Either-sex days for deer to be reduced

With fawn survival down 26 percent, Georgia officials will try to balance the decline in the deer population.

In years long past, “doe days” were special opportunities to put more venison in the freezer, but in recent years, they’ve been nearly synonymous with the entire deer season.


This fall, the number of either-sex days is likely to shrink as Georgia’s works to make our fluctuating whitetail herd more sustainable.

John Bowers, assistant game management chief for Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division, said the planned 25-day reduction in either-sex days is needed to balance a general decline in deer population.

Fawn survival rates are declining in all five physiographic regions of the state, he said, with a statewide reduction of about 26 percent.

“Additionally, over the past several years, doe harvest rates have increased 13 percent and the percent of does in the harvest has remained at or above 65 percent,” he said. “The broad trend of declining fawn recruitment rates coupled with high levels of doe harvest warrant statewide regulatory action to address these issues.”

Those statistics, he added, are also a signal to hunters that a more conservative approach to antlerless deer harvest is warranted.

Some sportsmen have suggested altering the state’s liberal bag limits, rather than either-sex harvest regulations.

Bowers noted that his department cannot adjust the bag limit, which is part of state law and required approval from the Legislature.

“Thus, the regulatory tools available to the department to address biological issues relating to deer harvest are season length and either-sex days,” he said. “It would seem that an adjustment in either-sex days would represent a more palatable approach to most deer hunters than an overall reduction in deer season length.”

For east Georgia counties near Augusta, the proposed Northern Zone either sex days would be Oct. 19 through Nov. 30 and Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, for a total of 50 days. In the Southern Zone, either sex days would be Oct. 19 through Nov. 30 and Dec. 26 through Jan. 15, for a total of 64 days.

Under that proposal, which is out for public comment, antlerless deer might still be taken with archery equipment during buck-only days.

Input must be received by 4:30 p.m. April 30, 2013. Written statements should be mailed to: GA DNR/Wildlife Resources Division/Game Management Section; Attn: John W. Bowers; 2070 U.S. Highway 278, S.E.; Social Circle, Georgia 30025. Statements can be electronically submitted at: www.georgiawildlife.com/Hunting/SubmitComments.

BENDERDINKER: Organizers of Saturday’s Benderdinker paddling and music festival in Columbia County report that 227 participants have already registered for the event, which is in its second year.

“I expect to go into the day of with around 300 pre-registered,” said event fonder Kristina Williams. “Last year we went into the day with 121 so we have increased our online registrations this year. Last year we had most people show up the day of. We are trying to discourage that this year and have given more incentive to register online with the T-shirt and goody bag.”

The event, which begins with 8:30 a.m. check-in at Riverside Park along Betty’s branch in Columbia County, will also include live bands, vendors and food providers.

The non-competitive paddle is expected to take about two hours. For registration and more details, visit www.benderdinker.com.

LAKE LEVEL: Thurmond Lake’s long distressed pool level was inching toward 325 feet above sea level – about 10.5 vertical feet higher than last year’s lowpoint of 314.43, recorded Dec. 10.

Projections call for continued gains, but even the most ambitious outlooks fall short of 330 feet above sea level, the reservoir’s “official” full pool.

That elevation was last recorded Nov. 19, 2009.