Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Hunt Program


Refuge hunt permits are now available.
Permits, and detailed hunt information can be obtained through the following link:

2021 Hunt brochure and map   

Season End Hunter Harvest Report

Summary of changes, implemented in 2021: 

The refuge 2021 hunt season will occur October 1st – January 1st on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only, and public trailheads will be open to all users on hunt days.  

  • Expanded opportunities for deer and bear hunting 
  • New opportunities for wild turkey, squirrel, and coyote hunting 
  • Additional hunter access points, concurrent with reduced vehicular access 
  • Extended season length 
  • New opportunities for archery and muzzleloader 
  • Allow multi-use visitation at public trailhead access points 

Final Hunting Plan, published 2021

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a final hunting plan for Great Dismal Swamp NWR. View the plan here. Note: the map in this document is a proposal only; for the 2021 hunt map, please see the 2021 Hunt brochure and map above. 

A draft plan was issued earlier this spring, and during the 88-day public comment period, 21 comment letters were received from the public. We are grateful to the people who provided meaningful comments on the draft, which helped in developing the final plan. 

Some comments reflected an opposition to hunting and fishing in general and in particular on NWR lands. We understand and respect this viewpoint. The legislation which guides how national wildlife refuges across the country are managed not only requires us to consider allowing wildlife observation, hunting, fishing, photography, environmental education, and interpretation, but further directs us to promote these activities when compatible with refuge purposes. Not one of these recreational uses has a priority over another – they are simply different ways people choose to enjoy the refuges and to engage themselves, their families, and their friends in the outdoors. 

A summary of all substantive comments, and our comments, can be found in Appendix E (Finding of No Significant Impact). No significant changes have been made between the draft and the final versions of the Hunting Plan. A few minor changes have been made: (1) the Washington Bow and Portsmouth Bow boundaries have been modified for simpler delineation; (2) Shotgun gauges of any size can be used. Previously, the refuge required 20-gauge or larger; (3) no-hunting buffers around trails, boardwalks, roads, and buildings, has been increased to 150 feet. The buffer as stated in the draft plan was 100-feet.

The following attachments are for information only.

2017 Hunt Harvest Summary

2016 Hunt Harvest Summary

2015 Hunt Harvest Summary