Deer Hunting

Fall Scene

2021 Dates (check refuge website for updates due to COVID-19):

October 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 31 (Youth Hunt on October 30)

November 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21

 

 

 

 

 

In 2021 the best avenue to hunt at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge is to apply for a state-drawn hunt, and these applications are available online through the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife  https://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/5834.htm(open for registration from July 6th until August 9th). There will be "No Show” drawings on November 13-14 and November 20-21. The no-show deer hunt drawing will occur shorthly after 0600 EST on 11/13, 11/14, 11/20, and 11/21/2021 at the Big Oaks NWR Office. Hunters must possess a Big Oaks hunting permit in order to sign up for the no show drawing. The drawn no show hunter will be treated as a drawn hunter and can hunt both days of the hunt with their hunt partner.  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 13 to November 28 in 2021) 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. 

Because of the limits on the number viewing the safety briefing (maximum 30), it is important to view the safety video before the day of your hunt. The safety video and hunt briefing will be shown at the refuge office on public use days (Mondays and Fridays), hunt days, and on Thursdays beginning Friday October 1 (except when those days are a Federal Holiday, October 11 is a Federal Holiday and the refuge office will be closed). Safety briefings will be held every hour during the day once the refuge office opens. The office is open from 7:00 AM – 4:30 PM on public use days and from 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM on Thursdays.  Hunt days the office is open from 5:30 AM – 8:00 PM during Eastern Daylight Savings and from 4:30 AM  - 7:00 PM during Eastern Standard Time.  Refuge Hunt Permits will be sold after each briefing.  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 1-3 hours earlier than would otherwise be possible.  On your hunt date, if you have been safety briefed and have your Hunt Permit, you will check in directly at the refuge East Perimeter Gate (the refuge West Gate will not be open in 2021). 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 or active duty military personnel. 

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 check out of the east gate by 8:00 PM during Oct 9 – Nov 6 hunts and 7:00 PM during Nov 7- Nov 21 hunts. Deer must still be checked in at the refuge office. 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 Oct 9- Nov 6 Hunts or 6:00 AM during Nov 7 -Nov 21 Hunts or they will lose their reserved slot. There will be "No Show” drawings on November 13-14 and November 20-21. The no-show deer hunt drawing will occur shorthly after 0600 EST on 11/13, 11/14, 11/20, and 11/21/2021 at the Big Oaks NWR Office. Hunters must possess a Big Oaks hunting permit in order to sign up for the no show drawing. The drawn no show hunter will be treated as a drawn hunter and can hunt both days of the hunt with their hunt partner. 

Hunters can change their hunt areas at the East Gate at the end of the day for 2-day hunts and during the hunt day; the hunt areas must be completely empty before hunters can change into those areas after hunters are checked into their original areas in 2021.

 

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 http://huntingwithnonlead.org/. Please help us with this volunteer effort!

Directions 

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.

2021 Deer Hunt Dates:

State drawn archery hunts will be held on October 9-10 and October 16-17.  A State drawn primitive muzzleloader/archery hunt will be held on October 23-24. State drawn firearm hunts will be held on October 31, November 6, November 7, November 13-14, November 20-21. 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 14 for October 9-10 hunt; September 15 for October 16-17. Drawn Primitive Muzzleloader/archery hunters can reserve their area on September 16 for October 23-24. Drawn firearm hunters can reserve their hunt area by calling the refuge office, 8:00 - 4:30 on the following dates: September 21 for October 31 hunt; September 22 for November 6; September 23 for November 7; September 28 for November 13-14; September 29 for November 20-21. 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 2021.

Youth Hunt: A special 1-day youth deer hunt event will be held on October 30. 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 8 to attend a 1-day firearm hunt on October 30. 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.