Hunting in the Ouachita mountains will offer you that noble opportunity. The name Ouachita, an American Indian word for “good hunting grounds,” proves how good the place is for this noble activity. The mountains with several designated hunting areas within the forests will also enable you to interact more with nature and do other activities.
According to a study, less than 5% of the US population hunts even though many wildlife refuges and national forests permit it. Take the challenge and engage in hunting for sports or meat and immerse in the world that many people never get a chance to experience.
Do you have plans to stand out amongst your peers by getting out to hunt in the Ouachita mountains? This guide will help you know the areas to pursue, where to hunt, the safety tips, and the regulations.
Is Hunting Permitted in the Ouachita Mountains?
Hunting is permitted in the Ouachita mountains. However, certain areas within the developed recreation areas or posted sites where you can’t hunt. For example, in Ouachita National Forest, you can hunt anywhere except in places closed by the Arkansas game and fish commission.
Also, you’ve got to follow the hunting regulations, pay fees, and know the best seasons to go hunting. Note that the best hunting season in the Ouachita mountains depends on the kind of animal you’re hunting for. Also, know the best hunting method beforehand to have an easy time targeting your prey.
What to Hunt in the Ouachitas
If you set out to go hunting in the Ouachita Mountains, be ready to come across several edible wildlife. But the most common animals that are tracked in Ouachita mountains are;
Small Game Hunting
One of the small game animals you can hunt in the Ouachita mountains is a squirrel. Since many people come to the Ouachitas to hunt for squirrels, you’ll meet at least someone of the same interest. The best season to hunt these animals is between May and February.
You, however, need to be patient when hunting this animal and then target the steep mountain terrains to be lucky. Hunting squirrels tend to be easy, and there are several good hunting spots like in the Ozark mountains. You can also hunt squirrels in Ouachita National Forest when around this place.
You can also hunt rabbits in the Ouachita Mountains. These edible animals will give you the best time in the forest as they know how to run and are dodgy. Rabbits are all over the Ouachitas Mountains, so you will not have a hard time looking for them. You can hunt up to 5 rabbits on a good day, which is a good catch for commercial hunters.
While hunting a rabbit, you’ll require a shotgun or 22 rifles, a hunting license, some ammunition, and the best spot. Dogs can also come in handy while hunting for rabbits though you’ve got to enquire with authorities before arriving with your dog to Ouachitas.
The Ouachita mountains host two types of rabbits, namely the swamp rabbit and cottontails. The cottontail rabbits are smaller than the swamp rabbit, so you need to note that. If you go hunting for rabbits, be ready to walk, so prepare well. Also, go looking for them along the brushy or grassy ditch banks.
Quail is another small game hunt you can go looking for in the Ouachitas. You can’t find this animal everywhere in the bush, so you’ve got to be specific with the spots to get a catch. The Arkansas River valley and Ozarks Mountain are some areas where you will easily find quails.
When setting out to hunt these animals, be ready to face various challenges like covering a bigger area. You will need to walk long distances across the burnt areas with about 10-20% wood cover. This means you shouldn’t hunt for quails in a place full of thick grasses with less canopy cover.
Quail hunting in the Ouachita mountains happens mostly between November and February. So, plan well to enjoy hunting for these unique animals.
The Ouachitas is one of the best places to hunt waterfowl in the US. These areas have large water bodies with rice fields where various migratory and local large waterfowl stay. Hunting these birds is the best choice you’ll settle for while in the Ouachita mountains, as they don’t require much expertise.
Before hunting, ensure you’ve got the right license and an Arkansas waterfowl stamp. Note that there is a set limit on the number of waterfowls you can hunt from any of these areas. But the hunting season is from November and January. Also, abide by the waterfowl hunting rules like no wing stimulating gadgets and the set time limits.
The Ouachita mountains have around 3.2 million acres of publicly accessible land for turkey hunting. It’s one of the places in the US with the highest numbers of turkeys and receives more hunters annually who want to try their luck. The Ozark national forest is reported to be the area with the highest turkey hunting, followed by Sylamore WMA.
You should also know the turkey hunting season to plan well for this exercise. Hunt turkey in the woods where they spend most of their time. But you need to keep some distance to get a chance to target it well. Also, don’t be too close to another hunter as it will scare the bird, and natural gobbling won’t take place.
You will also be fascinated by the birds as they gobble naturally from natural triggers early in the morning. Have road maps to avoid getting lost in the wilderness as you search for these birds.
Where to Hunt in the Ouachitas
There are certain areas where you need to go hunting to catch any of the above animals. The areas include;
Caddo/Womble Ranger District
The Womble Ranger District is one of the areas you should aim to visit while on your hunting trip. It’s around 310,000 acres in the Ouachita Mountains in the southeastern parts of Ouachita National Forest. There are prescribed burns of 25000 acres which makes an ideal spot for quails hunting.
The Missouri River and Lake Ouachita are good grounds for hunting waterfowl and will allow you to engage in any water activities. You can also take a break from your hunting spree and hike the beautiful trails.
The many campgrounds and float camps around this hunting area are good for retiring after a long day in the bush.
Leader Mountain Walk-In Turkey Hunting Area
These 9,925 acres of land are found between Lake Shady Recreational Area and the Albert Pike Recreational Area. The area is ideal for turkey hunting as it’s got enough water bodies dense forest cover and is remotely favoring these animals.
It’s one of the 11 walks in turkey hunting areas in Ouachita and has six wilderness areas for a better experience. However, the wilderness areas are not open to motorized traffic. The good thing is that the management teams up with relevant bodies to close the national forest where there’s free vehicle access. This enables hunters to have a favorable environment for interrupted turkey hunting.
Additionally, the walk-in turkey hunting area has less accessible roads that are mostly closed to give hunters a better hunting experience. There are several access points to the Leader Mountain Walk-In Turkey Hunting Area. So, you’ll not have challenges reaching it. You can also camp or hike as you explore the area.
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Sharptop Mountain Walk-In Turkey Hunting Area
Sharptop Mountain Walk-In Turkey Hunting Area is another area in the Ouachita to hunt, especially if you’re targeting turkeys. It’s 11,7275 acres of land, part of the Cardo-Womble Ranger District of Ouachita National Forest. This area is approximately 7 miles north of Glenwood in Arkansas.
There are closed hunting areas within the area where there’s no vehicle access to allow a smooth experience with the animals. Also, off-road vehicles are not permitted in this hunting area. So, be careful not to violate the rules, which attract heavy fines.
Jessieville Winona Fourche Ranger District
You will also have wonderful moments hunting at the 406 acres of Jessieville Winona Fourche Ranger District. It’s on the north and east parts of the Ouachita National Forest and has 11 lakes and several rivers. These water sources will enable you to time the animals as they come to quench their thirst. You can hunt turkeys in the three walk-in turkey hunting areas, which are part of this ranger district.
Chinquapin Mountain Walk-In Turkey Hunting Area
This hunting area, 8,011 acres, will also offer you a good ground for hunting. It’s 12 miles south of Perryville and covers Saline and Perry counties. The terrain here will give you a nice spot for hunting game bird/waterfowl.
You can access this area from Lake Sylvia Recreational Area or the Winona Auto Tour. The Flatside wilderness at the western end of this hunting area will also offer you more ground to hunt for wild animals.
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Deckard Mountain Walk-In Turkey Hunting Area
Deckard Mountain Walk-In will also provide enough area for your hunting tour in the Ouachita Mountains. The 7,400 acres area is in Perry and Garland counties, six miles north of Jessieville, Arkansas.
You can access it through the Bear Creek Horse Camp or the Buffalo Gap Tour access points. It’s also a wonderful place to interact with nature as you walk on the trails or camp by the campgrounds.
Hunting Safety Tips and Regulations to Remember at Ouachita National Forest
Below are some safety tips and regulations to use while hunting in Ouachita Mountain;
Inform Friends of Hunting Location and Be Each Other’s Keeper
The major safety tip you need to focus on is alerting others of your hunting location. Also, tell them when you intend to come back so that it would be easier to trace you in case of anything.
Additionally, carry a two-way radio or loud whistles that you can use to notify others if you’re in danger. But don’t forget to come to the rescue of another hunter in times of distress. You can learn basic first aid to be helpful while in the bush if there’s an accident or heart attack.
Wear The Right Hunting Gear
While hunting in the Ouachita Mountains, have the right gears to keep you safe from cold and unpredictable weather. The right gear will also make it easier for other hunters to spot you and not harm you, thinking you’re a threat.
For example, when hunting in Ouachita, wear orange hunting gear as the outermost gear to make you visible to other hunters. When using camouflage blind, know that other hunters won’t see you. So, tie hunter orange on both sides of the blind to make you more visible to your fellows.
Also, you should avoid some clothes colors when hunting certain animals. Don’t wear red, white, black, or blue when hunting for turkey.
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Apart from meeting wild animals you will also come across human beings hiking, fishing or swimming in the mountains. So, be careful not to hurt anyone in the process or scare them away.
Don’t shoot at sound or movement until you can clearly see the target. It’s also advisable to put your finger on the trigger after identifying your target. Plus, know the boundaries, houses, and roads when hunting on private land.
Follow The Hunting Regulations
There are several hunting regulations and laws in the Ouachita mountains. So, if you set out to hunt, be aware of them and avoid violating any. For example, Ouachita National Forest has closed areas that vehicles shouldn’t access. If you don’t adhere to it, you’ll have to pay a fine or penalties.
Handle Your Hunting Equipment with Care
Most of the hunting equipment like arrows or guns can be harmful. So, carefully, carry them around and wear protective gear. Also, have your gun pointing in the right direction and never assume it’s not loaded.
The Ouachita Mountains offer you a great ground for hunting various animals. You can hunt small game animals like rabbits, squirrels, or waterfowl at certain spots within the mountains. However, you need to follow the safety hunting tips and regulations as this guide has elaborated when out hunting.
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