Georgia Wildlife Resources Division
2070 U.S. Hwy. 278, SE, Social Circle, GA 30025
By: Mike VanBrackle and J. Scott McDonald
In 1993 Dooly County, Georgia became the first in the nation to have a county-wide antler restriction regulation for hunting white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Cooperative research by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR) and the University of Georgia found the regulation socially successful, but biological information was limited to voluntarily-reported, hunter-harvested deer. Other counties began requesting similar antler restrictions despite unanswered biological questions. Beginning in 1998 GADNR captured and radio-collared 135 bucks in two separate study areas under antler restriction regulations to investigate survival and mortality causes and distribution. Sixty-three (63) deer were collared in Dooly and Macon counties in the upper coastal plain where bucks must have a 15 inch minimum outside spread to be eligible for harvest. Seventy-two (72) deer were collared in Harris and Meriwether counties in the western piedmont where bucks must have at least 4 points on one side to be harvested legally. Deer were monitored at least once weekly September - January and bi-weekly February - August until death. Mortalities were categorized as legal harvest, illegal harvest, or non-harvest. Fifty-six (56) percent of deer captured as yearlings (1.5-years-old) in Dooly-Macon and 47% in Harris-Meriwether survived to 2.5 years-old. Through 1 November 2002 at least 26% and 22% of yearlings had survived to 3.5+ years-old in Dooly-Macon and Harris-Meriwether, respectively. We continue to monitor surviving deer. Up to date frequency distributions of legal harvest versus percentages of animals "lost" to illegal harvest, non-harvest factors, as well as emigration from the county will be discussed.
Presented at the 26th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Deer Study Group, February 23-26, 2003, Chattanooga, TN.