Rules and Regulations

Rules and Regulations image

To report a wildlife violation call 1-844-FWS-TIPS (844-397-8477)


Welcome to your national wildlife refuge.  Discover new places to hunt, fish, take pictures, watch wildlife, walk, cross-country ski and snowshoe.  Enjoy spending time outdoors alone or with friends and family. Please consult the Refuge Manager at 815-678-4532 ext 8206 note 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 1 hour before sunrise until 1 hour after sunset unless otherwise posted or stated in hunting regulations.

We prohibit:

  • Target shooting.
  • Training of dog and allowing dogs off leash from April 15th to August 15th. Pets must be under the owner’s control when not on a leash.
  • All motorized vehicles on all refuge land (to include on frozen bodies of water) except on designated parking areas and public roads. Public access is via foot travel only unless otherwise authorized.
  • Camping, open fires and overnight parking
  • 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 decoys, blinds, trail cameras, geo-caching items, photography equipment, portable stands, ice houses, climbing sticks 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 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. 
  • Collecting or gathering of edible plants, seeds, mushrooms and deer sheds are prohibited. 
  • 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.

    Hunting

    Hunting and fishing regulations are designed to provide safe recreational opportunities through wise use of renewable wildlife resources. Hunting and fishing are permitted in accordance with Federal regulations governing public use on National Wildlife Refuges as set forth in Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

    Hunting and fishing will be in accordance with applicable State of Illinois and Wisconsin regulations and subject to the conditions stated below. It is the responsibility of the hunters to know the respective state regulations, including hunting methods, timing, species, license, tagging and reporting requirements. Brochures may be obtained by mail, at the refuge headquarters, or click this link to a downloadable version of the Hackmatack Hunting and Fishing brochure.  

    See refuge specific regulations below.

    • Blackmon parcel is CLOSED to hunting.
    • Trapping
    • Camping, overnight parking, and open fires.
    • Use of motorized vehicles, horses or other domestic livestock for big game retrieval or recreational trail riding or any other purpose. 
    • Leaving property overnight. All property brought onto the refuge must be removed at the end of each day. This includes items like decoys, blinds, trail cameras, portable stands, climbing sticks and trash.
    • Marking or flagging any tree or other refuge feature with reflectors, paint, or other substance.
    • Organized deer drives. We define a “deer drive” as an organized or planned effort to pursue, drive, chase, or otherwise frighten or cause deer to move in the direction of any person(s) who is part of the organized or planned hunt and known to be waiting for the deer.
    • Use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting.   
    • Distribution of feed or bait, or hunting over bait; including, but not limited to salts and minerals. 
    • Target or indiscriminate shooting. 
    • Training of dogs and allowing dogs off leash from April 15th to August 15th. Pets must be under the owner’s control when not on a leash. 
    • Abandoning, discarding or otherwise leaving of personal property, animal carcasses, trash, refuse, rocks, wood or other debris.
    • Destructing, defacing, disturbing or unauthorized removal of any natural object, artifact, cultural resource or government property. 
    • Cutting, mowing, sawing, digging, collecting, injuring or removing vegetation. 
    • Collecting or gathering of edible plants, seeds, mushrooms and deer sheds.
    • Introducing, liberating, or placing plants or animals or their parts on refuge lands or waters.
    • Launching, landing or disturbing of wildlife by aircraft (drones) on the refuge, includes for recreational or commercial purposes. 
    • Commercial enterprise without a special use permit.
    • Use or possession of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia. 

    Ammunition

    Hunters may only possess and use approved non-toxic shot while on the refuge. All other state specific regulations for Firearm and Archery Equipment Regulations apply.

    Blinds/Tree Stands

    We prohibit the building or use of permanent stands or blinds on the refuge. No nails, screw-in steps, wire, screws, bolts, or other items that penetrate the outer bark may be used. Portable tree stands and ground blinds must be set up and removed each day and used in accordance with state regulations.

    Clothing

    Hunters must wear an article of blaze orange/pink consistent with state regulations.  

    Dogs

    The use of dogs while hunting migratory game birds and upland game is allowed, provided the dog is under the immediate control of the hunter at all times. Hunting with dogs for deer, black bear, raccoon, red fox, gray fox, opossum, bobcat, coyote, and striped skunk is prohibited.

    Firearms 

    Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of State and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32.)  

    Species

    All refuge wildlife are protected, except those species for which hunting is specifically authorized. The refuge is open to hunting for the following species: Waterfowl (ducks, geese); Migratory birds other than waterfowl (mourning dove, coot, rail, common moorhen, crow, snipe); Big game (white-tailed deer, bear); Upland game (pheasant, partridge, grouse, quail); Wild turkey; Small game & furbearer (gray & fox squirrel,  cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare, fox (red and gray), coyote, raccoon, bobcat, opossum, skunk, woodchucks). Additional furbearer species may be allowed if legally open according to state regulation for hunting. No trapping is permitted on the refuge. Species not listed are closed to hunting.

    Vehicles 

    Motor vehicles are not permitted unless within the designated parking areas (to include frozen bodies of water). ATVs, OHVs, and OHMs are prohibited.  Foot travel is allowed on all portions of the refuge.

    Trapping

    Trapping is prohibited.

    Fishing

    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.

    • We prohibit all motorized vehicles including the use over frozen water bodies.
    • Collection of frogs and turtles are prohibited.

      Artificial Lights

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

      Additional information

      • Special-use permits may be issued for compatible secondary uses upon approval of the refuge manager.  Contact the refuge office for application information at 815-678-4532 ext 8206. 

      To Report Violations 

      • To report a wildlife violation call 1-844-397-8477 (FWS-TIPS)
      • Illinois Tip Line: 1-877-236-7529 (2DNRLAW)
      • Wisconsin Violation Hotline: 1-800-847-9367