Deer Season and Cautions for Hikers, National Forest Burn Ban

Well, firearms season for deer opened statewide last Saturday. It’s a beautiful time to be in the woods, but I wouldn’t be out there without a blaze orange cap – you can get one at almost any gas station – and an awareness that hunters may be in the woods.

The National Forests are open during the statewide season.

The Wildlife Management Areas – WMAs – are open for deer hunting only during specific dates. If I wanted to go hiking during deer season – and I do – I’d look for a WMA that’s not having a deer hunt. They are usually open for small game hunting the rest of the time, but most people don’t hunt small game any more, so they are very lightly used during the small game hunts.

You’ll know if they’re having a deer hunt back there, because there will be a whole lot of cars, cars that look like hunter’s cars (and trucks). I’d go someplace else if that’s happening.

If you’re not familiar with the local WMAs, here’s an interactive map. The Cohutta, Rich Mountain, and Blue Ridge WMAs are the most frequently visited in our area.

http://www.georgiawildlife.com/maps/hunting

It’s a whole lot easier if you can come by the paper copy of the regulations, but here’s the WMA specific schedule.

http://www.eregulations.com/georgia/hunting/public-hunting-opportunities-specific-wma-pfa-state-park-hunting-regulations/

Again, I’d go someplace else if the place you’re planning to hike is open for a deer firearms hunt.

Statewide “either sex” days are good days to spend in the root cellar.

Here’s an interactive map.

http://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/deer-opportunities

In Fannin County, the either sex days are October 29, November 27, and January 1. I believe that’s two more than last year, so the deer herd must be doing well. As a native Pennsylvanian, I don’t approve of this policy. In Pennsylvania, it’s just as illegal to shoot a buck on a doe day as it is to shoot a doe on a buck day. The theory is that you need to identify your game, not just “shoot anything that moves.” I’ve got nothing against deer hunting, and I’ve done a bit of it myself some years ago … but I won’t go into the woods on either sex days in Georgia.

I mentioned that Fannin County – and I assume the other mountain counties – is under a burn ban. It’s been extended to the national forests, no doubt for the very good reason that it’s been way too dry. Here’s the press release.

FIRE RESTRICTION ON US FOREST SERVICE LAND: INCLUDES WMAs

The USDA U.S. Forest Service has instituted a forest-wide fire restriction provision in effect from Oct. 24-Dec. 31., 2016 on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. This includes ANY Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) that are on National Forest land. 

*WMAs affected include: Cohutta, Johns Mountain, Rich Mountain, Blue Ridge, Chattahoochee, Chestatee, Coopers Creek, Lake Russell, Swallow Creek, Warwoman, Redlands, Cedar Creek

Additional Note: Berry College WMA: This WMA (not located on USFS land) is also under a fire restriction provision (same as USFS properties), effective Oct. 24-Dec. 31, 2016.  

 

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