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Chief River Wildlife Area

The 1,183-acre Chief River Wildlife Area was acquired during the late 1940s and early 1950s, with the last purchase made in 1952. A limited network of roads was constructed in 1954, and two easements were granted to improve access at no cost to the state. These roads are now maintained as primitive hunter walking trails.

Originally, the property was intended to be managed as a deer yard, and much early work on browse management techniques in Wisconsin was done there. Initial attempts to produce quality browse were considered successful, but experiments that followed proved too costly to continue. Active timber management continues on the property today using modern techniques with a focus on quality wildlife habitat for both game and non-game species.

The property provides public upland hunting opportunity, and the boat landing and parking area provide access to the Chief River as well as Mud and Callahan lakes. A fisheries survey was conducted on the Chief River in 2003 just north of the property and produced a mixed bag of river minnows, lake minnows and game species including musky.

Management Objectives

The property is managed for hunting, hiking, trapping wildlife viewing, fishing, birding, berry picking, canoeing and snowmobiling on designated trails. Break-your-own-trail cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are also popular activities on the property.

For more information on master planning for this and other wildlife areas around the state, visit the property planning page.


The Chief River Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:

  • Birding;
  • Canoeing;
  • Cross-country skiing (no designated trail);
  • Fishing;
  • Hiking (no designated trail);
  • Hunting;
  • Snowmobile trail;
  • Swimming;
  • Trapping;
  • Wild edibles/gathering; and
  • Wildlife viewing.


Download [PDF] a map of this property.

If you are interested in exploring this property further, you can access an interactive map.

Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area

Find out more about how to adopt this wildlife area.