Hunters Asked to Comment on Proposed Regulation Changes

Hunters Asked to Comment on Proposed Regulation Changes

No either-sex deer hunting at all for much of the Chattahoochee National Forest; four counties added to special extended “urban archery” season.

Hunters saw a few surprises when the proposed hunting regulations for the 2019-2020 and the 2020-2021 seasons were first unveiled on March 28.

There were numerous changes proposed, including additions and reductions to firearms either-sex deer hunting days in north Georgia, a shift of the one-day central Georgia bear hunt from January to December, and extended archery season for four new ‘urban’ counties.

There are also numerous proposed changes to individual WMAs, including new quotas for quail and dove hunts, new dogging-bear hunts in the mountains that would cut into bowhunting opportunities, and a new waterfowl quota hunt at a MARSH project.

Below are some of the more significant hunting regulation changes being proposed by DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division. Input must be received by close of business (4:30 p.m.) this Friday, April 26, 2019. Statements may be emailed to

WMA Bear Hunts Using Dogs
Chattahoochee and Chestatee WMAs in the north Georgia mountains would see nine-day quota bear hunts for hunters using bear dogs. Some bowhunters aren’t thrilled with the timing of these hunts—Sept. 28 – Oct. 6. General bowhunting wouldn’t be allowed during the quota bear-dogging hunts.

This proposed regulation change would establish a simultaneous nine-day quota bear hunt with dogs on Chattahoochee WMA (quota of nine) and Chestatee WMA (quota for six). WRD Justification: “This change will have minimal impact on the north Georgia bear population, expands bear hunting opportunity and is responsive to public desires. Proposed regulations facilitate management of this opportunity while minimizing potential conflicts.”

Add Four Counties To Extended Urban Archery Season
Currently, there are seven counties in the metro Atlanta area that have an extended archery deer hunting season that goes until Jan. 31. A proposed change adds Bibb County (Macon), Chatham County (Savannah), Clarke County (Athens) and Henry County (Stockbridge and McDonough) to the urban archery group and would allow either-sex archery-only deer hunting until Jan. 31. WRD Justification: “These four counties meet the threshold for consideration of extended urban archery season as outlined in Georgia Deer Management Plan.“ 

No Either-Sex Deer Hunting On Any Chattahoochee National Forest Land East Of I-75
The biologists with the national forest service are proposing restricting deer hunting even more on federal land in the north Georgia mountains by cutting out doe harvest completely on all Chattahoochee National Forest land east of I-75. It would be buck-only deer hunting during archery season, primitive-weapons season and every day of firearms season for the next two years.

During past seasons, bowhunters and primitive-weapons hunters could kill a doe, and there were two either-sex firearms dates the last two seasons. The proposal is the elimination of doe harvest completely from national forest land east of I-75 for the next two seasons.

Also, firearms deer season on the Chattahoochee National Forest would close on Dec. 26, which is 17 days before the general statewide deer season closes.

On Chattahoochee National Forest west of I-75, either-sex archery deer hunting would be allowed during state archery and primitive-weapons seasons and during county either-sex days during firearms season. Gun season would close on Dec. 26.

Reduce Either-Sex Firearms Deer Hunting In Mountain Counties
The days during gun season when both antlered bucks and antlerless deer are legal, known as either-sex days, would be reduced in 12 mountain counties under this proposed regulation change. Dawson, Gilmer, Habersham, Lumpkin, Murray, Pickens, Stephens, White and Whitfield counties would see a reduction to eight either-sex days from the current regulation of 12 either-sex days. Fannin, Rabun, Towns and Union counties would see a reduction from five either-sex days to just three days. WRD Justification: “Buck harvest rates have declined 32 percent on public land within these counties, despite some reduction in either-sex days. The 2018 data collected on public and private land indicate that fawn survival is very low at 23 percent. Due to the significant interspersion of public and private lands in this region of the state, reductions in female harvest are required to stabilize harvest and facilitate population increase.”

Huge Increase For Either-Sex Days In Three Northeast Georgia Counties
Currently, Banks, Franklin and Hart counties have 12 either-sex deer hunting days. WRD is proposing these three counties get an increase to 72 days to include most of firearms deer season.  WRD Justification: “Buck harvest rates in these three counties have averaged 2.6 bucks per square mile over the last three years, exceeding the average Piedmont harvest rate by 24 percent. This indicates that population characteristics are more consistent with Piedmont counties.”

Hog-Doggin’ On WMAs
During the May 16-31, 2020 feral hog season on some WMAs, hunters would be allowed to use hog dogs. “Dogs must be marked with the hunter’s name and a valid telephone number; no night hunting; hogs must be killed immediately upon capture,” the proposed regs say.

WMAs that would allow dogs for hog hunting May 16-31, 2020: Alligator Creek, Altamaha, Beaverdam, Big Hammock, Blue Ridge, Chattahoochee, Chestatee,  Chickasawhatchee, Clayhole Swamp, Cohutta, Coopers Creek, Dawson Forest, Dixon Memorial, Elmodel, Fishing Creek, Flat Tub, Flint River, Griffin Ridge, Hannahatchee, Lake Russell, Lanahassee Creek VPA, Lower Broad River, Paulks Pasture, Penholoway Swamp, River Bend, Sandhills-West, Sansavilla, Sprewell Bluff-West, Swallow Creek, Townsend-Buck Island Tract, Tuckahoe and Warwoman.

Shift Central Georgia Bear Hunt To December
This proposed regulation change would move the one-day bear hunt in Bibb, Houston and Twiggs counties from the second Saturday in January to the third Saturday in December (Dec. 21, 2019 and Dec. 19, 2020). WRD Justification: “The shift to January resulted in no bears harvested this past year, and just two in 2017. Recent research found that a conservative harvest of females is appropriate. Most females have entered dens by the third week of December, so harvest should focus on males, consistent with WRD’s black bear management plan.” Note: This story originally had incorrect dates, listing the proposed hunt dates as Dec. 28, 2019, and Dec. 26, 2020. The correct proposed dates are Dec. 21, 2019, and Dec. 19, 2020.

B.F. Grant WMA Waterfowl Hunts
Waterfowl hunts on Georgia WMAs are easily the most sought-after and hard-to-get draws in Georgia’s WMA quota hunt system, some requiring five or more priority points (a year of a hunter getting a rejection and no hunting opportunity) to have a chance. WRD is proposing the addition of two waterfowl quota hunts per season for the MARSH Project Area at B.F. Grant WMA. The dates of the hunts would be spread out — Dec. 28, 2019 and Jan. 25, 2020 are the proposed dates for next season. WRD Justification: “The MARSH project is currently under renovation for improvements and stop leakage. Allowing limited hunting opportunity on the MARSH project area should not impact overall benefits to wintering waterfowl.”

Clybel WMA Quail Hunting Restricted To Quota Hunts
Clybel WMA currently has 40 days of general quail hunting during small game season with a limit of six quail per hunter or 12 quail per hunting group. This would eliminate general hunting with three quota hunt days for three hunting groups selected for each hunt. The proposed quota quail hunting days for next season would be Dec. 7 and Dec. 21, 2019 and Jan. 18, 2020. WRD Justification: “This area is actively managed for early successional habitat and small game. To create/enhance/maintain a quality quail populations, hunt pressure must be managed. Currently quotas appear to be the best method from our experience.”

Opening Day Quota Dove Hunt At Riverbend WMA
The opening day dove hunt at Riverbend WMA could go from an open hunt to a quota hunt with a limit of 30 hunters. WRD Justification: “The participation in the hunt has increased; we now have 50-65 hunters on a 26-acre dove field complex. This causes overcrowding with diminished hunt quality and heightened safety concerns.”

Dogging Deer Hunt Added To Sansavilla WMA
WRD is proposing the addition of a quota dogging-deer opportunity on Sansavilla WMA within a designated hunting area on the WMA. There will be one two-day hunt for one hunting group that will be selected by a quota. The deer hunts will be either-sex and only shotguns with buckshot will be allowed. The 2019 hunt would be Dec 30-31. WRD Justification: “This hunt expands opportunity to hunt deer with dogs. Hunt will occur in designated area only with the expectation of little to no impact to adjacent landowners.”

There are quite a few other WMA changes proposed and also some general “house-cleaning” changes proposed for statewide regulations.

Hunters were encouraged to comment on proposed changes before an April 26 deadline. Please make sure you are signed up for GON’s email newsletter so you can receive notice. Email or call 800.438.4663 to sign up for the email newsletter.

The proposed regs were released on March 28, after the April issue of GON was printed, giving sportsmen very little time to read through the massive document and offer comment on proposed changes.

To view the entire document with proposed regulation changes, visit There are many minor changes to individual WMAs, too many to list all of them here. UPDATE: The above link to the entire document is no longer active on the WRD website.

Article written by Georgia Outdoor News Staff

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