2017-2018 Hunting Regulations Major Changes

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!

three generations of dove hunters


Statewide Changes

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.

Alligator Opportunity

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!

Bear Season

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.

Game Check

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.


coopers creek 2 young people deer

Public Hunting Opportunity Changes

New WMAs

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.

Land Access

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.

Firearm Restrictions

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.

8 year old boy with his first turkeyVoluntary 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!


99 thoughts on “2017-2018 Hunting Regulations Major Changes

  1. steven oliver

    Thanks for the updates on hunting and other information for Ga. residents. Sincerely, Steven E.Oliver P.S. GOOD JOB .Ga DNR


      1. Joseph Entrekin

        I have a GA hunting license that expires 11/2018 but my WMA permit runs out 11/2017. Do I need to purchase a 1 year WMA permit to bridge the gap until 11/2018 when the new license will cover the WMA?


  2. Jon

    Why is it southern zone can hunt over bait, but northern zone hunters can’t? We all pay the same for license, so why the special priveledge to certain hunters?


    1. The changes in the state’s baiting law were a legislative decision made by the Georgia General Assembly and not a DNR decision. There was considerable debate within the legislative process concerning this change and, at the time, consensus within the Georgia General Assembly was that there was considerably more support in south Georgia than there was in north Georgia for this change. As such, the law was modified to allow deer to be shot over bait in south Georgia.


      1. Jon Hurley,Sr

        I still can not understand why southern zone hunters are allowed this priviledge over northern zone hunters. This descrimination towards hunters who pay same fees and put just as much Money into the state’s economy.


      2. Shane Foust

        I sent multiple emails over this debate. I am one county away from the southern zone. This makes no sense, a divided state !!

        I feed year round and obey to the restrictions during the season. My belief is this, I don’t run corn I run protein and minerals. But tell me what is the difference in a guy hunting over a cut corn field and a guy hunting by a corn feeder ? None

        I believe that those who have to pay a full price for a hunting permit but only have a few chances to even hunt, why wouldn’t he have the chance to do so to increase his odds ? What if a family depends on the harvest for food ?
        Every state is going to this if it already hasn’t and the increase in the northern economy for local businesses might not be much but it is an increase for purchases.

        It’s no different then hunting over a food plot. There is still no guarantee

        It’s a debate that I think continues to fall of deaf ears.


      3. This law was and is strictly politically motivated. It is blatantly discriminatory as there is no scientific reason for the division. The law was sponsored by south Ga. legislators who didn’t care if the northern half of the state had equal representation. After several years none of the arguments angst baiting came to pass. There has been no wholesale slaughter, no spread of CWD or any other biological impact., no greater risk to motorist, and the anti hunters have not used it as a tool to fight angst legal hunting in Ga. The DNR can say what they like , however they were angst baiting anywhere during the legislation process. The DNR has great influence with the state legislature and they can right this wrong if they want to. Otherwise write your senator or legislator and tell them to introduce legislation to fix this discrimination . The GON conducted a survey of their subscribers and the result state wide was greater than 70% in favor of allowing baiting; not just the southern half of the state. There is pros and cons to the baiting issue, however to bait or not to bait is not the issue. Discrimination without basis is the issue!!
        Bob Jones


    2. marshall rice

      When the legislature voted on this several years ago most lawmakers did not want to allow baiting period. But most lawmakers in the south wanted it, very few in the northern counties. This was the compromise. Personally I’d like to see it stopped everywhere


  3. Doug williams

    I think dropping the wma stamp is wrong.thats like having a free hunting club to some people.where i hunt on wma guys are already hunting with dogs and night hunting because they know wardens dont come to that area.i started hunting wma forty five years ago and buying the stamp made me feel like i was giving back.please do something about hunters using dogs all season long.


    1. We made changes to the license structure in order to simplify the license purchase process. The WMA stamp privilege is now incorporated into hunting and fishing licenses, so everyone who purchases one is helping out WMAs! Additionally, the recent fee changes will enable us to have the resources to hire more game wardens.


      1. william barnes

        If we, the hunters, that paid for the last license increase would have got to spend this on land and law enforcement we would not need this new increase. the State of Ga took our funds and spent them elsewhere not on hunting related items. This will probably be spent and wasted just like before!!!!!!


      2. J. Davis

        DNR has to many on the taxpayers now don’t hire more sell off 9/10 of the land they own and put it back on the tax digest, then see what DNR needs!


      3. Timothy J.

        Georgia needs more law enforcement to enforce laws regulating public lands and those that bait them. It is terribly disappointing to go hunting and find corn all over the ground on WMA’s. I fear I am the one going to get a ticket because I do not know it is there. Are Game wardens going to be more proactive in locating baited areas and closing them off to hunting in these instances? I saw some corn last year on a WMA, the second problem I see is that I have to trample down the woods I am hunting, spreading my scent all over the place just to make sure no one has baited the site before I hunt it and hope I did not miss anything. Baiting seems to be more of a problem since the laws were changed. Are there going to be any changes to address illegal baiting?


  4. Ellis West

    I hunt Harris County. I have a Young granddaughter and niece who love to hunt with me, We are over run with deer damiging cars, eating plants, Why the four points or better here?


  5. John Adams

    I have a suggestion for the Quota Hunt system.
    Could you stagger the deadlines for the Deer and State Park quota hunts? Perhaps by one week?
    These are both essentially deer hunts. Many of the Deer quota hunts dates overlap with the State Park quota hunt dates.

    As an example:
    A hunter may submit for the following DEER quota hunt:
    Rum Creek WMA – 2nd Hunt
    Thursday 11/9/2017 12:00:00 AM – Saturday 11/11/2017 11:59:59 PM

    The hunter also submits for the following STATE PARK quota hunt:
    Hard Labor Creek State Park
    Tuesday 11/7/2017 12:00:00 AM – Wednesday 11/8/2017 11:59:59 PM

    If the hunter gets chosen for both, it is very unlikely the hunter would attend both hunts. It would be difficult logistically.

    If the hunter gets chosen for neither, he / she loses out on a great quota hunting opportunity for that season.

    If the deadline dates were staggered and . . .
    The hunter gets chosen for the DEER quota hunt, he / she then could modify their State Park quota hunt application accordingly (remove priority points and / or apply just for a priority point), so as not to be chosen prior to the deadline.
    Likewise, if the hunter does not get chosen for the Deer quota hunt, he / she then could modify their State Park quota hunt application accordingly (add priority points), so as to get chosen prior to the deadline.

    If the goal of the DNR is to maximize hunter participation at quota hunts – I would think this change would be a simple way to increase participation.

    Thank you.


  6. david guillebeau

    if it is illegal to hunt over bait then i wish we’d enforce it….i bet you could find a bait station on 9 out of 10 clubs,,,real quick and easy, i know we’re busy with calls and not enough rangers…just hunt like a man( no discrimination intended)


  7. Jeff

    if you’re trying to lower the number of participants in the adult/youth hunts…you just nailed it. We’ve been going to the same one every year for the past eight years, first hunting with my daughter, and now with my son. I’m not sure it’s the best idea for a 10 year old to be the only one with a gun. We’ve run into bear on several occasions out there. The last time, one got uncomfortably close.
    Also, sometimes there’s a shot that a youth just can’t take due to inexperience, be it the distance of the shot, or a deer moving a little too quickly for the child to shoot at responsibly. In those (and several other scenarios), it would be better if both the youth and the adult have a firearm and are allowed to hunt.
    We also spend a good bit of time (and in some cases money) planning for these annual trips. This year was no exception. With the change, I just don’t see us going. It’s a shame too, because it’s become a family tradition. Please bring back the previous rule on this.


  8. Jeff

    If you’re trying to lower the number of participants in the adult/youth hunts…you just nailed it. We’ve been going to the same one every year for the past eight years, first hunting with my daughter, and now with my son. I’m not sure it’s the best idea for a 10 year old to be the only one with a gun. We’ve run into bear on several occasions out there. The last time, one got uncomfortably close.
    Also, sometimes there’s a shot that a youth just can’t take due to inexperience, be it the distance of the shot, or a deer moving a little too quickly for the child to shoot at responsibly. In those (and several other scenarios), it would be better if both the youth and the adult have a firearm and are allowed to hunt.
    We also spend a good bit of time (and in some cases money) planning for these annual trips. This year was no exception. With the change, I just don’t see us going. It’s a shame too, because it’s become a family tradition. Please bring back the previous rule on this.


  9. Dan Giallourakis

    The increase in out of state hunters is ridiculous. Out of staters spend a fortune when they are here and it goes directly into the local economy. Now, not only will we lose the money the increase has driven away in the local economy but the license fees that goes to DNR. I really don’t think that was thought through. Also, why is the legislature making the decisions that should be made by DNR. That is like going to a proctologist for a tooth ache.


  10. David

    Does trapping wild hogs on private land require a permit?
    Does trapping anything on your own land require a permit?
    Are there any resources for donating wild hogs like they have or had for deer?


  11. Bruce Horne

    I am 66 years old retired and on fixed income. I own property in Georgia and pay property taxes but I live in Florida. I now have to pay $325 to hunt deer in Georgia. However many of my friends in Georgia go fishing in Florida regularly from Swuannee to big bend. They pay $47 for non resident saltwater or 94 dollars for fresh and salt. It’s a lot cheaper for Georgians to go fishing in Florida than Floridians to hunt in Georgia. Why can’t we have a reciprocal agreement?


  12. Thomas Lackey

    In lieu of the pro baiting topics mentioned, I propose that the state go back to a ban of baiting statewide. I hunt in both zones. I honestly feel the quality of hunting in my area of the southern zone has diminished since baiting was legalized… I believe it has altered the way deer travel and search for natural food sources. When you have lets say 60%+ of the hunter population baiting for thousands of square miles, I can’t help to think it is changing the way deer travel.

    Baiting has definitely changed the way the deer travel on my club. You had better be hunting over a corn pile or cutting somebody off on their pile of bait……


  13. Ricky Eason

    I hope the new regulations doesnt take away the Adult/Child hunts to where only the child may hunt on non qouta deer hunts. If so this is a terrible change because of low participation on these hunts and now the participation will be lower. When my son reaches 12 and can hunt legally alone i still cant hunt and parents are less likely to get involved. Just my opinion i hunt adult/ child hunts regularly.


  14. Tom Keenan

    Baiting laws are flawed. Should be able to bait in the Southern Zone as well. Our goal is to take game in an ethical and humane way—-seeing game over bait is no different than shooting over a corn or bean field. Does not make sense to me why the State is split in half! To me it is akin to a Speed trap on the roadways—wardens and the State looking to Catch someone who is 5 yards off the required distance or line of sight! Just flawed!!


      1. Tom Keenan

        Yes sir I am aware of this! Same applies in Alabama where we also have poor baiting laws! And thank you for your Service to us Outdoor enthusiasts!!


  15. Don

    So changes again were made by politicians to squeeze more money out of hunters. Not for the benefit of wildlife management. Gotcha. How many hunters made up the panel that voted in these changes? Or was it the so called “experts” ? Sad…


    1. Don- We surveyed hunters and our stakeholders before these regulations were passed and a vast majority approved of the price increases. Georgia has not increased prices since 1992. These increase in revenue will allow DNR to improve hunter access, improve existing facilities and increase our number of Game Wardens.


  16. Millard Judd

    Why are the out of state hunting license cost so much ? Why cant Florida & Georgia seem to get along with each other ? There are lots of people come to Florida to fish and The great state of Florida don’t charge them much at all to enjoy the great fishing in Florida ??? I think it should cost the same in both states….


      1. Clyde Anderson

        Non-resident licenses have most definitely increased since 1992, phenomenally. My question is, is the hunt/fish combo mandatory for non-resident hunters over 64, or can we purchase the hunting license alone and save $50?


  17. tony phillips

    Wow $325 for a non-resident license now! Price keeps going up. I enjoy hunting in Georgia and other states as well. Eventually the price will get too high. I have no voice in the prices I am forced to pay, But I would like to remind the good folks at Georgia DNR that I put a LOT of money into the local economy as a non-resident for deer hunting. I could take my wife on a lavish vacation to Hawaii each year for the money I spend on deer hunting in Georgia (hunting lease, licenses, corn, fuel, food, hotel, equipment rental). I would appreciate it if this was taken into consideration when licensing fees are raised. Again I do love to hunt in Georgia but eventually it will reach a breaking point on the expenses.


      1. tony phillips

        Thanks for the response. But I disagree. Non-resident licenses have increased. Last Year I was Forced to buy a hunting fishing combo as a non- resident. I paid $305 for a long time. Now it is up to $325. Again VERY EXPENSIVE.
        Thank you for your time.


      2. tony phillips

        Please let me clarify on the prices. I am referring to the TOTAL cost to deer hunt in Georgia.
        The Big Game Tag is very pricey.


  18. Wayne T Broxton

    why not implement a bear tag that would be good for the entire deer season? (Like a gator tag). I have still hunted bear in Georgia for 38 years and have only seen two during the daylight hours on a legal day. Also why can’t we bait them? I am to old to chase behind dogs and get pictures of bear on trail camera at my deer / hog bait sites but only at night. I have one picture of a bear in daylight hours so I don’t think that baiting them ( especially for the elderly ) is going to hurt them.


  19. Donald Voss

    I own a lot of land in Georgia at several locations. I pay through the nose for taxes, homeowner associations fees, etc and because I live out of the state I have to pay a huge amount for a hunting license to hunt hogs on my own property or just sit by and watch the hogs tear it pieces. This is bs. In addition, poachers are a constant problems and the authorities do nothing about them. The association (of land owners) has a combined area in southern Georgia of two square miles which has three locked gates. However, the poachers cut the locks and enter at will and when the Department of Natural Resources are called and catch them on the property they just tell them to retrieve their dogs and leave. No one lives there full time but I and other owners do visit frequently and called the DNR only to be told “did you see them on your property?” when you reply no, but their dogs are my property you are told that they have to be hunting on your property. There nothing said about illegally trespassing. My over all complaint is having to pay huge amount to hunt on my own property when others hunt there free of charge and at my expense and nothing is done about it.


  20. Mattehw

    which WMAs allow this opportunity to hunt wild hogs and coyotes May 16-31? Do all of them allow this? Where is the page for that please..?


  21. Charles Ruth

    I’m disabled and can hunt for free in fl. but have to pay the same as everyone else to hunt in Ga.That doesn’t seem far to me. I have to put away 3 months worth of money that I get from our government just to hunt Ga.


  22. Glenn Gray

    Sounds like a bunch of cry babies.Wanting to hunt when the youth is suppose to be the hunter. I own Land in ALA. Bought out of state Lic.The whole time I hunted on my Land. When you bait the deer,it seems to me that the deer would just feed before dayling,and after dark.The food source is always there,no browsing or hunting food. And just a lazy way of shooting deer. No hunting involved. Lazy Bunch of NON DEER HUNTERS.


  23. i agre on the baiting law being unfair.one law one state.also any thing you take to the woods for dear is baiting.such as a deer wick that is baiting.anything toy have that is not natural is baiting.


  24. All you keep using as an excuse to your out of state license fee increase is that fees haven’t risen since 1992. I don’t care if they haven’t gone up since 1892. If they are ridiculously high comparatively to other states for the same vestiges, then there is no rational excuse. I can only hope Fl does the same to you Georgians to re-coup some of our money cause there’s certainly a ton of you down here after our resources.


  25. Drew

    If I have a two year, hunting and fishing combo license, does that cover me to hunt dove? Or will I need to purchase a separate license? It’s a little unclear what the hunting license will and will not cover.


  26. I would like to say the increase in two year old license is way to high . May wife and I have always purchased hunting & Fishing license for our grand kids. But the price you have it now is that our grand kids will not get there license. This is a lose for the DNR that they will not get this money that they get interest on for 14 years, until they get 16 years old. And for a child that may and may not hunt or fish. No wander DNR can’t get people to hunt and fish anymore. They make bad decisions. Maybe instead of increasing the hunters license fee. You should charge the farmers a fee for the shooting 25 deer in one night a fee. The hunters that pays to hunt and can only kill a limited number of deer. But the farmers can shoot as may deer they want at night and in the gut so they want die in there field.


  27. John Cooper

    I am having a difficult time finding the crossbow regulations online. Actually, don’t own a crossbow yet, but considering the purchase of one to hunt deer and turkey.



  28. Ryan Bonnell

    I bought a veterans lifetime sportsman’s license some year’s ago in which the WMA stamp was included. The Lands Access pass is covered under the veterans lifetime sportsman’s license, correct?


  29. Mike Mitchell

    I own the land I hunt on. Do I need a license to hunt my own property for deer? IF not . What do I need to do when I take the deer to the processer be processed?


  30. Ricardo Rodriguez

    I am 71 years old and have had a hunting and fishing license for a few years. Under the new fees does that mean that I would be required to purchase a new lifetime license or would I be grandfathered?


  31. Robert Crews

    In the regulations it still states that Non-residents MUST purchase a combo hunt-fish license the hunt in Georgia. Everywhere else I look says you MAY purchase a combo hunt fish or a hunting license and a big game permit to hunt deer. Very confusing. Some of my friends have already bought the combo when they don’t even fish. They should get a refund.


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