2018-09-14 / Front Page

Obey laws, stay safe during hunting season

Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

With roughly 45,000 acres of natural area for outdoor activities, Fort Gordon is an outdoorsman’s paradise for many. Before heading out, it is crucial that patrons understand and adhere to rules and regulations – especially now that hunting season is underway.

“Anytime they come out here for recreation, they have to check in to the iSportsman system,” said Scott Hockenberry, Fort Gordon conservation law enforcement officer. “That’s one of the biggest issues we’re having right now – people not checking in and checking out after they’ve completed their recreation.” iSportsman is an online system that was introduced to the Fort Gordon community in July 2017.

Anyone who conducts any type of outdoor recreation in training areas on the installation must have an iSportsman account. Outdoor recreation includes – but is not limited to – hunting, fishing, bicycling, hiking, and bird watching.

The system is free, user-friendly, and contains everything patrons need to know regarding outdoor recreation on Fort Gordon. It allows patrons to purchase hunting and fishing permits, register to hunt, watch a required safety video, obtain a parking pass, view maps and regulations, check in and out of training areas, see which training areas are open, and more.

“Everything you need is on that website,” said Steven Camp, wildlife biologist, Directorate of Public Works’ Natural Resources Branch. “It’s a really neat system, and most all the installations throughout the United States are going to it.”

Additionally, patrons can view the number of people checked in at each location. This is especially useful for hunters or fishermen seeking less occupied areas. But perhaps its most significant feature is the ability for patrons to check in and out of training areas. Prior to iSportsman, patrons had to manually sign in and out at a log station on 111th Avenue.

More importantly, Hockenberry said, iSportsman helps ensure safety and accountability. Safety is paramount, and when used properly, iSportsman can help prevent accidents.

One way it does that is by informing patrons of which training areas are closed due to Soldiers training, controlled burns, or other reasons.

“Soldiers are here to train first and foremost; recreation comes second,” Camp said. “If a training area is closed, the military is training or something is being done there that’s not going to be conducive to outdoor recreation.”

When it comes to accountability, iSportsman serves as a tool for local authorities to track patrons in training areas, primarily for safety sake.

“We send out authorities for health and welfare checks if you’re not checked out and we can’t reach you by emergency contact or phone,” Hockenberry said. “Or if I see a vehicle on the side of the road, I can automatically pull up that system, run the tag, and know that they’re checked in to that area.”

Before heading out into any training areas, Camp emphasized the need to familiarize oneself with the iSportsman system along with Fort Gordon regulations, which are can be viewed on the iSportsman webpage.

Test your ability to check in before you get out here,” Camp said. “If you are not able to check in, then you cannot enter the training areas to recreate. This applies to all recreation; not just hunting.”

Anyone with issues checking in should contact the Fort Gordon Natural Resources Branch at (706)791-9983, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Patrons can update their iSportsman profiles if they move to a new installation that uses it, but Camp said they must keep in mind that different installations require different permits and follow different regulations.

To register for an iSportsman account, go to https://ftgordon. isportsman.net.

Anyone with questions or concerns should call the Natural Resources Branch (listed above) or Law Enforcement Center at (706)791-4380.

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