The week-long primitive weapons deer hunting season in Georgia opens Saturday, Oct. 12. Last year, almost 30,000 hunters took to the woods with muzzleloaders, bringing in more than 5,000 deer, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).
“Dust off that smoke pole, or your stick and string, and hit the woods because the primitive weapons season is a great time to hunt, and we are already seeing bucks exhibiting pre-rut patterns,” said Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist with the WRD Game Management Section. “Share Your Passion! Remember to find time during the season to introduce someone new to hunting and share your love of the outdoors with others.”
Over one million acres of public hunting land is available to hunters in Georgia, including more than 100 state-operated wildlife management areas. Many areas offer special hunts throughout the season, including primitive weapons hunts. Dates and locations for hunts are available in the 2019-2020 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide (http://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations).
Youth, under 16 years of age, may hunt deer with any legal deer firearm during Primitive Weapons Season, including during any wildlife management area primitive weapons hunts.
“Oh, and with all the media coverage on deer diseases lately, let’s cut through the confusion and talk facts,” says Killmaster. “To date, neither chronic wasting disease (CWD) or tuberculosis have been detected in Georgia deer. However, there are circumstances where wildlife biologists rely on the public to notify them of sick animals in order to monitor disease issues. Visit our website at https://georgiawildlife.com/deer-info to view the top five reasons to call.”
During the primitive weapons season, hunters may use archery equipment, muzzleloading shotguns (20 gauge and larger) and muzzleloading firearms (.44 caliber or larger).
The season bag limit is 10 antlerless deer and two antlered deer (one of the antlered deer must have at least four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers). Special regulations apply to archery-only counties and extended archery season areas.
All deer hunters, including archers, are required to wear a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist during primitive weapons season. Scopes and other optical sighting devices are legal for muzzleloading firearms and archery equipment.
To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record. Licenses can be purchased online at www.GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at a license agent (list of agents available online).
Once you harvest a deer, you must report it through Georgia Game Check. Deer can be checked on the Outdoors GA app (useable with or without cell service), at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661.
Hunters are encouraged to review safety information before heading out to the woods on the opening day of primitive weapons deer hunting season on Oct. 12, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
Primitive weapons, such as muzzleloaders, have specific safety use rules, beyond general firearms safety, that should be reviewed each year before heading to the woods. Following are recommendations to ensure a safe experience:
- Never smoke in the proximity of a muzzleloader.
- Use an intermediate device, such as a measure, to pour powder into a barrel.
- Keep flask and powder containers away from flames and sparks to prevent an accidental explosion.
- Use only powders specific to each muzzleloader and recommended by that firearms manufacturer.
- Place percussion cap on nipple only when ready to shoot.
- The gun is safely unloaded only after removing the bullet, powder and percussion cap. If using a flintlock muzzleloader, remove the bullet and powder, and un-prime the flash pan.
- Use the recommended loading materials, the correct powder charge, the right diameter and weight bullet and the correct lead material.
- Treat a misfire as though the gun could fire at any moment.
- Make sure the projectile is firmly seated on the powder before capping and firing.
- Never blow down the barrel of a muzzleloader to clear or extinguish sparks.
- Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
- Read the owner’s manual and be familiar with its operation before using a muzzle-loading firearm.
- Handle every gun as if it was loaded.
- Make sure the gun is unloaded before attempting to clean it.
- Do not use alcohol or drugs while handling a firearm.
All hunters, including archers, must wear at least 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist during the primitive weapons season.
For more information, visit http://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.