The Big Woods WMA is a 2,208 acre wildlife management area located in Sussex County near the communities of Waverly and Wakefield. It is located adjacent to the Big Woods State Forest and the two parcels together are managed as one unit. The area is predominantly pine forests that are managed to promote red-cockaded woodpeckers, quail, turkey and other grassland wildlife species like prairie warbler and pine woods treefrog.
Big Woods WMA is in the coastal plain and offers various aged pine forests with some hardwood bottom lands. Management here focuses on thinning pine stands and conducting prescribed fires in the understory. The area provides habitat for a wide range of species including white-tailed deer, eastern wild turkeys, and bobwhite quail. Due to potential wildlife management concerns, horseback riding is not permitted on this WMA. Visitors are advised that this area is actively managed and prescribed fire may be used any time throughout the year. Please check this page frequently for updates as to management activities.
Areas of the management area are closed to protect sensitive habitat. These are marked with signage and noted on the Big Woods WMA map. Please respect these boundaries.
All parking on Big Woods WMA is limited to designated parking area.
Visitors to the Big Woods Wildlife Management Area are advised that a timber harvest is underway. Loggers may be working in any of the areas shown on the map (see map). Please use caution in these areas and do not block roads and or logging vehicles.
Big Woods WMA is open to hunting. Hunting regulations are generally the same as those for Sussex County, except for Rules for Wildlife Management Areas. Hunting seasons are also similar to those for Sussex County. Exceptions can be found in the Hunting and Trapping Summary. Either-sex deer hunting is allowed on dates specified in the current Hunting & Trapping Digest. Hound hunting for deer is permitted. Please familiarize yourself with the property boundaries and gates prior to visiting the area. Direct any questions regarding this WMA to (804) 829-6580.
Big Woods provides excellent opportunities to see and hear the great variety of wildlife of the Pine Woods. Choruses of frogs sing from bogs and pools. The calls of wild turkey echo through the pines and songbirds like brown-headed nuthatch and prairie and pine warbler are common sights. Perhaps most notable are red-cockaded woodpeckers. The management here supports these endangered birds and potential viewing areas are noted on the map. The use of electronic bird calls is prohibited on Big Woods WMA.
Take Route 460 to Wakefield. Turn south on route 628 (Courtland Road) and travel for approximately 1 mile. Turn west on route 628 (Brittles Mill Road). Big Woods WMA has road frontage near the intersection of Brittles Mill Road and cedar Sign Post Road (route 622).
Images by: Meghan Marchetti - DGIF