ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Thousands of hunters are gearing up for the open of firearm deer hunting season Saturday.
Stores like Backwoods Outdoors in Leesburg have been busy in the past few days, as hunters grab last minute essentials for the weekend.
Store managers stressed safety should stay top priority during deer season. They said the majority of hunting accidents involve tree stands. They remind people to always wear a harness and check their tree stand ahead of time to make sure it's in safe condition.
It's also Georgia law to wear 500-square inches of orange above the waist. That can prevent those in the woods from becoming a target.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials said it's equally important those pulling the trigger always confirm their target.
"Just being very aware of your surroundings and everything around you, when you are about to take a shot make sure you always know what's behind, what you're shooting at, and make certain what you're shooting at is a deer," said Alan Isler with Georgia DNR.
Isler said the harvest outlook is good for this season. During deer hunting season last year, hunters harvested more than 260-thousand deer in the state.
He expects around the same harvest this year.
He says whether you're hunting for recreation or to put some meat in the fridge, deer hunters play a major role in maintaining deer population numbers to keep deer healthy and strong.
"Once it reaches carrying capacity, what happens is they overbrowse the habitat, and then food sources become a lot harder for the deer to get, so then the deer herd becomes unhealthy, malnourished," said Isler.
The DNR requires hunters to log their harvest.
Hunters can do so by calling 1-800-366-2661, online, or by using the GA Outdoors App. New this year, officials say hunters will be able to log their harvest through the app, even without phone service.
Department of Natural Resources Rangers from the law enforcement division want to remind you of some laws.
This year you can can kill up to 10 does and two bucks.
And don't forget to log your harvest witihin 72-hours or you could face a hefty fine.
There's also been some changes to hunting licenses you may need to look over before heading out the door.
"With the new license requirements that came into effect July 1st of this year, some of the licenses were either combines with other licenses or some were completely done away with such as the WMA stamp," explained Eric White, a game warden first class.
License violations are misdemeanors.
If you have any questions about the licenses you can call any DNR office in the state.
The season opens Saturday and runs though January 14.
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