Hunting is both a valued wildlife management tool and a respectable and enjoyable form of outdoor recreation.  Many, but not all, national wildlife refuges are authorized to provide high-quality hunting opportunities for a variety of wildlife species.  It is always a good idea to consult with refuge management if there are questions concerning the legality of any activity on a national wildlife refuge.

Download current hunting permit/leaflet for Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.  In addition to refuge regulations, all federal and state regulations apply.  Please visit the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website for details about hunting in North Carolina, including current hunting seasons and bag limits.


Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge contains approximately 154,000 acres, most of which are open to hunting. There are more than 150 miles of old logging roads that provide hunting access, some for vehicles and some on foot. We’ve made a lot of road improvements. However, visitors should use caution, especially when venturing into the more remote areas of the refuge with only a two-wheel drive vehicle. In the center of the refuge is the Dare County Range, a 46,000-acre military practice area owned by the U.S. Air Force and used by both the Air Force and the U.S. Navy. The Range is a part of the North Carolina Gamelands Program and governed by Gamelands rules and regulations. Especially in the areas on or adjacent to the Dare Range, road conditions may be unpredictable. 

 For newcomers to the Refuge, the impenetrable vegetation and remoteness often catch them unaware. First time users should consult with a Refuge staff member or another hunter before venturing off the beaten path.

White-tailed deer is the primary species hunted. The use of chase dogs is permitted. About half the refuge is open to this type of hunting.  Hunting small game and waterfowl is also permitted, however, the majority of waterfowl hunting occurs on the sounds and rivers surrounding the Refuge.


  • All general refuge regulations apply, unless specifically addressed in this leaflet. Restrictions and designations on the map in this leaflet also apply. Public hunting is permitted in accordance with all state laws, county codes, Title 50 - Code of Federal Regulations, and the following Refuge regulations:
  • Permits are required for all hunts. Your permit is on the front of this brochure.
  • The Refuge is open daylight hours only.
  • Hunter access is allowed from one hour before until one hour after legal hunting hours.
  • Possession of firearms is permitted in accordance with State law.
  • When taking any game animal or bird with a shotgun, federally approved, nontoxic shot must be used (except buckshot or slugs for white-tailed deer). Possessing lead shot in the field is prohibited, except when engaged in deer hunting.
  • The use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited.
  • The taking or possession of bear, turkey, bobcat, any furbearer, or any part thereof, is prohibited, except when transporting same along an NC State road or US highway.
  • Hyde County portions of the Refuge are closed to white-tailed deer hunting during open seasons on black bear on adjacent lands.
  • Taking or collecting any plant or animal (including reptiles and ampibians) is prohibited, except as specifically authorized by the Refuge Manager.
  • Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit on Refuge roads is 35 mph.
  • The use of artificial lights (including car headlights) to locate, observe, or take animals is prohibited, except as specifically authorized by the Refuge Manager.
  • The use of electronic calls to attract wildlife is prohibited.
  • Baiting or feeding wildlife and hunting with the aid of bait are prohibited.
  • Vehicular access is restricted to designated roads (see map)
  • ATV’s (3 and 4 wheelers, dirt bikes, etc.) are prohibited
  • Camping, fires, littering, target practice, and commercial guiding are prohibited.
  • The construction or use of permanent blinds, platforms, and/or ladders is prohibited. Hunting from a tree into which a metal object has been inserted is prohibited.
  • The use of horses for any hunting activity is prohibited.
  • Hunters using the Refuge are subject to inspections of permits, licenses, hunting equipment, bag limits, vehicles, and their contents by Refuge or State law enforcement officers.
  • Disturbing, molesting or interfering with any person engaged in the pursuit of an authorized activity on the Refuge is prohibited.
  • Hunters should be aware that some areas may be temporarily closed to hunting.
  • These areas will be clearly marked with appropriate signs.


Farming Area
Farming area is closed to waterfowl hunting.
Laurel Bay Unit
The farming area west of Buffalo City Road is open to deer and small game hunting in accordance with State and Refuge regulations. Hunting in impoundments and vehicular access are allowed only during September, October, and February.
Twiford and Upper Creef Units
The farming areas east of Buffalo City Road and north of Link Road are open to hunting and vehicles only during September and October and closed to all entry from November 1 to February 28.
Lower Creef Unit
The farming area between Link and Grouse Roads is open to deer and small game hunting during September and October and only to small game hunting starting in November in accordance with State and Refuge regulations.

Use of Dogs
The use of dogs is restricted to designated areas (see map). All dogs must be confined or leashed and under owner control when not engaged in hunting.
Hunters may walk on closed roads in the farming area or on the roads in the “no dog hunting” area to retrieve their stray hunting dogs only until 11:00 pm.
In the farming area west of Buffalo City Road (Laurel Bay Unit), the use of dogs is restricted to small game hunting, except during the month of October.
All farming units are open to deer hunting with chase dogs during October in accordance with state regulations and unless posted as closed.
The training of chase dogs is permitted only during modern gun deer season. 


Wildlife Drive
Hunters are reminded that the Refuge Wildlife Drive (see map) is adjacent to several hunting areas and is a popular attraction to many. Please be aware of the Wildlife Drive and be cautious and courteous when hunting in areas shared with other refuge visitors.

Youth Hunting
Youth hunters (ages 15 and under) must have successfully passed a State-approved hunter education course and must carry proof of certification. Youth hunters must be directly supervised by an adult (21 or older). For small game hunting, an adult may supervise up to two youth hunters; for big game, an adult may supervise only one youth hunter.

Game Animals
Only the following species may be hunted: ducks, geese, tundra swan, coot, quail, mourning dove, snipe, woodcock, rabbits, squirrel, opossum*, raccoon*, and white-tailed deer in accordance to Federal,
State, and local regulations.  *Legal hunting hours for raccoons and opossums are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset, unless authorized by Refuge Special Use Permit.

If you have questions as to the advisability or legality of any activity, consult the Refuge Manager before participating in that activity.

When the permit on the front cover of this leaflet is signed, dated and on your person, it serves as a permit for all hunts on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge for the stated year. Make sure the permit you have shows the correct dates.

Sport fishing is allowed on any open area of the Refuge in accordance with State and Federal regulations. Only the use of pole and line, rod and reel, or cast net is permitted.

Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities Hunting and fishing opportunities for individuals with disabilities are available on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Persons with disabilities may contact the Refuge office prior to their arrival if special arrangements are needed.

For additional information, write or call:

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, NC 27954

To report wildlife violations, call: 800-662-7137