Georgia DNR: Primitive Weapons Season Deer Hunters Get First Shot

Published 3:49 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2023

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Staff Reports


SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (Oct. 4, 2023) ­­­– Hunters in Georgia have the opportunity for an early “shot” at a deer during the upcoming week-long primitive weapons deer hunting season opening Sat., Oct. 14. Last year, nearly 10,000 deer were harvested by over 26,000 hunters, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

“The primitive weapons season is a chance to hit the woods before the modern firearms season opens,” said Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist with the WRD Game Management Section. “Mid-October is an excellent time to be afield when bucks are starting to cover more ground as they gear up for the rut.”

Young hunters also get this opportunity to take a deer early. A hunter under 16 years of age may hunt deer with any legal deer firearm during Primitive Weapons Season, including during any wildlife management area primitive weapons hunts.

During the primitive weapons season, hunters may use archery equipment, air bows, muzzleloading shotguns (20 gauge and larger) and air rifles and muzzleloading firearms that are .30 caliber or larger. Scopes and other optical sighting devices are legal for muzzleloading firearms and archery equipment.

Hunting Need-to-Know:

  • Dates/Harvest Limit: State law allows hunters to harvest up to 10 antlerless deer, and no more than two antlered deer (one of the two antlered deer must have a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers or a minimum 15-inch outside antler spread). For most hunters in the state, the deer season ends on Jan. 14. For counties with extended firearms or archery season, review the Georgia Hunting Regulations 2023-24 guidebook at  Deer of either sex may be taken with archery equipment on private land during the primitive weapons and firearms deer season.
  • Licenses: Georgia deer hunters must have a hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record. All are available online at, by phone at 1-800-366-2661, or at a license agent (list of agents available online).
  • Report Harvest: All harvested deer must be reported through Georgia Game Check within 24 hours. Deer can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (which works regardless of cell service), at, or by calling 1-800-366-2661.
  • Wear Your Orange: All deer hunters, including archers, are required to wear a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist during primitive weapons season.

Over one million acres of public hunting land is available in Georgia, including more than 100 state-operated wildlife management areas.  Many areas offer special hunts throughout the season, including primitive weapons hunts. More information in the 2023-2024 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide (

“We also want to remind hunters that they are the first line of defense in protecting the Georgia deer herd from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal disease affecting deer. This disease has not been detected in our state and you can be instrumental in keeping it out,” says Killmaster. “Do not bring whole carcasses or heads into Georgia and know what parts you can bring back from an out-of-state hunt. Please report deer with any disease symptoms. You can find more info at”

For more on deer hunting, including finding a meat processor, reviewing regulations, and maps (either sex day or the rut map), visit


SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (Oct. 4, 2023) – Before you head to the woods for the primitive weapons deer hunting season that opens Oct. 14, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division encourages you to review important safety information.

Primitive weapons, such as muzzleloaders, have specific safety use rules beyond general firearms safety, and these should be reviewed each year. Following are recommendations to ensure a safe experience:

  • Never smoke in the proximity of a muzzleloader.
  • Use an intermediate device, such as a measure, to pour powder into a barrel.
  • Keep flask and powder containers away from flames and sparks to prevent an accidental explosion.
  • Use only powders specific to each muzzleloader and recommended by that firearms manufacturer.
  • Place percussion cap on nipple only when ready to shoot.
  • A muzzleloader is safely unloaded only after removing the bullet, powder and percussion cap. If using a flintlock muzzleloader, remove the bullet and powder, and un-prime the flash pan.
  • Use the recommended loading materials, the correct powder charge, the right diameter and weight bullet and the correct lead material.
  • Treat a misfire as though the gun could fire at any moment.
  • Make sure the projectile is firmly seated on the powder before capping and firing.
  • Never blow down the barrel of a muzzleloader to clear or extinguish sparks.
  • Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Read the owner’s manual and be familiar with its operation before using a muzzle-loading firearm.
  • Handle every gun as if it was loaded.
  • Make sure the gun is unloaded before attempting to clean it.
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs while handling a firearm.

For more information on hunting safety, visit