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Deer Regulations for Archery, Muzzleloader, Firearms & Airguns

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Archery Deer Hunting Regulations

  • A hunting license is required to hunt deer during the Archery Season (with exceptions). See Hunting Licenses and Prices for Armed Forces information and hunting license costs, exceptions, purchasing, requirements and types.
  • An Archery Stamp is required to hunt deer during the Archery Season except that:
    • Hunters entitled to hunt without a license do not need to purchase an Archery Stamp; and
    • Hunters with a Senior Lifetime Consolidated License do not need to purchase an Archery Stamp.

Resident Archery Stamp $6

Nonresident Archery Stamp $25

(See Purchasing Your Hunting Licenses, Stamps and Permits on Hunting Licenses.)

  • Persons who hunt with archery equipment during the Muzzleloader Season must purchase a Muzzleloader Stamp (see Muzzleloader Deer Hunting Regulations) except that:
    • Hunters entitled to hunt without a license do not need to purchase an Archery Stamp; and
    • Hunters with a Senior Lifetime Consolidated License do not need to purchase an Archery Stamp.
  • To take a bonus antlered white-tailed deer, all deer hunters except those who may hunt without a license or those that possess an Apprentice Hunting License, must purchase a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp (see Antlered White-tailed Deer).
  • Deer harvested must be field tagged before moving from the place of kill unless a confirmation number is obtained electronically at the place of kill. They must also be field tagged when giving, putting or leaving the carcass with another individual, or anytime the carcass is left unattended. Deer must be checked in within 24 hours of recovery with the Department of Natural Resources to obtain a confirmation number. Confirmation numbers must be recorded on a Big Game Harvest Record. Hunters may use the Big Game Harvest Record provided with their license, create their own or store it electronically on their mobile device. See Deer and Turkey Tagging and Checking for further instructions.
  • Archery equipment may be used to hunt deer during all of the deer hunting seasons. This includes the Archery Season, Muzzleloader Season, Firearms Season and Junior Deer Hunt Days.
  • Deer taken with archery equipment must count towards the bag limit of the season in which they are taken, please note:
    • Deer harvested with archery equipment during the antlerless-only second split of the early Muzzleloader Season in Region B count towards the Archery Season bag limit.
  • It is illegal to shoot on, from or across any public road.
  • It is illegal to hunt or shoot at wildlife within 150 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings without permission of the owner or occupant. For archery hunters this distance is 100 yards in Anne Arundel County and 50 yards in Carroll, Calvert, Frederick, Harford, Montgomery and St. Mary’s counties. In Harford, archers must use a tree stand when hunting between 50 and 100 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings. In Montgomery, archers must be in an elevated position when hunting between 50 and 100 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings.
  • Archery hunters are not required to wear fluorescent color clothing (hunting regulations) within the regular Archery Season dates. Archery hunters are required to wear fluorescent color clothing when hunting during the:
    • Deer Muzzleloader Season (including the Region B antlerless white-tailed Muzzleloader Season when it overlaps the Archery Season);
    • Deer Firearms Season;
    • Junior Deer Hunt Days; and
    • Black Bear Season in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties.
  • Firearms or airguns may not be carried while hunting deer during the Archery Season with the following exception. In Deer Management Region A, persons 21 years old or older may carry a handgun for personal protection against bear while hunting deer during the Archery Season.
  • The handgun:
    • May not be used for hunting any game species while the person is archery hunting for deer;
    • May not have a barrel length of more than six inches;
    • May not have a telescopic sight or electronic aiming device attached; and
    • May not be used to kill wildlife wounded by a vertical bow or crossbow.

Vertical Bow Regulations

  • The vertical bow shall have a full draw and pull of 30 pounds or more for deer hunting.
  • Draw locking devices are legal on all vertical bows for deer hunting.
  • Vertical bow release aids are permitted.

Crossbow Regulations

  • A crossbow used for deer hunting shall have a draw of 75 pounds or more.
  • All crossbows should have a working safety.
  • It is unlawful to have a loaded crossbow in, on or leaning against any vehicle.
  • A cocked crossbow without a bolt or arrow in the firing position is considered to be unloaded.

Regulations for Both Vertical Bows and Crossbows

  • Arrows or bolts used for deer hunting must have a sharpened broadhead with metal points and a minimum width of 7⁄8 of an inch.
  • The use of poisoned or explosive tipped arrows or bolts is not permitted.

Muzzleloader Deer Hunting Regulations

  • A hunting license is required to hunt deer during the Muzzleloader Season (with exceptions). See Hunting Licenses and Prices on Hunting Licenses for Armed Forces information and hunting license costs, exceptions, purchasing, requirements and types.
  • A Muzzleloader Stamp is required to hunt deer during the Muzzleloader Season except that:
    • Hunters entitled to hunt without a license do not need to purchase an Muzzleloader Stamp; and
    • Hunters with a Senior Lifetime Consolidated License do not need to purchase an Muzzleloader Stamp.

Resident Muzzleloader Stamp $6

Nonresident Muzzleloader Stamp $25

(See Purchasing Your Hunting Licenses, Stamps and Permits,)

  • To take a bonus antlered white-tailed deer, all deer hunters except those who may hunt without a license or possess an Apprentice Hunting License, must purchase a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp.
  • Deer harvested must be field tagged before moving from the place of kill unless a confirmation number is obtained electronically at the place of kill. They must also be field tagged when giving, putting or leaving the carcass with another individual, or anytime the carcass is left unattended. Deer must be checked in within 24 hours of recovery with the Department of Natural Resources to obtain a confirmation number. Confirmation numbers must be recorded on a Big Game Harvest Record. Hunters may use the Big Game Harvest Record provided with their license, create their own or store it electronically on their mobile device. See Deer and Turkey Tagging and Checking for further instructions.
  • Muzzleloading firearms may only be used to hunt deer during the Muzzleloader Season, Firearms Season and Junior Deer Hunt Days.
  • Deer taken with a muzzleloader must count towards the bag limit of the season in which they are taken. Deer taken with a muzzleloader during the Firearms Season must count towards the Firearms Season bag limit.
  • All deer hunters are required to wear daylight fluorescent color clothing during all Muzzleloader Season and Firearms Season dates.
  • It is illegal to shoot on, from or across any public road.
  • It is illegal to hunt or shoot at wildlife within 150 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings without permission of the owner or occupant. For archery hunters this distance is 100 yards in Anne Arundel County and 50 yards in Carroll, Calvert, Frederick, Harford, Montgomery and St. Mary’s counties. In Harford, archers must use a tree stand when hunting between 50 and 100 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings. In Montgomery, archers must be in an elevated position when hunting between 50 and 100 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings.
  • It is unlawful to discharge a firearm within 300 yards of a public or nonpublic school while hunting. This prohibition only applies during school hours or when the building is occupied. This safety zone does not apply to colleges, universities or home schools.

Muzzleloader Regulations

  • Deer may be hunted with a muzzleloading rifle, muzzleloading shotgun or muzzleloading handgun (both single shot and revolvers) in all Maryland counties.
  • To be considered a muzzleloader, a rifle, shotgun or handgun must be loaded from the muzzle and a revolver must be loaded from the front of the cylinder.
  • Flintlock, percussion cap and inline ignition muzzleloaders are legal hunting devices for deer.
  • Muzzleloading rifles or shotguns used for deer hunting must be at least .40 caliber in size and must use 60 grains of black powder or more (a black powder equivalent is acceptable) and propel one all lead, lead alloy or copper soft-nosed or expanding bullet or ball at a single discharge.
  • Muzzleloading handguns used for deer hunting must be at least .40 caliber with a barrel length of at least 6 inches and must use 40 grains of black powder or more (a black powder equivalent is acceptable) and propel one all-lead, lead alloy or copper soft-nosed or expanding bullet or ball at a single discharge.
  • Sabot loads are legal for use in muzzleloaders used for deer hunting.
  • Muzzleloaders are considered unloaded if the ignition system is disabled by removal of the cap, primer, battery or primer powder.
  • It is unlawful to have a loaded firearm in, on or leaning against any vehicle. This includes a muzzleloader ready to fire.

Firearms and Air Guns Deer Hunting Regulations

  • A hunting license is required to hunt deer during the Firearms Season (with exceptions). See Hunting Licenses and Prices for Armed Forces information and hunting license costs, exceptions, purchasing, requirements and types.
  • To take a bonus antlered white-tailed deer, all deer hunters except those who may hunt without a license or possess an Apprentice Hunting License, must purchase a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp (see Deer and Turkey Tagging and Checking Requirements).
  • Deer harvested must be field tagged before moving from the place of kill unless a confirmation number is obtained electronically at the place of kill. They must also be field tagged when giving, putting or leaving the carcass with another individual, or anytime the carcass is left unattended. Deer must be checked in within 24 hours of recovery with the Department of Natural Resources to obtain a confirmation number. Confirmation numbers must be recorded on a Big Game Harvest Record. Hunters may use the Big Game Harvest Record provided with their license, create their own or store it electronically on their mobile device. See Deer and Turkey Tagging and Checking for further instructions (Deer and Turkey Tagging and Checking Requirements).
  • Shotguns, muzzleloading firearms, air guns and archery equipment may be used to hunt deer in all counties during the Firearms Season and Junior Hunt Days.
  • Breech loading rifles and modern handguns may only be used to hunt deer during the Firearms Season and Junior Hunt Days in some counties (see map on General Deer Regulations).
  • Deer taken with breech loading firearms, muzzleloaders, air guns or archery equipment during the Firearms Season must count towards the Firearms Season bag limit.
  • All deer hunters are required to wear daylight fluorescent color clothing (Hunting Regulations) during the Firearms Season dates.
  • It is illegal to hunt any animal other than deer on the first day of Deer Firearms Season except sea ducks in the Sea Duck Zone.
  • It is illegal to shoot on, from or across any public road.
  • It is illegal to hunt or shoot at wildlife within 150 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings without permission of the owner or occupant. For archery hunters this distance is 100 yards in Anne Arundel County and 50 yards in Carroll, Calvert, Frederick, Harford, Montgomery and St. Mary’s counties. In Harford, archers must use a tree stand when hunting between 50 and 100 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings. In Montgomery, archers must be in an elevated position when hunting between 50 and 100 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings.
  • It is unlawful to discharge a firearm within 300 yards of a public or nonpublic school while hunting. This prohibition only applies during school hours or when the building is occupied. This safety zone does not apply to colleges, universities or home schools.

Air Gun Regulations

  • An air gun is defined as any gun that propels a projectile by means of non-ignited compressed air or other gas. Projectiles include bullets, arrows or bolts.
  • Certain air guns may be used to hunt deer in all counties during the deer Firearms Season only.
  • To be legal for deer hunting an air gun must:
    • Shoot one .40 caliber or larger bullet or ball at a single discharge which generates at least 400 foot pounds of muzzle energy; or
    • Shoot an arrow or bolt at least 18” in length with a minimum speed of 300 feet per second at release with a sharpened broadhead with metal points and a minimum width of 7/8 inch.
  • The use of poisoned or explosive tipped arrows or bolts is not permitted.
  • It is unlawful to have a loaded air gun in, on or leaning against a vehicle.
  • An air gun with the projectile removed is considered to be unloaded.

Regulations for Firearms

  • Deer may not be hunted with a firearm that is loaded with more than eight cartridges or shells. Magazines do not have to be physically blocked.
  • Except in Dorchester County where #1 buckshot or larger may be used, firearms used for deer hunting may only shoot one all lead, lead alloy or copper soft nosed or expanding bullet or ball. Sabots are permitted. Non-expanding full metal jacketed, incendiary and tracer bullets are not permitted.
  • It is unlawful to have a loaded firearm in, on or leaning against any vehicle. This includes ammunition in the magazine or a muzzleloader ready to fire.
  • It is unlawful to hunt with an automatic firearm capable of firing a series of shots with one continuous pull of the trigger.
  • Firearms or air guns may not be carried while hunting deer during the Archery Season with the following exception. In Deer Management Region A, persons 21 years old or older may carry a handgun for personal protection against bear while hunting deer during the Archery Season. The handgun:
    • May not be used for hunting any game species while the person is archery hunting for deer;
    • May not have a barrel length of more than six inches;
    • May not have a telescopic sight or electronic aiming device attached; and
    • May not be used to kill wildlife wounded by a vertical bow or crossbow.

Rifle Regulations

  • The rifles referred to here are loaded from the breech of the barrel and use cartridges.
  • Rifles used for deer hunting must use ammunition developing a muzzle energy of at least 1,200 foot pounds. Consult ammunition guides for ballistics information.
  • Breech-loading rifles may only be used to hunt deer during the Firearms Season and Junior Deer Hunt Days in certain counties (see map on General Deer Regulations).

Shotgun Regulations

  • The shotguns referred to here are loaded from the breech of the barrel and use shells.
  • Shotguns used for deer hunting must be 28 gauge or larger.
  • Shotgun ammunition used for deer hunting must shoot a single solid projectile except in Dorchester County, where #1 buckshot or larger may be used.

Handgun Regulations

  • The handguns referred to here are loaded from the breech of the barrel or rear of the cylinder and use cartridges.
  • Handguns may be used to hunt deer only in those counties where the use of a breech loading rifle for deer hunting is permitted (see map on General Deer Regulations) with the exception that handguns may be used to hunt deer throughout Frederick County.
  • Handguns used for deer hunting must have a barrel length of 6 inches or more and use ammunition which produces a muzzle energy of 700 foot pounds or more. Consult ammunition guides for ballistics information.