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Opinion & Attitude Survey Toward Deer Management in Georgia

Opinions on Deer Hunting in Georgia

Regarding deer management strategies, overwhelming majorities of all three groups (82% of the general population, 99% of hunters, and 96% of landowners) support legal deer hunting in Georgia. Most of that support is strong support. The support is also high when respondents are asked if they support hunting as a way to manage deer populations (82% of the general population, 98% of hunters, and 93% of landowners strongly or moderately support hunting as a way to manage deer).

Regarding two strategies to control deer in places where hunting is restricted (urban/suburban areas and in parks/recreation lands), there is more support than opposition to use of regulated archery hunting to control deer in urban and suburban areas and the use of regulated hunting in parks and recreation lands that have traditionally been closed to hunting. The support is much greater than opposition among hunters and landowners, but the difference is less pronounced among the general population.

A large majority of hunters are satisfied (81%) with the current deer season structure. Nearly the same percentage of deer hunters (82%) are satisfied with how well the GDNR incorporates hunters' wants and needs into the management of the state's deer population.

Regarding specific regulations, more hunters support (61%) than oppose (28%) a longer deer hunting season in Georgia. Many more hunters support (77%) than oppose (7%) extending the deer hunting season in the northern zone to match the southern zone. There is also much more support (75%) than opposition (20%) to allowing the hunting of does at any time during the deer season. Finally, respondents were asked their opinions about two regulations. Among hunters, there is much more support (58%) than opposition (21%) to having one statewide season for deer with no zones, and there is much more support (76%) than opposition (18%) for allowing hunters who use muzzleloaders to use magnifying scopes. Among the general population and landowners, support exceeded opposition to both, but not as greatly as among hunters.

A large majority of deer hunters (71%) indicated that they would support an increase in deer hunting license fees if they knew that the money would be used for deer management. The support for an increase in license fees evaporates when the money would not be used for deer management: only 8% would support, and 85% would oppose, an increase in fees if the money would not be used for deer management.

When asked about specific management strategies for quality deer, hunters are overwhelmingly willing to give up the chance to shoot small-antlered bucks while at the same time shooting more does for an increased chance in later years of shooting a large-antlered bucks (83%). However, deer hunters do not support a regulation requiring that a deer hunter must harvest a doe before he or she can harvest a buck (52% oppose, while 38% support).

Opposition exceeds support for hunters using dogs to hunt deer, even among hunters.

  • Among hunters, 39% support and 51% oppose hunters using dogs to hunt deer.
  • Those who support commonly cite tradition and an increased chance of harvest as reasons they support hunters hunting with dogs.
  • Those who oppose commonly say they do so because hunting with dogs does not give the deer a fair chance or that hunting deer with dogs is inhumane to the deer. Landowners also indicate that hunting with dogs increases the chance of hunters trespassing.

There is much more opposition (i.e., those saying it should be illegal) than support (those saying it should be legal) to fenced hunting of white-tailed deer and other large animals, even among hunters (indeed, the most support was among landowners): majorities of all groups said hunting white-tailed deer and other large animals inside fenced enclosures should be illegal. When a condition is placed on the question about fenced hunting of white-tailed deer-would the respondent support it if it would generate economic activity for rural Georgia-there is still much more opposition than support, and mostly strong opposition.

The results regarding fenced hunting of non-native, exotic deer are similar. The large majority of respondents think it should be illegal to hunt non-native deer in a fenced enclosure, and they oppose it, even if it would generate economic activity for rural Georgia.

There are greater percentages in each group who think that hunting white-tailed deer by attracting them using bait should be illegal than think it should be legal, when there are no conditions attached to the question, although the difference is not great among hunters and landowners.

  • Majorities of the general population (59%) and landowners (54%), and just less than a majority of hunters (49%), think it should be illegal to hunt deer using bait unconditionally.
  • Those who support do so most commonly because it will increase the hunters' chance of harvest, that it allows for better deer population control, and that it helps with quality deer management. Tradition was also cited by many.
  • Those who oppose do so most commonly because it is not perceived as fair to the deer and that it is unethical to trick the deer.
  • When the condition is place on the question about support or opposition for hunting deer directly over bait if it were part of a year-round feeding program, opposition (52%) still exceeds support (31%) among the general population, but not among hunters, who had more support (56%) than opposition (37%), and among landowners, who were evenly split between support (45%) and opposition (45%).

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