QDMA is pleased to recognize the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division as its 2019 Agency of the Year.
“Agencies that received our award in the past boast a record of innovative and progressive deer management, initiating positive change through regulation and hunter involvement,” said Matt Ross, QDMA’s Assistant Director of Conservation, who presented the award at QDMA’s Whitetail Weekend, April 13. “Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division is a leader in these areas and many others.”
For nearly two decades, hunters across the United States have harvested more antlerless deer than antlered bucks, but that national trend has ended, according to data in QDMA’s most recent Whitetail Report. Yet, Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) continues to lead this statistic both regionally and nationally. Their 2017-18 season antlerless harvest per square mile at 4.2 ranked fourth in the United States, and Georgia’s doe-per-buck harvest ranked second. At 1.7 antlerless deer per antlered buck, it’s nearly double the Southeast average. Moreover, Georgia hunters have averaged killing nearly 250,000 antlerless deer per year over the last five seasons, second highest in the United States. Georgia’s total antlered buck harvest of 139,424 was the fifth highest in the nation in 2017-18.
Over the same time, Georgia WRD staff have become leaders in the R3 (Recruit, Retain, Reactivate) hunter recruitment movement, developing strong mentorship programs like “WRD Mentor” and “Learn to Hunt,” as well as partnering with QDMA and others on the groundbreaking Field to Fork workshops. Georgia WRD has stayed current with revisions of a statewide management plan and CWD response plan, and they go the extra mile to promote CWD awareness such as educating non-resident hunters about carcass transport restrictions.
Finally, Georgia WRD sets the bar in hunter education and resource efforts. Their Game Check harvest reporting app provides useful, real-time harvest maps and county-by-county harvest statistics for hunters. They’ve initiated legislation and are hiring additional staff to oversee a new Deer Management Assistance Program to help landowners provide better deer and habitat management on private land. They are also leading the charge, along with the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, to study and address declining deer herds on National Forest lands in the Appalachian Mountains, as well as to develop an un-baited, easy-to-use trail-camera survey method.
Congratulations to Georgia DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division on their successful deer management programs and efforts to engage and involve Georgia hunters in the planning and management process. For their outstanding leadership in deer management, they are QDMA’s 2019 Agency of the Year.
Photo: Leaders of Georgia DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) accept the Agency of the Year Award from QDMA staff members. L-R: QDMA Board member Hugh Sosebee of Georgia; QDMA CEO Brian Murphy; WRD Director Rusty Garrison; WRD Deer Project Leader Charlie Killmaster; WRD Game Management Chief John Bowers; QDMA Assistant Director of Conservation Matt Ross.