Originally created 05/27/01

Either-sex seasons expanded



One of the major wishes expressed by Georgia deer hunters came true during Wednesday's Board of Natural Resources meeting in Atlanta.

The board expanded either-sex seasons statewide to offer hunters more flexibility in doe harvest - a move that also will aid efforts to produce quality bucks.

The changes will make the entire gun season in the Southern Zone - from Oct. 27 to Jan. 6 - either-sex days.

The Eastern Piedmont zone, which includes Richmond, Lincoln, McDuffie, Columbia and other nearby counties, will have 53 doe days - up from 28.

Either-sex days in those counties will begin Nov. 10 and run through the season's end Jan. 1. The board also made the entire muzzleloader season, set for Oct. 20-27, either-sex.

"This change has been a request from the public over the last five years," said Dan Forster, Georgia's assistant chief of game management. "They want the flexibility to harvest does when it's convenient, rather than on a particular day."

Being able to put a doe in the freezer early might spare some small-antlered bucks killed opening week.

Those "button bucks" make up 30 percent of the antlerless harvest, Forster said. "With more opportunity to harvest does, our hope is that individuals will be more selective and take fewer button bucks."

DNR DONATION: The Georgia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation donated $203,810 to the state Department of Natural Resources last week to help fund conservation programs statewide.

The money, which brings to $1.6 million the amount the Edgefield-based organization has spent in Georgia since 1987, will be spent on more than 50 projects, some of which are in the Augusta area.

In DNR's Region III, which includes much of east Georgia, the projects include cost-sharing 221 acres of liming, fertilizer and other improvements for wildlife openings at Yuchi, Tuckahoe, Clarks Hill, Ogeechee, Richard Russell and Oconee wildlife management areas.

The contributions also are earmarked for the purchase of seed and fertilizer at Fort Gordon; the purchase of a spreader, grain drills, mowers and other equipment; a seed subsidy program for landowners who wish to improve turkey habitat on private land; 4-H shooting sports; sportsman surveys used to gauge population and harvest trends; scholarships for students to attend wildlife study programs; education kiosks in schools; and many others.

The money was presented at NWTF's annual JAKES event and Open House at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Ga.

Georgia's wild turkey population has climbed from a precarious 17,000 birds in 1973 to more than 300,000 today.

RECORD CATFISH: For the second time this year, a flathead catfish hoisted from Lowcountry waters has been certified as a South Carolina state record.

Jessica Preston, an 18-year-old Gilbert, S.C., resident, was fishing with her dad in the Santee Diversion Canal on May 11, when she hooked into a flathead that later was certified as weighing 79 pounds, 4 ounces.

The mammoth fish surpassed by one ounce the new record set by North Carolina angler David Butler in early April. Jessica was using a whole, dead herring for bait and a reel loaded with 17-pound test line.

The fish, far too large for the Preston's cooler, was tied off at the side of the boat until her Dad, Dean Preston, took the fish into a local marina for weighing. The record was certified by South Carolina DNR biologist Scott Lamprecht.

Jessica and her dad cleaned the catfish, which was frozen for future stews and fish fries.

Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119, or rpavey@augustachronicle.com.