Rules and Regulations

Regulations at Big Oaks NWR

This below is a partial list of the rules and regulations for Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge.  All refuge activities are subject to regulations contained within the 50 CFR 1.1.


Public Use

Public use on the refuge is limited to Mondays, Fridays, and the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month from mid-April through November. Public use hours are from 7:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; days and hours may vary during hunting seasons.

1. All visitors are required to attend a safety briefing, sign an acknowledgment of danger agreement, and obtain a public access permit before entering the refuge. Visitors must possess a valid daily pass at all times. All visitors must check into and out of the refuge in accordance with the provisions of their refuge permit.

2. A lottery system is used as needed during public use. Any activity by a refuge visitor that will result in an unfair advantage or improve one’s chance in the lottery is prohibited.

3. We prohibit trespass into unassigned areas. In areas posted “Area Closed,” we prohibit entry. It is the responsibility of each person to know where they are at all times.

4. Pets must be kept on a leash, except hunting dogs used during refuge squirrel hunting season. All pets are required to wear a collar displaying the owner’s name, address, and telephone number.

5. Searching for, removing, or possessing objects of antiquity or historical significance or unexploded ordnance, munitions or any item(s) associated with the Army’s historical mission is prohibited.

6. Camping, fires, swimming, dumping, trapping, ATV’s and littering are prohibited.

7. Vehicles and other modes of transportation are allowed only on designated roads. Vehicles are prohibited off road.

8. Disturbing or collecting plants or animals and/or parts is prohibited. Wild edible food products (i.e., mushrooms, nuts, wild asparagus and berries) and shed deer antlers may be gathered for personal use during refuge public use days subject to the following condition: permit required. Mushrooms must be collected in a mesh bag.

9. Spotlighting wildlife, even without weapons, is prohibited.

L e g a l G a m e

Refuge hours listed are for hunting seasons; legal shooting hours are according to state regulations.

White-tailed deer/ wild turkey Archery Season:
Daylight Savings .........5:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

White-tailed deer Gun Season:
Standard Time .........4:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

Wild Turkey Spring Season:
April -May ..........5:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Squirrel Season:
August -November.......7:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

1. Hunting of white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and squirrel are permitted in designated areas on the refuge subject to the following condition: hunt permit and state licenses required.

2. Only designated game species may be taken; all other wildlife may not be molested, harassed, or taken in any manner.

3. Weaponry is regulated by the state.

4. You may possess only approved non-toxic shot while in the field.

5. We allow the use of portable hunting stands and blinds.  We prohibit tree steps or screw-in steps.

6. We require that all hunters check all harvested game taken on the refuge at the refuge check station.

7. We require all refuge hunters to hunt with a partner. We require hunting partners to know the location of their partner while hunting. An adult, age 18 or older, must directly supervise youth hunters age 17 or under.

8. Without the harvest and check-in of an antlerless deer, there is a limit of 1 buck with archery licenses and 1 buck with firearm licenses. Hunters who check-in antlerless deer during an archery or firearms hunt will be authorized to harvest 1 additional buck during that respective season.

9. Hunters may not exceed the daily bag limit of 2 deer per day.

10. We allow the use of hunting dogs only during the squirrel hunting season. You must ensure that all hunting dogs wear a collar displaying the owner’s name, address, and telephone number.

11. We allow the use of squirrel dogs only in the day-use areas.

12. We prohibit flagging tape and reflective tacks.

13. We prohibit the cutting of trees or trimming branches for shooting lanes.

14. We prohibit the use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting on the refuge.

15. Hunters must possess and carry a compass and/or GPS while hunting on the refuge.

16. All hunting is subject to state regulations.

Sport Fishing

1. We allow fishing on Old Timbers Lake in accordance with boating and fishing regulations subject to the following conditions: refuge access permit required.

2. We only allow fishing with rod and reel or pole and line. 

3. We prohibit the use of trotlines.

4. We allow boats only if rowed, paddled, or powered by an electric trolling motor on Old Timbers Lake.

5. We prohibit retaining largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass between 12 and 15 inches.