Rules and Regulations

Bare Trees around Lake

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, hike, and canoe. Enjoy spending time outdoors alone or with friends and family. Please consult the Refuge Manager at 812-749-3199 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 1/2 hour before sunrise until 1/2 hour after sunset unless otherwise posted or stated in hunting regulations.

We prohibit:

  • Target shooting.
  • Training pets and allowing pets off leash.
  • All types of motorized vehicles on all refuge land except on designated parking areas, access roads and public roads.
  • Use off-road vehicles, horses, mules, llamas and bicycles other than on county/state maintained road rights-of-way.
  • Non motorized/motorized Watercraft use is permitted on Snakey Point Marsh east of the South Fork and on the Patoka River. See Refuge specific regulations below.
  • Blocking gates or roadways with vehicles.
  • 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, spent shotshell casings 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 and use of trail cameras. This includes for recreational or commercial purposes.
  • Use of fireworks.
  • Commercial enterprise without a special use permit.
  • Use or possession of any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia is prohibited.  Use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting. 
  • Baiting or hunting over bait including salt.
  • Marking trails with tape, ribbons, paper, paint tree blazes, etc.
  • Spotlighting prohibited by state regulations. 
  • Unless specifically listed as a permitted use, all uses of natural resources on the refuge are prohibited. 

Patoka River Refuge Specific Hunting Regulations


Firearms, archery equipment and crossbows meeting state requirements are permitted on the refuge only during the designated hunting season. Possession in vehicles while driving through the Refuge on public roads according to State regulations. Handguns are permitted according to State regulations.


Shotgun hunters using scattershot may possess and use only approved non-toxic shot  Use or possession of lead shot is prohibited while hunting all the above species on the Refuge.    


Dogs are allowed for hunting according to State regulations during designated seasons only. Otherwise, dogs must be leashed. Dog training or running in the off-season is prohibited.

Hunters with Disabilities

Hunters with disabilities must possess the required State permit. State regulations and access conditions apply.

Duck/Goose Blinds and Decoys

Pits or permanent blinds may not be constructed or used on the refuge area. Only portable blinds or structures constructed of native plant materials are permitted for waterfowl hunting. Blinds must be removed or dismantled at the end of each day’s hunt. Decoys must be removed at the end of each day’s hunt.

Deer/Turkey Stands

Permanent tree stands/blinds may not be constructed or used on the refuge area. Hunting from a tree into which a metal object has been driven is prohibited. Portable tree stands may be used for deer or turkey hunting and may be left overnight only during the grace period specified by state regulations on public lands. Tree stands must be legibly marked with owner’s name, address and phone number at eye level or lower.

Furbearer Hunting

The Refuge is open daylight hours only, except for hunting furbearers listed below which may be hunted at night. 


Only those species authorized for hunting in Indiana and listed below may be hunted on the Refuge. All other species are protected.

Migratory Birds 

  • Ducks
  • Geese 
  • Merganser
  • Coots
  • Sora    
  • Common snipe
  • Mourning doves 
  • Woodcocks   
  • Crow

Game Birds

  • Quail
  • Wild turkey
  • Pheasant

Small Game

  • Cottontail rabbit  
  • Gray and fox squirrel

Furbearers (Hunting Only/No Trapping)

  • Red and gray fox
  • Coyote
  • Raccoon 
  • Opossum
  • Striped Skunk

Big Game

  • White-tailed deer


  • Trapping is prohibited.


Patoka River Refuge Specific Sport Fishing Regulations

  • State regulations apply as to license, seasons, sizes, limits, methods of take and species of fish to be taken with the following exceptions:
  • Limb lines, jug lines, trot lines, and snares are prohibited as the method of catching fish in refuge waters other than the Patoka River channel. 
  • Fishing is permitted during daylight hours only.
  • Minimum size limit for largemouth bass on Snakey Point Marsh is 14 inches.
  • Minnows, crayfish, frogs and turtles are protected and may not be collected or harvested.


  • On refuge property, motorboats are only permitted on Snakey Point Marsh east of the South Fork and on the Patoka River. 
  • Motorboats on Snakey Point Marsh are restricted to slow speed/minimum wake. 
  • To minimize disturbance to wildlife, gasoline powered motorboats are not permitted on other refuge waters. 
  • Air boats are prohibited on all refuge waters. 
  • Boats may not be left on refuge property overnight.

Additional Information

Safety Safety Zone

Discharge of firearms within 150 yards of any dwelling or building on or adjacent to the refuge is prohibited. Hunters are cautioned to identify their targets before shooting. In addition to other hunters, non-hunting visitors are present on the refuge throughout the year and may be on the property at any time. Report all injuries and accidents to Refuge Headquarters, 510 ½ W Morton