OUTDOORS FEATURE: Archery dos and don'ts

Do’s and dont’s of tree-stand operation are factors hunters should be well aware of during the upcoming deer season. Always follow the stand manufacturer’s directions and use all proper safety precautions. (Photo courtesy Ala. DCNR)

Do’s and dont’s of tree-stand operation are factors hunters should be well aware of during the upcoming deer season. Always follow the stand manufacturer’s directions and use all proper safety precautions. (Photo courtesy Ala. DCNR)

Deer season is one of the most highly anticipated times of the year for many hunters in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. Archers get the first opportunity at bringing home a deer beginning Saturday, Sept. 14. Statewide archery season runs through Oct. 11, although hunters may hunt deer with archery equipment through the entire deer season (Jan. 1 in Northern Zone and Jan. 15 in the Southern Zone).

“Spring and summer seasons with abundant rainfall, like Georgia has experienced this year, generally produce abundant natural foods,” said chief of Game Management John Bowers. “These conditions often contribute to an increase in deer quality, but can also make it a challenging year to hunt deer.”

Hunters are allowed a season bag limit of 10 antlerless deer and two antlered deer (one of the two antlered deer must have a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers). Special regulations apply to archery-only counties and extended archery season areas. Counties in the Metro Atlanta area (Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Rockdale counties) offer either-sex archery deer hunting Sept. 14 through Jan. 31.

To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record. If hunting on a wildlife management area, a WMA license is required. Licenses can be purchased online at www.gohuntgeorgia.com/licenses-permits-passes, by phone at 1-800-366-2661, or at a license agent (list of agents available online).

The Wildlife Resources Division reminds hunters not to forget to print a new deer harvest record and have it with you as you head to the woods on the opening day of deer season.

“A deer harvest record is good only for a single hunting season, so hunters need to be sure to print a new harvest record for the new deer season,” said Charlie Killmaster, state deer program coordinator.

All deer hunters, including big game license holders, honorary and lifetime license holders, hunters under 16 years of age and landowners, should obtain a new deer harvest record. Deer harvest records are required for any person hunting deer, regardless of age. Records are free of charge and available at www.gohuntgeorgia.com/licenses-permits-passes or at any retail license agent.

Hunters must complete a deer harvest record before moving a deer from the site of a kill, except when participating in a wildlife management area or national wildlife refuge hunt that requires hunters to check out harvested deer. Hunters may not possess or use multiple big game licenses or deer harvest records and should keep harvest records with hunting licenses.

Many hunters utilize tree stands to give them a leg up on their quarry. Sometimes, however, these are improperly installed or show signs of wear after several years. As a result, according to the WRD, hunters may find themselves a statistic in a hunting-related tree stand incident. Though undeniably advantageous hunting tools, tree stands can be dangerous, even deadly, when improperly employed.

Not every tree stand is the same. Hunters should be familiar with their particular model’s features. Following are recommended safety tips:

  1. When using a non-climbing portable or ladder stand, hunters should securely fasten the stand to the tree and install ladders or steps according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Hunters should always wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness during ascent and descent. Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer recommended and should not be used. Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.
  3. Hunters should always attach their FAS in the manner described by the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover and re-enter the tree stand. Be aware of the hazards associated with full body harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may also be fatal.
  4. Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cellphones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have an alternate plan for recovery or escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion or use your suspension relief device.
  5. Consider your personal physical condition before going out. If you do not have the ability to recover or escape from a FAS, it is recommended that you hunt only from the ground.
  6. Hunters should always use a haul line to pull their gear and unloaded firearm or bow into their tree stand. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower equipment to the ground on the opposite side of the tree.
  7. Staying awake and alert is important. Hunters should avoid taking medications that cause drowsiness prior to hunting. Also, never use alcohol or drugs before or while hunting.
  8. Hunters should always inform someone of where they are hunting and what time they expect to return.

When it comes to hunting this season, be informed and prepared where regulations are concerned. Regarding safety, tree-stand or otherwise, use common sense and good judgment. These factors will go a long way toward making this hunting season a safe and happy experience.