Georgia Wildlife Resources Division
2070 U.S. Hwy. 278, SE, Social Circle, GA 30025
By: John W. Bowers and H. Todd Holbrook
Dog-hunting for deer is a four hundred year-old tradition in the Southeastern United States. Today, this method of hunting involves using dogs, many trucks, electronic communications equipment and public roads to trail deer. Frequently, deer and dogs run over large acreages requiring large consolidated tracts to keep dogs off neighboring lands. Conflicts between landowners, still hunters and dog deer hunters, in ascending order of intensity, are blocking of public roads, trespass to recover dogs, and trespass by deerhounds.
Recently in Georgia, these conflicts escalated in four counties resulting in regulation proposals to eliminate dog-deer hunting. Six other counties had similar problems and were likely to follow. Combined these counties represented 25 percent of those available for hunting deer with dogs. Faced with this reality, the Georgia Dog Hunters Association sought a law change to mutually protect landowners and dog-deer hunting interests. The Association pushed the bill politically and supported subsequent Board regulations needed to implement the new law.
Dog-deer hunting now requires a permit that is specific to a tract (>1000 contiguous acres). Permits may be revoked based on violations of laws or permit conditions. The most critical condition is that deerhounds are required to remain on permitted properties. During the first year under these new laws and regulations, the Department issued permits to 358 clubs, covering more than 1.7 million acres. Of these, 75% had no significant problems or violations, 19% had minor problems and 3% had significant violations of laws, regulations or conditions of permits. Only 2 clubs had permits revoked.
Considerable political support and opposition still exist; additional law changes are likely. However, the new combination of laws and regulations holds potential to eliminate aggressive, non-compliant clubs thereby protecting hunting opportunity for law abiding, ethical dog clubs in the presence of majority public opinion in opposition to this activity.
Presented at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Deer Study Group, February 21-23, 2005, Sheperdstown, WV.