Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about recreation at Stillwater NWR? Maybe someone else has asked it before! 

1. Can I boat anytime and anywhere in the refuge?

NO. Boating is currently only permitted during waterfowl hunt season, and only in the open hunt areas north of Division Road.  Each wetland unit has specific boating rules, and signs will be posted at to what boat types are allowed in those units.

2. Some areas say ‘non-motorized boats’, is an electric trolling motor ok to use here?

NO. Electric motors are a MOTOR, therefore not allowed in non-motorized hunt units. Non-motorized means the craft must be human-powered by pushing, pulling, or paddling.

3. Are airboats allowed for hunting?

YES. Air-thrust boats are allowed in certain hunt units, such as Goose Lake, South and North Nutgrass and Pintail Bay. A refuge Special Use Permit is required to operate an airboat, and may be obtained from the refuge office at no charge. A copy of the permit must be in the operator’s possession while on the refuge. Airboats are not allowed to launch until 1 hour after shoot time on opening day of waterfowl season.

4.  Can I use my boat to scout the wetlands prior to hunt season?

NO. Boats are only allowed on the water during legal waterfowl hunt season. Pre-hunt scouting is only by driving the roads or walking in.  

5.  Can I paddle or row my boat in a No Boating area?

NO.  No boating means you may not sit in and propel boats of any kind by any method– paddled or motorized. However, you may walk and PUSH or PULL your boat in these areas to haul equipment and use it as a blind from which to hunt.

6.  How soon can I build a blind or set decoys before legal shoot time?

There is no time set for when hunters may go out to set up blinds and decoys on shoot days. You may build blinds out of natural materials, but please do not dig up any wetland plants. Blinds must be dismantled and decoys removed after each hunt; plants are not to be removed from the refuge. 

Building a blind or setting decoys DOES NOT RESERVE your hunt area – sites are first come/first served only. We recommend placing decoys or blinds right before your hunt so you can remain present to avoid any conflicts.

7. What methods of take are allowed?    For waterfowl, other migratory birds, and upland game (quail, rabbits, coyotes, etc…) we allow shotguns using non-toxic shot.  For big game we allow shotguns, archery, and muzzle-loaders. Center-fire rifles and handguns are not allowed for hunting.