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Georgia’s firearms deer season opens Oct. 17

From the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

-- Georgia’s firearms deer season opens Saturday, Oct. 17 and lasts through Jan. 1 in the Northern Zone and in the Southern Zone, through Jan. 15.

Regulated deer hunting has reduced the statewide deer population from 1.4 million in the 1990s to close to one million, according to John Bowers, assistant chief of Game Management for the Wildlife Resources Division.

More than a million acres of public hunting land is available to hunters in Georgia, as well as more than 100 state-operated wildlife management areas where special hunts are offered, including ladies-only hunts and adult/child hunts. Dates and locations can be found in the 2009-2010 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide. WMA maps are available at www.gohuntgeorgia.com .

During the 2008-2009 firearms deer season, nearly 289,000 licensed hunters harvested over 320,000 deer in Georgia.

A valid hunting license is required to hunt deer during firearms season, as is a big game license and a deer harvest record. In most cases, a separate WMA license is required to hunt on a WMA. All deer hunters must wear at least 500 square-inches of fluorescent orange above the waist to legally hunt during firearms season, except in areas designated archery-only.

Georgia is a top destination for non-resident hunters. The state’s quality deer herd and public hunting  land serve as the main appeal. Hunters are allowed a season total of ten antlerless deer and two antlered deer (one of the two antlered deer must have a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers).

The DNR advises all hunters to review the firearms safety ten commandments before heading into the deer woods.

One:  Control the direction of the firearm’s muzzle. Keep the safety on and fingers off the trigger at all times until ready to shoot.

Two:  Identify the target and what is beyond it before shooting. Know the identifying features of the game hunted and be absolutely certain that what you are aiming at is that game.

Three:  Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

Four:  Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions and that only the proper size ammunition is used in the firearm.

Five:  Always unload a firearm when it is not in use, leave the actions open, and carry empty firearms in a case to and from shooting areas.

Six:  Never aim a firearm at anything that you do not intend to shoot. Avoid all horseplay with a firearm.

Seven:  Never climb a tree or fence, or jump a ditch or log, with a loaded firearm. Never pull a firearm toward you by the muzzle.

Eight:  Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or at water. Make sure backstops are adequate during target practice.

Nine:  Store firearms and ammunition separately and beyond the reach of children and careless adults.

Ten:  Avoid all alcoholic beverages and drugs before and during shooting.

For more information on firearms safety, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com or contact the Wildlife Resources Division’s Hunter Education office at (770) 761-3010.

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