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General Deer Regulations

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DNR’s long-term goals for deer are to ensure the present and future well-being of deer and their habitat; maintain deer populations at levels necessary to ensure compatibility with human land uses and natural communities; encourage and promote the recreational use and enjoyment of the deer resource; inform and educate Maryland citizens about deer biology, management options and the impacts that deer have on landscapes and people. Both native white-tailed deer and exotic sika deer populations are managed through hunting.

Hunting Hours

One half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset.

Licensing and Stamp Requirements

A Regular Hunting License, Junior Hunting License, any senior hunting license or Nonresident Hunting License is required to hunt deer with a firearm. In addition to a hunting license, archery deer hunters must purchase an Archery Stamp and muzzleloader deer hunters must purchase a Muzzleloader Stamp. Archery deer hunters must purchase a Muzzleloader Stamp in order to hunt deer with archery equipment during muzzleloader season. Hunters entitled to hunt without a license do not need to purchase Archery, Muzzleloader, or Bonus Antlered Deer Stamps. Hunters with a Senior Lifetime Consolidated License do not need to purchase Archery or Muzzleloader Stamps but must purchase Bonus Antlered Deer Stamps to take bonus antlered deer. Hunters not required to have a license must obtain a free DNRid number and a free Maryland Big Game Harvest Record if they intend to hunt deer. These items may be obtained from a DNR Sport License agent or online at www.dnr.maryland.gov/service.

Bonus Antlered Deer Stamps

A Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp is required by all license holders to take a second antlered deer in Region B during one season of their choice (archery, muzzleloader, or firearms). For example, a deer hunter must purchase a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp before attempting to take a second antlered deer with a firearm in Region B. An individual who purchases a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp but does not use it during a particular season may use that stamp during any subsequent season (muzzleloader, firearms, or archery season) in that hunting license year. Bonus Stamps are not required to take antlerless deer. Region B hunters are reminded that two antlerless deer must be taken in any combination of seasons in Region B before a second antlered deer can be taken with a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp. The Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp may not be used during the October segment of the Muzzleloader Season in Region B.

Daily Limit

In all counties, there is no restriction that applies to the number of deer that may be taken per day within the season bag limits unless otherwise specified.

Legal Hunting Devices

See Archery, FalconryFirearm Regulations.

Electronic Deer Calls

Recorded or electrically amplified calls or sounds are prohibited for the purpose of deer hunting. This would include calls or sounds imitating common deer vocalizations or noises such as grunts, snorts, bleats, and antler rattling. Non-electronic deer calls are permitted for deer hunting.

Deer Tagging and Checking

The complete instructions for deer and turkey tagging and checking are found on Tagging & Checking.

Dogs

Dogs cannot be used to hunt deer except trained tracking dogs may be used to find dead, wounded or injured deer. The dog handler must maintain physical control of the tracking dog at all times and only the hunter and dog handler may carry a firearm or bow while tracking the deer. Prior to tracking the deer, the hunter must notify by telephone the Natural Resources Police. See Addresses & Phone Numbers for NRP offices. The hunter may dispatch the deer only during legal shooting hours and by means legal for the current hunting season.

Deer in Water

Deer may not be hunted while they are swimming or taking refuge in water.

Fallow Deer

Fallow deer may be taken in place of white-tailed deer during each of the seasons. Fallow deer have escaped from captivity and are found in a few isolated areas in Maryland.

Sika Deer

Sika deer season dates are the same as white-tailed deer seasons. Sika deer bag limits are independent of the white-tailed deer bag limits. Sika deer may be hunted only in Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties.

Baiting Deer

Baiting deer is legal, except on State-owned or State-controlled properties, or areas where it is specifically prohibited due to Chronic Wasting Disease (see Chronic Wasting Disease regulations on this page).

Antlered Deer Definition

An antlered white-tailed deer is a deer with two or more points to one antler, or a deer with one antler three or more inches long, measuring from the top of the skull as the deer is in life.

An antlered sika deer is a sika deer with at least one antler visible above the hairline.

Deer Seasons & Bag Limits

Maryland has two “Deer Management Regions.” See Deer Management Regions. The antlered deer bag limit is now a statewide limit. There are no longer separate Region A and Region B antlered bag limits. Antlerless bag limits remain independent for Region A and Region B. Deer seasons and bag limits for each Deer Management Region are located on Deer Seasons and Bag Limits.

Deer Harvested With Archery Equipment During Muzzleloader or Firearms Season

Deer harvested with archery equipment during the antlerless-only second split of the early Muzzleloader Season in Region B must count towards the archery bag limit. Deer harvested with archery equipment during the first-split either-sex early Muzzleloader or late Muzzleloader Season must count towards the Muzzleloader Season bag limit. Hunters must have a Muzzleloader Stamp to hunt deer with archery equipment during the first-split either-sex early Muzzleloader or late Muzzleloader Season. Deer harvested with archery equipment during the 2-week Firearms or 2-day late Firearms Season must count towards the firearms bag limit.

Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a naturally occurring disease of the brain and nervous system in deer, elk, and moose (cervids). CWD is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) and attacks the brain of cervids, producing small lesions that eventually result in death. DNR has tested over 7,000 random hunter-harvested deer for CWD since 2002, and detected the disease for the first time in Maryland from a sample taken from a deer in November 2010. The infected deer was harvested by a hunter in Allegany County within four miles of Hampshire County, West Virginia, where CWD has been present since at least 2005.

Concerns over CWD should not stop hunters from enjoying the hunting season or any venison they may acquire. CWD has not been shown to be transmissible to humans. However, it is recommended that hunters field-dressing or butchering deer should take the same precautions as they might to protect against other pathogens or diseases. The following common-sense precautionary measures are recommended for the safe handling, field-dressing and home processing of venison:

  • Avoid shooting or handling a deer that appears sick.
  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field-dressing or butchering deer.
  • Remove all internal organs.
  • Remove the meat from the bones and spinal column if home processing a deer.
  • Do not use household knives or utensils when field-dressing or home processing a deer.
  • Avoid cutting through bones or the spinal column (backbone).
  • Never eat a deer’s brain, eyeballs, spinal cord, spleen, or lymph nodes.
  • If you saw off antlers or through a bone, or if you sever the spinal column with a knife, be sure to disinfect these tools prior to using them for the butchering or removal of meat.
  • Remove all fat, membranes and connective tissue from the meat. Note that normal field-dressing and trimming of fat from meat will remove lymph nodes.
  • Always wash hands and instruments thoroughly after dressing and processing game meat.
  • Use a 50/50 solution of household chlorine bleach and water to disinfect tools and work surfaces. Wipe down counters and let them dry; soak knives for one hour.

CWD Management

Due to the detection of CWD in Allegany County, DNR has implemented a number of measures to prevent the unintentional spread of CWD to other locations in Maryland. The changes outlined below apply only to the CWD Management Area (CWDMA), which is that section of Allegany County with the Private Land Code number of 233, regardless of whether it was taken on private or public land (see the map on Private Land Codes (pdf)).

  1. Whole deer carcasses or deer parts cannot be transported out of the CWDMA, except for:
    1. Meat with no part of the spinal column, backbone, or head attached,
    2. Hind quarters and front shoulders with no spinal column or backbone attached,
    3. Cleaned hide with no head attached,
    4.  Skull plate cleaned of all meat and brain tissue,
    5. Antlers with no meat or soft tissue attached,
    6. Finished taxidermy mounts or tanned hides,
    7. Whole deer carcasses or parts being transported directly to meat processors, taxidermists, or lined landfills within Allegany County.

Dumpsters will be available at select locations to dispose of carcass parts before leaving the CWDMA. Please consult the DNR website (www.dnr.maryland.gov) or contact DNR at 301-842-2702 for a list of dumpster locations.

  1. Baiting and feeding of deer is prohibited in the CWDMA on both private and public land. Bait and feed include, but are not limited to, corn, other grains, fruits, vegetables, pelleted foods and mineral supplements and salt blocks that act as attractants to deer. Hunting over food plots or areas where normal agricultural activities have occurred is not considered baiting or feeding.
  2. Please also check the DNR website (www.dnr.maryland.gov) for updates on CWD surveillance and management in Maryland. Hunter assistance and cooperation is essential to the DNR’s efforts to monitor and manage CWD in Maryland.

Carcass Importation Ban

The primary objective in the management of CWD is to prevent its spread into new areas. One possible mode of disease transmission is by the movement and disposal of infected carcasses. In an effort to minimize the risk for disease spread, Maryland, along with many other states, has adopted regulations that prohibit the importation of whole carcasses and certain carcass parts of deer, moose and elk harvested from states that have CWD.

A person may bring only the following parts of a dead deer, elk, or moose into Maryland from another state or province’s designated CWD containment, surveillance, or management area: (1) meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; (2) hind quarters and front shoulders with no spinal column or backbone attached; (3) meat without backbone; (4) cleaned hide with no head attached; (5) skull plate cleaned of all meat and brain tissue; (6) antlers with no meat or soft tissue attached; (7) upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers, or ivories; and (8) finished taxidermy mount or tanned hides. The Department will maintain a list of CWD positive states/provinces and contact numbers to call to confirm the containment areas in those areas that are subject to these restrictions. The list is available on the DNR website (http://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Hunt_Trap/deer/disease/cwdinformation.asp) or by calling 410-260-8540.

Any person who imports or possesses a cervid carcass or part of a cervid that was tested for chronic wasting disease in another state or province and is notified that the cervid tested positive, must report the test results to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources within 24 hours of receiving such notification- by telephone at 301-842-0332; or by FAX 301-842-1026; or by email to beyler@dnr.state.md.us.

Travelers may pass through Maryland with cervid carcasses, provided that no parts are disposed of or remain in the state.

If you hunt deer, elk, moose or other cervids in other states and/or provinces, particularly those in which CWD has been detected, check with the respective fish and wildlife agencies regarding special regulations or specific advice for hunters. Also check with your home state fish and wildlife agency to ensure that animals lawfully killed elsewhere may be imported and possessed in your state. Additional information can be found at the CWD alliance website www.cwd-info.org and the Maryland DNR website www.dnr.maryland.gov.

Taking Deer Carcasses out of Maryland

Because Maryland is considered a CWD positive state, deer hunters must follow carcass importation regulations in other states when they transport a deer carcass out of Maryland (see www.cwd-info.org/index.php/fuseaction/policy.regulationsMap). The surrounding states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia each have specific regulations as to whether they will allow whole deer carcasses or only parts of carcasses to enter from Maryland. Likewise, the regulations for each of these states vary as to whether they apply to deer from anywhere in Maryland, or just to deer taken within the CWDMA. Hunters are strongly encouraged to check state regulations before transporting deer carcasses.

Proper Disposal of Game Carcasses

The Wildlife and Heritage Service reminds hunters that State and local ordinances limit how game carcasses and other animal remains may be disposed of. Most hunters dispose of game carcasses properly, but some resort to dumping carcasses, bones or hides by the side of the road or in a public spot.

State law prohibits the dumping of dead wildlife or remnants on roadways, rights-of-way or on private property without the landowner’s consent. Doing so is considered “littering.” If apprehended, an offender may be charged with a misdemeanor and face fines up to $12,500 and one year in jail.

In some counties and municipalities, a portion of the local landfill is designated to safely receive such animal byproducts. In other areas, game carcasses should be buried to a depth of at least two feet and thoroughly covered by earth or stone.

Anyone who witnesses illegal dumping of wildlife parts should note the time, date and place of the activity. If possible, get a physical description of the people involved and a vehicle license number. This information can be given to the Natural Resources Police via a toll-free call at 1-800-635-6124. All callers will remain anonymous and may receive a cash reward.

Western Maryland Hunters and Black Bears

Western Maryland (Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick counties) is home to a healthy black bear population. Accordingly, hunters may find themselves encountering black bears, especially in and around natural or artificial food sources, such as bait piles. Although black bears are generally shy animals and run when confronted by people, they may try to protect a food source. Black bears are wild animals that should be treated with respect. If approached by a bear while hunting, DNR recommends that you make your presence known to the bear. Make noise, remain upright, and don’t run.

For people wishing to carry a form of personal protection, DNR recommends the use of Bear Pepper Spray as a safe, legal, and effective bear deterrent. It has a long shelf-life, large volume, and is discharged in an expanding cloud that will reach its target up to 35 feet away. There are a variety of Bear Pepper Sprays on the market that can be purchased at local sporting goods stores or on the Internet. When purchasing Bear Pepper Spray, be sure that the product states that it is for use on bears and has been approved by EPA.

Maryland Trophy Deer Contest

The 2013 Maryland Trophy Deer Contest recognizes the “top” deer in each county taken during the 2011-2012 deer hunting seasons for the Maryland State Record Book. Highest scoring bucks (typical and nontypical) are recognized for white-tailed deer taken during each of the vertical bow, crossbow, muzzleloader, and firearms seasons. The Boone and Crockett method of scoring is used. Separate categories for sika deer and fallow deer are also available.

The 2013 contest will be held at the Southern Maryland Hunting and Outdoor Expo on August 23–25 2013. The Southern Maryland Expo is located at the Charles County Fairgrounds in LaPlata, Maryland. The Contest is cosponsored by the Maryland Bowhunters Society, the Maryland Chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association, and the DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service. For more information regarding the 2013 contest contact Mr. Walter “Tinker” Johnson at 301-349-2413, or DNR at 301-842-0332.

Donate Deer to Feed the Hungry!

Donate a whole deer and Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) pays the processing fee (as funding permits) OR Have a deer processed for yourself and donate a portion of the meat to FHFH. Visit www.fhfh.org or call 866-GET-FHFH to find participating meat processors.

FHFH is looking for local Coordinators to help increase venison donation and distribution to the hungry. Please call 866-GET-FHFH or email staff@fhfh.org for more information.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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