Southeast Region: Ouachita WMA Something for Everyone!
The southeast region is dominated by the Ouachita Mountains containing oak, hickory, and short-leaf pine forests. The Ouachita WMA - Le Flore Unit covers 223,823 acres of the Ouachita National Forest Lands in southeastern Oklahoma, Le Flore County. The WMA is managed cooperatively between the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the United States Forest Service. Located in the scenic, mountainous, oak-pine forest, this is a popular destination for many small game, turkey, deer, and bear hunters from all over the United States. However, hunting is just one of the many things available. The Ouachita WMA has something to offer for anyone who has an appreciation for the outdoors.
This massive WMA contains hundreds of miles of public travelable roads, ranging from through highways, to gravel and dirt logging roads. In addition to roads, are miles of designated hiking, horseback riding, and ATV trails. As a result of the USFS timber management practices, the logging roads are rotationally maintained in areas where timber harvest occurs and consequently provide great access for hunters, trappers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
Oklahoma has two species of squirrels that are legal to hunt: the eastern fox squirrel and the eastern gray squirrel. Both are common on the WMA, but the gray squirrel is more abundant. Oklahoma’s squirrel season usually runs from May 15 through February 28 with a daily limit of 25 fox and gray squirrels combined per day, 50 in possession after the first day. Squirrel hunting is a great way to sharpen marksmanship, and stalking skills, and experience one of the best-tasting wild game delicacies out there. The preparation time, expense, and gear, required to bag a few bushytails for the dinner table is often far less than what is required to hunt big game or waterfowl. Squirrel season offers a perfect opportunity for experienced hunters to introduce a young hunter to all aspects of the sport, from gun safety to the skillet. There is no better way to get a young person hooked on hunting and share some deep woods wisdom, than by taking them to the woods and helping them harvest a few squirrels. The Ouachita WMA has plenty of habitat, squirrels, and elbow room to provide a chance to invest in our next generation of hunters, so don’t let the opportunity run across a limb and into a hole.
In addition to hunting, the Talimena Scenic Drive cuts the area in half running along the top of Winding Stair Mountain from Highway 271 to the Arkansas line. This drive offers many scenic vistas to pull off and enjoy the view. There are many primitive camping sites in the area and two sites at Cedar Lake and Winding Stair Vista that have modern facilities. The area also has two shooting ranges, one on the south side, off Hwy. 63, and one on the north, off Hwy. 59.
Cedar Lake, an 80-acre impoundment, is the recreational gem of the Ouachita National Forest. It is the largest and most used recreation area on the Forest and has produced 2 state record largemouth bass. Crooked Branch Lake, a smaller 15-acre water body is also managed by ODWC and stocked with bass, channel cat, and blue gill. From hunting, fishing, hiking, riding, or just sightseeing, this WMA really does have something for every outdoor enthusiast.