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Hunters head to the woods for the start of deer season

Mike Martin, a sales associate at Piedmont Outdoors, adjusts the bore scope on a rifle Thursday at the store located at 2467 Access Road in Covington. Deer hunters in Rockdale and Newton counties spent the week preparing for the start of firearm deer season that begins Saturday. Staff Photo: Erin Evans

Mike Martin, a sales associate at Piedmont Outdoors, adjusts the bore scope on a rifle Thursday at the store located at 2467 Access Road in Covington. Deer hunters in Rockdale and Newton counties spent the week preparing for the start of firearm deer season that begins Saturday. Staff Photo: Erin Evans

CONYERS -- Hunters will take to the woods this weekend for the start of firearms deer season that continues through Jan. 1 in the northern part of the state and Jan. 15 in South Georgia.

A valid hunting license is required to hunt deer during firearms season, as is a big game license and a deer harvest record, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. In most cases, a separate license is required to hunt on a Wildlife Management Area.

Also, all deer hunters must wear at least 500 square inches of fluorescent orange above the waist to legally hunt during firearms season, except in archery-only areas.

Licenses can be purchased online, by telephone or at a retail license vendor. A list of vendors is available at www.georgiawildlife.com/recreational-licenses. To purchase a license by telephone, call 1-800-366-2661.

"Regulated hunting is the most cost-effective and efficient means of managing the deer herd," John W. Bowers, assistant chief of Game Management for the Wildlife Resources Division, said in a press release. Bowers added that more than $30 million is raised each year to fund wildlife conservation from license fees and excise taxes collected on purchase of firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and fishing equipment.

During the 2010-2011 firearms deer season, 299,894 licensed hunters harvested more than 386,050 deer in Georgia.

Hunters are allowed a season total of 10 antlerless deer and two antlered deer. One of the two antlered deer must have a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers, according to state hunting regulations.

The DNR said more than one million acres of public hunting land is available to hunters in Georgia, including more than 100 state-operated wildlife management areas. Also, many special hunts are offered, including ladies-only and adult/child hunts. Dates and locations for these hunts, as well as WMA maps, are available in the 2011-2012 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide at www.gohuntgeorgia.com/hunting/regulations.