The 2017-2018 hunting seasons and regulations are here! The Hunting Regulations Guide will be on shelves and on-line soon, but while we wait, here’s a sneak peak at some of the major changes and new opportunities for Georgia hunters coming this year!
Licenses & Fees
Georgia’s hunting and fishing licenses have been restructured. Customers will now need fewer licenses, and fees have increased. This new pricing structure will help us recapture lost purchasing power through increased license revenue and increased federal funding. To learn more about why we’ve changed the license structure and how we plan to spend the additional money to improve the hunting and fishing in Georgia, click here.
There are 10 new counties open for alligator hunting this year: Baldwin, Columbia, Hancock, Harris, Jones, McDuffie, Monroe, Talbot, Upson and Warren counties. These hunts are quota-only, so be sure to fill out an application at www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com before July 31, 2017!
The South Georgia bear season will add a three-day period (Thurs.-Sat.) the second-to-last weekend in September to increase hunter opportunity and participation. The Central Georgia bear season will now be the second Saturday in January.
Deer Either-Sex Days
There will also be many new either-sex day opportunities to take advantage of this year during deer season. The Ridge, Valley and Piedmont regions have 21 additional either-sex days, and the lower coastal plains region added an additional 14. This year’s deer season will come to a close on Jan. 14, 2018.
Reporting your harvest just got better as you can use the Outdoors GA App on your phone or tablet, even if you do not have service in the field. Enter the harvest date and county on the harvest record through the app. Sync the app later, when you have signal or wifi, to receive your confirmation number.
Public Hunting Opportunity Changes
This year also brings many changes to Wildlife Management Area (WMA) hunting rules and regulations. Two new WMAs have opened, both of which have deer, turkey and small game hunting opportunities. Alapaha River WMA is a 6,870 acre tract in Irwin County, and Alligator Creek WMA is a 3,086 acre tract in Wheeler County.
Any person, age 16 or older, entering a WMA or PFA must possess a valid license to hunt or fish or a Lands Pass (exclusions apply). Visit www.georgiawildlife.com/LandAccess for a list of all public properties and access requirements. Areas that require a valid license to hunt or fish or a Lands Pass are marked with a posting of a sign at the site or area entrance.
Small Game Hunting
Most WMAs do now allow small game hunting during archery-only deer season and some deer and bear firearms hunts. All hunters must wear fluorescent orange when hunting small game during firearms deer/bear season unless otherwise specified. If you are hunting small game this year on any of the WMAs, make sure to sign in for all small game hunts (unless otherwise stated). Online Sign-in is now through www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com and will be available starting August 1.
Some firearm and ammo changes: While it used to only be legal on dog-deer hunts, buckshot may now be used on WMAs when hunting appropriate species (such as deer or bear) and consistent with state law. Hunters may also use suppressed or silenced firearms on WMAs. One new WMA restriction is that only youth may carry a gun and hunt on any big game youth hunt on WMAs.
Voluntary Public Access Areas
New Voluntary Public Access (VPA) locations will be open and available for all kinds of hunting, including deer, turkey, dove and waterfowl!
Feral Hogs & Coyotes
Finally, a there is a new opportunity for helping control feral hogs and coyotes on WMAs. The open dates will be from May 16-31 (unless otherwise specified), and any legal big game or small game equipment may be used. Hunters are required to wear orange. Additionally, hunters are still allowed to kill hogs and coyotes as incidental take when hunting big and small game on WMAs.
Questions? Comment and ask!