Deer hunting season has opened, which means law enforcement has been busy patrolling for violations and investigating complaints.
Rangers with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife division have issued fewer than six citations in Hall County for hunting deer with bait and hunting on property without permission, said Sgt. Mike Burgamy.
For deer, the archery season opened Sept. 8, while firearms will be permitted starting Oct. 20.
Burgamy said the season’s opening weeks have been “pretty quiet,” but with cooler weather ahead, he expects it to pick up.
“It’s been a pretty quiet deer season so far,” said Burgamy. “Bow season has been really hot, so not a lot of hunters in the woods, but we anticipate that to pick up as the weather cools off.”
With that, he said, will come more patrols and more possibilities for violations, especially when gun season opens.
“We expect to see a few more hunters,” said Burgamy. “Typically when the weather starts cooling off, the deer start moving a little better. Then you have to look for other violations, like hunting without fluorescent orange, that take place when gun season comes around.”
Although this year has been relatively quiet, Burgamy said it’s not necessarily the norm. The amount of citations issued varies from year to year.
“We’ve had some deer seasons where we’ve had a lot of issues,” he said. “This year is just a year where we haven’t had a lot. It just depends.”
The law requires all hunters 16 and older to have a hunting license and a big game license, and everyone must keep his or her own deer harvest record, DNR Sgt. Lee Brown said.
DNR rangers will check for this information, as well as whether the hunters are illegally using bait or hunting on property without permission, he said.
In Georgia, landowners aren’t required to post signs on property so hunters need to get permission before they go.
Other issues commonly encountered include firearm hunting without the required fluorescent vest, hunting at night or hunting from a motor vehicle or public road.
“Hunting with a firearm at night from a vehicle ... that’s a safety concern,” Brown said. “One of the things we teach in hunting education is clearly identify your target and what’s beyond it.
“While at night, if you see a deer standing on the side of the road, you don’t know what’s beyond it.”
Also in Hall County, firearm hunting is not allowed within the city limits.
If a ranger believes a violation has occurred, a warning or citation could be made or even an arrest, Brown said.
Classes required to obtain a hunting license are typically offered once a month.
The sport is a popular one in the area, but also one that helps the DNR.
“Hunting is a good wildlife management tool. That way the deer won’t become overpopulated,” Brown said. “By allowing people to hunt, it tends to keep those populations in check.”
The state does have “bag limits,” he said, which include 12 deer per season with at least two being bucks.