Russell Sage WMA has unique location

A river runs through it. Well, sort of.

It’s a concrete river, four lanes wide. It ebbs and flows with 18-wheelers and automobiles heading east and west across the top of Louisiana.

It’s commonly known as I-20, the interstate that spans all of North Louisiana.

And it cuts right through the middle of Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area just to the east of Monroe. But with 21,948 acres of hunting land available, nobody much notices.

“It does kind of make it seem like two separate areas — north and south — but the biology and topography of the entire refuge is pretty much the same,” Louisiana Department of Wildlife and fisheries biologist Charlie Booth said.

Such easy access as the Millhaven Exit and U.S. Highway 80 is a big plus for hunters, who don’t have to drive miles and miles down backroads to get to hunting spots. It makes hunting easy for a lot of younger outdoorsmen, too, such as hundreds of licensed hunters who attend nearby University of Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech.

“It’s sure a benefit for them to have this kind of public land available for hunting so close,” said Booth. “We see lots of them, especially during breaks like over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.”

Most people don’t realize it, but Russell Sage was the first wildlife management area to be owned by the State of Louisiana. All the other areas were leased when the Louisiana Legislature passed 1958’s Act. No. 136, which allowed the state to accept the land as a donation from the Russell Sage Foundation. It opened in 1960, and has been a popular hunting, camping and outdoor area since that time.

Another unique thing about Russell Sage is that the south boundary of the refuge adjoins the northern boundary of the Ouachita Wildlife Management Area, putting an additional 10,000-plus acres of public hunting land in one spot.

About Kinny Haddox 597 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, lakedarbonnelife.com and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.