Skip to main content

Sylamore WMA

Zone County
620 Baxter, Izard, Marion, Searcy, Stone
2023-24 Closed Seasons
  • Alligator
2023-24 Crow
Sept. 1, 2023-Feb. 19, 2024. Open Thursdays through Mondays only. No limit.
2023-24 Deer
Deer Archery: Sept. 23, 2023-Feb. 29, 2024
Deer Muzzleloader: Oct. 21-29, 2023 and Dec. 9-11, 2023
Deer Modern Gun:
North Unit: Nov. 11-19, 2023 and Nov. 24-26, 2023
South Unit: Nov. 11-Dec. 3, 2023 and Dec. 26-28, 2023
Deer Modern Gun Special Youth Hunt: Nov. 4-5, 2023 and Jan. 6-7, 2024

WMA Bag Limit (Both Units): Three deer, no more than one antlered buck, which may include:

  • One antlered buck with archery, muzzleloader or modern gun,
  • Three antlerless with archery,
  • One doe with muzzleloader during muzzleloader season or during modern gun season.
  • During youth hunt, youths may take two deer, one buck (no antler restriction) and one doe.

Deer Notes:

  • No antler restrictions.
  • No dogs.
2023-24 Quail
Nov. 1, 2023-Feb. 5, 2024. Daily limit – 6, possession limit -12.
2023-24 Rabbit
Sept. 1, 2023-Feb. 29, 2024. Daily limit – 8, possession limit – 16.
2024-25 Squirrel
May 15, 2024-Feb. 28, 2025. Dogs allowed. Daily limit – 12, possession limit – 48.
2023 Bear
Bear Archery: Sept. 13-Nov. 30, 2023
Bear Muzzleloader: Oct. 21-29, 2023
Bear Modern Gun: 
North Unit: Nov. 11-19, 2023 and Nov. 25-28, 2023
South Unit: Nov. 11-30, 2023
Bear Modern Gun Youth Hunt: Nov. 4-5, 2023

Bear Notes:

2024 Turkey
North and South Units
Youth Hunt:
April 6-7, 2024. One legal turkey.
Firearms Hunt (permit required): April 15-17, 2024. One legal turkey.
Firearms (no permit required): April 18-May 5, 2024. One legal turkey.

Turkey Notes: A WMA Turkey Hunt Permit is required to hunt turkeys on this WMA during the permit hunt. Click here for details.

About the Name
Legend has it the name was taken from an American Indian chief that lived in the area. The name also is the name of the local U.S. Forest Service Ranger District and the name of two creeks (North and South Sylamore) that run through and adjacent to the WMA.
Coming from the south via Mountain View on Hwy 14 west, coming from the west via Marshall/Big Flat on Hwy 14 east, coming from north via Mountain Home/Calico Rock on Hwy 5 south or Hwy 341 south, and coming from the east via Batesville (Hwy 14 west or Melbourne (Hwy 9 south). Any of these mentioned state highways will intersect with many of the Stone County/USFS roads leading into the WMA.
Established March 3, 1908.
Area Notes
  • A free annual General Use Permit (WMP) is required to hunt or trap on WMAs. Permits are available online by clicking “Buy Licenses” at or by calling 833-345-0325 or any regional office.
  • CWD regulations apply.
  • Dogs, hunting or trapping equipment are not allowed in Blanchard Springs Recreation Area.
  • The North Unit of the WMA includes public lands and all private lands meeting the criteria of a WMA in-holding, within the following boundary: north of Highway 14 from Allison to Big Creek; Big Creek to Buffalo River; Buffalo River to White River; White River to Highway 14 at Allison.
  • The South Unit of the WMA includes all public lands and all private lands meeting the criteria of a WMA in-holding within the U.S. Forest Service boundary south of Highway 14.
  • The same hunting seasons, method of take, bag limits, shooting hours and permits for hunting which apply to the Sylamore WMA apply to all private lands meeting the criteria of a WMA in-holding.
  • Contact the USDA Forest Service for a mobility impaired modern gun permit application at 479-284-3150. Refer to USDA Forest Service website for more information.
Already mentioned are the three camping areas on Sylamore that the USFS operates, but camping is allowed anywhere on the WMA. The only restriction is camping is not allowed on the food plots. Other camping sites are found in the surrounding communities, at the Ozark Folk Center, and sites along the rivers and lakes.
Most of the area is oak-hickory stands with some intermingled stands of pure pine. During the 1950s large quantities of white oaks were cut for “stave bolts”, leaving what’s now mature to semi-mature stands of hardwood. The WMA topography is part of the Ozark Mountains, Springfield plateau. The land is mostly narrow, rolling mountains composed of gently (some step near the Buffalo) sloped ridges with good fertile valleys along many streams (both intermittent and permanent). Elevations range from 1,250-1,700 feet as with the rock cliffs being mainly made of limestone. As mentioned earlier there are many streams for fishing and camping with three small lakes; Mirrow Lake (at Blanchard Springs), Gunner Pool Lake (at the recreation area so named), and Hayden Pond (east of the community of Optimus which is south of Calico rock). Most of the open land, not counting food plots and unimproved fields owned by the Forest Service, are improved pastures on the private land.
Hunting Opportunities
Sylamore offers a wide range of hunting opportunities for upland game from good hunting for quality deer and turkey to limited hunting of bear and quail. Deer – good quality bucks hidden in deep ravines with a capacity approximately 15-20 per section. Turkey – Turkeys scattered throughout, especially in the walk-in only area. Bear – Hardest animal to hunt on Sylamore, preseason scouting a must. Squirrel – Known for many years as one of the best grey squirrel areas in the state. Find the big oaks and hickories. Quail – Limited to managed larger field systems, especially along hwy 14 and the river. Dove – Found sparsely in improved pasture field systems and some food plots. Rabbit – Found numerously in grownup or semi-maintained fields. Furbearers – Raccoon, bobcat, foxes, etc. – large quantity, several local residents raccoon hunt at night and trap the furbearers during the day.
The WMA lies in four north central Arkansas counties; Searcy, Marion, Stone and Baxter with the majority of the land lying in the latter two. The WMA is approximately 12 miles south of Mountain Home and 6 miles north of Mountain View, with three cities lying on itês border; Calico Rock in the northeast corner, Fifty Six in the south central part, and Big Flat in the southwest corner. The boundary begins at Calico Rock, follow White River down to the small community of Allison (a town north of Mountain View off hwy 14), take hwy 14 from Allison through Fifty Six and through Big Flat until you reach a hwy bridge crossing Big Creek (a small stream approximately 5 miles west of Big Flat0, then follow the stream bed of Big Creek until you reach the Buffalo River, follow Buffalo River to White River, then take White River down to Calico Rock.
Management Practices
Wildlife management practices on Sylamore are a cooperative effort between the AGFC and U.S. Forest Service. These practices are intended to enhance habitat by manipulating wildlife openings (AGFC responsibility) and timber management (primary responsibility of the USFS). Timber management practices range from small regeneration cuts to seed tree and shelterwood cuts. Some burning is done in the timber to reduce fuel and stimulate new growth. The emphasis of wildlife management practices are primarily deer and turkey, with some large field systems being managed for quail and rabbit.
Established March 3, 1908 by the USDA Forest Service from local landowners. Some landowners that did not sell still have inholdings (private land tracts) scattered throughout the WMA. Some landowners still live within the WMA boundaries, more in the northern part of the area. Some of the land along the western boundary (Buffalo River) belongs to the National Park Service.
Sylamore was developed due to the need for managed public hunting land in north central Arkansas. The plan was to take a large tract of land and conduct intensive habitat management practices for deer to study and compare the results. In doing this the biologists know the turkey population would also be enhanced. The first step for this intensive management was to build two 640 acre pens. One having good oak-hickory habitat and the other having poor oak-hickory habitat with intermingled cedar glades. The plan was to see what effect improving the habitat would have on the deer herd, specifically the carrying capacity. Food plots were planted in both pens with greater success (increased carrying capacity) in the pen with poor quality timber. What was discovered was the carrying capacity could be increased with the food plots and the quality was also improved. The Commission saw the benefit of planting food plots in timber stands, especially during years of bad mast crops. You can say “food plots started in Arkansas on Sylamore WMA.”
Recreation Other Than Hunting
Blanchard Springs Caverns is located in the south central part of the WMA. The caverns have two tours daily with limited tours during the winter. Also, near the cave is the Blanchard Springs picnic and camping areas with two swimming holes. Mirrow lake at Blanchard offers good trout fishing year round. The lake is stocked 1-2 times each month by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The USFS has two other camping areas: Gunner Pool and Barkshed, both being more primitive in terms of facilities than Blanchard. Gunner Pool also has a small lake for fishing. The mainstream that runs through the WMA, North Sylamore Creek, offers some good fishing for small mouth and rock bass. Also, along the creek are two hiking trails. But if you are more a “looker” at nature, you will find some of the most beautiful scenery by just driving along hwy 5, 14 and 341 or any of the gravel roads that transect the WMA. You possibly could see deer feeding on the planted food plots, a bear crossing the road, turkey feeding in the old fields, or many different song birds and some birds of prey. Each year small communities around Sylamore have many festivals. Two of the largest are the Folk Festival (3rd weekend in April) and the Bean Fest in October, both are held in Mountain View.
Restaurants and Other Facilities
All the surrounding cities either have some type of motel or cabins. There are restaurants in Calico Rock, Allison, Fifty Six and several in Mountain View. Also both Allison, Calico Rock and Norfork have fishing resorts/boat docks, where you can rent a boat and find the “good fishing spot” yourself or guides are available. The USFS has accessible sites for the handicapped at most recreation sites. Call the District Ranger headquarters in Mountain View for more details.
Safety is a personal responsibility. Parents are reminded that even at the recreation areas wildlife is prevalent. Wild animals are just that “wild” and they do not need to become domestic by trying to feed them. Baby animals are cute, but their mothers are not and probably do not like someone bothering their little one. Snakes are dangerous and you should be on the alert for them as you walk through woods. The best way to keep from having an encounter with wildlife on Sylamore is 1) put all food away, especially at night in sealed containers; 2) fires can cause severe damage. Always respect any fire, no matter how small, it can get away from your control. Always ask Forest Service employees if there are any burn bans on or any danger in building a camp fire.