Hunting Information - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

09/26/08

Hunting Information

New Release:

As gun deer hunting season begins, U.S. Forest Service officials are reminding hunters of guidelines designed to make their hunting trips to national forests and grasslands safe and enjoyable, while sustaining the health of the forests.

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use on the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas is now restricted, according to Forest Supervisor Fred Salinas.  "OHV use on the National Forests is limited to designated routes, and the only such designation is the 85-mile multiple-use trail on the Sam Houston National Forest," Salinas said.  "Cross-country and off-road use of motorized vehicles of any type is prohibited."

This rule stems from a 2005 directive from the chief of the Forest Service that required each national forest and grassland to designate specific roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use. The National Forests and Grasslands in Texas, after public participation through the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) decision-making process, is now implementing the 2005 Travel Management Rule.  "In the right places, and managed carefully, motor vehicles are an appropriate use of national forests.  However, if not managed carefully, motorized recreation can damage both the land and the resources that visitors come to enjoy," Salinas said.  "Each year millions of off-highway vehicles travel America's national forests legally and sensibly on designated roads and trails.

A small, but growing number of irresponsible OHV users are threatening the health of all national forests by driving far off-trail and damaging fragile plants, wetlands and ecosystems." Operating a motor vehicle on National Forest System roads, National Forest System trails and in areas on National Forest System lands carries a greater responsibility than operating a vehicle in a city or other developed setting. Not only must the motor vehicle operators know and follow all applicable traffic laws, but they need to show concern for the environment as well as other forest users.  The misuse of motor vehicles are subject to state traffic law, including state requirements for licensing, registration and operation of the vehicle.  Motor vehicle use, especially off-highway vehicle use, involves inherent risks that may cause property damage, serious injury and possibly death. Riders should drive cautiously and anticipate rough surfaces and features such as mud, vegetation and water crossings common to remote driving conditions. Participants voluntarily assume full responsibility for these damages, risks and dangers.  Motor vehicle operators should take care at all times to protect themselves and those under their responsibility.

Much of the National Forests and grasslands in Texas are remote, and medical assistance may not be readily available. Cellular phones do not work in many areas of the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas.  Operators should take adequate food, water, first aid supplies and other equipment appropriate for the conditions and expected weather.  Always remember to respect private land. Protect your privilege.  Stay on designated roads and trails and in designated areas.

To help visitors to the national forests and grasslands know which roads are open to vehicular traffic, the forest service has available a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) showing where motorized vehicle use is allowed on the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas, by vehicle type and season of use.  This will be of particular interest to hunters who use forest service roads to retrieve game. 

The Motorized Vehicle Use Maps will be posted on the website: http://tinymce.moxiecode.cp/mce_temp_url and will also be available at the Supervisor's Office and Ranger Offices. The public is invited to comment on the MVUM or any other issue concerning the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas by emailing to:http://tinymce.moxiecode.cp/mce_temp_url . In the subject line please note that comments are on OHV use. Antlerless Deer Permits Each year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department inventories deer populations in national forests and adjacent lands.

As needed, the department includes antlerless deer in the annual harvest to seek a balanced population.  Designated areas and the number of permits issued vary from year to year. The number of requests usually exceeds the number of permits available.  To be included in the Antlerless Deer Permit drawing, hunters must apply online at http://tinymce.moxiecode.cp/mce_temp_url . Hunters are selected by random drawing and only one application per person will be accepted.  Permit availability, areas of issuance and application instructions can be obtained from the Forest Supervisor's office in Lufkin. Deadline for applying for the free permits is early October. 

Hunters who do not have Internet access may mail a regulation sized postal card to:

Antlerless Deer Permit; U.S. Forest Service; 415 S. First St. Ste. 110; Lufkin, TX 75901-3801

The postcard must include: Name of hunter; address; current hunting license number; the specific hunting area permit desired Game in the Forest Many game species find favorable habitat in the national forests where timber stands range from recently harvested areas to stands more than 100 years old.  The breaks or "edges" created where different aged stands meet are preferred by many species; so, the observant sportsman learns to recognize stand characteristics and the types of game animals to be found in them.

Where to Find Birds Mourning doves prefer to feed in areas of open, bare ground with scattered stands of seed-producing weeds.  Such conditions are found in recently logged stands where disturbed soil encourages weed growth.  Bobwhite quail feed in these same stands and in stands up to five years after cutting, where grassy-weedy vegetation has grown and provides cover.  Quail also use adjacent older timber stands for escape cover from predators and hunters.  Woodcock are a fairly common but lightly-hunted winter visitor to the national forests. They prefer dense thickets for protection, but can be found in early morning and late evening feeding in the same young stands as quail.  Most waterfowl hunting associated with the national forests is on the larger reservoirs that lie within or adjacent to them. 

Sam Rayburn Reservoir is managed by the Corps of Engineers, Toledo Bend Reservoir is managed by Sabine River Authority, and Lake Conroe is under management of the San Jacinto River Authority.  Contact those agencies concerning use of their waters, including the construction of hunting blinds.  Some waterfowl hunting is available in river bottoms during high water periods.

Turkey Hunting The U.S. Forest Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the National Wild Turkey Federation are working cooperatively in a restocking program to reintroduce wild turkeys on national forest lands.  Numbers have increased significantly to allow a spring season for wild turkey hunting.  The Caddo National Grassland and the four national forests allow shotgun-only hunting in the spring. The LBJ National Grassland has a fall and spring season for the Rio Grande turkey.  Check your hunting guide for season dates.

Turkeys usually can be found in older timber stands that have some hardwoods, but they also need younger stands, especially during the breeding and brood-rearing seasons. Small Animals Cottontail rabbits can be found in the same habitat as quail.  Gray squirrels and fox squirrels are the most popular small game animals in the national forests.  Gray squirrels prefer stands of bottomland hardwoods 40 years of age or older.  The trees in gray squirrel habitat must be old enough to produce consistent crops of acorns and similar food.  Most major rivers and creeks that flow through the national forest have these hardwood stands within their floodplains.  Fox squirrels also prefer older age timber stands; however, they are generally found in the transition zone between the bottomlands and uplands where there is a mix of hardwood and pine, similar to turkey habitat.  They can also be found in older pine stands that contain scattered nut-producing trees.  Large Animals White-tailed deer can be found throughout the national forests.  Deer are true edge species and do best where there is a mix of stands of various ages.  The season will sometimes determine where you can find small concentrations of deer, such as in hardwood stands during acorn fall. Small, scattered populations of wild or feral hogs live in the national forests.  Although they are not classified as game animals, they provide some limited hunting opportunities, usually incidental to other types of hunting.  Hogs are usually found in bottomlands.

Deer Stands Deer stands may be used in the national forests and grasslands, but they must be portable and cannot be of a type that will deface or harm trees.  Deer stands must be removed within 72 hours of placing one in the general forest or in a Wildlife Management Area. Since the forests and grasslands are open to public hunting, hunters cannot maintain exclusive rights to a hunting area.

Fishing The national forests and grasslands provide fishing opportunities on numerous ponds and lakes, many of which are stocked with fish.  Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Toledo Bend Reservoir and Lake Conroe are known for excellent fishing but there are many other fine lakes to challenge anglers.  Some of the larger lakes include Red Hill, Ratcliff, Boykin Springs and Double Lake in the national forests and Coffee Mill, Crockett, Fannin, Cottonwood and Black Creek Lake on the national grasslands.

Windmill Lake on the LBJ Grasslands is designated a fly fishing only lake.  Most of these lakes also have developed recreation areas.  Texas fishing regulations and license requirements apply to all these waters.  Observe boat motor size and use restrictions.  Game on the Grasslands The national grasslands provide favorable habitat for some of the small game animals found in the national forests.  There is no commercial timber harvesting on the grasslands, and management is directed toward maintaining a stable or relatively non-changing vegetation type.  About 70 percent of the national grasslands is open prairie; the rest is wooded.  Most of the wooded areas are in small clumps on the prairie and along the numerous small streams and drainages.  Cottontail rabbits, doves, wild turkeys and bobwhite quail are found throughout the grasslands and are usually hunted in the prairies or along the edge of the woods.  Fox squirrels can be found in the woods adjacent to creeks and drainages. Gray squirrels live in some of the bottomland hardwoods of the Caddo National Grasslands.  Baiting Baiting and hunting over baited areas to attract wildlife is not allowed on national forest lands.

How to Recognize National Forest Land Maps commonly show proclaimed national forest boundaries.  However, all land within this boundary is not national forest land; some is privately owned.  The land shown in green on the maps indicate national forest land.  Red paint and signs mark the boundaries between national forest land and private property.  Recognition of these markings and boundary signs helps the visitor to be certain to stay on national forest land.  Visitors should comply with state law and the owner's rules when entering private land. Entrance (portal) signs.  These signs can be seen along major roads entering the national forests, usually on the first tract of government land encountered.  Generally, portal signs are not used on low traffic roads. Welcome signs.  These signs are located on or just inside the boundaries or individual tracts of national forest land where the road enters.  The sign will be oriented so that the land behind the sign is public land.

Generally, they are not used on dead-end or woods roads or on small blocks of public land. Upon entering woods on public land, welcome signs will not be present and the visitor should rely on property line markings and boundary signs.  Property line marking and boundary signs. The boundaries of individual national forest tracts adjacent to other ownerships are marked with brown and yellow property boundary signs.  The small metal boundary signs are fastened either to trees or posts located on the boundary line and at road crossings, and the signs are placed so that public land is behind the sign.  Red paint spots on trees define the boundary line through woods.

While the majority of boundaries are identified and posted, occasionally visitors may encounter an area where signs have been vandalized or lines are not marked.  In these cases, visitors should be alert to avoid accidently trespassing on private land. 

Safety Notice All hunters and those accompanying them must wear daylight fluorescent orange at any time when hunting, except when hunting fur-bearing or predatory animals at night or when hunting turkey or migratory birds.  A minimum of 400 square inches of fluorescent orange must be visible (144 square inches on both the chest and back, and a daylight fluorescent orange cap or hat.)

All those camping or hunting in the Angelina, Davy Crockett, Sabine or Sam Houston National Forest or the Caddo National Grasslands must camp in designated campsites or developed recreation areas from Sept. 15, 2008 through Feb. 1, 2009.  Hunters using the wildlife management areas (WMAs) must have the $48 annual hunting permit to hunt deer, turkey, small game, waterfowl and feral hogs.

Wildlife management areas in the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas include the Alabama Creek WMA in the Davy Crockett National Forest, Bannister WMA in the Angelina National Forest, Caddo WMA in the Caddo National Grassland and the Moore Plantation WMA in the Sabine National Forest. 

The entire Sam Houston National Forest is a wildlife management area. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Official Hunting Guide and the Public Hunting Lands Booklet, regulations vary in different locations.  The annual booklets are issued to individuals who obtain a WMA permit, and the booklets list rules for national forest lands within the WMAs.  "It's the hunter's responsibility to know the regulations and game limits while hunting in national forests and grasslands," said John Amegin, U.S. Forest Service acting patrol captain.  "Hunters should check bag limits for the county where they are hunting and refer to this year's hunting booklets for information to avoid citations.

No baiting for wildlife or hunting over baited areas is allowed on the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas."  Amegin also said only portable deer stands are allowed in national forests and grasslands and are limited to 72 hours in one location.  To prevent damage to trees, the stands must not be nailed to trees.  When hunters fail to remove their deer stands, it causes damage to forest land and creates an expensive, time-consuming cleanup.  Vehicles should not be parked near gates or in areas that would impede traffic and block roads.

Visitors to the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas are encouraged to enjoy the great outdoors, but it is most important that visitors return home safely.

For additional information on this year's hunting season, please contact the Forest Service District Ranger offices.  Hunters may also visit the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas website at http://tinymce.moxiecode.cp/mce_temp_url and review information under the "Hunting 2008-09" link. Wildlife Management Areas Five Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are designated in the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas in cooperation with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.  Hunting is allowed, but rules and regulations are slightly different in these areas. 

All hunters must obtain an annual public hunting permit.  Be aware of boundaries. 

The WMAs are: Bannister Angelina National Forest 25,658 acres Alabama Creek Davy Crockett National Forest 14,561 acres Moore Plantation Sabine National Forest 26,772 acres Caddo Caddo National Grassland 16,174 acres Sam Houston Sam Houston National Forest 162,984 acres Hunting is allowed in WMAs but the rules and regulations are slightly different and hunters must have the appropriate public hunting lands permit from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or any location that sells the state hunting license.

From Sept. 15, 2008 through Feb. 1, 2009, camping is restricted to designated sites.  Off-highway vehicles are not allowed in wildlife management areas, except on designated trails. The Sam Houston National Forest has the only designated OHV trail. 

Specific information, regulations, permit application instructions and maps of Wildlife Management Areas are available from the U.S. Forest Service or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Registration and information stations are located at major access points to the areas. Wilderness Areas There are five wilderness areas in the National Forests in Texas: Turkey Hill Angelina National Forest 5,473 acres Upland Island Angelina National Forest 13,331 acres Big Slough Davy Crockett National Forest 3,455 acres Indian Mounds Sabine National Forest 12,369 acres Little Lake Creek Sam Houston National Forest 3,855 acres Although these areas are managed to protect their wilderness character, the lands are available for hunting, camping, fishing, hiking and other recreational activities.

All roads within the wilderness areas are closed and all motorized and mechanized equipment is prohibited. Camping Developed recreation areas offer conveniences such as showers, restrooms and picnic facilities.  Primitive camping is allowed except in designated scenic areas or where otherwise prohibited.  During hunting season, camping is permitted only in designated hunter camps in the Angelina, Davy Crockett, Sabine and Sam Houston National Forests, and in the Caddo National Grasslands. 

Camping in the national forests and grasslands is limited to 14 days during a 30-day time period.  Contact ranger offices for more information on camp locations.  Target Practice Recreational rifle and pistol target shooting on the LBJ Grasslands is closed.  On the LBJ's western border, 380 acres are open to clay pigeon shooting with shotguns.

All other areas are closed to target shooting.  Information on areas to sight in weapons may be available at district offices.  Snakes and Insects Copperhead, Canebreak rattlesnake, Cottonmouth, Coral and Pigmy rattlesnake are five poisonous snakes native to this area.  Insect repellant is recommended for protection against mosquitoes, ticks and chiggers.

Know the Rules The regulations for legal species, weapons, season dates and bag limits are issued by the State of Texas on a county-by-county basis.  Regulation booklets are available where hunting licenses are sold and at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offices.The rules in this guide are general in scope.

More detailed, local rules and regulations may be obtained from the district ranger's office. 

For More Information

Angelina National Forest 111 Walnut Ridge Road Zavalla, TX 75980 936-897-1068

Davy Crockett National Forest 18551 Hwy 7 East Kennard, TX 75847 936-655-2299

Sabine National Forest 5050 Hwy 21 East Hemphill, TX 75948 409-625-1940 Toll Free 866-235-1750

Sam Houston National Forest 394 FM 1375 West New Waverly, TX 77358 936-344-6205 Toll Free 888-361-6908

Caddo/LBJ National Grasslands 1400 US 81/287 P.O. Box 507 Decatur, TX 76234 940-627-5475 Forest Supervisor's Office National Forests & Grasslands in Texas 415 S. First St., Ste. 110 Lufkin, TX 75901-3801 936-639-8501

TDD: 936-639-8560

Sam Rayburn Reservoir U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Route 3, Box 486 Jasper, TX 75951 409-384-5716

Toledo Bend Reservoir Sabine River Authority Route 1, Box 270 Burkeville, TX 75932 409-565-2273

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department District Office Rt. 2 Box 535 Jasper, TX 75951 409-384-9572

District Office 8684 LaVillage Avenue Waco, TX 76712 254-666-5190

District Office 2122 Old Henderson Hwy. Tyler, TX 75702 903-593-5077

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