Bowen Wildlife Management Area

A muskratHarry L. Bowen sold this land to the state for $1.00 in 1955. From the standpoint of river tidal marsh conservation, that purchase was more than a bargain. Due to the nature of the wet terrain and lack of road access, Bowen WMA is only accessible by water.


Bowen WMA​

Habitat Description and Management

Bowen 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. Of the 313 acres, 90 percent of the area is tidal marsh which is a stopover point for migrating and wintering waterfowl. Black ducks, mallards, American wigeon, canvasbacks, lesser scaup, buffleheads and wood ducks are often seen resting and feeding here. Rails, historically hunted from push boats on the river, still stalk the grass for aquatic insects. Mink and muskrats cruise the shoreline and marsh creeks, while river otters play together in the water.

Regulations for all Users

Unless otherwise posted or with a permit issued by the Service, on lands and waters owned or controlled by the Wildlife and Heritage Service, it is UNLAWFUL to:

  • Catch, harass, hunt, intentionally disturb, kill, or pursue any wildlife on lands or waters posted as a “Wildlife Sanctuary” or a “Wildlife Refuge.”
  • Operate or possess a vehicle, except for licensed automobiles, boats, motorcycles, or trucks on roads, trails or waterways open to general traffic or specifically posted by the Service.
  • Operate any vehicle in an unsafe manner or cause damage to roads, trails, or other areas.
  • Operate any vehicle on lands or waters while under the influence of any intoxicants.
  • Park a vehicle, unless engaged in a legitimate recreational activity allowed on the property and in a designated parking area. Users must obey posted vehicle quotas and/or hours of operation.
  • Bait or feed wildlife or to hunt, shoot, kill, or attempt to hunt, shoot, or kill any game bird or mammal with the aid of bait.
  • Use or construct permanent blinds or tree stands, or leave temporary tree stands overnight.
  • Ignite, cause to be ignited, or maintain a fire, unless in a designated camping site.
  • Camp, unless in a designated camping site.
  • Trap furbearers (permits issued for certain properties).
  • Remove, disturb, damage, or destroy any portion of a mineral, plant, rock, tree, or nongame animal.
  • Release any animals or plants.
  • Conduct commercial activities.
  • Enter any area posted as “Restricted” or “Closed Against Entry.” (The Service may remove and place in storage, at the owner’s expense, a vehicle that remains in a restricted area).
  • Operate, possess, or use combustibles, explosives, or fireworks.
  • Place a geocache.
  • Without a permit from the Office of Archeology, dig for relics and treasures, remove prehistoric or historic artifacts, or use metal detectors.
  • Deposit litter or refuse, including but not limited to animal carcasses, appliances, brush, debris, furniture, garbage, hazardous materials, tires, wastepaper, 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.
  • Interfere with or hinder any Service employee from performing Service-related management activities.
  • Graze cattle, goats, horses, sheep, or other domestic animals.
  • ​Place decoys earlier than 1 hour before legal shooting hours, leave overnight, or remove later than 1 hour after legal shooting hours.
  • Target shoot, unless at a designated shooting range.

Visitor Information

Bowen WMA is open 24 hours a day, year-round.

  • Access is permitted by water on the Patuxent River. There are no parking areas or public road access.
  • Non-hunting users are permitted on Bowen WMA year-round. No permit or reservation is needed. Read section above for Regulations for all Users.
  • Permitted activities include, but are not limited to:
    • Hunting
    • Hiking
    • Fishing and crabbing
    • Bird Watching
    • Paddling
  • Dogs are welcome but must be leashed from April 15 th through August 15 th to protect nesting wildlife.
  • There are no established trails on Bowen WMA.
  • Maryland’s WMAs are trash-free, no trash cans are provided. Take all trash with you.
  • Bowen WMA has no public bathroom facilities, benches, or picnic tables, please plan accordingly.
  • WMAs are managed for wildlife and are home to biting insects and poison ivy. Long pants and bug repellant are recommended.

​Hunting Regulations

Public hunting on Bowen WMA is permitted during legal hunting seasons. No permits or reservations are required. Hunting is allowed for all legal game species in accordance with current hunting laws and regulations established by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. See the Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping for current regulations.

  • Hunting is permitted Monday through Saturday, year-round. No hunting is allowed on Sundays.
  • Permitted hunting devices include all legal devices allowed in Charles County in the established hunting seasons that allow them.
  • Trapping is allowed by permit only. Bowen WMA is included in the Southern Region Public Lands Trapping Lottery. The online application can be found on the main Southern Region Public Hunting Lands webpage. Any spaces not filled in the lottery are available by inquiring through the Myrtle Grove Wildlife Office at 301-743-5161.
  • Hunting access is permitted day and night; however, overnight camping is not allowed.
  • Bowen WMA has six designated waterfowl sites. These sites require a Free Public Hunting Permit and a reservation. Reservations may be made by calling the Myrtle Grove Wildlife Office at 301-743-5161 during office hours. Office hours are available seasonally from 8am to 12pm (noon).
  • The Public Land deer and turkey Big Game Check-In code for Bowen WMA is 473.

​Contact Information and Directions​

Phone: 301-743-5161


Bowen WMA is located in Prince George’s County on the western bank of the Patuxent River, north of Eagle Harbor. Click this link for a general location of the property on Google Maps: The nearest boat launch for motorized boats is the Clyde Watson Boating Area located at the end of Magruders Ferry Road. Additional water access can be found using the Maryland Public Water Access Guide.

​ Photo credit: Lisa Mayo​

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 hunti​ng 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 ​​while providing exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities.​