A Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Public Lands — Part 2

By: Charlie Killmaster, State Deer Biologist

What to Hunt – Choosing the Species

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Step 4– Choose a species or group of species to hunt (deer, turkey, bear, small game, waterfowl, etc.) and choose a weapon type (archery, firearms, or primitive weapons). Under the WMA heading, you will see the available dates for each species—or group of species—and weapon, along with some additional and very important information. Most areas have far more restrictive dates than state seasons. You’ll probably notice a lot of terms and symbols that you aren’t familiar with, so I’ll define some of those now:legend

Quota (Q)- This means you have to apply online by a certain deadline and be selected in order to attend the hunt. The number indicates the number of slots available. There are no “stand-by” programs for most hunts, the number of selected hunters is already adjusted for “no-shows.”

Check-in (C)- All hunters must first visit the check station and sign up for the hunt prior to hunting. For deer, you have to bring any deer you kill back to the check station to be weighed and measured by DNR personnel. DO NOT mark deer on your harvest record or Game Check your deer on Check-in hunts; you will be given bonus tags. Unless otherwise specified, there is a limit of 2 deer on Check-in hunts; only one of them may be a buck if there are antler restrictions on the particular WMA.

Sign-in (S) – All hunters must visit the check station and sign up for the hunt prior to hunting and you must sign out any game you kill yourself at the check station. Your deer harvest record and season bag limit applies on these hunts. All deer and turkey taken during a sign-in hunt must be marked on your Harvest Record and checked. You may kill only 2 deer on hunts lasting fewer than 7 days.

Buck Only – Hunters can only shoot antlered bucks. Button-heads will get you a ticket.

Buck Only/Either Sex Last Day – Hunters cannot kill an antlerless deer until the last day of the hunt. There may be several variations to this such as either sex last 2 days or last 3 days.

Quality Buck – The area has antler restrictions, so you need to check the special regulations for that area to see what they are. Some have a minimum of 4 points on one side, others must have a 15” spread or 16” main beam length to be legal. Typically you will have a one-buck limit on these hunts.

Either Sex – This means you can kill any type of deer for the duration of the hunt, but you are still subject to the bag limit.

Step 5– Read the special regulations. This section under each area heading will include site-specific rules that may not apply to other areas, such as antler restrictions on bucks.

Step 6- Purchase all required licenses at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com. You will need a hunting license, WMA license (if hunting a WMA), Big Game license outdoors-ga(if hunting Big Game), HIP permit (if hunting migratory birds), Federal and State Duck Stamp (if hunting Waterfowl), and any additional permits required for land outside of WMAs (some USACOE land requires a permit). A Sportsman’s or Lifetime License will cover all these except for the federal duck stamp, other federal permits, and state park quota hunt fees.

Every hunter must also have a Harvest Record, which is available at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com. This can be printed or stored in the GA Outdoor Georgia App.

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