With its close proximity to the state capitol, Jackson, the refuge provides a variety of recreational opportunities. Approximately 30 miles of gravel roads are open on the refuge for most of the year, providing access to points of interest. Additionally, some portions of the refuge can be accessed from Highway 149W, and Satartia Road. Other areas are accessible by foot or small boat.
Popular recreational activities include:
Hunting opportunities for white-tail deer, waterfowl, wild turkey, squirrel, swamp rabbit and various small furbearers are abundant. Feral swine are also plentiful and harvest is optional during deer and turkey hunts. Designated roads, ATV trails and boat ramps provide access to remote locations throughout the Refuge. Please review all regulations prior to your hunt.
There are three limited draw deer hunts offered at Panther Swamp. Applications for these hunts are accepted in the fall. Initial purchase of the T R Complex Annual Public Use Permit is required to be eligible to apply.
Wildlife Observation, Photography, and Birdwatching
Visitors can expect to see a variety of both migrating and resident wildlife in their natural settings on Panther Swamp. Neotropical songbirds migrate through the refuge seasonally, and wintering waterfowl are most abundant during the winter months. Everyone’s favorite, the American alligator can be seen basking on logs and banks during warm spring days, and floating motionless in water during the hot summer months. The endangered Louisiana Black Bear is occasionally observed on the refuge as well. White-tailed deer, wild turkey, and numerous small mammals spend their lives on the refuge year-round and are easily viewed from car, boat, or on foot.
A colonial waterbird rookery exists at Panther Swamp and is active in the spring and early summer. To view the rookery, travel south on the East Levee from Highway 149 West approximately 5 miles. The rookery will be on your right. Other photography opportunities abound on the Refuge. Commercial photographers are required to obtain a Special Use Permit. Please contact Refuge headquarters for more information!
Fishing, Paddling and Boating
Available species for fishing include catfish, largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, buffalo, carp, gar and bowfin. A valid T R Complex Annual Public Use Permit is required in addition to a state fishing license. Waters between the East and West levees, the Landside Ditch and the portion of Panther Creek adjacent to the West Levee are open year-round except during limited draw deer hunts. All other refuge waters are open March 1-November 15. Trotlines, limb lines, jugs, seines and traps are prohibited. Some of the preferred fishing areas are Wade Bayou, Panther Creek, Deep Bayou, Lake George and the waters lying between the East and West levees. The Refuge's facilities include two all-weather access concrete boat ramps at Deep Bayou and Lake George. Please review the fishing regulations prior to your visit.
Panther Swamp waterways offer tremendous opportunities for paddling. Paddling adventures lead to great birding and photography opportunities. Several gravel entry points and concrete boat ramps provide easy access. May through June are some of the best months to enjoy the wildlife and scenery while water levels provide for easy access. It is recommended that groups larger than three contact Refuge headquarters for access. Bring your own gear and enjoy the sights!
In the office lobby are native animal exhibits such as the American Alligator, a black bear, wild turkey, fish, waterfowl, birds and even a raccoon stealing eggs from a wood duck nest. There is also an interactive kiosk which provides neat facts along with photos about the refuge.