Hunters Oppose Further Road Closings In Desoto National Forest

Down a gated gravel road, hunter Joe Tibilier sees the future of deer hunting in the Desoto National Forest.

"In this section right here there's three that are actually gated," says Tibilier.

He fears the U.S. Forest Service is forcing vehicles off these roads

"This is a main road," says Tibilier. "We don't want to be on this road. But if they close all these roads off to try to hunt, where do they put you?"

He's far from alone in his concern for future access to the deep wood hunting grounds in the forest, especially for future generations of hunters. The first of it's kind meeting at the Latimer Community Center brought out more than 150 South Mississippi hunters Thursday. All believe the Forest Service's current and future plan to close more roads is a mistake.

"That's what we're here for tonight to stop other roads from being closed, but also to get the roads that are closed reopened," says Jackson County hunter Johnny Groue.

Groue, who helped organize the meeting, made sure representatives from Congressman Gene Taylor's office as well as Senators Thad Cochran and Trent Lott's offices were there to hear their pleas.

"This is the first step," says Scott Walker, Senator Lott's Southern District Field Representative. "To come out here and listen to the concerns that they have and bring them back."

They know reversing a government agencies policy won't be easy. But they say, for the future of hunting and fishing in the state's largest national forest, they have to aim high.

"Hopefully, collectively we all get together and maybe we can have our voices heard," says Groue.

The hunters also hope to persuade the Forest Service to better maintain food plots that provide foraging material for deer in the forest.