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

Many islands on the Ohio River were once small farms and have long since been abandoned. Today, the former agricultural fields sprout tree saplings and brush, providing perfect habitat for white-tailed deer. The Ohio River Islands NWR offers hunters long seasons to pursue deer on 20 of the 22 islands that make up the refuge. Two islands are in Pennsylvania, two are in Kentucky and the rest are in West Virginia; respective state regulations apply. Most of the islands are open to hunting. A refuge hunting brochure explains island-specific regulations. The islands range in size from 8 to 240 acres, and the larger islands offer the best chance for a deer. With the exception of one island, access is by boat. There are no trails on the islands, so getting through the thick cover can be a challenge. But this thick cover also provides perfect places for white-tailed bucks to mature, and the chances of finding a large buck are good.

To hunt on the refuge, a refuge permit is required in combination with all applicable state hunting and/or trapping licenses. To download and print a refuge hunting permit, click the link below. Permit applicants must fill in their name, address, telephone number, and signature before the permit is valid. Hunting permits can also be obtained by visiting our office at 3982 Waverly Road in Williamstown, WV.   

For state regulations and state license information explore the links below:


To trap on the refuge, a refuge trapping permit is required in combination with all applicable state hunting and/or trapping licenses.  You will also want to be familiar with all refuge specific regulations and information, which can be viewed by clicking on the link below.  At the end of the season, all trapping permit holders must fill out and send in the trapping report which can be found at the end of the regulations.

Trapping permits must be obtained either by calling our office, 304-375-2923, or by visiting in person. 

Related Documents
Trapping Brochure and Report Form 2021 2022 Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge

The trapping brochure, and the form for reporting harvest at the end of the season.  The permit is a separate form which must be requested from the refuge directly.

Reciprocal Hunting Agreement Between Ohio and West Virginia

A brochure describing the reciprocal agreement between Ohio and West Virginia for Hunting and Fishing.