McKee-Beshers WMA

The 2020 McKee-Beshers WMA sunflowers have been planted. Please click here for information on the sunflower fields including their current growing status and location.

Bird on a tree in the fall.Located on River Road in Western Montgomery County, McKee-Beshers WMA is a 2,000-acre tract in a mixture of woodlands, fields, wooded bottomland and managed wetland impoundments (green-tree reservoirs). The WMA shares a common boundary with the National Park Service Chesapeake and Ohio Canal to the south and borders Seneca Creek State Park, a 1,200-acre public hunting area, on the east.

What To See

McKee-Beshers WMA provides habitat for a great diversity of wildlife species including deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, over 200 species of songbirds, and numerous reptiles and amphibians. Biologists deliberately flood forests during the fall and winter in "greentree reservoirs." These attract colorful wood ducks as well as other waterfowl which migrate through or spend the winter here.

What To Do

Hikers will find trails for miles and miles, meandering through the forests, fields and wetlands. The C&O Canal and trail actually border the area. From here, you can hike or bicycle east all the way to Washington, D.C. or west as far as Cumberland. Hunters enjoy the pursuit of white-tailed deer, wild turkey, woodcock, squirrels, waterfowl and many other species.

Area Regulations

  • Use of McKee-Beshers WMA is permitted seven days a week throughout the year.
  • Hunting is allowed in accordance with statewide open season dates, bag limits and shooting hours, unless otherwise noted.
  • McKee- Beshers WMA is a public hunting area. No permit is required.
  • All State and Federal Hunting Laws and Regulations are applicable.
  • Trapping is by permit only.
  • Dove hunting in specific designated fields is restricted to certain days and shooting hours.
  • No motorized vehicles are allowed.
  • Vehicle access is via marked parking areas located on River Road, Hunting Quarter Road and Sycamore Landing Road.
  • Access to Maddux Island is by boat only. Launch from boat ramp on Rileys Lock Road into Seneca Creek or put in at the end of Sycamore Landing Road at the C&O Canal.

Non-Hunting Users

  • Roads are maintained and suitable for hiking, nature photography, birding, hunting and other recreational activities. 
  • Visitors to the management area should be aware of biting insects, mosquitoes and ticks from April-December. 
  • Area is wet most of the year, wear appropriate footwear.

Special Areas

  • There are two specific dove management areas that are open to the public for hunting with certain restrictions that apply. Click here for dove field map.
  • Specific areas are set aside for dog training. A Retriever Dog Training Permit is required if releasing live birds.
  • Green-tree reservoir impoundments totaling approximately 160 acres are managed for waterfowl. Chest waders recommended.
  • Maddux Island (Van Deventer Island) in the Potomac River is part of the WMA. This 170 acre island is accessible by boat only.
  • For information on organized field trial events contact the Gwynnbrook Wildlife Office at 410-356-9272.

Site Management Practices

  • Approximately 200 acres of field are managed under an agricultural lease for crop production.
  • Certain fields are planted with crops to provide winter food for upland wildlife species.
  • Green-tree reservoirs and other wetland impoundments have been created and water levels are manipulated to provide habitat for waterfowl, wading birds and furbearers.
  • 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 turkeys.

DirectionsMcKee-Beshers WMA is located in Montgomery county by the Virginia border

From the Capital Beltway, take Exit 39 (River Road) west toward Potomac. Proceed for approximately 11 miles to the intersection of River Road and MD 112, Seneca Road. Turn left and continue on River Road for about 2 1/2 miles. McKee-Beshers will be on your left as you head west on River Road. For additional information, contact the Gwynnbrook Work Center at (410) 356-9272.

McKee-Beshers WMA Map


This area is a part of Maryland’s 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 State’s 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.​