Facility Rules and Policies

We welcome you to visit Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge year-round to learn about the tallgrass prairie and to recreate. We ask that you follow our specific public use regulations and reach out to our refuge manager if you have questions.

General Restrictions

Access to the refuge is open from sunrise to sunset, unless otherwise posted or stated in hunting regulations.

Prohibited activities

  • Target shooting
  • Training pets and allowing pets off leash
  • All types of motorized vehicles on all refuge land - to include on frozen bodies of water - except on designated parking areas, access roads and public roads
  • Motorized watercraft use is prohibited
  • 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, geocaching items, photography equipment, portable stands, climbing sticks, ice fishing shelters 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
  • Use, launching, landing or disturbing of wildlife by aircraft drones, and other unmanned aerial vehicles on the refuge - for either recreational or commercial purposes
  • Commercial enterprise without a special use permit
  • Use or possession of any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia is prohibited
  • Parking in front of gates, water access points, water control structures or on bridges. 


  • The refuge is open tu upland game and deer hunting. Upland game includes: ring-necked pheasant, Hungarian partridge, cottontail and jack rabbit, raccoon, striped skunk, gray and fox squirrel, red and gray fox, and wild turkey.  Please see refuge-specific regulations below:
  • For small game hunting  hunters using shotguns, including turkey hunters, are required to use and possess only non-toxic shot
  • During the small game seasons,  hunting dogs must be under the immediate control of the hunter
  • Hunters must wear an article of blaze orange or pink consistent with state regulations
  • We prohibit constructing or occupying permanent stands or blinds. We also prohibit the use of nails, wire, screws or bolts to attach a stand to a tree or hunting from a tree, into which a metal object has been driven to support a hunter. Portable hunting stands must be set up and removed each day.
  • We prohibit the use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting
  • We prohibit distribution of feed or bait or hunting over bait. This includes salts and minerals.
  • Fox and  raccoon hunting is open 1st day of state season through the last day of February from 1/2 hour before legal sunrise to sunset. 
  • Skunk hunting is open September 1 through the last day of February from 1/2 hour before legal sunrise to sunset. 
  • The refuge is CLOSED to all migratory game bird hunting
  • Waterfowl taken outside the refuge boundary may be retrieved up to 100 yards (90m) inside areas of the refuge that are open to all other hunting. Waterfowl may not be retrieved from areas closed to hunting.
  • The refuge is CLOSED to coyote hunting
  • For deer hunting, entry into the refuge is not allowed earlier than two (2) hours before legal shooting hours
  • Shooting from or over roads and parking areas is prohibited
  • It is illegal to retrieve game from areas closed to hunting


  • Trapping is permitted by special use permit only. Contact refuge manager for details and information.


  • The refuge is open to bank fishing on all refuge pools and marshes. Please see refuge specific regulations below.
  • Motorized watercraft use is prohibited
  • We prohibit all types of motorized vehicles on frozen water bodies
  • We prohibit the taking of any turtle, frog, leech, minnow, crayfish, and mussel (clam) species by any method on the refuge
  • Fishing is permitted on all refuge waters except the abandoned quarries. These sites are fenced and posted with “Area Closed” signs.
  • Fishing is allowed during daylight hours only

Artificial Lights

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

Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge Specific

  • Pets must be leashed at all times, except when used for hunting during a small game season
  • Non-motorized boats and boats using electric motors are permitted only in the Minnesota River channel. Boats are prohibited on all other refuge waters.

Additional Information:

  • The above information is a partial list of rules and regulations. Consult the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge Public Use Brochure for more details.
  • Special-use permits may be issued for compatible secondary uses upon approval of the refuge manager. Contact the refuge office for application information at 320-273-2191.