John Lewis

Beyond the Basics: Maryland Deer Hunting Regulations Explained

maryland, Maryland Deer Regulations

MDNR has established regulations to provide opportunities for hunters while maintaining healthy deer numbers. This guide summarizes key regulations for archery, muzzleloader, firearm, and air gun deer hunting in Maryland.

Important Resources

Deer Season

MDNR Regulations

MD Season Dates

General Deer Hunting Regulations

All individuals in Maryland must comply with the following general requirements:

  • Hunter identification – Each person must carry either a valid photo ID like a driver’s license or a secondary form of identification.
  • Permission for private land – Written permission from the landowner is required to hunt on private property.
  • Hunting licenses – A valid hunting license is required to hunt deer, with some exceptions for senior lifetime license holders and certain armed forces members. Additional stamps may be required.
  • Tagging and checking – All harvested deer must be tagged and checked according to DNR procedures.
  • Daylight fluorescent orange clothing – Required during most time, with some exceptions for archery hunters.
  • Legal devices – Any time of year is a good time to try out archery equipment. Muzzleloaders are legal during certain times only. Firearms and air guns are restricted by season, location, and features.
  • Antlered bag limits – Only one antlered white-tailed deer may be taken per day, with a statewide limit of two for archery and three for firearm days.
  • Antlerless bag limits – Set separately for Region A and Region B, with no daily limits.
  • Separate sika deer bag limits – Independent of white-tailed.
  • Shooting hours – Generally one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset, with some Sunday restrictions.
  • Recorded calls prohibited – Electronic calls are illegal, but non-electronic calls are permitted.
  • Dogs prohibited – Except for regulated tracking of wounded deer.
  • Swimming deer – May not be taken while in the water.
  • Waste – Reasonable effort must be made to retrieve and use harvested game.
  • Trespassing – Written landowner permission is required before tracking or retrieving deer.
  • Artificial lights – Use is restricted under general laws.


  • License and stamps – A license and Archery Stamp are required, except for certain groups like senior lifetime licensees.
  • Sika stamp required – A Sika Stamp must be purchased annually to hunt sika deer.
  • Tagging and checking – Mandatory for all harvest.
  • Use of archery in other seasons – Archery equipment may be used with restrictions.
  • Primitive weapons – Only long bows and recurve bows permitted during the Primitive Days.
  • Separate bag limits – Archery harvest counts toward the archery limit, not other seasons.
  • Concurrent Schedule – Special rules apply when archery overlaps other seasons. Hunters may not carry both archery and muzzleloader equipment.
  • Fluorescent orange – Not required during archery dates but must be worn during certain other overlapping seasons.
  • Handgun exception – Handguns for bear protection permitted in Region A under limited provisions.
  • Roadway restriction – Illegal to shoot across or from any public road.
  • Vertical bow draw weight – Minimum of 30 pounds draw weight. Permission granted for draw locks and release aids.
  • Crossbow requirements – Minimum of 75 pounds draw weight. Should have working safety mechanism.
  • Bolts/arrows – Broadheads that were sharpened and at least 7/8-inch wide were required.


  • License and stamps – A hunting license and Muzzleloader Stamp required, except for certain groups.
  • Sika stamp required – Must purchase annual Sika Stamp to hunt sika deer.
  • Tagging and checking – Mandatory for all harvested deer.
  • Muzzleloader-only – Muzzleloaders may only be used during designated period.
  • Primitive weapons – Only flintlock or sidelock percussion muzzleloaders allowed during Primitive Deer Hunt Days.
  • Bag limit – Muzzleloader harvest counts toward muzzleloader bag limit.
  • Fluorescent orange – Required during all muzzleloader days.
  • Concurrent seasons – No simultaneous possession of archery and muzzleloader equipment.
  • Roadway restriction – Cannot shoot across or from public roads.
  • Legal muzzleloaders – Must be .40 caliber or larger and use specified amount of powder. Handguns have additional requirements.
  • Unloaded condition – Ignition system must be disabled.
  • Loaded vehicles – Cannot have a loaded muzzleloader in, on, or leaning against a vehicle.

Firearm and Air Gun Regulations

  • Licensing – A valid Maryland hunting license is required.
  • Sika stamp required – Must purchase annual Sika Stamp to hunt sika deer.
  • Tagging and checking – Necessary for all kills.
  • Authorized equipment – Shotguns, straight-walled cartridge rifles, muzzleloaders, air guns, and archery equipment permitted during firearm period.
  • Bottleneck cartridges – Rifles and handguns restricted to certain counties and areas.
  • Bag limits – All firearm harvest counts toward firearm limit.
  • Hunter orange – Required during all firearm days.
  • Opening day restrictions – Only deer and coyotes may be taken on the opening day of firearm.
  • Roadway restriction – Cannot shoot across or from public roads.
  • Magazine limits – Firearms may not be loaded with more than 8 cartridges.
  • Authorized ammunition – Most rifles, shotguns, and handguns restricted to soft point or expanding bullets.
  • Automatic firearms prohibited – Cannot take a deer with fully automatic firearms.
  • Loaded vehicles – Cannot have a loaded firearm, air gun, or muzzleloader in, on, or leaning against a vehicle.
  • Rifle requirements – Must fire bullets with minimum muzzle energy of 1,200 foot pounds.
  • Shotgun requirements – Must be 28 gauge or larger, shooting single projectiles. Slugs required statewide except in Dorchester County.
  • Handgun requirements – Barrel length 6 inches or more, minimum 700 foot pounds muzzle energy.
  • Air gun requirements – Must shoot single projectile generating at least 400 foot pounds of energy or propel a large hunting bolt or arrow at high speed.

Managed Hunting Programs

In addition to general requirements, managed hunts such as those on certain public lands have these additional provisions to follow:

  • Shooter qualification card – Special card demonstrating shooting proficiency often required.
  • Lottery application – Hunters chosen by lottery rather than guaranteed permit purchase.
  • Special equipment restrictions – Extra limitations on legal firearms and ammunition.
  • Hunter orange – Often required even during archery seasons.
  • Tree stands – Requirements for portable stands provided by the hunter.
  • Scouting – Mandatory pre-scouting sessions.
  • Meetings – Mandatory pre-orientation meetings.
  • Sunday – Often permitted on normally closed Sundays.
  • Bag limits – Special provisions may allow additional antlerless deer beyond regular limits.

John Lewis
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