Georgia asks hunters for help


January 13, 2003, 06:37 PM
Georgia asks hunters for help

Web posted Sunday, January 12, 2003 10:02 p.m. EST

Associated Press

MACON, Ga. - State wildlife officials are looking for more than a few good hunters to curb the deer population.
About 1.2 million deer roam Georgia forests, 200,000 more than the ideal number, said Ken Grahl, a regional supervisor of game management for the Department of Natural Resources.

Scott McDonald, a wildlife biologist for the department's Fort Valley office, said hunters are the main tool for wildlife management.

"The consequences, if you let the deer population get out of hand, is damage to the habitat, and every other critter will suffer," he said.

The department is trying to find ways to attract more hunters, who began to decline in numbers in 1994, when about 290,000 Georgians had licenses to hunt deer with guns. By last season, the number had dropped by 50,000.

The total deer harvest - those killed by bow hunters, muzzleloader hunters and out-of-state hunters - averages about 400,000, about half of them does.

No one's quite sure why fewer people are hunting in Georgia, but DNR's assistant director, Noel Holcomb, believes that cultural shifts may be partly responsible.

"To be a hunter, you have to learn it from your father," he said. "What's happening is that our society has moved from a rural setting to an urban setting. You just can't get a kid out on a deer stand. They would rather play Nintendo."

The DNR already has moved over the years to control the deer population as the number of hunters declined.

The season now is longer. And the limit on the number of deer a hunter can kill is higher than ever before.

In the early 1970s, hunters were limited to two bucks and no doe. But restrictions on hunting doe were lifted as the deer population rose from a half-million in 1980, peaking in 1991 at 1.3 million. Last season, which ended in the DNR's Southern zone Sunday and on Jan. 1 in the northern zone, the limit was two bucks and 10 does.

But neither an expanded season nor a larger bag limit might help. The average hunter shoots only one or two deer per year, and only 1 percent of hunters kill the limit.

Opinions varied among 50 hunters who attended a public hearing in Perry on hunting regulations last week. The hunters suggested the DNR board consider encouraging land owners to give them access to their land. Another idea was allowing the use of scopes on muzzleloaders, a type of gun with its own hunting season.

DNR officials say there's never been a better opportunity for hunters. Deer are plentiful, and hunting regulations liberal.

"We really haven't been telling people how good the deer herd is, and a lot of that credit goes to hunters," Mr. McDonald said. "You have to look and say maybe the good old days are right now."

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January 14, 2003, 12:43 AM
Well,most hunting clubs in the prime counteies like Dooly and Macon have outrageous membership fees because of the extremly high cost of land in S. Georgia.And most of the WMAs are way too crowded.There is still plenty of of cheap land and cheap membership fees in NW Georgia,though.

OTOH,it's a lot easier to get permission to hunt small game on private property.

Art Eatman
January 14, 2003, 08:18 AM
I've watched access-costs increase in Texas, going back to the 1970s. On the ranch my group leased for $0.83 per acre (paid the rancher's school taxes), we were "bought out" by a trio from Houston who offered the rancher $3.00 per acre. The same quality of hunting ranch, nowadays, probably costs $5 to $7 an acre.

Analysts of economic affairs keep talking about how real wages for blue-collar workers have remained stagnant as to buying power, during the last 20 years or so. Blue-collar workers, seems to me, are the majority of hunters. Seems to me that if their incomes are stagnant, yet the costs of hunting go up, there will be a reduction in the number of hunters. Economics 101.


January 14, 2003, 09:18 PM
I use to hunt in Georgia in the early 90's but pulled out of there due to different reasons. For one the club dues and the license got to be more than I wanted to spend. I can hunt in my home state and don't have to pay anything for a hunting license. I talked to a man the other day that told me that Georgia was going up on its non-resident license. If that is true that will only discourage people from hunting there. When I hunted there it was about $177.00 for a non-resident big game license. All I can say is good luck .....

January 14, 2003, 10:04 PM
I've hunted a couple of Texas leases as a guest. While grateful for the opportunity it bothered me that the leasee was able to write off the $10,000 lease fee as a "business expense".

Art Eatman
January 14, 2003, 10:51 PM
Interesting, Sisco. The law on entertainment got changed, some 25 years back, such that writing off a deer lease fee was made illegal. Either the law got changed again, or your buddy is doing "creative interpretation" of the tax code.

:), Art

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