30 April

History of hunting on White River National Wildlife Refuge.

Brief History of Hunting on White River NWR 

There is a long history of hunting at White River NWR, which began in 1956 with the first archery deer hunt.  Five years later in 1961 the refuge held its first gun deer hunt.  The refuge was one of the first tracts of public land in the southeastern United States to implement either sex deer hunting, which was very controversial at that time.

1935-1955 Refuge closed to all hunting; Fishing allowed from March 1 to October 31.

1956 Received approval to conduct a bow and arrow hunt for deer. Approval was also received to take
squirrel, bobcat, rabbit, and raccoon with bow. Hunt was conducted from October 18 -31; 288
permits issued and 5 deer killed.

1957 Bow season October 16-31; 303 permits issued and 15 deer killed.

1958 First hunt plan prepared and submitted 6/5/1959; recommended archery hunt for deer and allowed incidental taking of squirrels, rabbits, and bobcats with bow.

1959 Prepared and submitted amendment to plan recommending gun squirrel hunt. First squirrel hunt;  October 1-31; 4,200 permits issued. Deer archery season; October 8-31; 833 permits issued and
26 deer killed.

1960 Taking of squirrels, rabbit, and deer was approved by Central Office and notice was published in Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Squirrel hunt October 1-7; Archery Deer Hunt October 10-29; 808 permits issued and 27 deer killed.

1961 Prepared and submitted amendment to hunt plan recommendations, gun deer hunt. Squirrel Hunt
October 2-8. Archery Deer Hunt October 12-30; 52 deer killed. First Gun Deer Hunt from
November 16-1; 6003 permits issued and 1726 deer killed.

1967- Prepared and submitted amendment to hunt plan recommending hunting of turkey and raccoon.
First Gun Turkey Hunt (fall hunt) November 3-4; 1000 permits issued and 54 birds killed.

1968 No Turkey Hunt

1969 Squirrel, archery deer, gun deer hunts held; no turkey hunt; raccoon hunt scheduled but cancelled.

1970 First raccoon hunt; no turkey hunt scheduled.

1971 No raccoon hunt and no turkey hunt scheduled.

1972 First spring turkey hunt; 500 permits issued and 139 birds checked. Fall turkey hunt cancelled; no
raccoon hunt.

1974 First muzzleloader deer hunt, fall turkey hunt, no spring turkey hunt, raccoon hunt held.

1978 First youth-adult deer hunt; no turkey hunt.

1979 Amended plan to allow waterfowl hunting. First duck hunt held. This was first year that all present
day hunts were held.

1980 First January Archery deer hunt.

1988 Hunt plan was rewritten to incorporate all previous amendments; deleted doves, snipe, and
woodcock from huntable species and added incidental taking of beaver and coyote.

2001 First Cook’s Lake youth deer hunt.

2003 First waterfowl season commercial waterfowl guiding services are regulated on refuge.

Source: White River National Wildlife Refuge  Comprehensive Conservation Plan June 2012- 


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