Deer Hunting

Fall Scene


October 12,13, 19, 20, 26, 27

November 3,9,10, 16, 17, 23, 24 (Youth Hunt on November 2nd)

There are 2 avenues to hunt at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. The first is to enter state-drawn hunts, and these applications are available online through the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife (open for registration from July 1st until August 26th). The second method is on every hunt day a no-show drawing is held at the refuge office at 7:00 AM (October hunts) and 6:00 AM (November hunts) to fill available slots. The refuge can usually accommodate 422 deer hunters. Once a hunter is drawn, a date is set when the hunter may call to select an area in which to hunt (Map). The number of hunters allowed per area is based upon the size of the area and can be found here. Click for deer firearm success rates, for archery success rates, or for harvest by units, or for frequently asked questions on deer hunting at Big Oaks NWR. 


General Deer Hunt Information:  

You may not exceed the daily bag limit on Big Oaks NWR of 2 deer.  We will authorize hunters who harvest and check-in antlerless deer to harvest an additional buck with an appropriate license. There will be a limit of 2 bucks/hunter with the harvest and check-in of an antlerless deer for each type of hunt (2 for archery and 2 for gun). Without the check-in of an antlerless deer, the limit is 1 buck/hunter with all archery licenses and 1 buck/hunter with all firearms licenses. The number of antlerless deer is only limited by the daily bag limit and the hunter's availability of licenses. If you were selected for an archery hunt you have the option of purchasing 2 military/refuge licenses. Archers can take deer of either sex using 1 or 2 of the following licenses: regular archery, extra archery, crossbow, and/or military/refuge licenses. Bonus Antlerless licenses can also be used to harvest antlerless deer on Big Oaks NWR. See above for buck bag limits. If you were selected for a firearm (primitive or regular) hunt you have the option of purchasing 2 military/refuge licenses. You may use the State Firearm Season License only during the State Gun Season (November 16 to December 1 in 2019) to harvest a buck. The buck tag included in a Bundled License can only be used during the State Archery Season or Firearms Season (using the appropriate equipment) as well. See above for buck bag limits. 

The day before your hunt and on Public Use Days beginning October 4th (except when those days are a Federal Holiday, October  14 and November 11 are Federal Holidays-- the refuge office will be closed Oct 14 and November 11), safety briefings will be held at 7:00 AM, 12:00 noon, and 3:00 PM and $20/hunting Permits for Big Oaks NWR will be sold. 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 one hour earlier than would otherwise be possible. On your hunt date, please arrive at the Refuge office on or before 5:30 AM during October or 4:30 AM during November. If you have not previously attended the annual mandatory safety briefing one will be provided. A separate Hunting Fee ($20; $10 for holders of a Interagency Senior Pass or an Access Pass) is required for hunting. Fees are waived for those 15 or under. 

The buddy system is required. Do not show up by yourself. You are responsible for knowing and abiding by all refuge and state regulations. Portable deer stands are allowed for both archery and firearm hunts. Intoxicants (including beer), fires, and ATVs are not permitted on the refuge during the hunt. You must return to the refuge office by 8:00 PM during October hunts and 7:00 PM during November hunts. Deer hunters must possess and carry a compass or GPS to hunt at Big Oaks NWR. 

Hunters must check in on each hunt day by 7:00 AM during October Hunts or 6:00 AM during November Hunts or they will lose their reserved slot. If you fail to show up for your first hunt day, your reserved slot for the second day will be given away unless you have made prior arrangements with Big Oaks NWR staff to hunt only the second day. No show drawings will be held each day of the hunt at 7:00 AM during October hunts and 6:00 AM during November hunts to fill available slots. 

When deer hunting on Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge we encourage you to use lead free ammunition. Ammunition containing lead can break apart leaving dangerous pieces of lead in the gut piles and carcasses of deer. Eagles and other wildlife eat these remains and can become very sick or even die. It only takes a small amount of lead to make an eagle sick, do your part by making the switch to lead free ammunition. To learn more, visit Please help us with this volunteer effort!


The entrance to Big Oaks NWR is located on U.S. Highway 421 approximately five miles north of Madison, Indiana. The refuge office is in Building 125 in the southern portion of the former JPG (the old cantonment area). From Madison, drive north on Highway 421 to the Main Entrance of Jefferson Proving Ground, enter through this entrance and go west on Ordnance Drive and follow the brown directional signs to the refuge office (1661 West JPG Niblo Road). Please note that the use of a mobile driving application/GPS unit will lead you to a blocked gate, follow directions closely.


2019 Deer Hunt Dates:

State drawn archery hunts will be held on October 12-13 and October 19-20 A State drawn primitive muzzleloader/archery hunt will be held on October 26-27. State drawn firearm hunts will be held on November 3, November 9, November 10, November 16-17, November 23-24. Drawn archery hunters can reserve their hunt area by calling the refuge office, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM EST on the following dates: September 17 for October 12-13 hunt; September 18 for October 19-20. Drawn Primitive Muzzleloader/archery hunters can reserve their area on September 19 for October 26-27. Drawn firearm hunters can reserve their hunt area by calling the refuge office, 8:00 - 4:30 on the following dates: September 24 for November 3 hunt; September 25 for November 9; September 26 for November 10; October 1 for November 16-17; October 2 for November 23-24. Be patient, the refuge has limited telephone lines. All area reservations for the state hunts will be by phone. All numbered areas on the refuge map are available for public hunting in 2019.

Youth Hunt: A special 2-day youth deer hunt event will be held on November 1 and November 2. To apply, send a postcard postmarked by October 1 with the youth's name and address to: Big Oaks NWR, 1661 W. JPG Niblo Rd., Madison, IN 47250. A total of 150 youth (17 or under) will be selected by lottery on October 7 to attend an optional deer hunting workshop on November 1 and a 1-day firearm hunt on November 2. The youth must have a responsible adult hunter as a guide, and the youth will be the only one allowed to hunt. The youth and guide must attend a refuge safety briefing, and the youth's acknowledgment of danger form must also be signed by a responsible adult.