he Monroe County Archery Deer Hunting season opens Saturday, Sept. 11. The fact that the season does not close until Jan. 9, 2022, makes it the longest deer hunting season in the state.
Some might find it odd that at one time the only weapons Georgians could legally use to hunt deer during the archery season were longbows and recurve bows. Back in the day, permits to hunt with crossbows were issued only to hunters that were physically unable to hunt with other types of bows. This year, however, you can legally hunt white-tailed deer with longbows, recurve bows, crossbows and compound bows.
Archery hunters are required to wear at least 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist when hunting during the Archery Only Deer Hunting Season, on a state wildlife management area (WMA) set aside specifically for archery only deer hunts (e.g. Rum Creek-Berry Creek Area), or during archery hunts held on a WMA (e.g. Rum Creek) during the statewide primitive weapons or firearms deer hunting seasons.
This year the deer bag limit is 12. Regulations dictate that the season bag can contain 10 antlerless and two antlered deer. However, one of the two antlered deer must possess a minimum of 4 points, 1 inch or longer, on either antler or a minimum 15-inch outside antler spread to be legal.
Local archers have a number of state wildlife management areas and federal wildlife refuges in or near Monroe County that offer archery deer hunting.
Here in the county, the Rum Creek WMA will be open to archery deer hunting on the following dates: Sept. 11-Oct.3, and Nov. 20-Dec 3.
Bow hunters are allowed to hunt the Rum Creek WMA-Berry Creek Archery Only Area from Sept. 11-Jan 9.
Three WMAs located south of Thomaston-Big Lazer Creek, Sprewell Bluff-East, and Sprewell Bluff-West will be open for archery deer hunting on the following dates: Big Lazer Creek Sept. 11-24 and Oct. 17-31, Sprewell Bluff-East Sept. 11-Jan. 9, and Sprewell Bluff-West Sept. 11-Oct. 8.
If you are willing to drive east to the Eatonton area, you will be able to archery deer hunt on the Cedar Creek WMA Sept. 11-Oct 10. In addition, the Cedar Creek-Little River Area will offer archers the opportunity to hunt deer Sept. 11-Oct. 8 and Oct. 16-Jan 9.
Across the Ocmulgee River, in Jasper County, the Oconee National Forest will be open for archery deer hunting Sept. 11-Oct. 8.
The Bond Swamp NWR, located south of Macon will be open to archers Sept. 11-Nov. 7. Whereas, the archery hunt dates for the Piedmont NWR (situated east of Juliette) are Sept. 11-Oct. 3.
Hunters taking part in these events must first obtain federal permits. For information regarding archery deer hunting on these areas, call 478-986-5441.
It is easy to forget that, for literally thousands of years, hunters pursued deer almost exclusively with bows and arrows. As you might expect, currently firearm deer hunters far outnumber sportsmen and women that hunt with archery equipment.
For example, here in Georgia, during the 2020-21 hunting season 203,254 firearm hunters harvested 278,403 deer. Conversely, only 80,000 archery hunters bagged roughly 40,000 deer. Obviously, the unique challenges that archery deer hunting presents are not something most Georgia deer hunters are willing to tackle. However, these figures reflect what a dedicated cadre of archery hunters is still willing to do so.
For detailed information on archery hunting on the public lands mentioned in this column, as well as scores of other public lands across the state, and regulations governing archery hunting statewide, pick up a free copy of the 2021-22 Hunting Regulations Guide at your hunting license dealer.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.