Modern gun season in Arkansas begins this weekend, and Forest managers are reminding hunters of important safety and regulatory considerations.
It is important to always remain alert and aware of surroundings and to practice the “Four Steps for Safety” to improve awareness of natural hazards: Look Up, Look Down, Look Around, Look Below. Dead or dying trees can potentially fall or drop branches without warning, especially in high winds, and forest terrain can be uneven or unstable. Check the weather forecast and assess weather conditions before travel. Hunters should always let someone know planned routes, destinations, and expected return times.
All state game regulations are in effect on National Forest lands. State law enforcement officers work cooperatively with Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers to enforce federal regulations. Prohibited 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.
- Traveling off designated routes for motorized vehicle use.
- Leaving dispersed campsites up and unoccupied for longer than 30 days. Any unoccupied (held) campsite is considered abandoned. At the end of the 30-day period, dispersed campsites must be completely dismantled and moved at least one 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. Dispersed campsites may not be reserved.
Hunters should also be aware of requirements that apply specifically to individual national forests or wildlife management areas on a forest:
Ouachita National Forest
- 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.
- Off-highway vehicles are allowed on designated routes only or in game retrieval corridors while retrieving legally downed large game.
Ozark-St. Francis National Forests
- Remove hunting stands from the forest at the end of the hunting season.
- Off-highway vehicles are not allowed off designated routes. There are no game retrieval corridors or allowances available on the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests.
Maps and OHV Regulations
- OHVs are allowed on designated routes only.
- Not all Forest Service roads are designated as legal routes. Hunters may print a map before leaving home to ensure they are riding legally. Visit https://bit.ly/ONFMVUM for Ouachita National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Management maps, or https://bit.ly/OSFNFSMVUM for Ozark-St. Francis National Forests’ MVUM maps.
- Want to go paperless? Download the Avenza app for digital MVUM maps:
https://www.avenza.com/avenza-maps/. Hunters can track their activities all season long with this free interactive mapping tool.
National Forests do not issue hunting licenses. For more information and additional regulations regarding hunting on public lands, reference state hunting regulations published by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. For general National Forest questions, call the Ouachita National Forest at (501) 321-5202, or the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests at (479) 964-7200.
(Photo courtesy of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission)