Hunting

Hunting

For some, hunting on public lands is a tradition. At Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, hunting is also a tool to ensure healthy wildlife populations into the future.

  • General Information

    Select areas of the Refuge offer specific hunting opportunities during Minnesota state seasons, including opportunities for youth and people with disabilities.  All Minnesota state regulations and Refuge-specific regulations pertaining to hunting will be enforced.

    • A Minnesota state hunting permit is required for all hunts on all Refuge and Waterfowl Production Area lands
    • All visitors, including hunters, must follow Refuge rules and regulations
    • To report a wildlife violation, call 1-844-NWR-TIPS (844-679-8477)
    • Trapping is not permitted at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
    • Trapping is allowed on Waterfowl Production Areas, and you must Minnesota state trapping regulations
    • Not all areas of Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge are open for hunting. Hunting regulations and map can be found at hunter kiosks on the Refuge, at our Visitor Centers, and online  
    • Trail maps for public trails on Refuge lands can be viewed and downloaded here: (Refuge Maps)
    • State of Minnesota concealed-carry permits are not valid within Federal buildings
    • Entry into the Refuge earlier than 2 hours before legal shooting hours is prohibited.  Hunters must leave the Refuge no later than 1 hour after legal shooting time ends
    • No items can be left overnight on Refuge or Waterfowl Production Area lands

      Know before you go

      • Trail conditions can change quickly.  Visit our trail conditions webpage to plan your trip
      • Some areas of the Refuge do not have good cell phone service.  Always communicate your plan to others
      • Dial 911 for medical or safety emergencies
      • Refer to Minnesota's hunting information for state regulations and seasons.  Know that any Refuge regulations listed below or found in our Refuge hunt brochure and map supersede State regulations.

    • General Regulations

      To ensure your safety, and to protect wildlife and habitats, please be aware of all Refuge regulations.  Visit our Rules and Regulations webpage for more information.  You may only hunt species outlined in the most current hunting brochure. Hunting is only allowed on Refuge units described in the most current brochure and outlined below.

      Be aware of the following regulations:

      • No target shooting
      • Hunters using shotguns for waterfowl and small game (includes wild turkey) must possess and use only non-toxic shot
      • Waterfowl hunters 16 years of age and older must purchase and carry a current annual Federal Duck Stamp.  Stamps are available for purchase at our Bloomington Visitor Center
      • Hunters must wear an article of blaze orange/pink, consistent with Minnesota state regulations
      • Possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited
      • No distribution of bait, or hunting over bait is allowed. This includes salts and minerals.
      • No training of pets
      • No pets allowed off leash
        • Note: While actively hunting small game and migratory birds, a hunting dog may be off leash, and must be under the immediate control of the hunter
         
      • Motorized vehicles are not allowed on Refuge and Waterfowl Production Area lands, including frozen bodies of water.  Vehicles must remain on designated parking areas, access roads, and public roads.
      • Motorized watercraft (gas and electric motors) are prohibited on all Waterfowl Production Areas and Refuge waters
        • Note: Non-motorized watercraft are allowed in areas open to waterfowl hunting during waterfowl seasons only
      • Camping, open fires, and overnight parking are prohibited
      • Abandoning, discarding, or otherwise leaving private property on Refuge or Waterfowl Production Areas is prohibited
        • All property must be removed at the end of each day
        • This includes, but is not limited to the following:
          • Vehicles
          • Boats/watercraft
          • Decoys
          • Trail cameras and other photography equipment
          • Blinds and portable shelters
          • Portable stands
          • Trash, including shell casings
      • Commercial enterprise, including guided hunting, is prohibited without a Special Use Permit

      Regulations specific to units can be found on our Refuge hunt brochure and map.  Brochures are available for viewing and download on our website, as well as at hunter kiosks on the Refuge and at either our Bloomington or Rapids Lake visitor center.

    • Refuge-Specific Regulations

      Please review our Refuge hunt brochure and map for specific regulation information.

      Hunting

      • Single projectile ammunition is prohibited on all Refuge units except:
        • On Jessenland and Blakely Units, .22 caliber and smaller rim-fire rifles and handguns are allowed for furbearers and upland game
        • Where firearms deer hunting is allowed, shotgun slug and muzzle-loading rifles are allowed in season
      • The use of air guns of any type is prohibited
      • We prohibit hunting on, from, across, or within 100 feet (30 meters) of any road, parking area, or designated trail
      • You may only hunt coyotes, skunks, fox, opossum, and raccoon from 30 minutes before legal sunrise, and only until legal sunset
      • Firearms and weapons must be cased and unloaded while traveling through or accessing hunting areas designated No Hunting Zones.  Some areas are posted as No Hunting Zones to protect buildings, private property, or critical habitat areas
      • Permits to operate vehicles on other roads may be available for hunters with disabilities
      • Hunters may use bicycles and game carts on designated trails and service roads during hunting seasons.  Off trail bicycle travel is prohibited
      • Non-motorized boats are allowed in areas open to waterfowl hunting during the waterfowl hunting seasons
      • We prohibit the taking of any turtle, frog, leech, minnow, crayfish, and mussel (clam) species by any method on the Refuge

      Trapping

      • Trapping on the Refuge is only allowed by Special Use Permit.  The Refuge currently only issues trapping permits for nuisance beaver removal as necessary for management purposes.  All other trapping activities are prohibited on Refuge
      • Trapping is allowed on Waterfowl Production Areas, and you must Minnesota state trapping regulations

    • Refuge Hunting Seasons

      Duck hunter at sunrise by USFWS

      Refuge-specific regulations supersede State regulations.  The following Refuge hunting seasons differ from State seasons:

      • Goose: No hunting during the state spring goose hunt
      • American Crow: State fall crow season only
      • Coyote: September 1 - February 28
      • Fox (Red and Gray): Beginning of State season - February 28
      • Raccoon: Beginning of State season - February 28
      • Opossum: Beginning of State season - February 28
      • Striped Skunk: September 1 - February 28

    • Unit-Specific Regulations

      Methods of Take

      Each unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge may have restrictions on the type of weapon you may use to hunt specific species.  These regulations may differ from state zones and regulations, and supersede any State regulations.  Hunters must review the Refuge hunt brochure and map for complete regulations.  Please note: Areas not listed below are not open for hunting.

      Wilkie Unit

      • Rice Lake Area (from Eagle Creek west to the Highway 169 bridge):
        • Big and small game: ARCHERY ONLY
        • Waterfowl: Firearm allowed
        • Other Migratory Birds: Closed to Mourning Dove, Snipe, and Woodcock
      • West of 169 Bridge (Blue and Fischer Lake areas):
        • Big Game: ARCHERY ONLY
        • Upland Game: ARCHERY ONLY
        • Migratory birds: CLOSED
         
      • East of Eagle Creek: CLOSED to all hunting

      Louisville Swamp Unit

      • North of Middle Road:
        • Big Game: ARCHERY ONLY
        • Upland Game: ARCHERY ONLY
        • Migratory Birds: CLOSED
      • South of Middle Road:
        • Big Game: Archery and Firearms
        • Migratory Birds: Archery and Firearms
        • Upland Game: Archery and Firearms

      Rapids Lake Unit

      • Big Game: Archery and Firearms
      • Migratory Birds: Archery and Firearms
      • Upland Game: Archery and Firearms
      • NOTE: There are several No Hunting Zones in the Rapids Lake Unit.  Review the Refuge hunt brochure and map before beginning your hunt

      St. Lawrence Unit

      • Big Game: ARCHERY ONLY
      • Waterfowl: Firearm allowed
      • Other Migratory Birds: CLOSED
      • Upland Game: Archery and Firearms, except for the following
        • Coyote, Fox, Raccoon and Skunk: ARCHERY ONLY 
         

      Jessenland and Blakeley Units

      • Big Game: Archery and Firearms
      • Migratory Birds: Archery and Firearms
      • Upland Game: Archery and Firearms

    • Special Use Permit Hunts

      Managed, special use permit-based hunts may be held on refuge units in areas which are closed to public hunting opportunities.  Listed below are the current hunts scheduled for 2020-2021.  Click the links for more information: