First, and mostly, because they restricted camping to designated sites during deer season---no on trail camping. Even the Long Trail in Vermont allows on trail camping during deer season.
But the way they've administered it is, well, "of the Gummint."
Granted, things have improved somewhat. There didn't used to be camps on the trail---you had to camp in the "Hunter's Camps" and the restrictions only applied to "gun season". I never camped in one of those Hunter's Camps but, judging from the stuff left behind at those camps after deer season is over, I won't be planning to. In the last year of this system (2013), the Forest Service decided to make it easy on everybody and designate "deer hunting season" as being between 15 September to 1 January every year. This was supposed to help planning, but what it really did (I think) was help the clerks at SHNF by not making them have to call TPWD to find out what date gun season was going to start.
The "approved campsites" on the trails started last year. Its a decent compromise if you accept ther silliness that its safe to camp on trail when hunting for hogs and coyotes is legal in SHNF (otherwise known as "365 days a year") but it becomes especially dangerous when its legal to hunt deer. They also changed the date for closure to 26 September thru 8 January, in an order dated 25 September 2014---or ten days after everybody had figured the restrictions had started.
The good news at the time was that the designated "hiker's camp sites" were added and that this procedure was now chisled in stone and everybody could go back to thier rat killin and not worry about anything anymore. This was so settled, in fact, that the dates were included in the Thru Hiker's Guide update in January 2015. This was the document posted on the kiosk at the campsite I was at weekend before last. It kind of peeved me b/c I would have planned a much different hike that weekend had I not been under the impression that we were still operating under the 15 September start date. No biggee, still had a weekend in the woods.EFFECTIVE DATES: September 26, 2014 through September 25, 2019 or until rescinded.
PROHIBITED ACT: Camping is prohibited in the Affected Area from September 26
through January 8 of each year. This prohibition does not apply in designated campgrounds, designated hunt camps or designated camp
sites which are shown on the attached maps. 36 C.F.R § 261.58(e)
So, we should be good now until 2019, right?
Ummmmmmm, no. This document was put out on Friday last week and includes this paragraph:
But-----All camping in the Angelina, Davy Crockett, Sabine or Sam Houston National
Forest or the Caddo National Grasslands must be in designated campsites or
developed recreation areas from Sept. 15 through Feb. 1.
If you call or stop by the SHNF HQ and ask, they will tell you that the camping restrictions start 3 October.
I'm starting to get the feeling that I can just ignore the whole dangting and just camp anywhere I want----