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Public gobbler hot spots

by Bryan Hendricks | April 4, 2021 at 2:58 a.m.

Turkey hunters in Arkansas have free access to 3 million acres in the Ozark and Ouachita national forests. Both comprise about 1.5 million acres, and some areas have good numbers of turkeys.

Both national forests have wilderness areas, including Richland Creek and Hurricane Creek in the Ozark National Forest, and Caney Creek and Flatside wilderness areas in the Ouachita National Forest. Access to the wilderness areas is walk-in only, and they provide a degree of solitude similar to what you'll find in western states. They are large, so turkey hunting really requires camping for the best chance of success.

Of course, black bears are active in the spring. If you camp, store your food in a backpack and use a rope to hoist it over a sturdy tree branch where a bear can't reach it. After meals, do not leave food or remnants in pots that might attract bears.

The national forests also have several walk-in turkey hunting areas:

• Chinquapin Mountain Walk-In Area contains 8,000 acres near Perryville. Because of its proximity to Little Rock, this is the most heavily used area in the system.

• Salt Fork Mountain Walk-In Area covers nearly 9,000 acres in Franklin County near Mulberry.

• Huckleberry Mountain Walk-In Area covers nearly 8,000 acres in Yell and Logan counties.

• Leader Mountain Walk-In Area contains nearly 10,000 acres in Pike County between Shady Lake and Albert Pike recreation areas.

• Sharptop Mountain Walk-In Area contains more than 11,000 acres near Glenwood.

• Deckard Mountain Walk-In Area contains 7,400 acres near Jessieville.

• Shut-In Mountain Walk-In Area contains 8,400 acres near Mena.

• Hogan Mountain Walk-In Area contains nearly 8,000 acres in Scott and Logan counties adjacent to the Dry Creek Wilderness Area.

For more information about hunting in the Ouachita National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gove/ouachita. For information about the Ozark National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/osfnf. For both, click the Recreation tab, and then click the Hunting tab.

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