Visitor Activities

Deer Spotted through the Woods

Because of the past use and history of the property as an ordnance testing facility, all visitors must view a safety video and sign an acknowledgement of danger form annually, prior to entering the refuge.

  • Hunting

    Turkey Hunting at Big Oaks NWR

    Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge offers deer hunting in October (archery) and November (gun). Turkey hunting is offered in the spring and fall. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources conducts random drawings for deer and turkey season, through their website. Squirrel season begins August 15 and continues through November. All hunters must view the refuge safety briefing. Everyone must hunt with a partner. Hunt permits are $20 per year. Hunt permits are good for the entire year. Hunt fees are reduced by half for holders of an interagency access/senior pass and for those aged 15 and younger the fee is waived.  View the Rules and Regulations page for more information regarding hunting at Big Oaks Refuge.

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  • Fishing

    Young Angler

    Fishing is allowed only on the 165-acre Old Timbers Lake. This lake is located within the public use area of the refuge. Fishing days are Mondays, Fridays and the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, mid-April through November. (Closed on Federal holidays and times and days vary during hunt seasons). Anglers must check-in at the refuge office at 7:00 a.m. and check-out at the office by 4:30 p.m. Times vary during spring turkey hunt season. There is a 30 boat limit. Fishing from the bank is open to everyone. Daily use permits are $3 per person per day or $15 for an annual pass. These fees are waived for holders of an interagency access/senior pass. View the Rules and Regulations page for more information regarding fishing at Big Oaks Refuge.

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  • Wildlife Viewing

    Visitors Viewing Wildlife at Big Oaks NWR

    The refuge offers many scenic vistas of hardwood forest, wetland, and grassland habitats. Visitors can see Henslow’s sparrows, cerulean warblers, worm-eating warblers and other migratory birds. River otters, bobcat and other mammals are also common.The diverse wildlife and landscape beauty create excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. In December the refuge conducts a Christmas Bird Count. The May Day Bird Count is the second Saturday in May. Breeding bird and Henslow’s sparrow surveys occur throughout the summer. The refuge conducts special birding tours upon request (see bird check list below for a complete list of species seen on the refuge). Volunteers are always welcome to assist with crawfish frog surveys in the spring and the North American Butterfly Survey in mid-summer.

    Bird Checklist

  • Interpretation

    Environmental Education at Big Oaks

    The refuge offers guided tours by van throughout the public use season. Special guided tours can be requested for birding, wildflower hikes, and historical tours of the property. Visitors also can schedule tours of the historic Old Timbers Lodge. Two self-guided nature trails are planned for around the lake. Interpretive signs will be located on these trails to guide visitors on their exploration of the property.

  • Environmental Education

    Interpretive Program

    The refuge staff coordinates with local schools and other agencies to offer on-site and/or in classroom programs that include themes of habitat protection and stewardship, and natural resources appreciation.

  • Photography

    Photography Blind

    Photography opportunities are available on public use days in the public use area. A photo blind is located at Old Timbers Lake. The blind is part of one of the self-guided nature trails. Other areas of the refuge are available to photograph on a guided basis or with a special use permit. Call the refuge office to arrange a photography tour at 812-273-0783.