Now that the law has been officially approved, it’s time to break it down.
In June, the Georgia DNR Board approved hunting over supplemental feed on all private lands in the state. Supplemental feeding was legal before, hunters just could’t hunt deer over it. However in 2011, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources divided the state into two zones: the southern zone and northern zone. The previous Georgia deer baiting law allowed southern zone hunters to hunt over supplemental feed—but not northern zone hunters—and the feed needed to be at least 200 yards away and out of sight.
The zone change was recommended to the Georgia general assembly, but didn’t pass. Only after Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order did the law become approved via the recommendation of the Georgia DNR.
The DNR doesn’t have authority to combine the two zones or legalize baiting in the northern zone without a Georgia Senate and House vote. However, it can move the zone line, which is exactly what it did.
Hunters still can’t place feed of any kind on state or federal public land, including the Chattahoochee National Forest.
This new proposal will go into immediate effect for the 2018-19 hunting season.
What This Means for Georgia Hunters
All Georgia deer hunters can now hunt over whatever feed they prefer. While legal, is it ethical? That’s up for the individual to decide, and to each his or her own convictions. Both the Georgia Wildlife Federation and The Quality Deer Management Association publicly oppose the Senate Bill 450 from a ‘joint-action alert issued Feb. 27.
Concentrating deer at bait sites has shown through research to spread disease, and with the reality of chronic wasting disease spreading east, it’s definitely a factor everyone needs to consider.
Thankfully, Georgia currently documents no cases of CWD.
There’s also an opposing argument that CWD isn’t as serious as the DNR makes it out to be, and that it’s a ploy for more funding. Those in favor of the proposal believe deer baiting will also increase harvest rates and hunter recruitment. Time will tell for the latter.
I encourage anyone unsure of either argument to research as much as possible. Then, and only then, make an accurate assessment based on facts.
Like what you see here? Read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at whitetailguruhunting.com. Follow him on Twitter @whitetailguru, Instagram @whitetailguru and subscribe on YouTube @Bulldawgoutdoors. Nathan is also the host of the Whitetail Guru Hunting Podcast.