Deer Season and How To Avoid It

Gun season for deer begins on Saturday, October 17 and runs until January 10. The first weekend will be the busiest. I would not go into the woods where hunting is taking place without wearing orange. An orange cap is the minimum, and you can get them at most gas stations, hardware stores, or sporting goods stores. Walmart also has them in the sporting goods section. An orange shirt isn’t a bad idea at all. I’ll be wearing more orange than just a cap.

Ignore the trailside fashion nazis who don’t like blaze orange clothing. This is an essential safety measure for everyone in your party.

In Georgia, the Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) have different seasons than the “statewide” seasons. For my money, the best idea for a hike is to go to a WMA that isn’t having deer season. Most of the time, the WMAs are only open for small game hunting, and there are very few people who hunt small game these days in Georgia. (That’s because there isn’t any. The DNR caters to the deer hunters.) Deer hunting pressure, on the other hand, can be considerable.

Go to the WMA seasons on the link below and pick one that isn’t having deer season. Locally, you would check the Cohutta, Rich Mountain, and Blue Ridge WMAs:

You may need a permit to hike. To be sure you are in compliance, check this list:

You can buy a Land Access Pass, but it’s cheaper to buy a fishing license. You can do that online here:

The reason for this requirement is that it enables Georgia to access substantial matching federal funds for license purchases, and it also answers the concerns hunters have voiced about hikers and birders freeloading on the public lands system when hunters and fishers have to pay.

While you are on the DNR site, consider buying a Duck Stamp. It’s $25 and 98% goes to fund the National Wildlife Refuge System. It’s hurting because fewer people are hunting ducks these days. There’s a good article in the Fall 2020 Audubon magazine that explains just how badly it’s hurting – for instance some 700 refugee staff positions have been cut since 2011.

Remember that it is a crime to interfere with a hunter in Georgia. You may not like it, but try to remember they are just enjoying their bliss, same as you.

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