This document is designed to give hunters who are considering or are already in the process of practicing their craft in the State of Georgia all of the basic information they will need to get started or become more successful. It will provide Georgia-based hunters useful references such as how to go about acquiring a hunting license, where to hunt and what species are available with their respective seasons. The primary purpose of this text is to point hunters in the right direction.
How to Get a Hunting License in Georgia
The section of Georgia’s government that oversees hunting is the aforementioned Department of Natural Resources (DNR), specifically the Wildlife Resources Division. They offer three modes through which interested parties can obtain a license. First is online via their private domain. Second is to visit a local hunting license dealer in-person, and in this regard, the DNC has provided an online interactive map where your location within Georgia can be inputted, and it will identify the agent closest to you. The third option is to call the DNR directly at the phone number listed on their “Licenses & Permits” website.
Who is Eligible for a Georgia Hunting License?
In general, to obtain a hunting license in Georgia, a person must be at least 16 years of age. Resident hunters under 16 years old don’t need a license yet do need to be accompanied by an adult. However, nonresidents under 16 do require a license, unless they are hunting small game. The DNR also offers special licenses to senior residents, including the Senior Lifetime Sportsman’s License which can be obtained for free by any resident born before 1 July 1952.
Anyone applying for a hunting license in Georgia must submit certain information. In addition to the basics like legal name, a full US address(es) and telephone number, the applicant must also provide his or her social security and driver’s license numbers. Moreover, applicants who were born after 31 December 1960 must first complete a Georgia Hunter Education course before receiving a license. The certificate received upon completing this course is recognized in some other states as well as parts of Canada.
As with other States, hunting licenses for residents of Georgia are quite inexpensive, yet they can cost a lot more for nonresidents. For instance, a general hunting license costs over six times as much for a nonresident than a resident. And keep in mind as aforementioned that in general all nonresident hunters, regardless of age, must have a license. In addition to a basic license, hunters in Georgia will also need to purchase additional permits when pursuing species such as a big game, migratory birds and alligators.
Where to Hunt in Georgia
In addition to being large compared to some other States, Georgia is also one of the most biodiverse, and the DNR has made approximately one million acres of public land available to the hunters primarily through their Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). In total, the DNR oversees over 120 WMAs that hunters can take advantage of. Recommended among them are Cedar Creek, Chickasawhatchee, Ocmulgee and Warwoman. Even though many of these sites do not require a hunting license to gain entry most of them do, and all of them require a hunting license to actually pursue game. The DNR also provides their online Interactive Hunting Map to the general public which will help a hunter find the ideal WMA for him or her to sport in. Furthermore, they have provided an even more-comprehensive option via a placemark file which users of Google Earth can download and open within that program to give them the locations of Georgia’s many WMAs.
That said, it is important to mention that land in Georgia, including forests where much of the hunting game is to be found, is overwhelmingly owned by private citizens. As with other States, hunters are required to first obtain the landowner’s permission before using private properties and are encouraged to make a good impression while doing so. Additionally, almost three million acres of forestlands in Georgia are owned by corporations such as CatchMark, Weyerhaeuser and Westervelt, which give formal access to hunters wanting to use their facilities.
Finally, in terms of accessing private lands, there are a number of hunting clubs that interested parties may consider joining since these organizations have already leased or own their own lands. Information for such organizations can be found on websites such as the Georgia Outdoor News Forum and the Outdoors Traders Forum.
Hunting Guides & Outfitters within Georgia
If you’re not an overly experienced hunter, then hiring a guide, especially when pursuing big game, can be a wise choice. Also, hunters of all levels can have more-enjoyable expeditions by employing the services of professional hunting guides and outfitters. Thus these professionals serve a convenient role in the hunting experience. Below you will find a list, including a couple of directories compiled by private parties, consisting of Georgia-based hunting professionals that are ever-eager to give outdoor sportsmen a hand:
- Blackwater Outfitters Hunting
- Burnt Pine Plantation
- Gray Ghost Plantation
- The Hunting Guide Directory
- Oconee Ridge Outfitters
- Owen Farms Hunting Preserve
- Russell Outdoor Guides
- Ultimate Deer Hunting
- Vallambrosa Outfitters
- World Class Outdoors
Hunting Seasons in the State of Georgia
Below is a summation of hunting seasons in Georgia. Interested parties are advised to visit the DNR’s website or click on one of the hyperlinks below which will direct you to additional information, such as bag limits and methods of take, for individual species.
Bear, deer, and turkey are considered a big game in Georgia, and the applicable license is required to hunt them. Moreover, as will be detailed later in this document, deer and turkey harvests must be recorded and reported. Deer have a number of seasons, but they all fall within the last quarter of the year going into the beginning of the next. Turkey season occurs within the second quarter of the year, and the dates of the seasons for bear tend to be similar to those for deer.
Unlike some other States, alligators are classified as a small game in Georgia, and they can be hunted during the latter half of the year. Traditional small game species the State of Georgia has available include bobcats, doves, foxes, minks, muskrats, opossums, rabbits, raccoons, river otter, ruffed grouse, skunks, squirrels, and woodchucks. Though their respective seasons may vary, they all tend to fall within the latter third of the year into the first third of the next.
Migratory birds include coots, ducks, gallinules, geese, mergansers, rails, snipe, teal, and woodcocks. Like the small game, their respective seasons vary but normally fall within the last third of the year into the first third of the successive one.
Non-Native & Invasive Species
Animals that fall under this classification (armadillos, beavers, coyotes, English sparrows, feral hogs, groundhogs, pigeons, and starlings) are generally considered pests and as such have no closed season or bag limits.
The DNR has released separate online documents with easy-to-read tables of hunting seasons for migratory birds and big and small game that the reader is also advised to peruse for the precise dates of hunting seasons.
Registering Deer & Turkey Harvests
Deer and turkey harvests must be reported to the State. In order to do so hunters, including those under 16 years of age, must first possess a free Harvest Record, and the successful take must be recorded on the site of the kill. In addition to a physical Harvest Record, the harvest can also be recorded by telephone using the number provided by the DNR or electronically via their Go Outdoors GA app, which is available for both Apple and Android devices. Once the deer or turkey harvest is properly recorded it must then be registered, within 72 hours, using Georgia Game Check via the DNR’s website.
General Hunting Regulations in Georgia
Below is a list of some general hunting regulations when it comes to pursuing game in Georgia. For information on other rules as well as more details pertaining to the ones listed below, hunters are advised to this link.
- Hunting dogs can be trained on private land during any time of the year. However, if a said trainer is not doing so on his own land or the property of an immediate relative, then he or she must possess a hunting license.
- Hunters and their companions are required to wear at least 500-square inches of hunter orange on their upper bodies when pursuing deer and bear during their respective primitive weapons or firearms season and feral pigs during the firearms season.
- Georgia’s legal hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. However, alligators, bobcats, coyotes, feral hogs, foxes, raccoons, and opossums can be legally pursued at night.
- Hunters cannot pursue game while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- If a hunter kills or severely wounds any game, he or she must make a conscientious effort to retrieve the body.
- Hunters cannot shoot across or within the vicinity of 50 yards of a public road.
- Hunters are not allowed to use motor vehicles to hunt while the engine is running.
- Hunters cannot utilize remote-controlled firearms during a hunt.
- Hunters cannot take the game in their dens or homes nor chase animals away from such.
- The following devices are prohibited while hunting in Georgia: chemicals, drugs, explosives, poison, smoke, and amplified electronic sounds.
Accommodation for Hunters in Georgia
There are also some establishments that are specifically designed to accommodate hunters. The following are a select handful of such located in Georgia, along with their primary contact information:
The Department of Natural Resources seems to be maintaining two separate private domains (gooutdoorsgeorgia.com and georgiawildlife.com) with the purpose of disseminating information pertaining to hunting in the State of Georgia, and finding necessary material can at times be burdensome. So in that regard, we hope this document has assisted you in simplifying the task. Despite the fact that their information is so varied a viewer can tell by the care the DNR has put into detailing it that they are serious about encouraging sportsman to hunt in the Peach State, and like them, we also wish you great success during your next hunting expedition in Georgia!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about living in Georgia
Q. Who does the DNR classify someone as a legal resident of Georgia?
A. The criteria the DNR uses to determine residency or “domicile” when issuing a hunting permit basically means the applicant has spent at least three months living in Georgia. So in that regard, to prove residency, all applicants for a hunting license over the age of 15 must provide a current Georgia Driver’s License that has been valid for at least three months. A person cannot be the legal resident of more than one State simultaneously.
Q. I heard that convicted felons can carry firearms to hunt in Georgia during applicable seasons. Is that true?
A. In general, convicted felons cannot have a firearm or muzzleloader in their possession while hunting. However, if said person has had his or her right to carry firearms restored, then he or she can also do so while hunting.
Q. Can artificial lights be used to hunt in Georgia?
A. Unlike some other States, Georgia allows hunters to utilize artificial lights (of any voltage) to hunt certain species – so long as such light is attached to the hunter’s helmet or belt. Permissible species include the following: bobcats, feral hogs, foxes, raccoons, and opossums.
Q. I am a landowner who is considering allowing outside hunters access to use my property, but I don’t want to be sued by one if he or she gets injured. Are there any laws in place to protect me from liability?
A. Yes. A landowner is protected by Georgia law if he or she allows a hunter to hunt on their property free of charge, with further laws also protecting landowners and lessees even if they do charge hunters a fee to use their land.