HOT SPRINGS, Ark.–Forest Service managers are reminding hunters to be safe and follow state and federal law as hunting season begins on the Ouachita National Forests in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
“During this time of year, when there are various hunting seasons occurring, everyone must be mindful of the dangers that exist when safety precautions aren’t followed,” said Ouachita National Forest Supervisor Norm Wagoner. “Some of those safety precautions include wearing hunter orange as your outermost gear so that you are visible to other hunters; being alert when hunting near developed areas and trails as non-hunters are enjoying the forest for other reasons; and telling someone where you will be hunting and when you will return.”
All Arkansas and Oklahoma state wildlife agency laws are in effect on the national forests in the two states. State and federal law enforcement officers are working with forest officials to reinforce rules relating to issues that occur year after year. These illegal activities include:
- Baiting game species on the national forests
- Shooting from or across a county, state or federally maintained road
- Possessing or consuming alcohol during any hunting activity or while operating a motorized vehicle, including off-highway vehicles (OHVs).
- Additionally, campsites may be in place for up to 30 days as long as they are occupied. At the end of the 30-day period, campsites must be completely dismantled and moved at least 1 mile from the original campsite. The 30-day period begins the first day any item is placed at the campsite. Campers may camp up to 90 days in a calendar year. Campsites may not be reserved.
Hunters should also be aware of additional legal requirements that apply only to the individual national forests.
Ouachita National Forest (Arkansas and Oklahoma)
- Hunting stands may be erected for up to 14 days at a time and must be moved to another location more than 200 yards away if the hunting trip continues. All stands must have the owner’s name and address permanently affixed. Remove stands from the forest at the end of the hunting season.
- Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) are available which show all designated routes for motorized travel. OHVs are allowed on designated routes only or in game retrieval corridors while retrieving legally downed game. Be aware that not all Forest Service roads are designated as routes. OHV operators may pick up a free map at the nearest Ouachita National Forest office or print one from the website (www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita) to ensure they are riding legally.
Oklahoma forest visitors should remember that riders ages 18 and under must wear a safety helmet while operating an OHV, and only one person at a time may ride an OHV, unless the vehicle is specifically designed for two riders.
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