On April 1, 2019, after 41 years with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), Executive Director, Robert “Bob” Duncan, retired from the state agency.
A lifelong hunter from Radford, Duncan worked 30 years as a wildlife biologist for the Department, and held the title of Wildlife Chief for 18 years. During his 11-year tenure as Executive Direction, he made it the agency’s goal to “put our resource first while balancing public opinion and good science.”
In the wake of Duncan’s retirement, VDGIF has acquired two new Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), one of which bears the retired Director’s name. The Robert W. “Bob” Duncan (RWD) WMA and the Mattaponi Bluffs WMA were both opened to the public on April 11.
The RWD WMA is located in northeastern Caroline County, and spans more than 1300 acres of coastal plain wildlife habitat. While most of the property is characterized by rolling hardwood and managed pine forests, some steep terrain and wetland bottomland habitat exists along the Mattaponi River, which it borders for three miles.
Wildlife enthusiasts will find great opportunity at the RWD WMA to view an array of wetland and coastal birds, like bald eagles, ospreys, herons. The quiet backwaters of the Mattaponi support coastal wading birds and amphibians, as well.
The hardwood and pine forests on the property currently support thriving populations of deer, turkey, and squirrels, and black bear are not uncommon. The oxbow complex of the River provides great habitat for woodcock and ducks, making the new property a great location to hunt migratory game birds.
The RWD WMA is located at 21590 Frog Level Road, Ruther Glen, VA, between Frog Level and Aylett in Caroline County—about 40 miles north of Richmond.
The Mattaponi Bluffs WMA comprises 470 acres in north-central Caroline County, and borders the Mattaponi River for about 1.5 miles. The forested land on the property is predominantly mixed upland hardwoods, with some wetland habitat adjacent to the river.
The entrance to Mattaponi Bluffs WMA is located about .75 miles north on Sutton Lane from the intersection of Sutton Lane and Penola Road, about a mile from the community of Athens.
The Mattaponi River, which borders both of the newly acquired properties, offers anglers the opportunity to fish for a unique assemblage of coastal plains species, including bluegill, redbreast sunfish, bowfin, chain pickerel, brown bullheads, and largemouth bass. In the spring, the river gets runs of white and yellow perch.
The purchasing of these new public properties was made possible through cooperative relationships with public land owners, the founders of Green Top Sporting Goods in Richmond, partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Service, and hunters and anglers. The RWD was purchased from the Neale family, and the Mattaponi Bluffs WMA was purchased from Banbury Farm II, LLC.