Thousands of years ago America’s first inhabitants lived, thrived, and died on lands that are now included in the boundaries of Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge. Today you can see “Indian mounds” throughout the Delta region, visual evidence of this past ancient culture. One of the most impressive Indian mounds can be seen on Yazoo Refuge Road just east of the intersection with Deer Lake Road. Drive by and check out the Swan Lake Indian Mound, and imagine how long it took to build this earthen structure using just small baskets.
In the early 1900's, natural habitat supplemented by agricultural crops provided excellent waterfowl hunting in and around the refuge area. Records indicate that ducks, geese and swans were abundant throughout the wintering season. Hunters came from as far away as New England to participate in the sport. Land acquisition began under authority of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act in 1936 with the initial purchase of 2,166 acres. In March, 1937, an additional 639 acres were purchased with plans to acquire 20,000 acres. The refuge remained unstaffed from 1936 until 1956. In 1959 the refuge office was built.
The Service was given permission to purchase additional land in 1960 under the provision of Section 5928 of the Mississippi Code of 1942, re-compiled by Governor Ross R. Barnett. Various tracts were purchased from individuals and hunting clubs until a total of 12,471 acres was reached on July 30, 1969. As land acquisition progressed, habitat management was diversified for mourning doves, wood ducks, Canada geese and colonial wading birds, along with endangered and resident species. A nucleus flock of wild turkey was introduced in 1970. In 1992, the Service purchased the 470-acre Cox property bringing total refuge acreage to 12,941 acres.