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SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (AP) — The Georgia firearms deer hunting season opened Saturday, and state wildlife officials are optimistic.

"With some awesome bucks already taken in archery season, I think we are in for an excellent firearms season," Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist for the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, said in a news release. "The 2020 deer season had one of the highest ratings for hunter satisfaction on record, and I expect 2021 to be no different."

Last year, about 187,000 people participated in firearms deer season in the state, bagging more than 190,000 deer.

Georgia has more than a million acres of public hunting land, including more than 100 state-operated wildlife management areas. Wildlife officials say regulated hunting keeps the deer population healthy and strong.

To hunt deer in Georgia, people must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record. Under state law, hunters can kill up to 10 deer without antlers and two with antlers. They must report their harvest within 24 hours.

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