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Deer season opens this weekend
Authorities urge caution when hunting; hotline set up to report poaching
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Forsyth County News

At a glance

What is poaching?

* Shooting deer at night

* Shooting deer from a public road

* Hunting out of season

* Hunting on private property without permission

* Call (800) 241-4113 or email to report a poacher.


Source: State DNR

FORSYTH COUNTY — A new hotline to report poachers has been set up as firearms season for deer opens Saturday.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division’s Ranger Hotline Program put obeying the law as a top priority, along with safety, courtesy and respect for the hunting season, which runs through Jan. 1.

“We are essentially enlisting all the citizens of Georgia with our new [program],” said Col. Eddie Henderson, director of DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “If you see a poacher, call the hotline number … or send an email … and report it. The call or email is anonymous, and if your tip leads to an arrest, you get a cash reward for certain violations. It’s as simple as that.”

Poaching is legally defined as “illegal shooting, trapping or taking of game or fish from private or public property. But in the conservation law enforcement community, a poacher is a thief who steals wildlife that belongs to all citizens, robbing them of recreational opportunities, like hunting, fishing or wildlife watching,” according to a DNR news release.

“We will continue to aggressively enforce the state hunting laws, as always,” Henderson said. “Our goal is for everyone to enjoy their hunt safely and legally.”

The local sheriff’s office is cautioning that even residents in a rapidly growing and heavily suburban county such as Forsyth soon will “likely hear an increase in gunshots and see an increase of individuals dressed in camouflage walking in wooded areas.”

According to a post on the agency’s Facebook page, “If you believe that criminal activity is taking place, please feel free to call us. Please note however, we may not be able to determine the source of every sound of gunfire in the county.”

The sheriff’s office referred questions about hunting laws to the DNR.

Regarding safety, the DNR news release said, hunters should “never cut corners. Wear the fluorescent orange, practice firearm safety, always be respectful of other hunters and property owners where you hunt, and use extreme caution when using a tree stand.”

Rangers respond to tree stand incidents regularly, most of which are avoidable, Henderson said.

“Remember to install it correctly, use a haul line to pull gear into the stand, always let someone know your whereabouts and when you will return, have a rescue plan and, by all means, wear a safety harness,” Henderson said.

Hunters are also reminded to stay on established roads and to not operate any vehicle, including ATVs, within stream beds. They should also “pack it in, pack it out” by taking litter with them, be certain of their targets and the area beyond them, and to get landowner permission before hunting on private property.

Although some counties and cities have ordinances prohibiting the discharging of firearms within their limits, Mark McKinnon with the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division said hunting with a firearm is legal in almost all of Georgia regardless of the property’s size, “be it 2 acres or 200.”