Visitor Activities

View of the island and an old dock from the water.

The refuge is not open to the public. Due to fragile habitats and safety concerns associated with its former use as a bombing range, public access is prohibited.

  • Hunting

    Hunt Applications 

    By refuge permit only, limited waterfowl hunting is offered on the 211-acre Cow Island Unit. This hunt is conducted as a Quota Hunt through partnership with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Hunting occurs from three stationary hunt blinds as shown in the Plum Tree Island Hunt Map. Currently approximately 25 days are offered during the second segment of the Virginia waterfowl season (mid November to late January.) Application costs are $7.50 and if selected a two-day hunt permit is provided.

    Hunters can apply for the hunt through Virginia’s Quota Hunt Lottery system GoOutdoorsVirginia.com during the summer application period.

    Final Hunt/Fish Plan

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a final hunting and fishing plan for Eastern Virginia Rivers National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

    A draft plan was issued earlier this spring, and during the 88-day public comment period, 20 comment letters were received from the public. We are grateful to the people who provided meaningful comments on the draft, which helped in developing the final plan.

    Some comments reflected an opposition to hunting and fishing in general and in particular on NWR lands. We understand and respect this viewpoint. The legislation which guides how national wildlife refuges across the country are managed not only requires us to consider allowing wildlife observation, hunting, fishing, photography, environmental education, and interpretation, but further directs us to promote these activities when compatible with refuge purposes. Not one of these recreational uses have a priority over another – they are simply different ways people choose to enjoy the refuges and to engage themselves, their families, and their friends in the outdoors.

    A summary of all substantive comments, and our responses, can be found in Appendix E (Finding of No Significant Impact). No significant changes have been made between the draft and final versions of the Hunting and Fishing Plan. No significant modifications were incorporated into the final plan and decision documents. However, based on comments regarding safety, we have decided change the method of take in the final Hunting and Fishing Plan by removing muzzleloaders and rifles on the Mothershead and Franklin units of Rappahannock River Valley NWR

    We may begin to implement the Hunting and Fishing Plan for Eastern Virginia Rivers NWR Complex upon publication of the final 2021-2022 Station-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations in the Federal Register. The final plan can be viewed here: Eastern Virginia Rivers Final Hunt/Fish Plan

  • Wildlife Viewing and Photography

    The refuge is not open to the public. Due to fragile habitats and safety concerns associated with its former use as a bombing range, public access is prohibited. Off-site wildlife viewing from the mainland (namely Messick Point Marina) and some adjacent waters is encouraged.