Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge is the largest remaining tract of bottomland hardwood forest in the northwest portion of Mississippi outside of the mainline levee. Located within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, this 9,691 acre refuge was established in 1991 to provide habitat for migratory birds and protect wetlands.
Waterfowl may be seen during the winter months, while the spring and summer brings a variety of migrating and nesting neotropical migrant songbirds. Common summer species include prothonotary warblers, painted and indigo buntings, wood ducks and hooded mergansers.
The refuge is popular with waterfowl, deer, and squirrel hunters, getting most of its visitation between October and February. Other visitation is low, providing birders and other hikers a wonderful opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of the refuge.
The refuge is open to hiking, birding, wildlife photography, and other passive wildlife viewing from sunrise to sunset throughout the year. Please be aware that all visitors are required to wear a minimum of 500 square inches of hunter orange from October 1 through February 28, even in the no hunting area.
Hunting and fishing are allowed on refuge lands with the purchase of a North Mississippi Refuges Complex permit. Permits cost $15 and are available at any Mississippi state hunting license vendor. Refuge hunting and fishing regulations are available at refuge kiosks or online.
Hiking trails are one of the best ways to experience the refuge, and provide a perfect opportunity for getting out of the car and stretching your legs. Our two main trails are the PawPaw trail, which provides a 1-mile shaded hike through a bottomland hardwood forest, and the Herbert Nature Trail, which provides a 1-mile loop trail through a hardwood reforestation area. The Herbert Trail also features an observation tower which looks over Happy Hollow pond, the hardwood forest, and a wildlife opening. The tower provides a nice break from hiking and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the sounds of the refuge. Be sure to carry plenty of water, insect repellent, and sunscreen during the summer months.
Please follow these simple Refuge regulations to help protect the Refuge's natural resources:
- No alcohol
- No All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) or Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs)
- No littering
- No camping or fires
- No collecting, removing, or damaging and plants, animals, or historic artifacts
Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge is open daily from sunrise to sunset. The interior refuge road gates are closed to vehicular traffic from May 1 through September 15, but are still open for foot traffic. The winter is a wet season for the refuge, so please be aware that the PawPaw hiking trail and other areas may be flooded at times.
Hunters please read and keep a copy of our hunting regulations with you while visiting the refuge. The State of Mississippi's hunting seasons are not always the same as the Refuges so be sure to check the brochure.
A $15 North MIssissippi Refuges hunting permit is required for any hunter/angler over the age of 15.
The PawPaw and Herbert Nature Trails have a packed crushed rock surface.
Two deer hunting blinds are available for mobility impaired hunters. These may not be reserved, and are available on a first come first served basis. Both are located east of the refuge headquarters building on Highway 446.
Pet Friendly Notes
Dogs are allowed for hunting migratory birds, squirrels, rabbits, quail, and raccoons during designated seasons only. Dogs must remain in the control of their handlers at all times and should be tagged with the owner's name and contact information. Dogs are not allowed on Refuge properties outside of hunting season.
All domestic animals are prohibited on the refuge.