Turkey Hunt at Big Oaks

April 21, 2021
Wild Tom To apply for the regular season turkey hunt go to https://secure.in.gov/apps/dnr/portal/#/home.  This site accepts applications from January 4th to February 22nd. The reserve hunt dates are scheduled for April 21-23 and April 24-26 and the refuge also has locally drawn turkey hunts scheduled for May 1-2 and May 8-9.  The refuge now requires non-toxic shot for turkey hunting. The refuge Youth Turkey Hunt safety briefing is scheduled for April 17th (safety briefings at Noon at the refuge office) and the actual hunt is scheduled for April 18th.  To apply the youth needs to send us a post card by April 2nd with their name and address to: Big Oaks NWR, 1661 West JPG Niblo Rd, Madison, IN 47250 ATTN: Youth Hunt. The refuge will monitor the pandemic conditions locally and provide updates on the refuge website.

There are 3 avenues to hunt at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge.  The first is to enter state-drawn hunts, and these applications are available through the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife website. The second method is local lottery refuge hunts held on May 1-2 and May 8-9; area reservations and drawings for these local lottery hunts are held at 4:30 PM the Friday before the hunt at the refuge office.  The third is on every hunt day a no-show drawing is held at 6:30 AM to fill available slots.  The refuge can accommodate 210 turkey hunters per day (see here for number of hunters per area; the refuge typically has lots of open slots for turkey hunters--we do not fill up! Check here for harvest rates for turkeys by Hunt Area. Click here to see refuge map and location of hunt areas. Topographic maps are located here.
If you have been drawn for the April 21-23 Turkey Hunt at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), then you can reserve a hunt area by calling (refuge office phone: 812-273-0783) on April 13th starting at 8:00 AM. If you have been drawn for the April 24-26 Turkey Hunt at Big Oaks NWR, then you can reserve a hunt area by calling on April 14th starting at 8:00 AM. Only phone-in reservations will be accepted. You can participate in multiple hunts if chosen as a partner in addition to being selected in any drawing. There is no limit on how many times you can participate as a partner.  You may not exceed the yearly bag limit in Indiana of one (1) wild turkey. Big Oaks NWR does not sell turkey licenses. The buddy system is required. Do not show up by yourself.  You are responsible for knowing and abiding by all refuge and state regulations.  The refuge now requires non-toxic shot for turkey hunting. You must return to the refuge office by 2:00 PM.  Click here for tentative April-May calendar of hunt and public use days.
On your hunt date, please arrive at the refuge office on or before 5:30 AM. If not previously attended during the year, a mandatory safety briefing will be provided.  A $20 Refuge Hunt Permit ($10.00 for holders of Senior Passports or Access Passports) is required for hunting. Fees are waived for those 15 or under.  A Refuge Hunt Permit can also be used for deer and squirrel hunting. Because of the limits on the number viewing the safety briefing (maximum 30), it is important to view the safety video before the day of your hunt. The safety video will be shown at the refuge office on public use days (April 16th and April 19th before the turkey hunt begins) and hunt days. We will also show safety briefings on  April 15th (8 a.m. - 4 p.m on the hour), April 18th (day of Youth Turkey Hunt 6:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. on the hour), and April 20th (day before 1st hunt; 8 a.m. - 4 p.m on the hour). Safety briefings will be held every hour during public use days or hunt days; the office is open from 7:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on public use days and from 5:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on turkey hunt days. Refuge Hunt Permits will be sold after each briefing. 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 1-3 hours earlier than would otherwise be possible. All visitors must sign an acknowledgment of danger form and attend a safety briefing once per year.