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Boat owners get birthday bonus

POSTED: July 22, 2013 6:46 p.m.

Starting this month, Georgia residents who have a boat registered with the state can fish on their birthday and for two days after as part of their boat registration fee.

It’s a three-day bonus for the state’s some 300,000 resident boat owners. This offer from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources also covers use of some DNR shooting ranges, plus some other sporting privileges. To take advantage of it, boat owners just have to get outdoors.

When they do, whether it’s bream fishing on a family ski trip to Lake Oconee, bass fishing at Paradise Public Fishing Area, birding at Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area or shooting at the Yuchi WMA range, they’ll join more than 2.75 million Georgians who fish, hunt, shoot or take part in other wildlife-related recreation.

Boating is a bridge to fishing (a 2010 survey ranked fishing as the second-most popular boating activity). And with DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division focused on increasing participation among the core groups it serves, division Director Dan Forster suggested that the birthday offer for boat owners is an obvious one.

“Providing outdoor enthusiasts like boaters a convenient opportunity to participate in a closely aligned recreational sport like fishing is one of the best and most effective ways to recruit anglers,” Forster said.

For Georgia, that recruitment can have a far-reaching impact. In 2011, anglers, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts spent nearly $4.6 billion in the state, a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey found. People involved in the outdoors also are more likely to support land conservation and donate their time to conservation efforts, according to a report by the Recreational Boating and Fishing and the Outdoor foundations.

The birthday bonus is a three-day resident combination license that not only allows Georgians 16 and older who own a vessel and have a valid, current registration to fish in fresh and saltwater for three consecutive days (starting on their birthday), it covers many other recreational opportunities. These include fishing at public fishing areas, accessing state lands where a Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass is otherwise required, hunting small game and feral hogs on private land, and using shooting ranges where a WMA stamp or GORP is needed.

The license is good for the primary boat owner’s birthday during the three years the boat registration is valid.

Boat owners must carry a Georgia ID, such as a driver’s license, and their plastic vessel registration card to show proof of a valid vessel registration. Activities like trout fishing, big-game hunting and hunting on WMAs require additional paid licenses. Saltwater fishing and migratory bird hunting require additional permits, which are free. Learn more at

Fishing birthday bonus at a glance
• What: As part of their boat registration fee, Georgia residents 16 and older who own a vessel with a current, valid registration can fish, use some DNR sites such as shooting ranges where a WMA stamp or GORP would be required and hunt small game for three consecutive days starting on their birthday.
• When: Law change takes effect July 1, 2013.
• How: Boat owners must carry personal ID and their plastic vessel registration card (as proof of a valid vessel registration) when taking advantage of this outdoors birthday bonus. Some activities require additional licenses or permits.
• Boat registration: All mechanically propelled vessels, and sailboats longer than 12 feet, used on waters of the state must be registered.


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