Richloam Wildlife Management Area Prime Area for Hunters, Hikers, Bicyclists
by MARY TOOTHMAN
photos provided by ALLTRAILS
If you love nature, horseback riding, or hunting — or any combination of the three — chances are you may have been to the Richloam Wildlife Management Area, or plan to visit. The Richloam Wildlife Management Area (WMS) is a 58,000-acre tract. It is one of seven large tracts that make up the Withlacoochee State Forest. The Richloam Tract includes land in Hernando, Pasco, Sumter, and Lake counties.
Even if you’re not into hunting, the area near Webster has much to offer people who are interested in other back-to-nature activities. It features a 9.9-mile back trail as well as a lake. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on a leash.
At alltrails.com, a site where information on spots popular with hikers, bicyclists and/or trail runs, Richloam’s trail is cited as being good for all skill levels. Pine flatwoods with scattered oak hammocks, bottomland hardwoods, and cypress swamp are the primary natural communities in the area.
Hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, camping, horseback riding, hiking, and bicycling are popular recreational activities at Richloam. There are miles of shared trails for horseback riding, bicycling, and hiking, along with three loop hiking trails.
If you already participate in some of these activities, you are no doubt aware that there are rules, laws and regulations that must be abided by when enjoying the great outdoors — particularly at publicly owned sites. It is important to stay up-to-date in order to abide by the law, stay safe and ensure pleasurable experiences. Here is a snapshot of rules you need to know while sporting at Richloam.
Rules for Horseback Riding
- Children who are under 16 and ride horses on public lands must wear helmets. This safety measure is required by Nicole’s Law, a state mandate that was signed by former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2009.
- All horseback riders need proof of up-to-date, negative Coggins Test results for their horses when on state lands.
Rules About Dogs
- Dogs are allowed but need to be physically restrained all the time. Dogs are not allowed in areas posted “Closed to Public Access” by FWC administrative codes, or in areas posted “Closed to Pets” by the Florida Forest Service.
- Hunting dogs may be taken onto the WMA after 8 a.m. the day before the opening of a season, and must be removed by 6 p.m. one day after the end of the season.
- Hunting deer with dogs is permissible only during general gun season.
- Hunting wild hog with dogs is allowed only during wild hog-dog season.
- It’s literally a sunrise- to-sunset rule when it comes to taking dogs along to hunt for deer and wild hogs. Dogs may only be used in the quest for deer and wild hogs from a half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset.
- Canine hunting companions are prohibited in areas posted “Closed to Public Access” by FWC administrative codes. Rules state that no one can let a dog “pursue or molest any wildlife during any period in which the taking of wildlife by the use of dogs is prohibited.”
- Dogs on leashes may be used for trailing wounded game.
- Go to Florida Forest Service’s site at freshfromflorida.com for information on reservations, fees, facilities, activity permits for individuals and groups, and restrictions during hunt seasons and special events.
The downloadable brochure “The Florida Hunting Regulations handbook,” available on myfwc.com, offers a wealth of information about hunting at Richloam. We’ve highlighted some key points here.
Visitors to wildlife management areas are required to have appropriate licenses, permits and stamps.
The following persons are exempt from all license and permit requirements:
- Florida residents who are 65 years of age or older.
- Residents with a Florida Resident Disabled Person Hunting and Fishing Certificate.
- Those Florida residents who are in the U.S. Armed Forces (not stationed in Florida), while home on leave for 30 days or less, upon submission of orders.
- Children under 16. Children under 16 are also exempt from the federal duck stamp.
Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, and 16 years of age or older must have passed a Commission-approved hunter-safety course prior to being issued a hunting license. It allows anyone to purchase a hunting license and hunt under the supervision of a licensed hunter 21 or older.
Licenses and permits may be purchased from county tax collectors, license agents, by telephone at 888-486-8356 or at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. Worksheets listing hunts, application periods, deadlines and instructions are available at county tax collector’s offices, FWC offices or MyFWC.com.
Quota application periods occur throughout the year, starting on the first of April. Specific dates can be found in the hunting handbook or at MyFWC.com. Worksheets will be available about two weeks before each application period.
Get out there and enjoy everything Richloam has to offer!