McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area

The 2020 McKee-Beshers WMA sunflowers are no longer in bloom. Please click here for information on the sunflower fields.

Woodcock photo by Rodney Campbell Flickr CC by 2.0

Located on River Road near Poolesville in Montgomery County, McKee-Beshers WMA is a 1,971 acre tract in a mixture of habitat types. The WMA shares a common boundary with the National Park Service Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O Canal) to the south and borders Seneca Creek State Park’s River Road Hunting Area to the east.

Click Here for Map​

Management

McKee-Beshers WMA is managed by the Wildlife and Heritage Service. The mission of the Wildlife and Heritage Service is to conserve and enhance diverse wildlife populations and associated habitats while providing for public enjoyment of the State’s wildlife resources through hunting and other wildlife-dependent recreation. This area provides habitat for upland and forest wildlife species including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, songbirds, and waterfowl.

Numerous fields are managed as wildlife food plots, fallow with periodic mowing, or in warm or cool season grasses. Food plots may include, but are not limited to, millet, sorghum, buckwheat, sunflower, winter wheat, or clover. Approximately 175 acres are in an agricultural lease.

Eighteen acres are included in an ongoing Woodcock Habitat Restoration Project. This is a joint project with the Potomac Valley Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society that includes tree plantings of alders and dogwoods as well as hedgerow clearing.

Three greentree reservoirs are managed to flood standing timber for waterfowl habitat in the fall and spring. These reservoirs may flood up to approximately 80 acres of forest if rain conditions are favorable. Additionally, many wood duck boxes are installed and maintained on the property through the Maryland Wood Duck Initiative.

Maddox Island (also known as Van Deventer Island) is located in the Potomac River adjacent to McKee-Beshers WMA. Maddox Island is part of the Islands of the Potomac WMA and is only accessible by water. See Maryland’s Online Water Access Guide for information on boat ramps.

Additional management includes installation of bat boxes, hedgerow maintenance, tree plantings, and invasive species removal. McKee-Beshers WMA has trails available for use by hikers and hunters that are not regularly maintained and are often rough or muddy. This property is a low-lying floodplain for the Potomac River and frequently lays wet.

Regulations for All Users

Unless otherwise posted or with a permit issued by the Service it is UNLAWFUL to:

  • Operate or possess a vehicle on roads, trails, or waterways not open to general traffic.
  • Bait or feed wildlife.
  • Use or construct permanent blinds or tree stands. All portable blinds or stands must be removed at the end of the day.
  • Ignite, cause to be ignited, or maintain a fire.
  • Camp
  • Remove, disturb, damage, or destroy any mineral, plant, rock, tree, or nongame animal.
  • Have dogs off leash from April 15 through August 15.
  • Release any animal or plant.
  • Conduct commercial activities.
  • Place a cache for the purpose of geocaching.
  • Operate, possess, or use combustibles, explosives, or fireworks.
  • Dig for relics and treasures, remove prehistoric or historic artifacts, or use a metal detector without a permit from the Office of Archeology.
  • Deposit litter or refuse including, but not limited to, animal carcasses, appliances, brush, debris, furniture, garbage, hazardous material, tires, waste paper, yard waste, or other litter.
  • Vandalize real property including any blind, building, crop, equipment, gate, habitat, plant, road, sign, trail, vehicle, vessel, or other public property.
  • Graze cattle, goats, horses, sheep, or other domestic animals.
  • Place decoys prior to 1 hour before legal shooting hours, leave decoys overnight, or remove decoys later than 1 hour after legal shooting hours.

Hunting

Public hunting on McKee-Beshers WMA is permitted during legal hunting seasons. No permits or reservations are required. Hunting is available for all legal game species in accordance with current hunting laws and regulations established by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

  • Hunting is permitted Monday through Saturday. No hunting is allowed on Sundays.
  • Permitted hunting devices include archery equipment, muzzleloaders, shotguns, handguns, and rifles. Rifles and handguns must be .25 caliber or less.
  • Trapping is allowed by permit only. Contact the Gwynnbrook Wildlife Office at 410-356-9272 for more information.
  • Two Managed Dove Fields are restricted in the month of September. Hunting in the Managed Dove Fields is allowed Opening Day, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 12:00pm-5:00pm. After September, and in any other area of McKee-Beshers WMA, dove hunting is allowed all legal days and times. Click here for a map of the dove field locations.

Dog Training

McKee-Beshers WMA has a designated dog training area, a designated dog training pond, and a field trial area.

  • Use of the dog training area and pond is allowed year round. This area is indicated on the map and by signs in the field. No reservations are required.
  • If releasing live birds, a Retriever Dog Training Permit is required.
  • The field trial area, located east of Sycamore Landing Road, requires a permit from the Service for use. This area is for organized field trial events.
    • Field trials may be permitted during the following timeframes: September 1 through the day preceding early muzzleloader season and March 1 through April 15.
    • Contact the Gwynnbrook Wildlife Office at 410-356-9272 for information on how to submit an application.

Non-Hunting Users

Non-hunting users are permitted on McKee-Beshers WMA year-round. No permit or reservation is needed. This area is open for the following activities:

  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding – Riders must stay out of planted fields and are asked to avoid muddy areas to reduce damage.
  • Fishing
  • Biking on established trails
  • Bird Watching – The “ponds” area located on the west end of Hunting Quarter Road is a birding hotspot, known locally as Hughes Hollow.
  • Dogs must be leashed from April 15 through August 15 unless in the designated dog training area.

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 WMA will be on your left as you head west on River Road. For additional information, contact the Gwynnbrook Wildlife Office at 410-356-9272.

 


 

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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.​