Facility Rules and Policies

Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge is open to wildlife-dependent recreation including deer and waterfowl hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education, interpretation, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. 

Hunting and fishing are subject to all applicable federal and state laws, except where posted with "Closed to Public Hunting" signs. Additional regulations may apply. 

Special use permits are issued for compatible secondary uses such as research, utility right of way work and other related activities. Permits are also available for hunters with disabilities.

Contact the refuge office for more information.

Recreational Opportunities

The refuge is open to wildlife-dependent recreation including hunting of deer and waterfowl, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education, interpretation, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Special rules and regulations may apply to some recreational activities. Contact the refuge office for more information.

General Regulations

Access to the refuge is open from sunrise to sunset, unless otherwise posted or stated in hunting regulations. To protect the natural resources of the refuge and provide all visitors with a safe, enjoyable recreational experience, follow these regulations:

  • Access on the refuge is by foot traffic and includes hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing 

  • Berry, fruit and mushroom picking are permitted for personal consumption only, not for resale or commercial use 

  • No entry fees 

  • Visitors are welcome to hike throughout the areas and are not required to stay on established roads and trails 

We prohibit
  • The use of motorized boats while hunting and fishing
  • Target Shooting or any non-hunting discharge of firearms  

  • Training pets and allowing pets off leash 

  • All types of motorized vehicles on all refuge land (to include frozen bodies of water) except on designated parking areas, access roads and public roads 

  • Fires (including charcoal and any open flame for cooking)  

  • Fireworks and explosives 

  • Camping and overnight parking 

  • Abandoning, discarding or otherwise leaving any personal property. All property brought onto the refuge must be removed at the end of each day. This includes common items like vehicles, boats, decoys, trail cameras, blinds, geo-caching items, photography equipment, portable stands, climbing sticks 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 water 

  • Disposing of animal carcasses, trash, refuse, rocks, wood or other debris including shotgun shells

  • Cutting, mowing, sawing, digging, collecting, injuring or removing vegetation 

  • Launching, landing or disturbing of wildlife by aircraft (drones) on the refuge. This includes for recreational or commercial purposes 

  • Commercial enterprise without a special use permit. Commercial still photography does not require a special use permit, as long as it lacks sets, props and models and images are not used for promotional purposes. Refuge regulations must be followed while conducting commercial still photography and public spaces cannot be blocked. See the Refuge Specific Regulations section below for details 

  • Use or possession of any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia is prohibited 

  • Disturbing or interfering with any employee of the United States or of any local or State government engaged in official business, or with any private person engaged in the pursuit of an authorized activity on any national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
    A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

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  • Any act of indecency or disorderly conduct 

  • The destruction, injury, defacement, disturbance, or the unauthorized removal of any public property including natural objects or private property

Hunting Regulations
  • Hunters may enter the refuge no earlier than 2 hours before legal shooting hours begin and must exit the refuge no later than 2 hours after legal shooting hours end.
  • Use of hunting dogs is allowed, provided the dog is under the immediate control of the hunter at all times.
  • Non-toxic shot is required for all hunting.
  • Blinds, tree stands and cameras are allowed but must be removed daily and cannot damage live vegetation.
  • Damage to trees is prohibited, including cutting shooting lanes and the use of screw-in tree steps and stands. 
  • Placement or distribution of feed or bait and hunting over bait is prohibited. This includes salts and minerals.
  • Shining or spotlighting wildlife is prohibited.
  • Motorized vehicles only allowed on public roads and parking areas. Overnight parking and camping is prohibited.
  • Mobility assisted devices allowed on designated trails only.
  • Dumping deer carcasses is prohibited and can cause lead poisoning in scavengers such as bald eagles.
  • Possession or use of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited.
  • Firearm deer hunting is prohibited on the refuge. The refuge permits archery deer hunting in designated hunting areas larger than 20 acres in accordance with federal and state regulations. Bow must be in carrying case at all times when in no hunting zones.
  • The refuge permits waterfowl hunting in designated areas east of Highway 13 in accordance with federal and state regulations
  • Trapping is not allowed on the refuge
  • Hunters must gain permission from landowner to enter private property to retrieve deer
Fishing Regulations

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regulations apply as to license, seasons, sizes, limits, methods of take and species of fish to be taken with the following exceptions:

  • Fishing is permitted from sunrise to sunset.
  • The taking of any mussel - clam, crayfish, frog, leech or turtle species by any method on the refuge is prohibited.
  • Specific information related to trout fishing, spearing, netting and bait harvest is included in the state fishing regulations.