Woman dressed warmly in camouflage and standing in marsh reeds aims a shotgun into the air

Once a free-flowing river, Big Lake NWR was transformed to a lake and swamp ecosystem by earthquakes in 1811-12. Today, the refuge primarily consists of wooded swamps and open water. The lake is shallow, with a depth of three feet. It is an oasis of bottomland hardwood forests in an area that is otherwise agricultural. The refuge annually attracts up to 200,000 waterfowl and is an important nesting area for wood ducks. Because the refuge is protected as a sanctuary for waterfowl, no duck or goose hunting is permitted. For hunters, the main draws are good hunting opportunities for deer, squirrels, and raccoon. Access in the swampy terrain can be difficult, but there are several places on the refuge for foot or boat access.

Hunters must sign and carry the General Hunting Permit all times while on the refuge and in possession of hunting gear. It contains all refuge-specific hunting regulations inside. You may download one for free at the following link: General Hunting Permit/Public Use Regulations brochure

To apply for Quota Gun Deer, Youth Quota Gun Deer, and Youth Quota Turkey Gun hunt permits, visit the RecAccess website below. Quota Gun Deer hunt permits are $12.50. Both Youth Quota Gun hunts are free. Wapanocca and Big Lake share the same permitting website.

Wapanocca and Big Lake RecAccess