Department-Managed Area Rules
The primary objective on all lands owned or managed by the Department is the sound management and use of fish and wildlife resources resident thereon. Public use of Department-managed lands is permitted according to the following priorities:
1. Hunting, fishing, trapping, running dogs for sport and associated activities.
2. Other wildlife-oriented activities (nature observation or photography,
and conservation education).
3. Non-wildlife related activities, when such activities do not conflict with the wildlife management objective (picnicking, hiking, backpacking, short-term camping, horseback riding).
4. Large group activities (military training, organized trail rides).
Wildlife Management Area (WMA)
All lands owned, licensed, leased, or under the management of the Wildlife Division (except for the McCurtain County Wilderness Area) are designated WMAs to accurately reflect the overall objectives for these lands and the results of management activities conducted thereon. Depending on the specific management objectives, all or part of any particular WMA may also be designated as a public hunting area, game management area, migratory bird refuge, waterfowl refuge portion or wetland development unit.
Public Hunting Area (PHA)
Areas where most forms of wildlife harvest are permitted under statewide hunting, fishing, and furbearer regulations, unless specific regulations for the area indicate otherwise.
Game Management Area (GMA)
Areas where hunting and public use are more closely regulated than on PHAs.
Migratory Bird Refuge or Waterfowl Refuge Portion (WRP)
Areas closed to all public use and access from Oct. 15 – Jan. 31, except for controlled hunt permittees on days of their hunt, and unless specifically noted otherwise. In addition, all shotgun hunting is restricted to federally approved nontoxic shot and the possession of lead shot is prohibited.
Conservation Education Area (CEA)
Areas which primary purpose is conservation education. All activities are regulated by the Department.
Wetland Development Unit (WDU)
Wetland units where all shotgun hunting is restricted to federally approved nontoxic shot and the possession of lead shot is prohibited. In addition, shooting hours for waterfowl close at 1 p.m. daily.
Wildlife Management Unit (WMU)
Lands owned or managed by the Department. Open for limited hunting (see Tishomingo WMU and Lower Illinois River Public Fishing and Hunting Area, Watts Unit).
Army Ammunition Plant (AAP)
& Joint Maneuver Training Center (JMTC)
Lands owned and operated by the U.S. Department of the Army. Open for limited hunting (see McAlester AAP and Camp Gruber JMTC).
National Recreation Area (NRA)
Lands owned and operated by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Open for limited hunting (see Chickasaw NRA).
National Wildlife Refuge (NWR)
Lands owned and operated by the U.S. Department of the Interior. May be open for limited hunting and/or controlled hunts.
Policies governing situations not covered under these regulations are determined by the Director or his designated representatives, and their decision is binding until such time as the Wildlife Commission can formulate permanent policy on the issue.
Public lands not specifically listed as open are closed.
It is the responsibility of the area users to become knowledgeable of, and comply with, any regulations applicable to specific areas.
No person shall possess, consume or use beer or alcoholic beverages (as defined in O.S. Title 37), except in camping and parking areas, on any lands or waterways subject to the control of the Department, except U.S. Forest Service regulations shall apply to the Black Kettle, Ouachita and Rita Blanca WMAs.
It shall be unlawful to place and/or hunt over bait on lands owned or managed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation, including Corps lands, see U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lands below. “Bait” shall mean the placing, exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grain or other feed. Examples of prohibited bait can be found below.
Buildings & Private Developments
No permanent or temporary structure (buildings, earthworks, corrals, boat docks, marinas, boat landings, launch ramps, etc.) may be constructed on Department-managed lands.
Camping is limited to a maximum of 14 days, except on areas open only to hunter camping for special seasons. Camping on these areas is limited to two days longer than the period the camper (hunter) is authorized to hunt.
Quiet hours are enforced from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
All dogs or other pets must be kept on a leash or otherwise confined while in camping areas.
See specific WMA regulations for camping restrictions within WMAs.
Concessions & Businesses
It shall be unlawful to operate any private (including guide services) or non-Departmental business or concession, including soliciting and/or advertising for any such venture, on any Department-managed lands without prior written approval from the Department.
Unless otherwise provided, no person is allowed in a controlled hunt area during specified dates and times without a controlled hunt permit.
No permanent type stands may be constructed in or on a tree nor shall cleats be driven into a tree to gain access to a portion of any tree nor shall any person hunt from such a stand. Only portable type stands, that do not require the use of any fastening device that has the potential of damaging a tree, are permitted. Stands shall be removed from the tree immediately following the closure of the hunt for which they were used with a limit of no more than 14 days. Stands remaining after this time become the property of the Department to be disposed of in the best practical manner.
Hunting seasons on the following Department lake areas are the same as statewide seasons, except open only from Sept. 1 through spring turkey season each year: American Horse, Burtschi, Evans-Chambers, Hall, Jap Beaver, Nanih Waiya, Ozzie Cobb, Schooler and Vanderwork. All of these areas are closed to antlerless deer gun hunting, deer hunting is restricted to shotgun or archery only, and all other hunting is restricted to shotgun with pellets or archery.
For hunting regulations pertaining to Dahlgren, Doc Hollis and Vincent, see special area regulations for Lexington WMA (Dahlgren), Sandy Sanders WMA (Doc Hollis) and Ellis County WMA (Vincent).
The following lake areas are closed to hunting or taking of wildlife by any means: Elmer, Etling, Raymond Gary, Watonga and Wayne Wallace.
See specific WMA regulations for other restrictions that may apply to lakes within WMAs. Trapping is prohibited.
All training of bird dogs on Department-managed lands is closed from June 1 – Aug. 31, annually.
No person who owns or operates a commercial bird dog training business or is an employee in such a business whereby bird dogs are sold and/or trained for a price or a fee may use Department-managed lands for such training purposes.
No person may train or have in possession more than three bird dogs on any Department-managed lands outside the regular harvest season.
Individuals who work no more than three personal hunting dogs outside the regular harvest season and not in a business as described above are exempt and may use Department-managed lands to train such dogs, except as otherwise provided.
Firearms, Fireworks & Explosives Restrictions
Fully automatic firearms are prohibited for use on any Department-managed lands, except as otherwise provided for military training.
No person shall use or possess any explosive devices, including fireworks, firecrackers or exploding targets, on Department-managed lands.
The possession of loaded firearms, ammunition, loaded projectile firing devices, bows and arrows, crossbows, explosives or explosive devices of any kind including fireworks is prohibited on all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project lands except as permitted for hunting purposes during authorized hunting seasons or being used at an authorized shooting range.
Firearms & Crossbow Transport
While on Wildlife Management Areas, loaded firearms in motorized vehicles must be transported in compliance with current state law.
Muzzleloaders may be transported in a motor vehicle with a loaded powder charge and bullet as long as the gun is uncapped or battery is disconnected.
No crossbow may be transported in a motor vehicle unless uncocked or disassembled. No bow that is at full or partial draw may be transported in a motor vehicle.
Horses & Mules for Hunting
Hunting on, from or with the aid of horses or mules on WMAs (except U.S. Forest Service lands, Honobia Creek and Three Rivers WMAs) is prohibited during daylight hours during the period of Oct. 1 – Jan. 1 and during spring turkey season. Persons holding non-ambulatory permits or motor vehicle permits are exempt.
See specific WMA regulations in the Public Hunting Lands: Special Area Regulations for other restrictions that may apply.
Horses & Mules for Nonhunting Activities
No person shall ride, drive, lead or keep a horse or other livestock on Department-managed lands (except on Honobia Creek and Three Rivers WMAs) during the period of Oct. 1 – Jan. 1 and spring turkey seasons without prior written approval from the Department. Individuals or parties of less than 25 may ride on areas with prior written approval of the local biologist during the closed period if no hunting conflict is determined by the biologist.
During deer muzzleloader and deer gun seasons, riders must wear both a head covering and outer garment above the waistline consisting of hunter orange color totalling not less than 400 square inches.
U.S. Forest Service regulations shall apply to those lands owned by the U.S. Forest Service.
See specific WMA regulations in the Public Hunting Lands: Special Area Regulations for other restrictions that may apply.
Hunting Equipment on Wildlife Management Areas
It shall be unlawful to place any equipment, including but not limited to tree stands, ground blinds, or game cameras on Department-managed lands, without permanently affixing the owner’s Department issued customer identification number or lifetime license number to the equipment in a conspicuous manner. All equipment not properly identified will become the property of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and be disposed of in the best practical manner.
Language or Disorderly Assemblage
No person shall use threatening, abusive, or indecent language, participate in a disorderly assemblage, nor publicly appear nude or intoxicated on any Department-managed lands.
All persons carrying a firearm or archery equipment on Department-managed lands must possess a hunting license (see Licenses & Permits).
Disposal of garbage, trash, refuse, litter, sewage, debris or any other form of solid waste is prohibited, except in designated trash containers.
It is unlawful for any person to willfully or neglectfully allow unauthorized livestock to encroach upon any Department-managed lands. Authorized livestock for grazing purposes may be present on Department-managed lands during open hunting seasons.
Non-Ambulatory & Motor Vehicle Permittees
Off-road use of a vehicle on public lands is prohibited except for non-ambulatory permittees on designated areas open to non-ambulatory permittees and area roads designated as open to non-ambulatory permittees and motor vehicle hunt permittees. These permits are for transportation only (no shooting from vehicles or roadways).
Non-ambulatory permittees may ride an Off-Road Vehicle/All-Terrain Vehicle from parking area or campsite to designated non-ambulatory areas. Firearms must be unloaded and/or cased while on roads. Use on county or state roads must comply with Title 47 requirements.
Non-ambulatory permittees may carry firearms with ammunition in the magazine only while upland game hunting from an ATV and while on designated non-ambulatory areas.
Off-road travel by non-ambulatory permittees with ORV/ATV is permitted in designated areas only. ORV/ATV vehicles will be restricted to utility type vehicles weighing less than 1,250 pounds.
Shed Antler Collection
It is legal to collect and remove shed antlers from Department-managed areas. Antlers must be naturally detached from the skull plate.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is in the initial stages of refurbishing a number of the shooting ranges on wildlife management areas across the state. Detailed rules will be posted at each range or for more information contact the wildlife biologist at that area.
On all wildlife management areas the discharge of firearms for purposes other than hunting is restricted to specific target or shooting ranges provided for public use. Target shooting is not allowed on areas where shooting ranges are not provided. Exemptions may only be granted by the Director of the Department upon prior submission of a written application setting forth the location, date, nature, and purpose of such activity.
All persons using shooting ranges must possess a valid Oklahoma hunting or combination license, unless otherwise exempt.
No person may take, catch, capture, kill or pursue wildlife or otherwise attempt to use for any purpose a vehicle-mounted spotlight or other powerful light at night for any purpose on Department-managed lands, except as otherwise provided for hunting of furbearers and predators, taking of frogs, or for navigational purposes while in a water conveyance.
Theft or Vandalism of State Property
It shall be unlawful for any person to shoot at, deface, damage, destroy, remove or steal all or any part of any buildings, granaries, residence, privies or other physical structures, any equipment or machinery, fences or fencing materials, cattleguards, gates, signs, or any other state property on Department-managed lands.
It shall be unlawful to cut, dig, damage or remove any crops, trees, shrubs, timber (including dead standing trees), water, gravel, sand, earth, rocks, minerals or other natural resources other than legally harvested fish and wildlife from Department-managed lands without prior written approval from the Department. Removal of such resources from National Forest lands is subject to the regulations of the U.S. Forest Service.
It shall be unlawful to cut any living trees, shrubs, or other woody vegetation for use as camouflage, blinds, stands or firewood. Fallen dead trees may be so used, but shall not be removed for use off the Department-managed lands.
It shall be unlawful to remove any historical, cultural or archaeological artifacts (including arrowheads) from Department-managed lands.
All traps on Department-managed lands, regardless of species being sought, must have the owner’s name attached. Posting of traps is required; see Furbearer Regulations.
Under 16 Years of Age
Any person under 14 years of age must be immediately supervised by an adult while afield. Minors 14-16 years old must be immediately supervised by an adult, unless they possess hunter safety certification.
Corps lands open to hunting but not licensed to the Department are open during the same dates and under the same regulations as Department-managed lands at the respective projects, unless otherwise provided. Other Corps lands not normally open to hunting may be open with certain restrictions. Contact the respective Corps lake office or the Tulsa District Office at (918) 669-7370 for information.
Only those vehicles registered as legal to operate on Oklahoma public roadways may be used or parked on Department-managed lands, except on specified areas designated for off-road use, unless otherwise provided for non-ambulatory persons holding valid permits. All vehicles used by non-ambulatory permittees must conspicuously display a sticker designating the vehicle is being used by a non-ambulatory permittee and motor vehicle hunt permittees must conspicuously display a sticker designating the vehicle is being used by a motor vehicle hunt permittee. These permits may be obtained from the License Section of the Department.
Except as otherwise provided, all motorized vehicles are required to stay on roads designated as open for public or hunter use. There are no exceptions for motorcycles, four-wheel drive vehicles, snowmobiles or all-terrain vehicles. Travel on roads which are gated and locked, closed by earthen mound or designated as closed is prohibited, unless otherwise specified in annual regulations for non-ambulatory persons holding valid permits.
For definition purposes on both the Honobia Creek and Three Rivers WMAs, a “maintained road” open for vehicle and ATV use is any permanent road not gated and locked or closed with an earthen mound. Additionally, a “maintained road” will be constructed with man-made ditches on one or both sides of the road to control rainwater runoff, and will not have vegetation present on the road that would impede easy travel by a two-wheel drive automobile.
Maximum speed limit is 25 mph unless otherwise posted.
It is unlawful for any person to hunt, chase, capture, shoot, attempt to shoot, wound or kill any wildlife from a motor-driven vehicle on Department-managed areas, except as provided for persons holding a non-ambulatory or motor vehicle permit.
Shooting Range Rules
- Open year-round, unless specified otherwise in the public hunting lands special regulations (controlled hunt closures) or signs at the range.
- Shooting hours are official sunrise to official sunset, daily.
- Any person using the shooting range under the age of 16 must be immediately supervised by an adult (18 years old or older).
- All firearms shooting single projectiles or any pellets larger than conventional BB (.180” dia.) must be shot at approved berms and target areas only. Air-borne clay targets may be shot using pellets no larger than conventional BB (.180” dia.).
- All rifle, pistol, shotgun, and muzzleloader targets will consist of paper or clay targets only.
- All paper targets must be removed before leaving the shooting area.
- Centerfire rifles and pistols .50 caliber and larger are prohibited.
- Fully automatic firearms are prohibited.
- Fireworks, explosive devices, exploding targets, tracer and incendiary rounds are prohibited.
- Eye and ear protection shall be worn while shooting.
- Shooters, and accompanying adult, must possess a valid Oklahoma hunting license or Oklahoma combination hunting/fishing license unless exempt.
- Beer and other alcoholic beverages are prohibited on shooting range and in shooting range parking lot.
What you need to know
The use of or hunting over bait, or “baiting,” is prohibited on lands owned or managed by the Wildlife Department.
Baiting is defined as the placing, depositing, exposing, distributing or scattering of shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grain or feed.
- Salt or mineral blocks
- Sardines or other lures when used for the trapping of furbearers
- Commercial scents such as doe in estrus (heat)
- Salt or mineral blocks containing corn, oats or other grain or feed
- Feed products such as cattle cubes or sweet feed
- Fruits or vegetables such as apples or potatoes
- Gathering naturally occurring food sources (such as acorns) into a pile