Has anyone been squirrel hunting yet?
The season opened on Aug. 15 and stays open until Feb. 28 and the daily bag limit is 12 per person.
There is no better way to introduce a kid to hunting.
Drive up to the Northeast Georgia mountains where it will be about 5-10 degrees cooler, especially at the higher elevations. There are plenty of squirrels up there due to a very good 2008 acorn crop. Right now, most squirrels will be cutting hickory nuts until the acorns ripen in a couple of weeks.
On Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s), you will need a WMA license but kids under 16 years of age will not.
It is worth it just to be out in those beautiful oak-hickory forests with your kid or someone else’s. There are very few bugs and you might even get to see a deer fawn with its 200 spots still shining. Squirrel and dumplings still make a darn good supper too.
Bowhunters start your engines: Sept. 12 marks the opening day of the 2009 archery hunting season for deer statewide in Georgia.
It is a little later this year, but that will ease the nuisance factor a little in dealing with the hot weather, mosquitoes, ticks and even snakes. I assure you that this will not deter most of the 80,000 dedicated archers who will flock to the woods in search of their elusive quarry: the white-tailed deer.
If history is any indication, when the dust clears in mid-Oct., they will have harvested about 30,000 deer composed of high protein low fat venison loins, roasts, steaks and burger — meals fit for a king.
There is plenty to go around with the season bag limit composed of two antlered bucks (one must have at least four antler points on one side), and 10 antlerless deer (any combination of doe and button bucks with no hard antler).
Not to worry, no one gets that many even with a rifle, it is simply too difficult (I didn’t say elusive quarry for nothing). The average hunter harvests about 1.5 deer per year with bow and gun.
Just in case you want to mark your calendar, Primitive Weapons season (muzzleloader) is Oct. 10-16 statewide and Firearms season for the northern zone runs Oct. 17 – Jan. 1. These are among the longest deer seasons in the entire country with Georgia recognizing the true recreational value of sport hunting, giving hunters plenty of time to get out there and do it.
More and more deer hunters are voluntarily practicing Quality Deer Management (QDM) to help improve their deer herd. Passing up young bucks and harvesting an adequate number of does accomplishes a number of objectives including healthy deer populations that are below the carrying capacity of the land, more natural sex ratios close to one doe per buck and more mature bucks in the herd.
These are the kinds of things that turn deer hunters into deer managers.
Let’s not forget dove season. The statewide season opens Sept. 5 and runs through Sept. 20. There are two more segments running Oct.10-18 and Nov. 26 – Jan. 9.
It is getting more difficult to find a good dove field. The local DNR Game Management office has a list and ranking of all state dove fields on WMA’s, call them at 770-535-5700. However, most of the best dove fields are on private lands and are accessible by invitation only. Some are pay shoots with barbeque and all the trimmings, frequently exceeding $100 per person per day.
Dove hunting is a challenging sport.
Last time I checked, the nationwide average was seven shots to harvest one dove. They are fast flyers and can do a lot of zig-zagging in mid-air. For successful shooting, they must be in range, preferably 25-to 40-yards out.
A sustained lead can be up to 10 feet. Your 12 gauge shotgun is the surest weapon, 20 gauge is more challenging and 410 gauge is downright difficult.
I have a friend who could consistently bring down his 12 bird limit with 25 shells or less. I must admit he is a little better shot than I am. It is hard to beat dove breasts marinated in Italian dressing, wrapped in bacon and cooked on the grill.
Now, finally here is a local event that you should not miss. It is the annual Northeast Georgia Sportsman’s Feast at the Blackshear Place Baptist Church starting at 5:10 p.m. Sept. 10 (for advance tickets, go to www.bpbc.com or call 770-534-7058). Admission costs $10. Besides great food, there are exhibitors, live auction, raffles (Illinois Bow Hunting Trip, Kawasaki 360 4-wheeler, Browning .270 rifle w/Nikon scope, Matthews bow and many more) and speakers on fishing (Doug Youngblood), deer hunting (Mike Mayfield) and deer and turkey management (that’s me).
Kent Kammermeyer is a certified wildlife biologist. His column appears monthly.