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Visitor Activities

Visitor Center

Visitors enjoy many activities at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge including wildlife observation, photography, hiking, fishing, educational programs, guided tours, bicycling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and deer and upland game hunting.

  • Hunting


    The Refuge is open for squirrel, pheasant, partridge, rabbit and deer hunting in accordance with all current statewide seasons and regulations. The Refuge is closed to migratory bird hunting, except for an annual Learn to Hunt Waterfowl session. Located in Deer Management Units 68A and 68B. Opportunities for hunters with disabilities are available. 

    Horicon Marsh Hunting Map and Regulations 2013 

    Hunts for Hunters with Disabilities  

    The refuge offers three shotgun deer hunts and one archery hunt in a designated part of the refuge for hunters with disabilities. Hunters must have a Class A, B, C or D permit for the shotgun hunts; and a Class A, B, C, D or crossbow permit in order to be eligible for the archery hunt. Note, hunters who are over age 65 do not need a special crossbow permit. Also, hunters do not necessarily have to use a crossbow during the archery hunt. All of these permits can be obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Ten hunting blinds are available for use during the shotgun hunts. For more information contact Diane Kitchen at 920-387-2658 ext. 200. 

    Learn to Hunt Waterfowl  

    No waterfowl hunting is allowed on the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge except for selected youth participants of the Learn to Waterfowl program. The Learn to Hunt programs introduce novice hunters - both youth and adults - to a variety of hunting experiences with the aid of an experienced hunting mentor. 

    Horicon Marsh Learn to Hunt Waterfowl 2013 

    For more information contact John Below at 920-948-2579 or to download an application visit  


  • Fishing


    Fishing on the refuge is open year-round in accordance with state fishing regulations. Fish for perch, pike, bullhead, and other game species. Peachy Road, Ledge Road and Main Dike Road are open for bank fishing (piers) - visitors may only fish in designated locations. From December 1- March 15 the entire Refuge is open to ice fishing but motorized vehicles are not allowed. Non-lead tackle (lures, sinkers, etc.) are required. For more information on state fishing regulations visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife viewing is popular year-around at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. In spring, look for the return of waterfowl, wading birds and pelicans and listen for the chorus of frogs. Horicon Refuge is well known for the fall migration of birds, including thousands of Canada geese and numerous duck species. Whooping crane sightings are also increasing due to a recent expansion of reintroduction efforts. The Wisconsin Birding Network is a great place to stay up-to-date with bird sightings. From December 1 through March 15 the entire Refuge is open to visitors. 

     Horicon Refuge Bird Checklist  

     Spring/Summer 2014 Waterfowl Numbers 

     Spring/Summer Waterfowl Numbers, 2013 Final 

     Fall Waterfowl Numbers, 2013 Final 



    Tips for Wildlife Viewing   

    • Dawn and dusk are the best times to see wildlife
    • Move or sit quietly and watch for movement or listen for sounds or look for animal signs
    • Keep a safe distance to avoid disturbing an animal - use a scope or binoculars for a closer look
    • Cars make good observation blinds
    • Don't feed wildlife - human food can disrupt wild digestive systems and alter natural feeding habits
    • Leave "abandoned" young alone - a parent is most likely close by waiting for you to leave


  • Interpretation


    Celebrate the seasons of the Refuge by visiting during one of our special events. We celebrate Earth Day in April, the Horicon Marsh Bird Festival in May, National Trails Day in June, National Public Lands Day in September, and National Wildlife Refuge Week in October. We also offer many guided hikes and educational programs on weekends during the fall migration. A variety of visitor center exhibits and kiosks and wayside signage along the auto tour and trails highlight Refuge wildlife, history, and habitats. 


  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education

    We offer environmental education programs for K-12 and college students, scouts, 4-H, and other organized groups. On-site field trips, service learning opportunities, off-site presentations and a variety of other educational materials are available. Reservations are required. All programs and activities are free. Contact Erin Railsback at 920-387-2658 ext 124 or for current programming and reservations.

  • Photography


    Opportunities for photography at the refuge are endless. Whether photographing unique birds, colorful wildflowers, impressive sunsets or other marsh wildlife, amateur and professional shutterbugs alike will enjoy the abundant diversity of the refuge wildlife and habitats. A photo blind is also available and is located at the east end of Old Marsh Road. Contact the Refuge office at 920-387-2658 for reservations.

  • Hiking


    Several miles of established trails and interior roads lead through marsh, prairie and forest habitat on the refuge for enjoyable hiking year-round. In most areas, visitors are advised to stick to trails and roadways except for the Bud Cook Hiking Area where exploration off-trail is encouraged. Make sure to stop at the Egret Trail Floating Boardwalk - one of the most popular destinations on the marsh.

    Horicon Refuge Trail Maps 

  • Bicycling


    Traveling by bicycle is a great way to see wildlife on the refuge. Several roads such as Old Marsh Road and Main Dike Road bisect the interior of the marsh offering great views and enabling the visitor to make shorter or longer loops and link to the nearby Wild Goose State Trail.

    Horicon Marsh Bicycle and Auto Tour Map 

  • Trapping


    Both marsh and upland trapping are offered annually based on management needs of the refuge. Interested trappers must obtain a permit at the refuge office. An annual trapping auction is held jointly with the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area each year.  Season dates for the marsh and senior/youth/disabled units will be December 2, 2013 through March 16, 2014 or 5 days after the ice is out, whichever comes first. Trappers will be able to trap any dikes within the units from October 26, 2013 to March 31, 2014 or 5 days after ice is out, whichever comes first. Upland trapping is offered at no charge and will run from October 19, 2013 through March 31, 2014. For more information contact Sadie O'Dell at 920-387-2658 ext. 114 or

    Refuge General Trapping Conditions 2013-14 

    Refuge Trapping Unit Maps 2013-14 


Page Photo Credits — Credit: USFWS
Last Updated: Jul 21, 2014
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