Georgia Deer Baiting Now Legal Statewide

   06.28.18

For the first time in years, all private-land deer hunters in Georgia will reportedly have the same rules to follow — specifically regarding the “baiting” of deer. In 2011, deer feeding/baiting rules were abolished for the southern portion of the state, but remained in place for the rest of Georgia. Somehow, someone decided it was okay to shoot deer over corn in some counties, but not in others. Government in action!

The division was a result of a law passed by the state legislature in 2011, which drew a line across the state which has since been wondered at and ridiculed by hunters. When the legislature failed to address the issue earlier this year, GA governor Nathan Deal issued an executive order directing the DNR to “evaluate and determine an appropriate expansion of the Southern Zone and present such findings to the Board for action based on sound wildlife management principles.”

The restriction prohibited hunters from hunting within 200 yards of, or within sight of (regardless of distance), bait or feed. Using food plots as “bait” remained legal everywhere.

The DNR lacks the legal power to erase the dividing line — only the legislature can get rid of an existing law — but DNR does have the power to move that line. And that’s what it did on June 27, 2018.

The DNR Board this morning voted to approve a DNR proposal that legalizes hunting deer over supplemental feed with no distance restriction on all private land in Georgia. The new regulation will be in effect for this coming 2018-2019 deer season in Georgia.

The DNR voted specifically to move the Northern Zone line to include only the Chattahoochee National Forest in extreme north Georgia — baiting deer is illegal regardless on all public land in Georgia — so this move makes baiting deer legal on all private land in the state.

How odd to have game managers who respect hunters’ input and do sensible things from time to time. We don’t seem to have that in Florida.

‘The proposal was to increase parity for hunters across the state by making the Northern Zone the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Southern Zone would be anything outside of that,’ said Wes Robinson, the director of Public and Governmental Affairs at Georgia DNR.

Whether you want to hunt over bait is a personal decision, whether food plots, troughs of feed, broadcast feeders, or mineral blocks are the attractant. This law is simply about allowing hunters on private land to hunt in whatever way they prefer in a deer-rich state… and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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