Proposed legislation to extend hunting season, increase fees

Published 6:06 pm Friday, February 3, 2017

Two new pieces of legislation are on the docket at the Georgia General Assembly this month that will see changes to hunting and fishing regulations if passed.

House Bill 186 proposes to extend deer season through January, with a closing date for firearms on the third Monday of the month and a closing date for archery on Jan. 31. Currently, firearms season for deer closes on the second Sunday of January statewide. This year, firearms season closed Jan. 8.

Currently, counties in the metro Atlanta area allow deer hunting through Jan. 31. Those suburban areas have experienced massive growth in deer populations because only archery is legal. If passed, HB 186 would make the Jan. 31 date statewide.

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Georgia Representative Jay Powell is one of the sponsors of the bill.

“There are a lot of people who hunt in South Georgia who have said with the weather like it is lately—still hot—deer are still in rut and that’s where you want hunting season anyway,” Powell said. “Currently, the law does not reflect when the best hunting is. The request is to consider something different in the South Georgia area.”

Powell said he heard Southwest Georgians asking about the possibility of extending firearm and archery season, and approached Georgia DNR Commissioner Mark Williams. Powell was pointed toward Representative Jason Shaw (District 176 – Valdosta), who is leading the charge on HB 186.

The bill would need to be passed by both the Georgia House of Representatives and Georgia Senate before heading to Gov. Nathan Deal for final approval.

The third Monday in January falls on MLK Day, a day where schools are closed in Georgia and many workers are given a holiday.

A proposed piece of legislation that would increase hunting and fishing license fees as well as the cost of boat registration is also in the works.

House Bill 208 would increase Georgia resident hunting license fees from $10 to $15. For deer or turkey, the annual license fee would jump from $9 to $20. For non-resident annual big game licenses, prices jump from $195 to $225.

A resident fishing license would move from $17 to $25 under HB 208. For a resident Sportsman’s license, the price goes from $55 to $65.

License fees are a revenue source for the DNR Wildlife Resources Division.