There are 2 avenues to hunt at Big Oaks National Wildlife
Refuge. The first is to enter state-drawn hunts, and these applications are
available in the Indiana Hunting & Trapping Guide and online through the
Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife (deadline for this is August 24th). The second method is on every hunt day a
no-show drawing is held at the refuge office at 7:00 AM (October) and 6:00 AM (November) to
fill available slots. The refuge can accommodate 420 deer hunters. Once a
hunter is drawn, a date is set when the
hunter may call to select an area in which to hunt (Map). The number of hunters
allowed per area is based upon the size of the area and can be found here. Click for deer firearm success rates, for archery success rates, or for harvest by units, or for frequently asked questions on deer hunting at Big Oaks NWR.
General Deer Hunt Information:
You may not exceed the daily bag limit on Big Oaks NWR of 2
deer. We will authorize hunters who
harvest and check-in antlerless deer to harvest an additional buck with an
appropriate license. There will be a limit of 2 bucks/hunter with the harvest
and check-in of an antlerless deer for each type of hunt (2 for archery and 2
for gun). Without the check-in of an antlerless deer, the limit is 1
buck/hunter with all archery licenses and 1 buck/hunter with all firearms
licenses. The number of antlerless deer is only limited by the daily bag limit
and the hunter's availability of licenses. If you were selected for an archery
hunt you have the option of purchasing 2 military/refuge licenses.
Archers can take deer of either sex using 1 or 2 of the following licenses:
regular archery, extra archery, crossbow, and/or military/refuge licenses.
Bonus Antlerless licenses can also be used to harvest antlerless deer on Big
Oaks NWR in 2015. See above for buck bag limits. If you were selected for a
firearm (primitive or regular) hunt you have the option of purchasing 2
military/refuge licenses. You may use the State Firearm Season License only during the State Gun Season
(November 14 to November 29 in 2015) to harvest a buck. The buck tag included in a Bundled License can only be used during the State Archery Season or Firearms Season (using the appropriate equipment) as well. See above for buck bag limits.
The day before your hunt and on Public Use Days beginning
October 2nd (except when those days are a Federal Holiday), safety briefings
will be held at 7:00 AM, 12:00 noon, and 3:00 PM and $20/hunting Permits for
Big Oaks NWR will be sold. It is strongly encouraged that you attend one of
these early safety briefings, it will prevent long delays on the initial day of
your hunt allowing you to arrive at your hunting area up to one hour earlier
than would otherwise be possible. On your hunt date, please arrive at the
Refuge office on or before 5:30 AM during October or 4:30
AM during November. If you have not previously attended the annual mandatory
safety briefing one will be provided. A separate Hunting Fee ($20; $10 for
holders of a Interagency Senior Pass or an Access Pass) is required for hunting. Fees
are waived for those 15 or under.
The buddy system is required. Do not show up by yourself.
You are responsible for knowing and abiding by all refuge and state
regulations. Portable deer stands are allowed for both archery and firearm
hunts. Intoxicants (including beer), fires, and ATVs are not permitted on the
refuge during the hunt. You must return to the refuge office by 8:00 PM during October Hunts and 7:00 PM during November Hunts. Deer hunters must possess and
carry a compass or GPS to hunt at Big Oaks NWR.
Hunters must check in on each hunt day by 7:00 AM during October Hunts or 6:00 AM during November Hunts or they will lose their reserved slot.
If you fail to show up for your first hunt day, your reserved slot for the
second day will be given away unless you have made prior arrangements with Big
Oaks NWR staff to hunt only the second day. No show drawings will be held each day of
the hunt at 7:00 AM during October Hunts and 6:00 AM during November Hunts to fill
The entrance to Big Oaks NWR is located on U.S. Highway 421
approximately five miles north of Madison, Indiana. The refuge office is in
Building 125 in the southern portion of the former JPG (the old cantonment
area). From Madison, drive north on Highway 421 to the Main Entrance of
Jefferson Proving Ground, enter through this entrance and go west on Ordnance
Drive and follow the brown directional signs to the refuge office (1661 West
JPG Niblo Road). Please note that the use of a GPS unit will lead you to a blocked gate, follow directions closely.
2015 Deer Hunt Dates:
State drawn archery hunts will be held
on October 10-11 and October 24-25. A State drawn primitive muzzleloader hunt
will be held on October 17-18. State drawn firearm hunts will be held on
November 1, November 2, November 7-8, November 14-15, and November 21-22.
Drawn archery hunters can reserve their hunt area by calling the refuge office,
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM EST on the following dates: September 22 for October 10-11 hunt; September 24 for October 24-25. Drawn Primitive Muzzleloader hunters can
reserve their area on September 23 for October 17-18. Drawn firearm hunters can
reserve their hunt area by calling the refuge office, 8:00 - 4:30 on the
following dates: September 29 for November 1 hunt; September 30 for November 2;
October 1 for November 7-8; October 6 for November 14-15; October 7 for
November 21-22. Be patient, the refuge has limited telephone lines. All area
reservations for the state hunts will be by phone in 2015. All numbered areas
on the refuge map are available for public hunting in 2015.
Youth Hunt: A special 2-day youth deer hunt event will be
held on October 30 and October 31. To apply, send a postcard postmarked by
October 1 with the youth's name and address to: Big Oaks NWR, 1661 W. JPG Niblo
Rd., Madison, IN 47250. A total of 150 youth (17 or under) will be selected by
lottery on October 5 to attend an optional deer hunting workshop on October 30 and a 1-day firearm hunt on October 31. The youth must have a responsible adult
hunter as a guide, and the youth will be the only one allowed to hunt. The
youth and guide must attend a refuge safety briefing, and the youth's
acknowledgment of danger form must also be signed by a responsible adult.
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Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge's public use days are Mondays, Fridays, and the second and fourth Saturdays of the month (closed on federal holidays) during the public use period from mid-April through November.