Facility Rules and Policies

General Refuge Regulations

Most of the refuge is closed to public access to provide undisturbed habitat for migrating and nesting birds. Refer to the public use areas below for information on places to enjoy approved activities such as hiking, biking, birdwatching, etc.

  • The refuge is open during daylight hours only
  • Dogs are welcome but must be leashed
  • Access for wildlife observation, photography and hiking is limited to public use areas during most of the year, the majority of the refuge is closed to public access to protect migratory birds. From December 1 through March 15, the entire refuge is open to hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing
  • Visitors should stay on established trails and roadways of approved public use areas except during the winter open access period

Not Permitted

  • Boats, including canoes, kayaks or other floatable devices
  • ATVs and snowmobiles
  • Horses
  • Collecting plants, berries, seeds, mushrooms, antlers or other artifacts
  • Fireworks
  • Camping and campfires
  • Overnight parking
  • Geocaches
  • Drones
  • Trail cams
  • Damaging vegetation
Public Use Areas and Special Regulations

Horicon "TernPike" auto tour and hiking trails - located on State Highway 49, just east of the city of Waupun. Open daily year round, conditions permitting. Paved driving route (3 miles) and three hiking trails along with a floating boardwalk and bicycling and hiking access to the Wild Goose State Trail. Closed to hunting except during the deer gun seasons. The auto tour route is closed to vehicles during this hunting season and hikers are required to wear blaze orange.

Highway 49 wildlife viewing area - located on State Highway 49 just west of County Road Z. Open daily year round. Hiking trail (1/4 mile) with observation area. Closed to all hunting.

Old Marsh Road - accessed from Point Road or auto tour. Only open seasonally (June through August and special Earth Day opening in April) for hiking and bicycling to minimize disturbance to migratory birds. Adjacent dikes are closed. Photo blind located on east end of the road and may be reserved year round - contact the refuge office for reservation information.

Bud Cook hiking area - located off Point Road. Two hiking trails and observation area. Open daily year round. Closed to all hunting.

Rockvale Road Viewing Point - Rockvale Road observation platform with spotting scope.

Main Dike Road - Open daily year round, conditions permitting. Entire road is open for hiking and bicycling year round. Access is limited to the road only - adjacent dikes are closed. Vehicles can drive eastern portion (two-level gravel). Please use pull-offs for wildlife viewing and photography on the eastern portion of Main Dike Road. There is parking located near fishing platform on the eastern portion of the road as well as near the Wild Goose State Trail on the western portion of the road (Access from Hwy 26 and use designated parking area).

Peachy Road, Ledge Road and Main Dike Road - Designated locations for bank fishing/piers.

Fishing Regulations

Fishing on the refuge is open year round in accordance with state fishing regulations. For more information on state fishing regulations visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 

  • Non-lead tackle is required (lures, sinkers etc.)
  • Fishing is limited to designated bank fishing areas (December 1 through March 15). The entire refuge is open to ice fishing - no motorized vehicles allowed for access.
  • Peachy Road, Ledge Road and Main Dike Road are designated locations for bank fishing (piers)
Hunting Regulations

The 33,000 acre Horicon Marsh is divided into the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources). The two areas have different hunting regulations and season dates. You are responsible for knowing the boundaries and abiding by regulations. Make sure to check zones and acquire the proper tags for the areas you will be hunting. The refuge is located within Dodge and Fond du Lac counties. For more information visit Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The refuge is open for hunting of the following species: deer, black bear, pheasant, Hungarian partridge, ruffed grouse, turkey, squirrel, woodcock, cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare, coyote, red fox, gray fox, bobcat, raccoon, opossum and skunk. The refuge is closed to migratory bird hunting, except for an annual Learn to Hunt Waterfowl mentored program (open for goose, duck, coot and common moorhen). Opportunities for hunters with disabilities are available for deer hunting. For more information see the refuge hunting map and regulations.

Firearms

Persons possessing, transporting or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of state and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32).

Permits

Wisconsin state hunting permits are the only permits required to hunt on the refuge. No additional refuge permits are needed. 

Two special hunts are offered annually including a deer hunt for those with disabilities and a mentored Learn to Hunt Waterfowl Hunt. These hunts require additional refuge applications and permits. Contact the refuge office for more information on how to apply.

Access

Several gravel parking areas are maintained to provide access for hunters. All motorized vehicles are restricted to existing county roads and access roads, such as the eastern half of Main Dike Road (when open to vehicles). Do not block gates or roads. Overnight parking is not permitted on the refuge. Bicycle access is allowed on designated bicycle routes only. Main Dike Road is open year round for hiking and bicycling. Old Marsh Road and other dikes are closed to bicycle access until December 1.

Hunters participating in the refuge disabled deer hunts are allowed to drive vehicles on designated mowed paths that lead to hunting blinds. Utility and all-terrain vehicles (UTV/ATVs) are not permitted except by individuals with a disability possessing a permit for these hunts.

Areas closed to all hunting include the Hwy 49 wildlife viewing area near the intersection of Hwy 49 and County Road Z, the Bud Cook hiking area located off Point Road and a small boundary around the refuge visitor center and maintenance area.

Restricted hunting areas include the auto tour area located off Hwy 49 (open for November nine-day and December antlerless deer gun seasons only) and the disabled hunt area (refuge permit required).

Refuge-specific Hunting Regulations
  • All hunting access is restricted to one hour before to one hour after legal hunting hours and hunting is prohibited from 1/2 hour after legal sunset until 1/2 hour before legal sunrise the following day
  • Scouting outside state hunting seasons is prohibited
  • Hunters may use or possess only approved nontoxic shot shells while on the refuge, including shot shells used for hunting wild turkey. Lead bullets and shotgun slugs are permitted for taking big game and small game during open seasons.
  • The use of dogs while hunting small game is allowed, provided the dog is under the immediate control of the hunter at all times
  • Hunting with dogs, artificial lights or night hunting is NOT permitted on the refuge for the following species: black bear, raccoon, red fox, gray fox, opossum, bobcat, coyote and striped skunk
  • The refuge may not be used for dog training
  • Hunters must remove all stands and personal property from the refuge following each days hunt, hunting from any stand left up overnight is prohibited. Ground blinds used during any gun deer season must display at least 144 square inches of solid blaze orange or fluorescent pink material visible from all directions.
  • Target shooting, light shining, wildlife baiting, open fires, use of horses, use of drones, use of or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting or removal of antlers or other artifacts are all prohibited activities

Hunts for Hunters with Disabilities

Special hunt only, refuge permit required. The refuge offers several deer hunts in a designated part of the refuge for hunters with disabilities. Hunters must already have obtained a Class A, B, C or D permit to be able to apply for the hunts. All of these permits can be obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The designated disabled hunt area is located in Dodge County within the "Southern Farmland Zone" (previously Unit 68B). Ten hunting blinds are available for use during the gun hunts. For more information on obtaining an application, call 920-387-2658 ext. 200 or ext. 124.

Learn to Hunt Waterfowl

Special hunt, only selected program participants. No waterfowl hunting is allowed on Horicon National Wildlife Refuge except for selected participants of the Learn to Hunt Waterfowl program. The programs introduce novice hunters - both youth and adults - to a variety of hunting experiences with the aid of an experienced hunting mentor. For more information call 920-387-2658 ext. 124.