Skip to main content

Your Guide to Bowhunting in Georgia

Your Guide to Bowhunting in Georgia

I vividly remember the moment I first laid eyes on a Pope & Young whitetail in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. It was the afternoon of Nov. 3, 2001. While bow season had been open nearly two months, I wasn't hunting; in fact, I hadn't even bought any deer tags yet. I was just out fooling around with a new video camera on a friend's small tract in western Cobb County.

Pam Howell shot this North Georgia mountain buck in Murray County in 2015. The bowhunter grunted him in 15 minutes after daylight, resulting in a perfect broadside shot at 10 yards.

As I panned the camera along the edge of a pine thicket bordering a fescue pasture, I suddenly found my viewfinder filled with a buck. A serious buck. He was roughly 150 yards out, but it took just a moment to know he was a beast.

That's a P&Y deer, I said to myself. He's over 20 inches wide, and I think he'll push 200 pounds on the hoof.


As you might imagine, I soon was buying my deer tags and figuring out where to hang a tree stand. I figured it was just a matter of time before he came back through.


My next sighting came a full three weeks to the day after first seeing that deer, and at considerably closer range: I ended up arrowing the dark-racked brute at four yards. He has a gross score of 137 1/8 inches as a clean 8-pointer, and despite major deductions for asymmetry still netted 129 5/8 to make P&Y with over four inches to spare. In large part, the score reflected his 21 1/8-inch inside spread, which at that time made him the second-widest P&Y ever from the Peach State.

Bowhunting-in-Georgia

Yes, the Atlanta suburbs have big deer. In fact, some taken in recent years have been much bigger than that 4x4 I arrowed 16 seasons ago. This heavily developed part of Georgia is becoming well known for harboring impressive whitetails.

Why? It's a matter of good buck:doe ratios and balanced age structure, both resulting from how deer hunting is regulated in the metro area. Cobb and several neighboring counties — Dekalb, Clayton and the northern part of Fulton — have been bow-only for many years, giving bucks a real chance to reach maturity. Getting to age 4 ½ (often even 3 ½) is all it takes to get some bucks above the 125-inch threshold for P&Y qualification.


Obviously, decreasing the harvest is a recipe for growing trophies of all kinds, from moose, caribou and antelope to turkeys, tuna and bass. But there are few more obvious examples of this approach's effectiveness than with whitetails in the Atlanta area. In fact, Fulton County — home of Atlanta itself — has more than twice as many P&Y bucks as any of Georgia's other 158 counties, many of which are rural and have ample agriculture. That's a testament to the impact of managing for age, though the reason to avoid gun hunting was to safeguard human safety in this highly developed area.

Georgia's archery season opens in mid-September and runs to year end in non-metro counties of the Northern Zone. Gun hunting overlaps that from late October on. In the metro bow counties — Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb and the part of Fulton County lying north of Ga. Hwy 92 — hunting extends interrupted on through Jan. 31. In the Southern Zone making up more than half of the state, a combination of bow and gun extend into mid-January.

The accompanying map reflects where Georgia's P&Y entries have been concentrated. While many large hunting properties in more rural parts of the state now are intensively managed for big whitetails — especially from Middle Georgia south — P&Y entries have accelerated more rapidly in the "metro" area than elsewhere.


And some of these deer are far bigger than that wide 8-pointer I shot in Cobb County. For instance, Jay Maxwell's overall No. 1 P&Y non-typical, which scores 213 4/8, was taken in the bow-only part of Fulton County. The state's No. 2 bow non-typical was taken in adjoining Forsyth County.

With the Atlanta area's recent economic rebound, bowhunting access in suburbia isn't getting any easier; many wooded tracts that sat idle during the recession now are being bulldozed for subdivisions or commercial development. In fact, in 2006 that great tract where I shot my wide buck was carved into a handful of $800,000 "estates" with huge, ritzy homes. Nice, I suppose, but forever lost as a bowhunting spot.

As more deer land gets taken out of circulation in this way, competition for the remaining tracts only grows fiercer. But for archers fortunate enough to have access to the remaining woods, prospects for P&Y whitetails remain as solid as ever. It doesn't take much land in suburbia to give you a crack at a big buck.

Private hunting land in rural Georgia tends to be available only through owning it or leasing as part of a club arrangement. There's a long-established tradition of leasing access from timber companies across the Southeast, and it's certainly true in this state. Many tracts now have been leased for 20 years or more by the same groups. While most of these clubs are made up of resident hunters, quite a few sportsmen from Florida also lease timberland here, particularly in the southern counties.

As the map shows, along the famed Flint River corridor such counties as Worth, Dooly, Macon and Lee are steady producers of P&Ys. There's more agriculture in these coastal-plain counties than in some others. Also, some of these counties have antler restrictions that go beyond the state's normal rules.

If you don't have a key to any of those locked gates, fret not. Scattered across Georgia are some well-managed public lands huntable throughout bow season. Virtually any of these could produce a P&Y buck. While public land in the region tends to offer tough hunting in thick cover, some big deer are available. Also worth checking out are Army Corps of Engineers acreages around some of the major reservoirs. Most of these are bow-only; check with the ACOE for specific regulations for each property.

For more details on Georgia bowhunting, click here. To learn more about bowhunting records for all species of North American big game, check out this link.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Alternative Season Whitetail Hunt

Alternative Season Whitetail Hunt

Mike Clerkin is hunting the alternative weapon whitetail season in Missouri with his S&W revolver.

Food Plots and Dogs

Food Plots and Dogs

On this edition of "Deer Dog," Jeremy Moore discusses how to connect food plots to deer and your deer dog.

Balance the Herd with Doe Harvests

Balance the Herd with Doe Harvests

Haynes Shelton and Dr. James Kroll discuss how proper doe harvest is critical to herd balance and health.

Why Plant Warm-Season Food Plots for Deer

Why Plant Warm-Season Food Plots for Deer

Learn how and why planting warm-season food plots can benefit you and your deer herd.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Be prepared to take care of the carcass and cape after downing your trophy buck.Gear Planning for After the Kill Shot Gear

Gear Planning for After the Kill Shot

Mark Kayser

Be prepared to take care of the carcass and cape after downing your trophy buck.

The right arrow for your setup will boost your whitetail body count. Building The Ultimate Whitetail Arrow Bowhunting

Building The Ultimate Whitetail Arrow

Jace Bauserman

The right arrow for your setup will boost your whitetail body count.

Answers to the most popular decoying questions to bring bucks your way!What You Need to Know About Decoying Bucks Hunting Strategies

What You Need to Know About Decoying Bucks

Greg Miller

Answers to the most popular decoying questions to bring bucks your way!

Good location is just part of the equation.The Best Summer Trail Camera Strategy Scouting

The Best Summer Trail Camera Strategy

Tony J. Peterson

Good location is just part of the equation.

See More Trending Articles

More United States

I vividly remember the moment I first laid eyes on a Pope & Young whitetail in the suburbs ofYour Guide to Bowhunting in Georgia United States

Your Guide to Bowhunting in Georgia

Gordon Whittington - June 07, 2017

I vividly remember the moment I first laid eyes on a Pope & Young whitetail in the suburbs...

In 1972, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) completed a gigantic project creating a shortcutTag A Trophy Whitetail at the Tenn-Tom Waterway United States

Tag A Trophy Whitetail at the Tenn-Tom Waterway

Bernie Barringer - February 22, 2018

In 1972, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) completed a gigantic project creating a...

With great hunting, good company and food, and rugged countryside, an early December deer hunt in the Hill Country is a memorable experience deep in the heart of Texas. December's Whitetail Hunting Magic in the Texas Hill Country United States

December's Whitetail Hunting Magic in the Texas Hill Country

Lynn Burkhead

With great hunting, good company and food, and rugged countryside, an early December deer hunt...

Nestled in southern Oklahoma, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant offers a drawing for a limited numberOklahoma DIY Hunting Awaits United States

Oklahoma DIY Hunting Awaits

Bernie Barringer - December 06, 2017

Nestled in southern Oklahoma, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant offers a drawing for a limited...

See More United States

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the North American Whitetail App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now