Georgia is a diverse state with a wide range of habitat types spread across its 159 counties. From the mountains of North Georgia to the swamps and coastal plain of South Georgia, that diversity yields differences in both the quantity and quality of deer from one region — and even one county — to the next.
Even the rut dates vary by county!
With that in mind, we decided to take a deep dive into Georgia’s deer harvest data by county to see which counties held the best opportunities to fill the freezer and which were more likely to give you a shot at that big buck you’re after. The results are interesting to say the least.
Best Georgia Counties for Big Bucks
Before we dive into which counties produce the biggest bucks, I first need to break down how we ultimately chose the counties we did.
For this particular article, we looked at GON’s big buck records for the past five seasons, looking at how many bucks 140 inches or better were taken in each county. The 140-inch designation was somewhat arbitrary, but we felt it was a good benchmark for what most would consider an exceptional buck here in Georgia.
Now, let’s take a look at the results.
Number of Bucks Killed Over 140 Inches by County
When sorting through the data, one thing was for sure. When it comes to shooting big bucks in Georgia, Worth County reigns king!
Over the last five seasons, hunters have taken 28 bucks in Worth County that measured 140-inches or better. That was nearly twice as many as its closest competitor!
Tift County was second on the list at 15 bucks over 140 inches, with six of those being harvested last season – the most of any county for the 2022-2023 season.
Dougherty and Fulton counties came in third and fourth place with 14 bucks each, and Macon County rounded out our top five with 13.
Morgan and Pulaski counties were next with 11 and 10 bucks respectively, but both only had one 140-inch or better buck killed there each of the last two seasons. Is that a sign they are going downhill as far as quality goes? It’s probably too early to say at this point.
Cook, Colquitt and Lee counties finish out the top 10 with 10, nine, and nine bucks over 140 inches respectively.
Keep in mind that these numbers are all based on bucks that were officially scored and reported to GON. Obviously there are plenty of bucks taken every season that never get officially scored or reported. But enough of them do to give us a good enough baseline to see county-level trends
Best Counties for Filling the Freezer
If you’re more interested in filling the freezer than a trip to the taxidermist, we have you covered there, too!
Fortunately for Georgia hunters, there are healthy deer numbers across most of the state. Most counties provide excellent opportunities to fill the freezer. The exception would be some of the northernmost counties where deer densities are low, and there are limited opportunities to harvest does.
For this part of the article, we looked at the state’s deer harvest data for the 2022-2023 season.
With that in mind, here are our top 10 Georgia counties for filling your freezer with venison:
|County||2022/2023 Harvest||Harvest/Sq. Mile|
Because some counties are much larger than others, it wouldn’t be fair to simply look at the total number of deer killed, so to level the playing field, we instead looked at the number of deer harvested in each county by square mile.
As you can see in the table, Hancock, Warren, Wilkes, Madison, and Gordon counties all saw harvests over 9 deer per square mile. Polk, Hall, Dade, Meriwether, and Oglethorpe weren’t far behind with harvests in the 8-9 deer per square mile range.
As far as overall total deer harvest, Hancock County reigned supreme at 4,584 deer harvested, including 1,435 bucks and 3,149 does.
10 Worst Counties for Deer Hunting
For our 10 worst counties list, we looked at both the deer harvest per square mile and the number of 140-inch or better bucks harvest over the last 5 seasons. The resulting “worst counties” are those with a relatively low harvest and few, if any, big bucks being killed.
Here’s what we came up with:
|County||Total 140+ Inch Bucks||Harvest/Sq. Mile|
Even though Rabun produced a couple of 140-inch or better bucks over the last five years, it was the only county that yielded less than one deer per square mile. It had the third lowest total harvest behind Clayton and DeKalb counties, which have very limited hunting due to their urban setting.
With the exception of Brantley County, none of the remaining nine worst counties had a 140-inch or better buck taken, and all had harvests under two deer per square mile.
A Few Caveats
Now before you send that hate mail informing me how wrong my article is, let me issue this disclaimer: These lists are primarily for fun, and were created based on averages calculated at the county level.
You may have a hunting property in one of the counties we designated as “the worst” and have great success there. Or you may hunt one of our “best counties” and not have any luck at all. Deer numbers and quality can vary greatly, even across a small county, based on the habitat and hunting pressure found on individual properties within that county.
So don’t let anything in this report upset you or keep you from hunting an area where you’ve had success. This is just a simple guide to point you in the right direction if you’re trying to figure out where to deer hunt based on either quantity of deer or quality of bucks.
So go ahead and delete that hateful email and just go deer hunting! Prove us wrong.