Last updated on August 10th, 2023
Note: The buck in the photo above was taken on private land in north Cherokee County with a muzzleloader by hunter Dave Clinton Payne.
Georgia’s primitive weapons deer season is probably the most underutilized hunting season offered in the state. Only 25,000 of the state’s 200,000+ deer hunters take advantage of this opportunity to get a one-week jump on deer season.
“Primitive weapons season is a great way to get a jump on deer season. Only a fraction of Georgia deer hunters takes advantage of this season, but it provides you with an early ‘shot’ at a successful harvest before the pressure of the firearms season begins.”Charlie Killmaster, Georgia DNR’s state deer biologist
In this article, we’ll look at Georgia’s muzzleloader deer hunting opportunities, including the statewide season, special public land hunts, the state’s muzzleloader regulations, as well as some tricks and tips for success.
Georgia’s Primitive Weapons Deer Season
The primitive weapons season opens the second Saturday in October and runs 7 consecutive days.
2023 Primitive Weapons Deer Season:
October 14-20, 2023
Of course, muzzleloaders can still be used once Georgia’s firearms deer season opens, it just gets a little more crowded.
Public Land Opportunities
The added benefit of owning a muzzleloader in Georgia is that it opens up several public land hunting opportunities that can keep you burning powder beyond just the primitive weapons season. A few of those hunts are quota hunts that must be applied for in advance, but many are open to anyone who wants to sign in and show up.
Quota Primitive Weapons Deer Hunts
|Public Tract||Hunt Dates||Quota|
|Cumberland Island||11/7-11/9, 12/5-12/7||75|
|Ossabaw Island WMA||10/26-10/28||100|
|Sapelo Island WMA||10/19-10/21||125|
Non-Quota Primitive Weapons Deer Hunts
|Public Land Tract||Hunt Dates|
|Alligator Creek WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Altamaha WMA – Buffalo Swamp, Lewis Island, and McGowan Lake Tracts||10/14-10/20|
|Big Dukes Pond WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Blue Ridge WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Bullard Creek WMA||9/21-9/23|
|Chattahoochee National Forest (Buck Only east of I-75)||10/14-10/20|
|Clarks Hill WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Coopers Creek WMA (Buck Only)||10/25-10/29|
|Dixon Bay WMA||11/11-1/14|
|Dukes Creek – Smithgall Woods State Park (Buck Only)||11/8-11/11|
|Elbert County WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Fishing Creek WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Flat Tub WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Germany Creek WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Griffin Ridge WMA||10/14-10/22|
|Hart County WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Lake Russell (Bonus Deer)||12/6-12/10|
|Lake Seminole WMA||10/14-1/14|
|Lanahassee WMA (Quality Buck and Antlerless)||10/14-10/20|
|Little Satilla WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Lower Broad River WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Oconee National Forest||10/14-10/20|
|Oliver Bridge WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Richmond Hill WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Sandhills WMA West||10/14-10/20|
|Silver Lake WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Soap Creek WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Tallulah Gorge WMA||10/14-10/20|
|Townsend WMA Buck Island Tract||10/14-10/20|
|Tuckahoe WMA (Bonus Deer)||9/28-9/30|
|West Point WMA||12/9-12/10|
|Wilson Shoals WMA||12/23-12/31|
Georgia Muzzleloader Regulations
Georgia is very liberal in their definition of what constitutes a legal muzzleloader for deer hunting. In fact, the only real guideline is that it must be .30 caliber or larger. Scopes are legal.
All primitive weapons deer hunters are required to wear a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist.
To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record (free). Licenses can be purchased online at GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at a license agent (list of agents available online).
State law allows hunters to harvest up to 10 antlerless deer, and no more than two antlered deer (with one of the two antlered deer having a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers) or a minimum 15-inch outside antler spread.
All deer hunters must report their harvest using Georgia Game Check within 24 hours of harvest. Deer can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (which works regardless of cell service), at GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661.
Tips for Muzzleloader Hunting Success
To have a successful muzzleloader deer hunting experience, it is crucial to understand the unique aspects of the weapon. In this section, we will discuss specific tips and techniques related to muzzleloader rifles that will help improve your hunting skills and success rate.
Loading and Cleaning Techniques
- Familiarize yourself with the correct loading process for your specific muzzleloader, including measuring the correct amount of powder, choosing the right projectile, and using the ramrod effectively.
- Clean your weapon regularly, ensuring the barrel and ignition system are free of residue, which can affect accuracy and reliability.
- Carry a field cleaning kit, including a ramrod, cleaning patches, and solvent, to keep your muzzleloader in top condition during the hunt.
Sighting and Accuracy
- Zero your black powder rifle at a realistic hunting range, typically 50 to 100 yards, to ensure optimal accuracy in the field.
- Understand the trajectory of your chosen projectile and powder charge, which will allow you to make necessary adjustments for longer or shorter shots.
- Use a steady rest or shooting sticks to enhance stability when taking a shot, especially in the field where adrenaline can affect your accuracy.
Managing the Single Shot
- Develop a consistent loading routine to help minimize the time between shots if a follow-up shot is necessary.
- Practice patience and choose shots carefully, as you will likely only have one chance to make a clean and ethical harvest with a muzzleloader.
- Develop your stalking and still hunting skills to get closer to deer, maximizing the effectiveness of the weapon’s limited range.
Adapting to Weather Conditions
- Keep your powder and ignition system dry in wet or humid conditions by using waterproof accessories, such as powder containers and priming devices, or carrying a spare, preloaded speed loader.
- Understand how temperature changes can affect your muzzleloader’s performance, particularly with black powder substitutes that can be sensitive to cold temperatures.
- Always treat your weapon as if it is loaded and keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
- Use a bullet starter or short starter to ensure the projectile is seated properly and not accidentally left partway down the barrel, which can create a dangerous situation.
- Remember that black powder rifles have a slower lock time (the time between pulling the trigger and ignition), so focus on maintaining your sight picture and follow-through after the shot.
By following these muzzleloader-specific tips and practicing regularly, you will improve your skills and increase your chances of success during your muzzleloader deer hunting trips in Georgia.
Who doesn’t want more time in the deer woods? And while muzzleloader hunters in Georgia don’t get an abundance of extra days afield, they do get a one-week jump on the firearms deer season when the deer haven’t experienced an abundance of pressure. In addition, there are some public land opportunities at various points in the season where competition will be minimal. In the end, though, any extra day in the deer woods is a good one!