For a family of deer wandering outside the Baltimore or Washington D.C. suburbs, the Patuxent Research Refuge might look like a heaven on earth. The refuge boasts more than 12,800 acres of forest, meadow and wetland, all managed by world-class biologists whose job it is to conserve and study wildlife.

The refuge was established to specifically support wildlife researchers, but it’s just as welcoming to visitors who, like the deer, might also be in need of some green space.

Anglers are permitted to fish year-round during operating hours at the Refuge North Tract, where you’ll find local species like bluegill, largemouth bass, catfish, black crappie, pickerel, eel, suckers, warmouth and pumpkinseed.

Birders, too, can have a field day at the refuge. The variety of habitat, including a wetland and wildlife viewing area, are perfect for spotting waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and songbirds. During fall and spring migration, you’ll find gigantic flocks of waterfowl who visit the refuge to rest and feed. Since the refuge opened, approximately 270 species of birds have been documented on the property.

Come fall, hunting opens at the refuge as well. Visitors can track deer, ducks, geese, rabbits, doves and elusive wild turkey through 12 acres of land. If interested, reach out to the Meade Natural Heritage Association, the hunting group that organizes schedules and leagues.

The Patuxent Research Refuge is one of many areas in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that conserve local plants and wildlife while also being open to the public. To find others, visit Find Your Chesapeake or our public access map for locations to get out on the water or the land.



Jennifer Greiner

Thanks for the nice write up about Patuxent! Let me know next time youre coming out to visit the refuge.

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