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Department of Natural Resources clarifies laws on hunting restrictions in Georgia

The only law concerning private property is that a firearm cannot be discharged 50 yards from a public road, according to DNR officials

MACON, Ga. — Before they decide whether to restrict rifle shooting within 250 feet of a home, Bibb County commissioners got a briefing on what the current law says.

"If I with intention wanted to play target practice beside someone's house, could I?," Commissioner Virgil Watkins asked

Discussions continued on whether Macon-Bibb County should adopt hunting restrictions, but the real question has been, "What are the restrictions already in place?" 

"On private property, the only state law concerns about the discharge of a firearm within 50 yards of a road," said Sgt. Bo Kelly with the Department of Natural Resources in Bibb County. 

Kelly says they run into this several times a year, mostly during dove season," where you have hunters shooting shotguns up into the air," Kelly said. "If we get numerous complaints from someone, then we go out there and say, 'Pick up the line and move it 10, 15 yards in.' Then, it brings them in compliance of the law."

However, Kelly says he hasn't seen anyone or anything get hurt from this. 

"Been with the department 23 years, and I'm yet to see that cause any damage, but for the homeowner, it is kind of unsettling," Kelly said. 

But is that restriction enough?

"Do you feel like that's sufficient for public safety with a conjoining neighborhood?" Commissioner Mallory Jones asked. "Yes, sir," Kelly replied.

Other than that the only law in place covering hunters is for reckless conduct of a firearm. 

"We're going to have to go back and look at other avenues," Commissioner Joe Allen said.

One of those avenues is pushing for a state law. 

"Whatever we decide to do will supersedes what happens in the state office," said Mayor Pro Tem Al Tillman. 

In Bibb County, some people and commissioners are advocating for no-shooting zones around neighborhoods such as at Lake Tobesofkee.

"Like safe zones, which I'm going to have to be talking to both sides about that," Allen said.

Deer-hunting season doesn't start back up until October. Allen says they have time to find a resolution. 

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