From whitetail deer hunts on frigid winter mornings to sweltering autumn evenings chasing gators in the coastal swamps, Georgia offers sportsmen a wide variety of hunting adventures. As one of the largest states in the South, Georgia has a mix of different types of terrain that provides habitat for a wide array of game animals and birds. With plentiful game and lots of land open to hunting, Georgia is a favorite hunting destination for people across the nation.
A hunting license is required for anyone who hunts within the state. License fees vary according to the hunter's age and the type of license, and whether the hunter is a Georgia resident. Lifetime licenses are also available for Georgia residents. Hunters who lose their licenses may replace them by contacting the Division of Fish and Wildlife. For more information on Georgia Hunting Licenses, please consult the DNR website at www.gohuntgeorgia.com.
While Georgia offers many different hunting opportunities, it may be best known across the country for deer hunting. In particular, the state is known for its liberal bag limits on deer. Hunters in the state can obtain tags to harvest up to 12 deer, including two bucks. Only antlered bucks with at least four points on either side are legal in Randolph County.
Featuring a long deerhunting season that starts in September and runs until the end of January, Georgia hunters have plenty of opportunities to fill those numerous tags. However, deer hunting in Georgia isn’t just about quantity; the state also features quality bucks with real trophy potential. In fact, Georgia has placed more deer into the Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young record books than any of its neighboring states.
Hunters can pursue deer with a variety of weapons as the state offers special seasons for firearms, archery and primitive weapon hunting. Rifles may be used in most of the state during firearm season, though a few areas are limited to shotguns or muzzleloaders only. As deer are present throughout Georgia, hunters can hunt in a wide variety of different terrains from open fields to dense forests. While much of the private land in Georgia is under lease, most of it is operated by hunting outfitters who provide both guided and non-guided hunting services. However, the state also has numerous Wildlife Management Areas which provide over one million acres of public hunting land for those looking for low-cost hunting opportunities. Additionally, there are other state and federal lands in Georgia which are open to public hunting.
While deer may be the primary draw to most hunters, Georgia also offers hunters a number of other big and small game hunting options. Georgia is also well-known as a top wild turkey hunting state. The state’s mix of forests and farm land provide an ideal habitat for turkeys to thrive. The state’s turkey season lasts almost two months and each hunter can take three gobblers.
Georgia is also a hot bed of hog hunting. The wild boar is present in much of the state, especially the agricultural areas, and can be hunted throughout the year. Bear hunting is also permitted throughout the state, but the northern portion provides the best opportunities. Georgia is also one of only a few states to offer an alligator hunting season. The season lasts for one month and each hunter can take one alligator with the appropriate permit.
Southwest Georgia is known for quail hunting. Georgia’s famous quail hunting tradition is tied to its rich plantation history. The numerous cotton plantations established in the rich soil in the 1850s continued to operate as winter retreats for wealthy northerners after the agricultural collapse of the late 1870s.
According to a story in the New York Times, "Quail hunting has been both aristocratic and egalitarian. It is a sport of Southern plantation gentry who ride walking horses with bespoke double guns in their scabbards and have pedigreed pointing dogs racing across the fields before them. It is also the sport of the farm kid armed with a dad’s old shotgun and a rangy mutt for a hunting companion."
As many game birds can devastate agricultural crops, Georgia allows a liberal bag limit on most birds. The large fields in the state provide excellent habitat for doves and quail, while the forests are home to ruffed grouse and woodcock. Guided bird hunts are a tradition throughout Georgia. Some guided plantation hunts are very relaxed and include high-class accommodations and fine dining, while other hunting trips are more rustic. However, regardless of how hard the hunter must work on a hunt, finding birds is generally not much of a problem.
In addition to game bird hunting, Georgia also provides numerous world-class waterfowl hunting opportunities. The broad rivers, swamps and impoundments in the state attract ducks, geese and other migratory birds. As with other types of hunting, waterfowl hunters can choose to use outfitters for guided or non-guided hunting trips on leased hunting property or choose a do-it-yourself hunt from one of the state’s public hunting areas or waterways.
Georgia is also home to some of the South’s best small game hunting opportunities. Squirrel season runs for about six months and 12 squirrels can be taken per day. Rabbit season runs for about four months and also has a 12 per day limit. Hunters can pursue both squirrels and rabbits with or without dogs, but hunting with dogs is both more traditional and generally more productive. Bobcats, foxes and raccoons are also popular small game animals for hunters in the state. Many hunting outfitters in Georgia provide small game hunting trips in addition to big game hunts.
The average Georgia deer hunter harvests one and a half deer per season and it takes the average deer hunter just 14 days to harvest a deer. This is incredible when compared to 1980 when the average deer hunter harvested 0.4 deer, and it took the average hunter 31 days to harvest a deer! Deer hunting in the 1980s was good; now it's great. No doubt, the good old days of deer hunting are right now! Georgia deer hunters are harvesting more deer and are more successful than ever before.
This article reprinted from GaHunting.com with other material added