Special to the Journal
Okefenokee is one of many national wildlife refuges in the United States that offer hunting programs. The primary objective of a national wildlife refuge is to provide habitat for the conservation and protection of all species of wildlife. The harvest of surplus animals is one tool used to manage wildlife populations at a level compatible with the environment, provide recreational opportunities, and permit the use of a valuable resource. Public hunting on the Okefenokee NWR is permitted in three areas, the Suwannee Canal Recreation Area, the Pocket, and the Cowhouse Unit at certain times of the year.
Suwannee Canal Hunt
A total of 40 permits will be awarded for this hunt, 10 of which will be reserved for mobility-impaired hunters in wheelchairs. Hunts are scheduled for two half-days: Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26, 2013, from 5:30 a.m. until noon. The hunt is for deer (either sex, limit two per day) and feral hogs (either sex, no limit). Hunters are required to use shotgun with slugs or muzzleloaders only. Use of buckshot is prohibited. Deer taken do not count against the state limit, and a special refuge tag will be provided upon check-out for each deer taken. All hunters must possess a valid Georgia hunting license.
Permits will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Check-in at the Okefenokee Shop Area commences at 5 a.m. each day of the hunt. Follow signs from entrance road to sign-in area. Hunters may line up for check-in no earlier than 4 a.m. and vehicles may not be left unattended. Stand-by hunters may be selected on the second day of the hunt when first-day selected hunters do not return and/or check-in by 5:30 a.m. Hunters must be prepared to pay $12.50 for a hunt permit. Checks, money-orders, or cash will be accepted.
More information is available on the refuge website at www.fws.gov/okefenokee, at the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center, located off Hwy. 121/23 near Folkston, GA by calling (912) 496-7836 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday–Monday.
The Pocket Hunt
This free hunt for archery only will take place at the Pocket Unit near Fargo, Ga. September 14–October 11, 2013 in accordance with state regulations. All hunters must sign in and out at the west entrance kiosk, and possess a valid Georgia hunting license and refuge entrance pass (see website or call about entrance pass info). All stands must be removed daily. Park private vehicles on the shoulder of the road and do not block access roads or ditches. Walk into the hunt area; ATVs are prohibited. Contact Stephen C. Foster State Park at (912) 637-5274 for early exit to hunt area if you are staying in the park overnight. Information for this hunt is available on the refuge website at www.fws.gov/okefenokee
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is managing deer, feral hog, small game, and turkey hunts on Cowhouse Island in conjunction with their Dixon Memorial Forest hunts. Hunters on this portion of the refuge are limited to foot traffic only. Hunters must sign-in and sign-out and must possess a valid Georgia hunting license. Regulations and information may be obtained by calling (229) 426-5267 or at http://www.gohuntgeorgia.com and http://www.fws.gov/okefenokee.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to providing access to our events for all participants. Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in our events should contact Susan Heisey at (912) 496-7366 ext. 233 or Susan_Heisey@fws.gov. In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, please contact us for assistance at least five business days before the event.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook pages at www.facebook.com/okefenokeewildliferefuge and our NEW tumblr page at http://okefenokee.tumblr.com/.