Georgia deer hunters provide information to the state Wildlife Resources Division that helps manage the state’s white-tail deer population and keep Georgia a great place to hunt.  (Photo courtesy of Georgia Wildlife Resources Division).

Georgia deer hunters provide information to the state Wildlife Resources Division that helps manage the state’s white-tail deer population and keep Georgia a great place to hunt.  (Photo courtesy of Georgia Wildlife Resources Division).

This is a great time of the year.  Fall has arrived bringing a taste of cool temperatures and the promise that our woodlands will soon be ablaze with a collage of fall colors. It also means that we are entering the heart of the hunting season. To most Monroe County hunters, this means deer hunting.

Since we are just days away from the opening of the 2021-22 Modern Firearms Deer Hunting Season (Oct. 16), there is no better time to look at how the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) keeps track of the state’s annual deer harvest and the numbers of deer bagged last season in Monroe County.

The management of Georgia’s deer herd is comprised of many facets. One of the key components in this endeavor is knowing how many deer are harvested each year. For well more than half a century, wildlife biologists have used statistically sound surveys to determine how many deer we take home each season. The technique they use involves surveying 2,500 hunters after the close of the deer season.

  The survey is conducted after the close of the deer season in January. Perhaps you have been selected to take part in this survey in the past. Your chances of being selected to participate in the survey are one in 100.

The questionnaire contains a wide range of questions, such as how many deer each hunter harvested, how much time they spent deer hunting, as well as the location(s) where each deer was bagged. The results of this survey are used to develop harvest figures based on the total number of hunters that hunted whitetails that year.

This process is not conducted solely by the WRD. Since 2004, the WRD has partnered with a research firm known as Responsive Management.  Statisticians from the research firm work closely with Georgia wildlife biologists to develop the survey questionnaire, sampling strategy and data analysis.  Remarkably, the results of the survey allow the WRD to evaluate estimates of the white-tailed deer harvest statewide as well as within each physiographic region and county.

The results of survey of the 2020-21 deer season reveal that the total statewide harvest was 194,333 deer. Does made up 95,324 of the total deer brought home. In addition, 9,061 antlerless males (button bucks) were bagged. As for the antlered bucks, 26,592 had less than four points on each side of their antlers, whereas 63,356 sported a rack with four points or more on at least one side.

During the 2020-21, deer season hunters shot 831 deer in Monroe County. Interestingly, the most deer taken in a single day was 112 (70 bucks and 42 does) on Oct. 31.

Georgia has the reputation of being one of the top deer hunting states in the Southeast. The willingness of Georgia deer hunters to participate in the harvest survey is a major reason why the WRD is able to manage the state’s deer herd. As long as this level of cooperation continues to exist, there is no reason why Georgia will not be able to maintain its reputation as a great place to hunt white-tailed deer.

For more information regarding the rules and regulations governing deer hunting in Georgia, as well as valuable information regarding changes in antler restrictions, pick up a copy of the 2021-2022 Georgia Hunting Regulations Guide.

 

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.