Rules and Regulations

Photo of a mono-filament line bin at a kiosk on the Overton Bottoms North Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge by Anna Weyers/USFWS.

Anglers are encouraged to dispose of old fishing line safely, by placing them in the marked mono-filament line bins posted on unit kiosks.


  • Hunting is subject to all applicable state and federal laws
  • You may use and possess only approved non-toxic shot within refuge boundaries; this includes turkey hunting
  • Distributing or hunting with the aid of bait, including salt or other minerals, is prohibited
  • Target shooting is prohibited
  • Use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited
  • Some units have unit-specific hunting restrictions. Units near St. Louis are archery only or archery and shotgun only; these include both the Cora Island and Boone's Crossing Units. See the corresponding maps of units currently with unit-specific restrictions at the hyperlinks provided below, or on our Maps page for more specifics on particular boundaries with the following restrictions:
    • Specific Hunting Restrictions
      • Cora Island Unit - Deer hunting is archery only; shotgun use with non-toxic shot no larger than a BB is allowed for hunting of other game species
      • Boone's Crossing UnitDeer hunting is archery only and shotgun use with non-toxic shot no larger than a BB is allowed for hunting of other game species on the Johnson Island (442) acres; archery hunting only with no firearms allowed on adjacent 131 acre area  
      • Overton Bottoms North Unit - No Hunting is allowed in the 100 acres surrounding the Big Muddy NFWR visitor contact station and headquarters building off Brady Lane in Boonville
      • Unit-specific hunting regulations may change at any time; therefore, it is best to call the Refuge at 660-672-2800 prior to hunting on a refuge unit to ensure compliance with current regulations

 Check out the Department of Interior blog page here for more information about hunting on public lands.  


  • Trapping is prohibited on all areas of the Refuge

Stand/ Blind/ Decoy Use

  • Only portable tree stands and blinds may be used between September 1st and January 31st
  • Use of nails, screw-in steps or any material that would damage trees or other resources is prohibited
  • Unattended stands and blinds must be plainly labeled on durable material with the owner's full name and address
  • Decoys and portable blinds are permitted during the prescribed hunting seasons, but must be removed from the area daily


  • Fishing is allowed year round and is subject to all applicable state and federal laws
  • All motorized boats must be operated at a no-wake speed
  • Anglers are encouraged to utilize the mono-filament line bins on kiosks throughout the refuge to dispose of fishing line safely


    • All vehicles are restricted to designated roads and parking areas
    • Vehicle speed limit shall not exceed 25 mph except as otherwise legally posted


    • Camping and unauthorized overnight use on the refuge is prohibited

      Animal and Plant Collection

      • Harvest of berries, mushrooms, and nuts for non-commercial use is allowed at hunters' own risk
      • Otherwise, disturbing, injuring, and damaging any plant or animal, except fish and game taken in season, is prohibited
      • Collecting of other objects including shed antlers is prohibited

        Domestic Animals

        • Horseback riding is prohibited
        • Pets must be leashed, except when under control of hunter during appropriate hunting season

        Fires and Fireworks

        • Building or setting fires is prohibited on the refuge
        • Fireworks are prohibited on the refuge


        • Launching, landing, or disturbing wildlife by aircraft (to include drones) is prohibited on the refuge

        Historic Artifacts

        • Artifacts and historical items are protected; collecting these items is prohibited