January 24, 2019
Check out this video to learn how to manage your small track of land to bag your trophy buck.
TAKE YOUR CHANCES AT FLINT RIVER
As of now, there is really only one option when it comes to hunting public land in these three counties, but it’s one of the premier spots for taking big bucks on public land.
Flint River WMA is 2,300 acres of prime deer habitat, nestled in the bottomlands along the western border of Dooly County. The area’s two archery hunts are open to the public, and the property hosts an open hunt for youth and disabled hunters as well. But for firearms Flint River is part of the GDNR’s quota system, and it’s one of the most difficult hunts for which to be drawn.
“Some hunts just everybody applies for them; everybody wants to be there,” said Howze. “We have a lot of repeat hunters that go to Flint River every year. Part of that is the quality deer management strategy, that has protected that 1.5-year age class.”
Georgia’s system works like a lottery, with applications due in early September for deer. Those who aren’t drawn earn a “priority point,” which can build up over time, providing a higher chance of being selected. For popular and low-quota hunts, hunters may need many years’ worth of points to be selected.
Flint River virtually requires a hunter to have accumulated at least two priority points, and then it’s not a sure thing. In 2017, hunters who spent two points had just a 57 and 36 percent chance for the first and second Flint River hunts, respectively. Hunters who spent three or more points had a 100 percent acceptance rate.
Last year less than 150 hunters hunted the property, no more than 32 on a single day, and just over a third of those harvested a deer, does included. Those low numbers give bucks more chances to grow old, plus antler restrictions are in place allowing only quality bucks with a 15-inch outside spread or 16-inch main beams to be harvested.
All this together makes hunting Flint River feel more like a private club than a large chunk of public land.
“There are a good many locals from around that area that hunt Flint River,” said Howze. There are several families in that area who are actually really good ‘customers’ of Flint River because they love it and they bring their families in to hunt it as well.”
Show Me The Money
For most of us, $11 million a day is an unbelievable, unreachable figure. But that’s what hunters and anglers spent on outdoor recreation in the Peach State last year, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
No doubt more than a few of those are homegrown, but Georgia has a lot to offer those coming in from out of state; tourism is a force to be reckoned with when considering the state economy.
The entire Georgia tourism industry generated more than $63.1 billion in 2017, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, up 3.8 percent from the year before.
“The outdoors is a vitally important part of our strategy to draw visitors to Georgia,” said Kevin Langston, Deputy Commissioner for the GDEcD Tourism Division. “Georgia has much to offer both the thrill-seeker, and also those who just enjoy soaking up the beauty of nature.”
To get that message out, the agency works with partners like O’Neill Williams, a Georgia-born outdoorsman who’s been promoting Peach State hunting and fishing on TV and radio for more than 35 years.
New to the GDEcD’s efforts to promote outdoor tourism in 2018, was a print ad enticing readers to get out and explore Georgia’s potential as a fishing destination that ran in Southern Living magazine, among other publications.
The agency also hosted a workshop on “Balancing Nature and Commerce in Georgia’s Small Towns,” helping small communities across the state access tools to help leverage their outdoor assets to draw visitors.