Georgia efforts to grow bigger bucks faring well, QDMA says

  • Follow Rob Pavey

Georgia hunters continue to follow a management trend that promotes the harvest of older, mature bucks, according to the Quality Deer Management Association.

Video: Augusta Outdoors
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In its annual Whitetail Report unveiled this month, the conservation group – which tracks harvest data in 37 states and Canada – said Georgia’s percentage of 3.5 year old bucks compared to total buck harvest increased from 20 to 26 percent from the 2010-11 season to 2011-12.

Georgia also led the nation with the highest antlerless deer harvest (277,961), and also ranked first in the U.S. with a 3.5-to-1 ratio of antlerless deer harvested per buck, the study said.

By comparison, South Carolina hunters harvested 1.1 antlerless deer per buck, with an estimated antlerless harvest of 177,551.

Georgia and South Carolina hunters shot fewer bucks in 2011 than in 2010.

Georgia’s total buck harvest dropped 14 percent – from 155,255 to 133,520; and Soouth Carolina’s total buck harvest fell 7 percent – from 116,755 to 108,907.

In terms of sheer numbers, Georgia’s buck harvest was still the fourth-highest in the nation, behind Texas, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Among the 11 southeastern states, a total of 1,449,395 antlerless deer were taken in 2011-12.

South Carolina had the largest percentage (plus-11 percent) increase from 2010 while Florida had the largest decline (-38 percent).

Eight of 11 southeastern states shot fewer antlerless deer in 2011 than 2010. Only Oklahoma (plus-1 percent), Arkansas (plus-4 percent) and South Carolina plus-11 percent) shot more antlerless deer in 2011.

South Carolina had an exceptional success rate, defined by a hunter who kills at least one deer during the season, of 70 percent, the study said, with 33 percent of those hunters taking three “or more” whitetails. Georgia’s success rate was 55 percent.

The report includes data on coyote control and deer predators, baiting, whitetail diseases, the economic impact of deer hunting, license sales, safety programs and other industry trends.

CRACKERNECK OPEN: Aiken County’s Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area and Ecological Reserve will be open to the public on the first four Saturdays during March (2, 9, 16, and 23) to allow scouting, fishing and other activities. March 30 will be reserved for a youth turkey hunt.

The area includes 10,470 acres owned by the U.S. Department of Energy along the Savannah River south of Jackson. Access is off Brown Road near U.S. Highway 125. To request a map, call (803) 725-3663 or e-mail CaudellM@dnr.sc.gov.

RISING LAKES: Heavy rainfall helped Thurmond Lake rebound more than 3 feet since the beginning of the year, with water levels forecast to rise an additional 4 feet by late April, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The newest projections indicate the current levels of just over 319 feet above sea level should increase to more than 323 feet by late April, but still fall short of completely refilling to the lake’s full pool elevation, 330 feet above sea level.

The lowest level recorded at the lake last year was 314.43 feet above sea level Dec. 10.

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