deer

Although Monroe County deer hunters have been able to enjoy some form of deer hunting since September, in the minds of most local hunters, the deer season does not really begin until the opening day of the Modern Firearms Deer Hunting Season. This year that important date is Saturday, Oct. 16.

In Monroe County the season runs from Oct. 16 - Jan. 9 and is divided into two distinct segments. From opening day through Oct. 29 hunters will be permitted to harvest only antlered bucks. Then, from Oct. 30 through the last day of the season (Jan. 9, 2022), sportsmen and women will be allowed to bag deer of either sex.

Before you strike out on your first hunt, make sure you possess current hunting and big game licenses and a Harvest Record and are familiar with the deer hunting regulations. Here is a handful of some of these regulations.

The season bag limit has once again been set at 10 antlerless and two antlered deer. However, hunters can only shoot two antlered bucks. Due to a major change in the regulations this year, one of the two antlered bucks must have a minimum of four points, one-inch or longer, on either antler or a minimum of 15-inch outside spread to be legal.

The definition of an antlerless deer remains the same.  According to the WRD, “Antlerless deer are those having no visible antlers above the hairline (including “button bucks”).

Do not forget that it is illegal to remove the heads of all deer you bag until you have processed them or checked them in at a facility for storage or processing.

Also it is important to remember that each deer you bag must be reported through the Georgia Game Check Program within 24 hours.

If a hunting companion asks you to transport his or her deer, make sure you have, in writing, their complete name, address, telephone and hunting license number and Game Check confirmation number.

For your safety during the deer season the WRD requires all hunters and those accompanying them to wear as an outer garment at least 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist (including a head covering) while hunting.

Unless you were selected for one of the quota modern firearm deer hunts being held on the Rum Creek Wildlife Management Area, no public lands are available to local deer hunters.  Fortunately, there are scores of federal and state-owned lands scattered across the state that provide deer hunting opportunities. Below you will find a list of four of the areas that are located close to Monroe County.

Oconee National Forest (outside a state WMA) - This national forest is comprised of multiple forested tracts scattered across several counties. The closest parcel is located along Georgia Highway 83 just past the Ocmulgee River in Jasper County. The Oconee National Forest offers firearms deer hunting on the following dates:  Buck Only - Oct. 16-29, Nov. 1-26, Nov. 29-Dec 5, Dec. 26-31, Jan. 3-9; Either Sex - Oct. 30-31, Nov. 27-28, and Jan. 1-2.

Big Lazer Creek WMA - This 7,200-acre WMA is located south of Thomaston. Two Quality Buck and Antlerless Hunts will be held here Oct. 14-16, and Nov. 11-13, respectively. In addition, a specialty hunt will take place Nov 19-21.  Only those hunters that are 16 years and younger, women, disability license holders, returning Georgia veterans, honorary license holders, and hunters over age 65 can take part in this hunt. A quality buck is defined as a buck with either a 15-inch outside spread or at least 4 points (1-inch or longer), on either antler.

Sprewell Bluff - West WMA (5,200 acres) is situated close to the Big Lazer Creek WMA on the west side of the Flint River. Three Quality Buck/Antlerless Hunts will be held here this season. The dates of these hunts are Nov. 6-7, Nov, 27-28, and Dec. 25-26. In addition, four Quality Buck Only Hunts are scheduled here. The dates of these hunters are: Oct. 16-Nov. 5, Nov. 8-26, Nov. 29-Dec. 24, and Dec. 27-Jan. 9.

The Cedar Creek WMA (40,000 acres) is one of the oldest WMAs in the state. Two Buck Only (Nov. 14-16 and Nov. 29-Dec 12) will take place here. In addition, two Buck Only/Either Sex Last Day Hunts are slated for Nov. 11-13 and Nov. 23-28, respectively.

Since the rules and regulations often vary from area, it is always best to become familiar with those that apply for the areas you are going to hunt.  Questions regarding WMAs should be directed to Wildlife Resources Division 706-557-3213. Maps and information regarding the Oconee National Forest can be obtained by calling 706-485-1776.

Another great source of information regarding hunting on all federal and state lands as well the rules and regulations for hunting both big and small game is the 2021-22 edition of the Georgia Hunting Regulations Guide. This informative publication can be picked up at your local license vendor.

 

Terry Johnson is retired Program Manager of the Georgia Nongame-Endangered Wildlife Program. He has written the informative column ‘Monroe Outdoors’ for the Reporter for many years. His book, “A Journey to Discovery,” is available at The Reporter. Email him at tjwoodduck@bellsouth.net.