A group of about 20 people recently attended a hearing in Pickens on proposed changes to hunting regulations that would, if passed, cut the number of “doe days” to combat the state’s declining deer population.
“There are a lot of proposed changes to the hunting regulations this year,” said Chuck Waters, Regional Supervisor for the Game Management Sector of the Northwest Georgia Department of Natural Resources who was present at the hearing at Amicalola EMC on Thursday, April 25. “Most of them were just minor housekeeping issues. The biggest change is the possibility of cutting out all of the doe days in December.”
The proposed regulations include reducing the number of days hunters can hunt for does, called “doe days,” by 25. If the proposal is passed by the Dept. of Natural Resources, during those dates hunters will only be allowed to hunt for bucks. The Dept. of Natural Resources says that reducing the number of days does can be hunted will result in an increase in the fawn population the following spring.
“Back in January we held public hearings with hunters to get an idea as to what they saw as areas in the regulations that needed attention or changing,” Waters said. “They were very concerned about the declining deer population. They said they were seeing fewer deer in the woods, and their input matched our statistics and deer data collections.”
According to the department’s data, there has been a statewide decline in new fawns that are added to the deer population, and does now make up 60-65 percent of the deer harvest. The harvest of does has also increased by 13 percent in recent years.
“What this means is that there are fewer fawns are being added, or recruited, into the population each year,” Waters said. “By reducing the number of doe days we will be taking stress off of the does and this will help to stabilize the population. It’s not an exact science, but we’d like to see the harvest of does more around 50 percent.”
Waters said some hunters present at the public hearing asked why the bag limit, or number of deer that can be killed each season, could not be lowered instead of reducing doe days.
“The problem there is that the average hunter only takes two deer a year,” Waters said. “You would just about have to put the bag limit below two to make any significant impact. A high bag allowance also allows flexibility with some hunters. Let’s say you have 200-300 acres, you would want to be able to manage the herd there to fit your desires.”
The proposed change is part of the DNR’s biannual revision of hunting regulations.
With the round of public hearings now completed on the proposed changes, the DNR board will vote on these proposals at its May meeting.
“We believe the proposed reduction in either-sex days strikes a reasonable balance between diverse hunter desires while attempting to address statewide biological concerns,” said assistant chief of the Game Management Section John Bowers in a recent press release. “There is no proposal that will satisfy everyone. The Department has done its best to develop a balanced proposal. While the proposed reduction in either-sex days reduces the opportunity to harvest does, it maintains the opportunity to deer hunt and harvest antlered bucks.”
For information about other proposed changes visit gohuntgeorgia.com.