Last year Georgia hunters harvested 385,410 whitetails, including a new typical archery state record (173 5/8-inches) and the new no. 3 non-typical firearm buck (234 6/8-inches). The state has about a million deer, and the ample rains that fell during the summer gave those deer plenty of good forage. This means hunters should see a lot of healthy deer this fall.
“Early season food will be abundant, which will likely decrease deer movement, but antler quality should be higher than average,” said Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “The mast crop doesn’t look good in Northern Georgia, but the lucky hunter who finds the acorns will find the deer.”
Beginning this season, the number of firearm either-sex days is reduced in most counties. For those counties (see Northern Zone Either Sex Days and Southern Zone Either Sex Days), Dec. 1 – 25 will be buck-only hunting days. The reduction is partly due to declining fawn recruitment rates (the number of fawns that survive into fall) in all five regions. The doe harvest also continues to be too high in many areas, so the state is looking to stabilize the population by cutting down the number of days hunters can bag female deer.
Some of the best public lands open to hunting are the Ossabaw and Sapelo Islands, which are loaded with deer and hogs. The B. F. Grant Wildlife Management Area in central Georgia also has a solid reputation for producing quality bucks. While the rut predominantly occurs in November it ranges across the state from mid-October through early January For a rut forecast where you hunt, consult a local biologist.