Experience Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges
By Phil LePelch, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Hunting on National Wildlife Refuge lands. (Chuck Traxler, USFWS)
What You'll Find
From Alaska to Florida, from far into the wilderness to undiscovered places under everybody’s nose, are more than 370 National Wildlife Refuges that offer some of the best hunting in the country.
Hunters have long been National Wildlife Refuge System partners and have played a major role in the conservation of the nation’s wildlife resources since the late 19th century. Today’s hunters can be assured of quality hunts on National Wildlife Refuges across the country, carefully managed in accordance with the Refuge System’s Guiding Principles. Read more in America's Hunting Heritage.
No matter where you live, there's probably a national wildlife refuge near you. Check the National Wildlife Refuge Locator.
"The sweetest hunts are stolen. To steal a hunt, either go far into the wilderness where no one has ever been, or else find some undiscovered place under everybody’s nose." - Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
Camping and Cabin Options
Be sure to search Recreation.gov for advance camping or cabin reservations in or near the National Wildlife Refuge where you plan to hunt. A few refuges offer first-come, first-served camping and cabins. Check refuge websites to learn about these and other visitor activities.
Hunting and Fishing Events
National Hunting and Fishing Day is the fourth Saturday of each September and provides opportunities for people from all walks of life to learn more about outdoor skills and conservation through hands-on hunting, shooting, fishing or archery activities and more. National, state and local organizations host these public events in various locations — from National Wildlife Refuges to fish hatcheries to shooting ranges or suburban frog ponds.
Purchase your state hunting license, required in every state in order to hunt on National Wildlife Refuges. Visit WhereToHunt.org to find what you will need to meet your state's requirements. Federal Duck Stamps are required for hunting waterfowl anywhere in the country and proceeds from Duck Stamp sales are used to purchase and preserve wetland habitat. Since the stamp’s inception in 1934, more than $800 million have been raised to purchase more than six million acres of wildlife habitat!
Remember—permit requirements and fees do occasionally change so it’s important to check the individual refuge website or staff for specifics.
Get Safe. Get Certified! Read Safety During Hunting for information on hunter education.
Find the perfect refuge hunt with Your Guide to Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges. It is easy to find hunting opportunities by species and location with this web search form. You can also search for sites that offer special youth hunts or sites that are universally accessible and learn about permit requirements. Some refuges also require special hunting permits, while others are open to hunters for general hunting seasons without permits. Some permits are free while others have a small charge.
- Matching Wits with Nature
- Family bonding across generations