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Firearms Deer Hunting Regulations

Hunting Regulations Icon Maryland Hunting

  • A hunting license is required to hunt deer during the Firearms Season except those exempt from the license requirement. See Maryland Hunting Licenses for requirements, types, costs, exceptions, purchasing, and Armed Forces information.
  • To take a bonus antlered white-tailed deer, all deer hunters except those who may hunt without a license must purchase a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp (see White-tailed Deer Seasons & Bag Limits).
  • All firearms deer hunters must have and use a Maryland Big Game Harvest Record (see General Deer Hunting Rules).
  • All deer and turkeys taken by firearms hunters in Maryland must be field tagged immediately and checked in within 24 hours with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. See Deer and Turkey Tagging and Checking Requirements.
  • Shotguns, muzzleloading firearms, 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 Deer Management Regions and Firearms Deer Hunting Regulations)
  • Deer taken with breech-loading firearms, muzzleloaders, or archery equipment during the Firearms Season must count towards the Firearms Season bag limit.
  • All deer hunters are required to wear fluorescent orange during the Firearms Season dates, except landowners (only) hunting on their own property. See Fluorescent Orange Clothing Requirements and Exceptions.
  • 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 an occupied building or camp without permission of the owner or occupant. For archery hunters this distance is 100 yards in Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties and 50 yards in Calvert, Carroll, Frederick, and St. Mary’s counties. In Harford County, the distance for archery hunters is now 50 yards, however, archers must use a tree stand when hunting between 50 and 100 yards of an occupied dwelling or other building.
  • 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.

Regulations for Firearms

  • Deer may not be hunted with a firearm that is loaded with more than 8 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 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 morethan 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.
  • Air rifles that develop a muzzle energy of 1,200 foot pounds may be used for deer hunting.
  • See the map on Deer Management Regions for Maryland Shotgun and Rifle Counties/Areas.

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 with the exception that handguns may be used to hunt deer throughout Frederick County (see map on Deer Management Regions).
  • 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.