RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WSAV) — Firearms deer hunting season opened across Georgia over the weekend.
The three-month-long season kicked off on Oct. 17 and will run through Jan. 10 statewide, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
“We want to be able to maintain a population that is large enough to where folks who enjoy hunting, getting outside and harvesting their own meat are able to do so without adversely affecting the overall population of deer,” said Kara Day, a wildlife biologist who has worked with the department for the Department of Natural Resources in the Richmond Hill region for the past decade.
“We want to be able to sustain and maintain a huntable population for generations to come,” Day told WSAV NOW.
Firearms deer hunting season runs during the fall and winter months, when male deer are more active as they prepare for breeding, Day says.
“It helps hunters to be able to have more of a chance to encounter those deer, and we don’t want to set hunting seasons in the spring when the does are dropping fawns, we don’t want to adversely affect that process,” she added.
If there were no deer hunting seasons, Day says overpopulation and overcrowding of the animals could occur.
“We’ve seen deer increase to the point where it has a negative impact on the deer health, the population health overall and the habitat,” she said. “They eat, they overgraze, they run out of resources, and that affects their body condition poorly.”
During last year’s firearms deer hunting season, the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division reported that more than 180,000 hunters harvested nearly 210,000 deer in Georgia.
Deer hunting in Georgia: What to know before you go
The 7,400-acre Richmond Hill Wildlife Management Area in Bryan and McIntosh counties offers opportunities to hunt deer along with turkey, small game and quail.
Anyone who hunts deer on the public land and any of the one million acres of Georgia land available for hunting will need a hunting license, according to Day.
Hunters are assigned a bag limit on the amount of deer they’re able to take with them.
“In the state of Georgia, it is two antler deer per season and 10 antlerless deer,” Day said.
Officials also advise any hunters heading out into the woods to keep safety in mind.
“Definitely make sure you have your hunter orange on,” Day said. It helps hunters remain visible to other hunters.
“It’s against the law to be out in the woods during hunting season without a blaze orange vest or some type of blaze orange, and it has to be a minimum of 500 square inches,” she said.
Day also noted to be on the lookout for snakes while hunting, and to be absolutely certain of your target before shooting.
“Don’t just fire at something that’s brown, you need to make sure that you know what you’re firing at before you shoot because there are other people in the woods,” she said, adding that any accidents in the area have been rare.
She recommended that hunters who climb trees to find their targets have a safety harness in case something happens.
“We’ve had incidents where people are using climbers and they fall out of the tree,” Day said. “Sometimes if you’re out here, you don’t have good service and you can’t contact somebody, especially if you’re hunting by yourself and you don’t have a buddy with you, it can be dangerous, so just take all the precautions you can when you’re climbing a tree.”