Rules and Regulations

Rock Outcrops at Big Stone NWR

 To report a wildlife violation call 1-844-NWR-TIPS (844-697-8477) 

Welcome to your national wildlife refuge.  Discover new places to hunt, fish, take pictures, watch wildlife, walk, snowshoe and canoe.  Enjoy spending time outdoors alone or with friends and family.  Please consult the Refuge Manager at (320) 273-2191 if you have questions.  We may post additional site-specific regulations.

To ensure your safety and protect wildlife and habitat, please be aware of these regulations. 

General Restrictions

  • Access to the refuge is open from sunrise to sunset unless otherwise posted or stated in hunting regulations. 


  • Target shooting.
  • Training pets and allowing pets off leash.
  • All types of motorized vehicles on all refuge land (to include on frozen bodies of water) except on designated parking areas, access roads and public roads.
  • Motorized Watercraft use is prohibited.
  • Camping, open fires and overnight parking is prohibited.
  • Abandoning, discarding or otherwise leaving any personal property.  All property brought onto a refuge must be removed at the end of each day.  This includes all common items like vehicles, boats, decoys, trail cameras, blinds, geo-caching items, photography equipment, portable stands, climbing sticks, ice fishing shelters and trash.
  • Destructing, defacing, disturbing or unauthorized removal of any natural object, artifact, cultural resource or government property.
  • Introducing, liberating, or placing plants or animals or their parts taken elsewhere on refuge lands or waters.
  • Disposing of animal carcasses, trash, refuse, rocks, wood or other debris.
  • Cutting, mowing, sawing, digging, collecting, injuring or removing vegetation.
  • Launching, landing or disturbing of wildlife by aircraft (drones) on the refuge.  This includes for recreational or commercial purposes.
  • Commercial enterprise without a special use permit.
  • Use or possession of any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia is prohibited.
  • Parking in front of gates, water access points, water control structures, or on bridges. 


  • If hunting is an approved use on the refuge that activity may have additional requirements than state regulations based on location, timing, species, methods of take, etc…  See refuge specific regulations below.
  • If small game hunting is an approved use on the refuge then hunters using shotguns, including turkey hunters, are required to use and possess only non-toxic shot.
  • During the small game and migratory bird seasons, hunting dogs must be under the immediate control of the hunter.
  • Hunters must wear an article of blaze orange/pink consistent with state regulations.
  • We prohibit constructing or occupying permanent stands or blinds.  We also prohibit the use of nails, wire, screws or bolts to attach a stand to a tree or hunting from a tree, into which a metal object has been driven to support a hunter.  Portable hunting stands must be set up and removed each day.
  • We prohibit the use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting.
  • We prohibit distribution of feed or bait, or hunting over bait.  This includes salts and minerals.


  • If trapping is an approved use on the refuge it is by special use permit only and may have additional requirements than state regulations.  See refuge specific regulations below. 


  • If fishing is an approved use on the refuge that activity may have additional requirements than state regulations based on location, timing, species, methods of take, etc...  See refuge specific regulations below.
  • Motorized Watercraft use is prohibited. 
  • We prohibit all types of motorized vehicles on frozen water bodies. 

Artificial Lights

  • You may not use a spotlight, headlight or other artificial light to spot, locate or take any wild animal in a refuge.

Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge Specific

  • The Refuge Office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
  • Pets must be leashed at all times, except when used for hunting during a small game season.
  • Non-motorized boats and boats using electric motors are permitted only in the Minnesota River channel.  Boats are prohibited on all other refuge waters.
  • The refuge is CLOSED to all migratory game bird hunting.
  • Waterfowl taken outside the refuge boundary may be retrieved up to 100 yards (90m) inside areas of the refuge that are open to all other hunting.  Waterfowl may not be retrieved from areas closed to hunting.
  • The refuge is CLOSED to coyote hunting.
  • For deer hunting, entry into the refuge is not allowed earlier than two (2) hours before legal shooting hours.
  • Trapping is permitted by special use permit only.  See Refuge Manager for details and information.
  • Shooting from or over roads and parking areas is prohibited.
  • It is illegal to retrieve game from areas closed to hunting.
  • Fishing is permitted on all refuge waters except the abandoned quarries.  These sites are fenced and posted with “Area Closed” signs.
  • Fishing is allowed during daylight hours only.

Additional Information  

  • The above information is a partial list of rules and regulations.  Consult the Big Stone National WildlifeRefuge Public Use Brochure for more details.
  • Special-use permits may be issued for compatible secondary uses upon approval of the refuge manager.  Contact the refuge office for application information at (320) 273-2191.