Prather’s Neck WMA

Photo of Prathers Neck WMA where it overlooks the Potomac RiverPrather’s Neck is located in western Washington County, approximately 6 miles south of the small town of Clear Spring. While the WMA is small in size, it is located on the end of a small peninsula of land surrounded by the Potomac River and offers an array of opportunities to pursue your favorite wildlife species. Whether armed with a scattergun, rifle, or a digital camera, the “Neck” offers wildlife enthusiasts an opportunity to capture their favorite quarry. Prather’s Neck WMA supports a large number of high quality habitats, which in turn, support exceptional species diversity, making it one of the most important limestone areas remaining in the State. Old-growth forests provide important habitat for many rare, threatened, or endangered species.

Hunting dog stands alert on a dirt road on the Prathers Neck WMA

What To See

This 215-acre property is dominated by a mixture of oak/poplar forest habitat, with several old fields in early stages of succession. Forest wildlife species such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, fox and grey squirrels can be seen throughout the area. For the waterfowl enthusiast, a variety of migratory ducks and geese can be found on the adjacent Potomac River. An opportunity to observe colorful summer songbirds in an old-growth forest awaits a visitor to the “Neck”.

What To Do

Prather’s Neck WMA provides hunting opportunities for deer, wild turkey, fox, grey squirrels, rabbits, and woodcock. For the waterfowler, the “Neck” offers a rare opportunity to hunt a variety of ducks and geese from the shoreline. A public boat ramp is located approximately ½ mile up-stream at the Four Locks area of the C & O Canal. Anglers can enjoy the walk-in fishing opportunities for bass and walleye in the Potomac River. For the non-hunter there are several old roads and trails that offer a respite for the doldrums of everyday life.

Area Regulations

  • Use of Prather’s Neck WMA is generally permitted seven days a week throughout the year.
  • Hunting is allowed in accordance with open season and shooting hours.
  • No special permits or drawings are required to hunt this area, except appropriate licenses and stamps.
  • Trapping is allowed by permit only.
  • Camping is not permitted, but is available at the Indian Springs WMA.
  • Due to the limited size of Prather’s Neck WMA, the parking area is limited to 10 vehicles only.

Non-hunting Users Guide

  • Non-hunting visitors are welcome and encouraged to visit this WMA.
  • Be aware of open hunting seasons and visit accordingly.
  • Season dates available in the Maryland Hunting and Trapping Guide, and on the DNR Website.
  • Mixed forest and field habitats provide ideal bird watching, hiking and mushroom hunting opportunities.

Special Areas

  • Perched above the Potomac River on the western edge of this WMA, is a series of dry, limestone cliffs and bluffs that provide a unique opportunity to view the surrounding landscape.
  • A large area of old growth forest can be observed on the western portions of the management area.

Site Management Goals

  • Establish, maintain and manage public access for recreational use and resource protection.
  • Conserve, restore and protect sensitive habitats, rare, threatened and endangered species and old growth forests.
  • Promote hunting opportunities for forest game, upland game and waterfowl.

DirectionsIllustrative map of Maryland showing approxiumate location of Prathers Neck WMA

From I-70 West, take the Clear Spring Exit and travel north on State Route 68. Take left at first traffic light and proceed on old Route 40 until next traffic light. At this light, turn left on to Big Springs Road. Make a right onto Route 56 West and continue on Route 56 for approximately 3 miles until you see sign for Four Locks. Turn left on to Four Locks Road, then take a right at the fork and proceed through tunnel. The entrance to the WMA is at the end of road. For more information, contact the Indian Springs Wildlife Office at (301) 842-2702.

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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.​