WRD Seeks Input On Future Hunting Regulations

A common statewide deer-season closing date and the timing of buck-only days and "doe days" are expected to be hot issues.

Every two years, Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) hosts a series of public meetings to get hunter input prior to making hunting-regulation proposals for the upcoming hunting seasons. The next round of these public meetings will be for the 2015-2017 hunting regulations. Meeting dates will take place Jan. 5-8 at 7 p.m. each night. Those locations are printed below.

At these public meetings, biologists or other WRD Game Management staff will generally present information on hunting-related topics. Then, hunters are allowed to speak on those topics or on any other hunting-related subject they wish to speak about.

GON spoke with WRD’s chief of Game Management John Bowers about what sort of information would be presented by WRD this time around, and he mentioned three main items: a deer season end date, buck-only hunting dates and a WMA quota-hunt application fee.

• Deer season end date:
WRD reports enough support from sportsmen who want a single statewide deer season that it will likely become a reality for next deer season. According to Bowers, the question that now needs to be answered is when that ending date would be. Although there are several options on when a statewide deer season would end, expect the closing date to be somewhere between Jan. 1-15. Currently, the Northern Zone closes on Jan. 1, and the Southern Zone closes on Jan. 15.

Even though it’s impossible to please all hunters with a particular deer-closing date, Bowers said they would be looking for input that allows the best solution that can appease the most folks.

• Buck-only hunting dates:
After two years of Dec. 1-25 buck-only hunting for most hunters, testimonial evidence from GON readers makes it pretty clear that many hunters are still in favor of buck-only hunting during some point of the hunting season.

However, we’ve heard from a number of sportsmen who say the current Dec. 1-25 isn’t the best time for a buck-only period.

WRD sent out an online questionnaire asking hunters to pick their preferred buck-only dates. Although this was not a scientific survey, it was a good way to gather hunter input. One clear thing did come back from the questionnaire: there was not a majority consensus on when the buck-only hunting period should be. WRD will be looking for additional input on when hunters would like these buck-only dates to occur.

• WMA quota-hunt application fee:
“(A fee is) something that has been tossed around and discussed for several years,” said Bowers. “When we first went to the computer system, it was a kind of in-house thing.”

As the years have ticked by, service to the system has become a challenge. Funds are needed to continue upkeep on the current system, but WRD does have another option on the table.

“We have some opportunities through our licensing vendor to incorporate operating that quota hunt system,” said Bowers.

This idea of charging a small fee for applying for online WMA quota hunts is not a new concept to Georgia hunters.

“We’ve been asking the question now for a couple of years,” said Bowers. “We’ve asked it on our annual Harvest of Wildlife Survey that we do every spring. We periodically do a similar telephone survey of WMA hunters, and we’ve asked them.”

If the idea of a fee for applying for online quota hunts is something that goes into motion, the question then becomes what exactly does that look like to hunters.

“There are a lot of options,” said Bowers. “You could charge for every single application, but I can tell you internally we are not real comfortable with that. It seems burdensome, overcomplicated.”

Bowers spoke more highly of a single price that would allow each hunter to apply for as many quota hunts that are offered in a year. With this route, the fee would likely fall in the $5/year ballpark, but it shouldn’t go higher than $10.

Attend one of the below meetings, and let your voice be heard.

Jan. 5, 2015:
Southern Crescent Technical College, Room B132, 1533 Hwy 19 S, Thomaston, GA 30286

Jan. 6, 2015:

Coastal Electric Co-op (auditorium), 1265 S. Coastal Highway, Midway, GA 3132

Jan. 6, 2015:
Blue Ridge EMC, 875 Main Street East, Young Harris, GA 30582

Jan. 7, 2015:
Nathan Dean Center, 604 Goodyear Ave, Rockmart, GA 30153

Jan. 7, 2015:
Pope Center, 48 Lexington Rd., Washington, GA 30673

Jan. 7, 2015:
Southwest Georgia Technical College, 15689 U.S. Highway 19, Thomasville, GA 31792

Jan. 8, 2015:
Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville, GA 30046

Jan. 8, 2015:

Dodge County PFA Group building, 325 Dodge Lake Road, Eastman, GA 31023

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