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It is not a far drive to get to a convenient, accessible spot with a diverse population of fish right in our neighborhood. I am sure some people know about this natural gem, but many may be unaware of its presence because of its inconspicuous appearance and tucked away location. Gwynnbrook Wildlife Management Area has only a small sign to mark its presence on the corner of Gwynnbrook Road and Owings Mills Boulevard.

The property was originally a game farm. It is the oldest wildlife management area in Maryland. The 290 acres of land that was originally the Dolfield estate was a game farm and hatchery until the land was purchased by the state of Maryland in 1919. There is still a brown marker that reads "Gwynnbrook State Game Farm No. 1" on the corner of the property near the road. The property now is comprised of about 75 acres and has a permit office and natural resource police station. Twenty-five of the acres are now reserved for bow-hunting of deer from September to January.

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The pond is rather large; it extends about an acre in size. There is a deep spot on the eastern side where the freshwater spring is located. Bluegill fish are all over the pond but are easiest to catch in the shallow areas. The pond has also been said to contain catfish and bass. If fishing isn't your thing, the area is a great place to explore and see groundhogs, deer and hundreds of species of birds. There is also a nice picnic table and large parking lot to sit and eat lunch and enjoy the view.

Rose Young, a Reisterstown resident, was enjoying a bite to eat during her lunch break on my last visit. When asked about why she chose Gwynnbrook Wildlife Reserve as her lunch spot, she said, "This is where I caught my first fish as a kid, years ago. This peaceful spot brings back many happy memories. "

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When I think about describing a day fishing and enjoying spending time in the outdoors, the word "freedom" is the first that comes to mind. Spending a day with my family fishing on the edge of a pond helps to release me from my sometimes stressful everyday hustle and bustle. Nothing brings on the feeling of peace and helps to rejuvenate like a day spent interacting with nature. This quiet time also gives us a chance to bond, all the while learning about conservation and the natural resources in our area. So whether you are fishing for dinner or for the thrill of the catch, the life lessons learned along the way are invaluable.

If you are looking for an outdoor spot for a picnic, a place to see local wildlife or somewhere to find your own "freedom" throwing in a line, Gwynnbrook Wildlife Management Area is a wonderful local place to unwind.

Gwynnbrook Wildlife Management Area is located at 3740 Gwynnbrook Ave. in Owings Mills.

Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached at kellyscible@gmail.com

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