Beginning in 2013, the number of firearms either-sex days is reduced in most counties. For those counties, Dec. 1-25 will be buck-only. The reduction in either-sex days will be re-evaluated during the regulation development process for 2015-2017.
Why Reduce Either-Sex Days? Fawn recruitment rates — the number of fawns that survive into fall — have declined in all five of Georgia’s physiographic regions and about 26 percent statewide. Also, doe harvest rates have increased 13 percent over several years, while the percentage of does in the harvest has remained near 65 percent. Echoing these trends, comments during recent public meetings indicated strong support for reducing the doe harvest.
Combined, these factors warranted regulatory changes to reduce the doe harvest. While no regulation will satisfy everyone, the Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) developed a regulation that strikes a balance between addressing biological concerns with the deer population and the desires of deer hunters.
Why Restrict Either-Sex Days in December? WRD evaluated the long-term harvest data used to inform regulation development. The last significant expansion of either-sex days occurred from 2000-2002 and was 23-27 days. Those changes essentially converted the historical “December break” from “buck-only” to “either-sex” days. Before, does accounted for 50-52 percent of the total deer harvest. Since, does have accounted for nearly 65 percent of the harvest, and remained near that level.
Regulation changes this season represent a similar management step to achieve population stabilization and allow moderate growth in some areas.
Why Not Reduce the Bag Limit? Harvest data indicate that most deer hunters (93 percent) kill two or fewer does. Thus, any change in bag limit would have to be drastic (e.g., from 10 to two) to affect a population-level change in the deer herd. This would reduce the doe harvest far beyond what is needed to stabilize the population. This would also unduly restrict management flexibility on some properties and areas where a higher doe harvest may be needed to meet desired management objectives.
What about Coyotes? While coyotes do kill deer, hunters are the No. 1 source of deer mortality and the only source that hunting regulations can affect. WRD cannot develop regulations that will affect the number of deer taken by coyotes!
However, options for hunters managing coyotes are quite liberal. On private lands, coyotes can be taken 24 hours a day year-round. Electronic calls can be used and there are no light or firearms restrictions. Coyotes can also be trapped year-round. In a nutshell, there are few, if any, restrictions on taking coyotes.
Why Not Add a Coyote Bounty? Coyote bounties attempted in numerous areas of the western U.S. over the last century have not succeeded in significantly reducing coyote populations. Harvest data obtained from Georgia deer hunters indicates they annually take an estimated total of 95,000 coyotes while deer hunting. Adding a bounty of $5 per coyote would cost about $475,000 a year. This would be a significant expenditure to justify and, unless more funds were appropriated, likely would not increase the number of coyotes killed.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.