SOCIAL CIRCLE — Venison burgers, venison chili, venison jerky … Foodies who have been looking for a way to “beef” up that freezer stockpile, will soon have an opportunity to go for the venison instead. The Georgia deer firearms season opens Oct. 17 and continues through Jan. 10 statewide.

“If the forecasts hold, we are looking at a cool, clear opening day,” Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist for the Wildlife Resources Division, said in a news release. “As much as our lives have been disrupted this year, thankfully we still have deer season to look forward to. With all the rainfall we had leading into summer and throughout August, I expect optimal antler growth and bodyweights this season. Good luck Georgia hunters, I hope you have a wonderful season”

During firearms deer season last year, more than 180,000 hunters harvested almost 210,000 deer in the state. The use of regulated deer hunting ensures that Georgia’s deer population continues to be healthy and strong.

More than 1 million acres of public hunting land is available to hunters in Georgia, including more than 100 state-operated wildlife management areas. Many areas offer special hunts throughout the season, including primitive weapons and modern firearms hunts. Dates and locations for hunts are available in the 2020-2021 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide found at http://www.eregulations.com/georgia/hunting/.

The season bag limit is 10 antlerless deer and two antlered deer. (One of the antlered deer must have at least four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers.) Special regulations apply to archery-only counties and extended archery season areas.

To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record (available in the Outdoors GA app or as a paper copy print-able from your license account). Licenses can be purchased online at www.GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, by phone at 1-800-366-2661, or at a licensed agent. (A list of agents is available online.)

Any hunter who harvests a deer must report it within 24 hours through Georgia Game Check. Deer can be checked on the Outdoors GA app (useable with or without cell service), at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661.

With studies showing only a small percentage of participants ever involved in an incident, hunting repeatedly shows itself as a safe sport. Even with this minor chance for issues, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division encourages hunters to review the “Four Primary Rules of Firearms Safety” before heading to the woods.

Out of an estimated 642,000 hunters afield, Georgia reported only 36 hunting incidents. More than half of all incidents (20) were tree stand use related.

The following firearms safety checklist is covered in all hunter education courses and easily can be remembered with the acronym ACTT:

♦ A – Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.

♦ C – Control the muzzle of the firearm at all times.

♦ T – Be certain of the Target and what is in front of it and beyond it.

♦ T – Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

For more information on firearms safety, visit https://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/huntereducation or contact the Wildlife Resources Division Hunter Education office at (706) 557-3355.

Hunters also are reminded that they can apply for four scheduled youth quail quota hunts that will take place on land managed for bobwhite quail, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. These hunts are made possible by generous private landowners that participate in Georgia’s Bobwhite Quail Initiative.

“Don’t let this chance slip by – apply for these exceptional youth quail hunts on some outstanding properties for a truly rewarding hunt,” Dallas Ingram, the WRD’s state quail coordinator, said. “These quota hunts will allow a pre-determined number of hunters access to a particular area while providing quality hunting opportunities.”

Hunts are half-day, either in morning or afternoon. Two youths (ages 10-17) are randomly selected per hunt. Each youth must be accompanied by an adult. Only the youth may shoot. Biologists and hunting guides will direct each hunt. Bird dogs will be provided. All youth participants must have completed a hunter education course. If the hunter is age 16 or older, a hunting license is required.

Info on each hunt, including application deadline, includes:

♦ Nov. 8: Twiggs County, afternoon hunt, application deadline is Oct. 26.

♦ Dec. 12: Emanuel County, afternoon hunt, application deadline is Nov. 23.

♦ Jan. 9: Turner County, morning hunt, application deadline is Dec. 14.

♦ Jan. 30: Laurens County, morning hunt, application deadline is Jan. 4.

To apply, locate a desired event at https://license.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com/Event/Calendar.aspx, then click “Log in to Register.” Applicants will be added to the wait list for the hunt. Those whose names are drawn will be notified by email (after the application deadline), and given detailed information about the hunt. Applications must be received by midnight on the deadline date.

For more information about these youth quail hunt opportunities, email Diana McGrath (diana.mcgrath@dnr.ga.gov). For more information about quail in Georgia, visit https://georgiawildlife.com/bobwhite-quail.

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