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Visitor Activities

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Hillside National Wildlife Refuge offers many different opportunities for outdoor recreation. Whether you enjoy hunting, fishing, photography, or wildlife observation, the refuge offers activities for every age and interest. 

  • Hunting

    Hunting is the most popular recreational activity on refuges in the Complex. Recreational hunting (a wildlife-dependent activity) has been identified in the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 as a priority public use, provided it is compatible with the purpose for which the refuge was established. 


    Managing wildlife populations and their habitats is the primary responsibility of the Complex and a required component of the Refuge System’s "wildlife first" mission. If managed appropriately, hunting provides a biologically sound form of outdoor recreation that is used extensively throughout the Refuge System to manage wildlife populations. The Complex hunting program is coordinated annually with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

    Recreational hunting is offered from October through April each year for deer, waterfowl, wild turkey, squirrel, rabbit, and raccoon. Hunters are also allowed to take feral hogs, raccoon, opossum, coyote, beaver, bobcat, and nutria according to refuge regulations. Frogging is allowed at night with gigs and by hand grabbing. Frogging is the only activity (except coon hunting) that is permitted after dark. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are allowed on designated trails for hunting access.

    Each person 16 years of age or older hunting at Hillside NWR must possess a Theodore Roosevelt NWR Complex Annual Public Use Permit. Permits ($15) are available for purchase online by clicking here or may be obtained in person via check or money order at the following locations: Panther Swamp NWR, Yazoo City, MS and Yazoo NWR, Hollandale, MS. Office hours are Monday-Friday, 7:30 am – 4 pm. Permits are valid August 1 – July 31. Mail-in requests for permits will not be accepted.

  • Fishing

    Recreational fishing (a wildlife-dependent activity) has been identified in the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 as a priority public use, provided it is compatible with the purpose for which the refuge was established. Fishing is a popular activity on refuges throughout the Complex. Fish populations consist mostly of rough fish, which can withstand hot, murky water with low oxygen content, including long-nosed gar, buffalo, carp, bowfin, and catfish. A wide variety of fish species exists in the streams and bayous, including largemouth bass, various bream, and crappie.

    Fishing is allowed in all refuge waters March 1 through November 15. The borrow ponds along the North Levee are open throughout the year except closed during the muzzleloader deer hunt. Trot lines, limb lines, jugs, seines and traps are prohibited. Frogging is allowed in all refuge waters during the State season. A complete summary of refuge regulations is available online at www.fws.gov/hillside. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations expressed in the Annual Hunt Brochure supplement Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations and applicable State regulations.

    Each person 16 years of age or older fishing at Hillside NWR must possess a Theodore Roosevelt NWR Complex Annual Public Use Permit. Permits ($15) are available for purchase online by clicking here or may be obtained in person via check or money order at the following locations: Panther Swamp NWR, Yazoo City, MS and Yazoo NWR, Hollandale, MS. Office hours are Monday-Friday, 7:30 am – 4 pm. Permits are valid August 1 – July 31. Mail-in requests for permits will not be accepted.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife observation and photography is encouraged on all refuges in the Complex. Visitors must comply with existing laws, regulations, and policies concerning access and harassment of wildlife. Although occasional visitors stop by to observe wildlife and take a few pictures, most wildlife observation and photography is associated with hunting and fishing. A few trails provide opportunities for hiking, and many refuge roads are also open to the public. A handicapped accessible interpretive nature trail is available at Hillside NWR – Alligator Slough Nature Trail.

  • Interpretation

    The Alligator Slough Nature Trail was established in 1986. The trail is handicapped accessible and features two scenic boardwalks across Alligator Slough. Following the natural edge between bottomland hardwood habitat and a beautiful cypress and tupelo slough, the trail makes a winding half-mile loop from the South Levee Road of Hillside Refuge just off Highway 49E, between Eden and Thorton. Park benches are located on the boardwalk across Alligator Slough and educational kiosks are erected along the trail.

    Environmental education and interpretation are provided upon request, but there are no refuge specific programs and no staff available to develop and conduct effective education and outreach Programs.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental education and interpretation are provided upon request, but there are no refuge specific programs and no staff available to develop and conduct effective education and outreach Programs.

  • Photography

    Wildlife observation and photography is encouraged on all refuges in the Complex. Visitors must comply with existing laws, regulations, and policies concerning access and harassment of wildlife. Although occasional visitors stop by to observe wildlife and take a few pictures, most wildlife observation and photography is associated with hunting and fishing.


    Each year several special use permits are issued to commercial photographers. Commercial photography can increase visitors' knowledge and appreciation of fish and wildlife on the refuge, and lead to greater understanding of the Refuge System’s public stewardship mission. Photographs taken on refuge lands, when provided to refuge staff for outreach and public use program enhancement, complement Service actions and enhance its ability to draw more visitors to the refuge

  • All-Terrain Vehicle Trails

    The ATV trails are well defined on hunt brochure maps and are open from September 15 through February 28 for hunting and fishing only at Hillside NWR.

    Two executive orders regulate ATV use on federal public lands: Executive Order 11644, signed by President Nixon in 1972, and Executive Order 11989, signed by President Carter in 1977. Together these orders require that off-road-vehicle use on public lands must be managed to “protect the resources of those lands, to promote the safety of all users of those lands, and to minimize conflicts among the various uses of those lands.” The orders also require that when ATV routes are designated, federal land managers must minimize damage to soils, watershed, vegetation, and other land resources, minimize wildlife harassment and impacts to wildlife habitat, and minimize conflicts between ATV use and other uses of the land. To comply with the orders, Service policy requires all ATV use to be in conjunction with wildlife-dependent activities only, with ATV use confined to designated areas or trails.

Page Photo Credits — USFWS
Last Updated: Aug 12, 2015
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