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The Georgia Department of Natural Resources restocked Russ Pool, Russ Pond and Sand Hill Duck Pond with fingerling catfish a couple weeks ago. The department provides these fish to Fort Benning free of charge each year under the condition that we host childrens fishing events to introduce youth to the sport. Until we hold the first childrens fishing event, no one is allowed to keep any fish from these three ponds.
We have several volunteers who are now helping us feed the catfish that were just stocked. The catfish were four to six inches in length when they were stocked, and by the time we hold the first Family Fishing Night event in early spring, we should have those fish grown to a good fighting size.
Only children age 15 and younger are allowed to fish in these ponds. Sponsors may assist children in baiting their hook, casting and removing fish from their line. Sponsors are not required to have a Fort Benning fishing permit or Georgia state fishing license when accompanying children in these areas.
We just completed the final mandatory deer check station over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. We will be working on entering all of the data and will provide information on the results once analysis is complete. Thank you to all the hunters who brought their deer by the check stations so we could collect necessary biological data.
So far, the normal trends continue in traditional hunting areas on the installation. Over 40 percent of the bucks harvested have been one and a half years of age or younger. These young bucks have been forced to strike out on their own and are typically unfamiliar with their new surroundings, which results in them representing the highest percentage of harvest in traditional hunting areas. Harvesting these young bucks dramatically reduces the number of mature bucks that will be available for harvest in future seasons. As long as an individual is not hunting in the Quality Deer Management Area on post, those young bucks are legal to harvest. However, from a herd health standpoint, harvesting a doe instead of a young buck would be much more beneficial to the population of deer on Fort Benning.
We are beginning to see results in the original QDM area with the harvest of some nice, mature bucks. While a hunters chance to harvest a mature buck will become less likely as the season winds down, deer rifle season in Georgia is nearly halfway over, and the first rut is ending. There will still be a few mature bucks harvested during the second rut in December.
For those hunters who have been lucky enough to harvest one of those quality bucks, please dont stop hunting now. To those individuals and all hunters on Fort Benning, we ask that you please turn your focus to harvesting does, especially in the QDM areas. We are nowhere near reaching the full potential of these areas and harvesting does remains the most important management strategy a hunter can apply to increase herd health and the quality of animals available for harvest.