Hunting/Trapping Information & Migration Updates
Waterfowl reports provided during the migration period. Please call the 24-hour hunter information line at 605-885-6401 for the most recent update. Reports will be updated as the spring snow goose migration progresses.
Click on the below waterfowl migration seasons to view previous reports.
|Spring 2013||Fall 2012||Spring 2012||Fall 2011||Spring 2011||Fall 2010|
For statewide migration information visit the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Outdoor Reports webpage.
2013 Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge Hunter Information
For additional information pertaining to seasons, licensing, bag limits, and hunting in general visit the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website.
2013 Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge Deer Hunting Regulations (Read Carefully - New Information)
Deer (Firearm): Only hunters with a Sand Lake NWR permit (available through SD GFP) may hunt. Hunters
are allowed on the refuge only during days covered by their deer license. Unlicensed persons are not allowed in refuge hunting zones at any time during the refuge hunting seasons. Season dates: SL1- Muzzleloader only (Nov 9-Nov 13); SL2 (Nov 14-18); SL3 (Nov 19-Nov 24); SL4 (Closed); SL5 (Dec 2-Dec 8); Unused antlerless tags Dec 28-Jan 5
Deer (Archery): The refuge archery season is open Oct 19-Nov 8 & Dec 9-Dec.27, 2013. A special permit from the refuge is not needed. Hunters with a valid statewide or East River Any Deer state archery license (available through SD GFP) may hunt in the refuge with the exception of an Antlerless Archery tag. Antlerless Only Archery tags are not valid in Sand Lake NWR.
Hunting Hours: Deer hunters may enter the refuge one (1) hour before shooting time. No hunter may remain in the refuge later than one (1) hour after shooting time ends. For special situations, contact refuge personnel.
Parking: Archery hunters hunting in the headquarters area may not park in the headquarters parking lot or driveway, and must use other parking lots designated for hunters.
Closed Areas: See map on reverse for locations of closed areas. Please note additional *new* closed area as of 2012. The area from 117th Ave. north to Sand Lake Drive and from Brown County Highway 16 east to the James River channel is now closed to all hunting.
Deer Retrieval: Vehicles are allowed in the refuge only for retrieving harvested deer and only during the following
times: 9:30-10:00 AM; 1:30-2:00 PM; and from the end of shooting time to one (1) hour after the end of shooting time. Vehicles are allowed only on established roads & trails (snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles are not permitted). Some portions of roads are closed due to flood damage. Barricades have been placed at these areas. Do not drive around barricades.
Dates to Place Deer Stands: *New Regulation as of 2012* Hunters may place their deer stands or blinds during their designated licensed season only. Tree stands and blinds can only be placed on the refuge during your license period and must be removed when your licensed season has ended. Early tree stand placement is no longer allowed. Archery hunters cannot leave stands on the refuge during the deer firearms season.
Tree Stand/Portable Blind Requirements: The use of nails, screws, bolts, or screw-in type steps is prohibited on national wildlife refuges. The name and address or the year and current deer tag number of the owner or user must be on the stand and must be legible from the ground. Other elevated platform devices (not attached to a tree) and all portable blinds must conform with the date and labeling requirements. The construction or use of permanent tree stands is prohibited.
The placement of portable blinds and stands in unharvested row crops is not allowed until November 1. Please be aware that the refuge has an annual fall prescribed burning program October 16-31. Adjust your hunt/position accordingly. Boundaries of the proposed burn sites will be posted/marked. If unsure, check with the refuge headquarters personnel for exact locations.
Hunter Orange: All refuge firearm deer hunters must wear a minimum of 400 square inches of solid fluorescent orange material on the head, chest, and back which must be visible at all times. A vest and hat meets this requirement. Camouflage orange material is not legal.
Party Hunting: Party hunting is illegal. Each hunter may take only his/her permitted number of deer. After filling their tag(s), hunters may accompany members of their party in the field, but must be unarmed.
Bicycles & Boats: Bicycles are not allowed. Motorized and non-motorized boating is not allowed. Access is by walk-in only.
Littering: Do not discard garbage or gut piles in or near parking lots!
Trail Monitor Cameras: Are not allowed on the refuge.
Camping: Camping is not allowed on the refuge or surrounding SD GFP lands.
Ice Conditions: Ice conditions on the James River can be extremely unstable and weak. Use Extreme Caution!
2013 Sand Lake National Wildlife Upland Game Hunting Regulations (Read Carefully - New Information)
Species: Hunting is only allowed for the Sharp-tailed Grouse, Gray Partridge, and the male
Ring-necked Pheasant. State limits apply.
Season Dates & Time: Upland game hunters may hunt in the refuge December 9, 2013 – January 5, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. to sunset. A current South Dakota small game license is required. A special refuge permit is not needed. Please be aware that an archery deer and antlerless firearms season is also open on the refuge during part of this time period. Upland game hunters are not allowed to enter refuge each day until 10:00 a.m.
Closed Areas: See map on reverse for locations of closed areas. Please note additional area closed as of 2012. The area from 117th Ave. north to Sand Lake Drive and from Brown County Highway 16 east to the James River channel is closed to all hunting.
Vehicles: No vehicles are allowed in the refuge. All hunters must walk in from the refuge boundary and parking lots.
Firearms: No firearms, other than shotguns, are allowed while hunting upland game in the refuge.
Non-toxic Shot: Upland game hunters are required to use non-toxic shot while hunting on Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The possession of lead shot by hunters is a violation of this regulation. See refuge headquarters or search non-toxic shot at www.fws.gov for a complete listing of approved shot types. Coated lead shot does not qualify as non-toxic shot.
Littering: Do not discard garbage, game bird entrails or plumage in or near the parking lots!
Camping: Camping is not allowed on the refuge or surrounding SD GFP lands.
Hunter Orange: Hunters are encouraged to wear, at minimum, a hunter orange cap when hunting the tall, dense, cattail cover for their own safety and to alert other hunters of their presence.
2012 Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge Waterfowl Seasons:
For licensing and regulations related to the August Goose Management Take visit the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks August Goose Management Take page.
For licensing and regulations related to spring light goose hunting visit the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Spring Light Goose Hunting page.
Please note that waterfowl hunting in the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge is boundary hunting only, in the road right-of-way - no interior waterfowl hunting is allowed. Water levels fluctuate on a yearly basis and often areas open to waterfowl hunting are dry. The best times to hunt the refuge are windy days with a low cloud ceiling for pass shooting. Please call ahead for additional information.
Waterfowl hunting is not allowed in Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge; however, waterfowl hunting is allowed on the road right-of-ways adjacent to the refuge. Other road right-of-way closures are marked on site or on the waterfowl map. No interior waterfowl hunting is permitted. All state, federal, and refuge waterfowl hunting regulations apply. Please consult the 2013 South Dakota Hunting & Trapping Handbook for licensing, seasons, legal species, and general information or visit South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
Legally taken waterfowl may be retrieved (unarmed) from within a zone 100 yards deep, extending along the entire perimeter of the Refuge. The end of the retrieval zone is unmarked.
Roads and Parking Areas
The following road right-of-ways are closed to hunting.
- Brown County Highway 16 from the south boundary of the refuge extending five (5) miles north to 114th Street.
- State Highway 10 across the refuge, Brown County Highway 5 across the refuge.
- A section of 117th Street marked on the map.
- Use of non-toxic shot only is required. Non-toxic shot includes steel shot, bismuth-tin, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, tungsten-iron-fluoropolymer, and any combination of tungsten, iron, nickel, tin, copper, or bismuth. Coated lead shot does not qualify as non-toxic shot. A list of approved non-toxic shot can be found at the Migratory Bird Program page.
- All hunters age 16 and over must have a current Federal Duck Stamp.
- When driving on refuge interior roads, all firearms must be unloaded and cased.
Waterfowl Production Area Hunting
Hunting is allowed on all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Waterfowl Production Areas within the Sand Lake Wetland Management District (Brown, Campbell, Edmunds, Faulk, McPherson, Potter, Spink, and Walworth Counties). Please consult the 2013 South Dakota Hunting & Trapping Handbook for seasons/regulations.
Corn and soybean fields located on a Waterfowl Production Area can be hunted by the public without any special permission's.
Why are there corn and soybean fields on WPAs? Invasive species impact wildlife habitats throughout the area. Two invasive species of concern are Smooth Bromegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass. These introduced species can invade native grasslands and reduce wildlife habitat and biodiversity. The presence of invasive plants can alter the functioning of ecosystems by degrading wildlife habitat, displacing native species, and changing carrying capacity through reduced forage production, lower plant diversity, and increased soil erosion and sedimentation. The spread of invasive plants occurs by root spread or by seed dispersal, with wind, water, humans, equipment, and animals acting as transport mechanisms. Such plants are not only problematic on Waterfowl Production Areas, they also infest rangelands and croplands across South Dakota.
Corn and soybean fields observed on various WPAs are located on formerly broken ground (sod-busted) that is nearly 100% invaded by Smooth Brome and Kentucky Bluegrass. We have initiated a 4 year farming plan on these tracts of land to prepare the ground for a native grass/forb mix in year 5. The 4 years of farming prepares the seedbed making it relatively free of weed seeds. After five years, the WPA will have a high diversity native seeding that will be much more productive for wildlife resources than Smooth Brome and Kentucky Bluegrass. Fees generated from farming these acres are used to purchase the grass/forb seed.
Trapping is allowed on all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Waterfowl Production Areas within the Sand Lake Wetland Management District (Brown, Campbell, Edmunds, Faulk, McPherson, Potter, Spink, and Walworth Counties). Please consult the 2013 South Dakota Hunting & Trapping Handbook for seasons/regulations. Trapping is not allowed on the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge or within the road right-of-way.
For additional information on migration, hunting, trapping, seasons, licensing, and bag limits visit the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website.