The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has acquired over 1,300 acres in Caroline County and has created two new Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) open to the public.

The newly acquired Robert W. Duncan (RWD) WMA and the Mattaponi Bluffs WMA officially opened to the public on April 11.

The RWD WMA is nestled in the northeast corner of Caroline County, in the upper coastal plain and located between Frog Level and Aylett. The land is a contiguous tract of flat to gently rolling land, with a few steep banks adjacent to the Mattaponi River.

Mattaponi Bluffs WMA is located in the north-central portion of Caroline County, in the Upper Coastal Plain and located between Athens and Penola. The land is a contiguous tract of steep bluffs and wetlands, somewhat typical of the surrounding topography adjacent to the Mattaponi River.

The RWD WMA is 1,300 plus acres and conserves important upper coastal plain wildlife habitat, providing quality wildlife-related recreation. Forests range from mature and mixed upland hardwoods to managed pine stands, as well as wetland and bottomland forests. The property borders the Mattaponi River for approximately three miles.

Wildlife enthusiasts will find exciting viewing opportunities on the RWD WMA. Bald eagles, osprey and blue herons are common and the diverse forests provide critical habitats for many migratory warblers. Interior wetland habitats provide opportunities for viewing wading birds and amphibians.

The diverse forests and open lands of the RWD WMA provide abundant habitat for all of game species found in central Virginia. Deer, turkey and squirrel populations are thriving and in recent years, black bears have become more common in the area. An oxbow wetlands complex of the Mattaponi River provides opportunities for duck hunting; woodcock are also common in the bottomlands and wetter forested sites.

The Mattaponi Bluffs WMA is 470 acres and conserves important upper coastal plain wildlife habitat, providing quality wildlife-related recreation. Forests are predominantly mixed upland hardwoods with some wetland and bottomland forests as well. The property borders the Mattaponi River for approximately 1.5 miles.

The Mattaponi River supports a good fishery throughout much of its length, including the section of river adjacent to the RWD WMA. Bluegill and redbreast sunfish, chain pickerel, bowfin and brown bullheads are common as well as smaller-sized largemouth bass. The spring run of white and yellow perch can make for exciting ultra-light fishing.

The RWD WMA property was purchased from the Neale Family and Mattaponi Bluffs was purchased from Banbury Farm II, LLC. Partnerships with the Fish and Wildlife Service, members of the Neale family, Hopkins family, founders of Green Top Sporting Goods, and hunters and anglers made this possible.

The VDGIF oversees some 46 WMAs throughout the commonwealth encompassing over 203,000 acres for the benefit of all citizens for a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.

Hunting and fishing are two of the more popular activies on WMAs, however wildlife watching, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding and paddling are also popular among users. Some WMAs offer shooting ranges.

Persons 17 years or older without a hunting, fishing, trapping license or current Virginia boat registration are required to obtain a daily access permit for $4 to use a WMA. The cost of an annual permit is $23.

For more information about Virginia’s WMA visit https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/access-permit/.

Until next time, remember to cherish, protect and conserve the outdoors while sharing it with others.