The fall season has arrived and along with that, the hunting season. Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forest officials are reminding hunters to use caution when out in pursuit of game.
“It is important for everyone’s safety and enjoyment in the forests that hunters follow state laws and regulations governing hunting,” said Ouachita National Forest Supervisor Norm Wagoner. “Hunters must follow regulations that include not discharging a firearm within 150 yards of a developed recreation site, a residence or any place where people are likely to be.”
In an effort to make it a safe hunting season, hunters should wear hunter orange as their outermost clothing so other hunters know they are in the area; tell others the hunting location and the date and time they will returning; and check weather reports before embarking on a hunting trip.
“Hunters should carry a basic survival kit and be prepared for an unexpected overnight stay in the field,” said Reggie Blackwell, the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests Supervisor. “Definitely bring a map and compass and be familiar with the area where you want to hunt.”
All state wildlife regulations are in effect on national forests in Arkansas and Oklahoma. State and federal law enforcement officers work 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 specifically to the individual national forest or wildlife management areas on the forest.
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 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 large 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 and are aware of game retrieval rules.
- 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.
Ozark-St. Francis National Forests (Arkansas)
- OHVs are allowed on designated routes only. Be aware that not all Forest Service roads are designated as routes. OHV operators may pick up a free map at the nearest Ozark-St. Francis National Forest office or print one from the website (www.fs.usda.gov/osfnf) to ensure they are riding legally.
- Remove hunting stands from the forest at the end of the hunting season.
For more information on hunting the Ouachita or the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, consult hunting regulations published by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission or the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Call the Ouachita National Forest at (501) 321-5202 or the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests at (479) 964-7200 to learn the location of the office nearest you.
Copyright 2016 Heavener Ledger. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Sponsor OUTDOORS or another section of heavenerledger.com. Call (918) 649-4712 for more information.
To submit a story or information, please send an email to [email protected]