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Successful first day for Berry deer hunt, event continues through Saturday

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A steady stream of pickup trucks rolled through the Berry College Wildlife Management Area check station Wednesday. It was the first day of a four-day quota deer hunt which continues through Saturday.

A quota hunt means that hunters have to submit an application for the event and their names are then drawn from the pool of applications to actually participate.

“I just like being out in the woods,” said Johnny Wright of Fort Oglethorpe as he checked in a seven pointer Wednesday afternoon. “Just being out there when it comes alive at daybreak, I love it.”

Jimmy Lemke of Rockmart said he’s been hunting for nearly 45 years. He estimated he’d get about 75 pounds of venison off of a 106 pound, eight-pointer he’d brought in.

Department of Natural Resources Regional Game Management Supervisor Chuck Waters said the hunt originally drew 500 hunters but that got upped to 750 and is currently at a thousand. However, a large number of those drawn from the hunt will be no-shows.

“That’s true at every area we have managed hunts on,” Water said. “We’ve just bumped the numbers up steadily and if it ends up getting too crowded we’ll back off.”

Hunters could bag bucks only Wednesday and Thursday while the hunt Friday and Saturday is open to either-sex hunting.

Berry College was one of the areas in Georgia where the Department of Natural Resources collected deer in the 1960 and 70s to restock areas of the state. Waters said the population around Berry is still very strong.

“It’s not over-populated, the body weights are good and antler development is good so we’ve got a good healthy, high population,” Waters said.

Hunters had bagged and checked in more than two dozen bucks through 2 p.m. Wednesday. Water said more than half of them were eight-pointers.

DNR Ranger Ben Cunningham said Saturday Nov. 4 marks the state of either-sex season statewide.

“We want to make sure everybody is wearing 500 square inches of blazed orange above the waist while they are in the act of hunting,” Cunningham said.