Black Bayou Refuge

Site Directions: From Tiptonville, travel north on Hwy 78 for approximately 5 miles to signs for Black Bayou Refuge on the right. The major gravel road entrance is the main entrance to the site.

Observation tower-  Lat-Long: 36.44587, -89.39641°W

Hours: daylight hours

Seasonality: Open year-round, including designated observation areas that are open through the winter; however, the refuge is closed to all other forms of trespass from Nov 15 through the last day of February.

Fees: none

Lake County • 1,350 acres
Five miles north of Tiptonville on Hwy. 78

Reelfoot Preservation Permit required

Closed to all forms of use and trespass from Nov. 15 - to the last day of Feb. Designated observation areas will be open year-round.

Big Game, Small Game, and Trapping are the same as statewide seasons, except as noted. Nontoxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service only.

Closed to waterfowl, spring, and fall turkey season.

Deer - Same as statewide season except for archery only from Nov. 5 until the end of the statewide deer seasons and antlered deer only during muzzleloader season. Deer count toward statewide bag limit. Closed to Young Sportsman deer hunt.

 Turkey (Young Sportsman) - Same as statewide season.

 Dog training - Sept. 1 - Nov. 14.

Site Description: Black Bayou Refuge is a 1,1,350-acre management area adjacent to Reelfoot Lake in Lake County, TN. The area is comprised of mature forest, willow thickets, sloughs, and open water (when water is retained and the area is flooded). Crops are planted in ponds for wintering waterfowl use. A large Observation Tower, built with funds from the Watchable Wildlife Endowment Fund, can be good for wildlife viewing; however, the tower overlooks corn fields and rarely offers habitat and wildlife to view.

Burnt Woods Rd (36.444278,-89.385667) is a road/trail through bottomland hardwood forests. Drive past the observation tower and in two-thirds of a mile the road bends to the left and on the right is a small road that leads to a parking area. Walking this road in winter can be very productive with all the resident woodpeckers present, fox sparrows, hermit thrushes, both kinglets, etc. Woodland birding here is excellent. In summer, if you are willing to walk far enough and put up with the mosquitoes, you can find Swainson's Warblers in the cane thickets.

Upon driving further up the main gravel road you pass an old pumping station and eventually come out of the woods along with ag fields. Some of these fields retain water and may produce shorebirds. Some years these fields are planted in rice and can be excellent rail habitat if you know when they are harvesting in September.

Observation platform built with Watchable Wildlife funds.

Wildlife to Watch: Waterfowl are abundant in winter.  Shorebirds may be common in spring and fall if the habitat is managed properly.

Flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds may frequent the area in late summer.

In winter, look for gatherings of Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks.

Uncommon finds in winter may include Short-eared Owl, Rough-legged Hawk, and LeConte's Sparrow.

In summer 2010, a willow flycatcher was found singing in the thickets just past the main entrance off Hwy 78.

Contact Information

Region 1 Office:  731-423-5725
Phone: Toll-Free:  800-372-3928
E-mail the office
Area Manager: Chase Taylor (731) 253-7343

Interactive Map
Hunting Regulations Link
Buy a license link
Black Bayou Waterfowl Count
Total Waterfowl Count for Black Bayou Refuge