowners and hunting clubs is essential – especially proper doe harvest rates. It is hunters’ responsibility to establish management objectives on the property they hunt.
When determining those objectives it is critical to consider property size, habitat conditions, and management of adjacent properties. Establishing doe harvest per land area can be an effective tool. General guidelines for appropriate doe harvest rates across Georgia are: one doe per 75 acres to decrease density; one doe per 150 acres to stabilize density; or one doe per 200 acres to increase density.
Keep in mind that these guidelines may not be applicable in all areas and are no substitute for objective population monitoring, which is critical to a successful deer management program.
Georgia hunters can get technical assistance for creating a management program from Wildlife Resources Division’s professional biologists or a private biologist. However, biological recommendations are only as good as the information provided. Objective biological data result in better recommendations.
Effective deer management requires more work than simply killing deer. At a minimum, biological data should be kept on each deer harvested (e.g., sex, age, weight, antler measurements). In many instances, a harvest strategy that is more restrictive than the statewide framework may be needed. Either-sex days and bag limits are effective at protecting statewide and regional populations from over-harvest, but they cannot provide the same protection for every single property. This is why site-specific, property-level deer management is vital to successful deer management.
Ultimately, the solution rests in the hands of Georgia’s deer hunters and their willingness to practice voluntary restraint and responsible deer management.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.