Deer in Spring Landscape

A group of Canada geese enjoying the quiet afternoon.Hugg-Thomas WMA

Once the family estate of Admiral Jacob Hugg, a founder of the town of Sykesville in Carroll County, Hugg-Thomas WMA consists of 275 acres in two separate parcels of land. On the southern parcel, located near Sykesville, you can visit the ruins of the 19th century Hugg mansion. The northern parcel is located just over the border in Howard County. Oak, hickory and yellow poplar stands predominate.

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What To See

Because of its diversity of birds, Hugg-Thomas is a favorite haunt for local bird clubs. Hawks and owls use the area for nesting and for winter feeding grounds. Hugg-Thomas WMA provides habitat for woodland wildlife species - primarily deer, wild turkey, gray squirrels and numerous species of songbirds.

What To Do

Hunters will find mourning doves and cottontail rabbits, as well as white-tailed deer. Hunters will need permits to hunt on Hugg-Thomas WMA. A special area is designated for physically challenged hunters. Unmarked trails invite hikers and photographers to an outdoor adventure at any time of the year.

Area Regulations

  • From September 1st through February 15th and Spring Turkey Season, access to Hugg-Thomas WMA is by annual seasonal permit and daily reservation only (except on Sundays).
  • To apply for the free Central Region Public Hunting Permit click here.
  • Reservations for the opening day of deer firearm season will be issued by lottery. 
    (Contact office listed below for official lottery application).
  • Access for hunters with disabilities.
  • No motorized vehicles are allowed.
  • Vehicle access is via a parking lot located on Forsythe Road.
  • Non-Hunting Users

  • When hunting is not in season, Hugg-Thomas WMA is open for hiking, nature photography and birding on the network of maintained roads and trails.
  • Special Areas

  • Access for hunters with disabilities.
  • Site Management Practices
  • Certain fields are planted with crops to provide winter food for wildlife.
  • Several fields have been planted to native warm season grasses, cool season grasses or have been left fallow to provide habitat for ground nesting wildlife species and brood habitat for wild turkey.
  • Directions

    Hugg-Thomas WMA is located in north-central Howard countyHugg-Thomas WMA is located along the border between Carroll and Howard Counties on MD Route 32, north of U.S. Route 70. An exit from Route 70 to MD 32 (Sykesville Road), makes access to this area convenient from the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas. Vehicle access is via a parking lot located on Forsythe Road. For additional information, contact the Gwynnbrook Wildlife Office at (410) 356-9272.

    Photograph by: Chuck Prahl


    This area is a part of Marylandís Department of Natural Resources public land system and is managed by the Wildlife and Heritage Service. The primary mission of the WMA system is to conserve and enhance wildlife populations and their respective habitats as well as to provide public recreational use of the Stateís wildlife resources.

    Eighty-five percent of the funding for Maryland's state wildlife programs comes from hunting license fees and a federal excise tax on sport hunting devices and ammunition. The federal aid funds are derived from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (or Pittman-Robertson) Fund, which sportsmen and women have been contributing to since 1937. Each state receives a share of the funds, which is administered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service; these funds are used for wildlife conservation and hunter education programs, including the management of the WMA system.

    Other sources of funds for land acquisition include Program Open Space Funding for Maryland's State and local parks and conservation areas, provided through The Department of Natural Resources' Program Open Space. Established in 1969, Program Open Space symbolizes Maryland's long-term commitment to conserving natural resources while providing exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities.