Deer Hunting

Fall Scene


October 14,15,21,22,28,29

November 5,11,12,18,19,21,22 (Youth Hunt on November 4th)

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 in the Indiana Hunting & Trapping Guide and online through the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife (deadline for this is August 21st). The second method is on every hunt day a no-show drawing is held at the refuge office at 7:00 AM (14 Oct -29 Oct) and 6:00 AM (5 Nov- 22 Nov) 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. The recent state rule now allows cowboy caliber rifles again on the refuge during our gun hunts!


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 18 to December 3 in 2017) 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 2nd (except when those days are a Federal Holiday, October  9 and November 10 are Federal Holidays-- the refuge office will be closed Oct 9 and will have 1 safety briefing at 3:00 PM on November 10), 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 14 Oct -29 Oct or 4:30 AM during 5 Nov- 22 Nov. 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 14 Oct -29 Oct Hunts and 7:00 PM during 5 Nov- 22 Nov 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 14 Oct -29 Oct Hunts or 6:00 AM during 5 Nov- 22 Nov 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 14 Oct -29 Oct hunts and 6:00 AM during 5 Nov- 22 Nov hunts to fill available slots. 


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.


2017 Deer Hunt Dates:

State drawn archery hunts will be held on October 14-15 and October 21-22. A State drawn primitive muzzleloader/archery hunt will be held on October 28-29. State drawn firearm hunts will be held on November 5, November 11, November 12, November 18-19, November 21-22. 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 19 for October 14-15 hunt; September 20 for October 21-22. Drawn Primitive Muzzleloader/archery hunters can reserve their area on September 21 for October 28-29. Drawn firearm hunters can reserve their hunt area by calling the refuge office, 8:00 - 4:30 on the following dates: September 26 for November 5 hunt; September 27 for November 11; September 28 for November 12; October 3 for November 18-19; October 4 for November 21-22. 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 2017.

Youth Hunt: A special 2-day youth deer hunt event will be held on November 3 and November 4. 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 6 to attend an optional deer hunting workshop on November 3 and a 1-day firearm hunt on November 4. 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.