Visitor Activities

With its close proximity to the state capitol, Jackson, the refuge provides a variety of recreational opportunities. These include hunting, fishing, birding, wildlife observation, photography, and boating; public boat ramps are located on Lake George and Deep Bayou.  In the office lobby are native animal exhibits such as the American Alligator, black bear, wild turkey, fish, waterfowl, birds and even a raccoon stealing eggs from a wood duck nest. There is also an interactive kiosk which provides neat facts along with photos about the refuge.

  • Hunting

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    Hunting opportunities for white-tail deer, waterfowl, wild turkey, squirrel, swamp rabbit and various small furbearers are abundant. Feral swine are also plentiful and harvest is optional during deer and turkey hunts. Designated roads, ATV trails and boat ramps provide access to remote locations throughout the Refuge.

    Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex Hunting and Fishing Regulations

    Fall ushers in annual hunts with seasons for squirrel, rabbit, deer, raccoon, and ducks while sunny spring days signal the start of turkey season.

    There are three limited draw deer hunts offered at Panther Swamp. Applications for these hunts are accepted in the fall. Initial purchase of the T R Complex Annual Public Use Permit is required to be eligible to apply.

  • Fishing

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    Available species for fishing include catfish, largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, buffalo, carp, gar and bowfin. Waters between the East and West levees, the Landside Ditch and the portion of Panther Creek adjacent to the West Levee are open year-round except during limited draw deer hunts. All other refuge waters are open March 1-November 15. Trotlines, limb lines, jugs, seines and traps are prohibited. Some of the preferred fishing areas are Wade Bayou, Panther Creek, Deep Bayou, Lake George and the waters lying between the East and West levees. The refuge's facilities include two all-weather access concrete boat ramps at Deep Bayou and Lake George.

    Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex Hunting and Fishing Regulations

  • Wildlife Viewing

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    Visitors can expect to see a variety of both migrating and resident wildlife in their natural settings on Panther Swamp. Neotropical songbirds migrate through the refuge seasonally, and wintering waterfowl are most abundant during the winter months. Everyone’s favorite, the American alligator can be seen basking on logs and banks during warm spring days, and floating motionless in water during the hot summer months. White-tailed deer, wild turkey, and numerous small mammals spend their lives on the refuge year-round and are easily viewed from car, boat, or on foot.

    Theodore Roosvelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex Facts Sheet

  • Environmental Education & Interpretation

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    Panther Swamp hosts an annual Kid’s Fishing Rodeo. Hundreds of children participate in fishing, bb and bow shooting activities. Children are provided poles and bait to fish in the one-acre stocked pond. By partnering with local businesses and volunteers the Refuge is able to provide this opportunity.  Check out our Facebook Page for more information! 

  • Photography

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    A colonial waterbird rookery exists at Panther Swamp and is active in the spring and early summer.  To view the rookery, travel south on the East Levee from Highway 149 West approximately 5 miles.  The rookery will be on your right.  Other photography opportunities abound on the Refuge.  Commercial photographers are required to obtain a Special Use Permit.  Please contact Refuge headquarters for more information!

  • Paddling

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    Panther Swamp waterways offer tremendous opportunities for paddling.  Paddling adventures lead to great birding and photography opportunities.  Several gravel entry points and concrete boat ramps provide easy access.  May through June are some of the best months to enjoy the wildlife and scenery while water levels provide for easy access.  It is recommended that groups larger than three contact Refuge headquarters for access.  Bring your own gear and enjoy the sights!

  • All-Terrain Vehicle Trails

    The ATV trails are well defined on hunt brochure maps and are open from September 15 through February 28 for hunting and fishing access only at Panther Swamp NWR.

    Two executive orders regulate ATV use on federal public lands: Executive Order 11644, signed by President Nixon in 1972, and Executive Order 11989, signed by President Carter in 1977. Together these orders require that off-road-vehicle use on public lands must be managed to “protect the resources of those lands, to promote the safety of all users of those lands, and to minimize conflicts among the various uses of those lands.” The orders also require that when ATV routes are designated, federal land managers must minimize damage to soils, watershed, vegetation, and other land resources, minimize wildlife harassment and impacts to wildlife habitat, and minimize conflicts between ATV use and other uses of the land. To comply with the orders, Service policy requires all ATV use to be in conjunction with wildlife-dependent activities only, with ATV use confined to designated areas or trails.