As part of The Wildlife Resources Division's (WRD) goal to maintain a quality deer herd in Georgia, estimates of the state's deer harvest, deer hunter effort, and deer hunter success are acquired each year and then used to inform development of hunting regulations in subsequent years to facilitate meeting desired management objectives.
The question often comes up, “How does WRD get these estimates?” Since at least 1962, WRD has used scientifically valid, survey methodology to get estimates of not only deer harvest, but also harvest estimates of other game species. Harvest estimates are obtained by asking a random sample of approximately 2,500 licensed Georgia deer hunters about their deer hunting effort and success during the most recent deer season. These results are then applied to the total number of deer hunters in the state. The total number of deer hunters in the state is obtained from the hunting license database. The 2,500 hunter sample size is more than adequate, statistically, to produce precise estimates of statewide harvest, effort, and success.
Another question commonly asked is, “Who conducts Georgia’s annual hunter harvest survey?” WRD contracts with public opinion research firms that specialize in natural resource issues. Since 2004, WRD has contracted with Responsive Management, a professionally recognized research firm and neutral third party, to conduct the survey each year. WRD and Responsive Management work together to develop a scientific survey questionnaire and to generate a random a sample of hunting license holders from the license sales database. Responsive Management then administers the survey (by telephone) to this random sample of hunters, statistically analyzes the results, and provides a survey report to WRD.
The survey is made up of several questions pertaining to the recent hunting season, such as number of deer killed, sex of deer killed, county where deer were killed, number of days hunted, and other pertinent questions. Statistical parameter estimates for these data are calculated and applied to the entire deer hunter population to generate statewide and physiographic region estimates.
The survey also is used to ask timely and important questions regarding hunter opinions on hunting and conservation-related issues. The results of these attitude and opinion questions (social science) are often used to scientifically evaluate support or opposition for a particular issue or proposal and also to help inform changes in state hunting regulations.
Another commonly asked question is, “Why isn’t every hunter surveyed?” As mentioned above, a random sample of hunting license holders is generated from the license database. Each hunter has approximately a 1 in a 100 chance of being a part of the survey each year. Like all other scientific surveys, only a relatively small sample is needed to generate statistically valid estimates within accepted standard deviations. Surveys and sample sizes are designed to produce statistically reliable and economically affordable results at the statewide and physiographic region level. This level of management effort allows WRD to produce scientifically sound and defendable estimates of deer harvest and hunter success at the most practical management level.
Technical assistance is available from any WRD wildlife biologist for interested groups and individuals desiring to better manage the deer herd on their property. Biologists may be reached by contacting the appropriate Game Management Section regional office for a particular county.
To access annual deer harvest summaries by season, please click on the following links: 2012-2013; 2011-2012; 2010-2011; 2009-2010; 2008-2009; 2007-2008; 2006-2007; 2005-2006; 2004-2005; 2003-2004; 2002-2003; 2001-2002; and 2000-2001.