Nationally known for hosting bird dog field trials, the Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area is also a major wintering ground for waterfowl, popular dove hunting area, and home to a diverse resident upland wildlife population. This area is named for former Executive Director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, wildlife biologist, field trial judge, and Virginia gentleman Dick Cross.
Dick Cross (formerly Elm Hill) Wildlife Management Area is located in Mecklenburg County, along the north side of the Roanoke River just below John H. Kerr Dam. Gently rolling land, the area’s elevation varies from 200 to 300 feet. Much of the area was once a cattle farm and evidence of that operation remains. The area’s 1,400 acres are primarily open upland, maintained as old fields or cultivated to benefit wildlife. Farming techniques on the area are modified to enhance wildlife habitat, and old fields containing native vegetation are encouraged and maintained by disking and prescribed burning. A notable exception is the nearly 300 acres of broad flood plain, or bottomland, along Allen creek and the Roanoke River. Allen Creek meanders through the eastern third of the area and forms the area’s eastern boundary shortly before reaching the Roanoke River. Numerous wetland impoundments totaling about 165 acres are managed for waterfowl.
Extensive annual dove food plantings of wheat and corn in addition to lespedeza, clover, and millet are a major element of the wildlife management program. Dove hunting is generally excellent but expect heavy hunting pressure early in the season. Quail and rabbit populations are good, but as with doves, hunting pressure can be heavy. Though management emphasizes small game and waterfowl, there is a good deer population and a growing population of turkeys as well. Numerous woodlots located along drainages provide excellent squirrel hunting opportunities.
Buggs Island Lake and Gaston Reservoir are located near the management are and provide good to excellent fishing for largemouth bass, striped bass, and crappie.
The area is used extensively for bird dog field trials. There are excellent opportunities to view many shorebirds, waterfowl, and upland wildlife species. A number of bald eagles winter in the vicinity of and can often be seen from the management area. Occoneechee State Park, near Clarksville, provides boat ramps, camp and picnic grounds, and added hunting and fishing opportunities.
Special kennels have been built to accommodate sanctioned field trials and a number of roads provide good access to the area’s interior. A Natural Resource Center to be used for environmental education and wildlife-related activities sits along the main entrance road. An observation tower adjacent to a large wetland impoundment provides excellent bird watching opportunities along the Roanoke River flood plain. On Buggs Island Lake, the Army Corps of Engineers operates and maintains a number of boat ramps and campgrounds.
From U. S. Route 58 between Boydton and South Hill, take State Route 4 south. Go about 5 miles to the management area entrance.