Maryland Turkey Hunting
General Turkey Hunting Rules
- A hunter must carry personal photo identification (such as a driver’s license) or a secondary form of positive identification while hunting.
- Written permission is required to hunt on private land.
- A hunting license is required to hunt wild turkeys in Maryland (with exceptions). See Maryland Hunting Licenses for requirements, types, costs, exceptions, purchasing, and Armed Forces information.
- The use of a Maryland Big Game Harvest Record is required of all Maryland turkey and deer hunters. It is issued with the hunting license and is used to record the species, date, county, sex, hunting device, and Confirmation Number of every turkey and deer taken during a hunting license year. Those who may hunt turkeys without a license must obtain a free Big Game Harvest Record through the COMPASS portal at compass.dnr.maryland.gov/dnrcompassportal OR any DNR Licensing and Registration Service Center (Addresses & Phone Numbers) OR a DNR Sport License agent.
- Turkeys and deer taken in Maryland must be field tagged immediately and checked in within 24 hours with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. (See Deer & Turkey Tagging and Checking).
- It is illegal to hunt turkeys with the aid of bait or over any baited area. Feed or bait placed for deer or other wildlife may be considered baiting if turkeys are being hunted. An area is considered by law to be baited for 10 days after the removal of the bait. Salt and mineral supplements are no longer considered as a source of bait for turkeys.
- It is illegal to use recorded or electronically amplified calls, and use motorized or electronic turkey decoys.
- Fluorescent orange is not required for hunting turkeys. However, turkey hunters are encouraged to wear it as a precaution. Successful turkey hunters are also encouraged to put an orange ribbon on the turkey when carrying it out of the woods. See Hunting Safety Tips for a guide to courteous and safe turkey hunting.
Turkey Hunting Devices and Regulations
- Shotguns used for turkey hunting may not have a magazine and chamber capable of holding more than 3 shells total.
- In the Spring Season, Jr. Hunt Days, and Winter Season, hunters may only use shotguns (loaded with #4 shot or smaller), crossbows, or vertical bows.
- In the Fall Season, turkey hunters may only use rifles (including air rifles), handguns, shotguns (loaded with #4 shot or smaller or a solid, single projectile), crossbows, or vertical bows.
Other Hunting Device Regulations
- It is illegal 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 have a loaded crossbow in, on or leaning against a vehicle.
- A cocked crossbow without a bolt or arrow in the firing position is considered to be unloaded.
- It is against the law 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.
Turkey Seasons, Regulations, Bag Limits, & Locations
Junior Turkey Hunting Days 2017
- April 15, statewide
- Sunday, April 16 in certain counties, see chart.
The Junior Turkey Hunting Days are for hunters age 16 or younger only. To hunt during these days:
- Junior hunters must have completed a Hunter Education Course and received a Certificate of Competency in Firearms and Hunting Safety. (See Maryland Hunting Licenses)
- Junior hunters must have a Hunting License or be exempt from the license requirement. (See Maryland Hunting Licenses).
- Junior turkey hunters must be accompanied in the field by an individual who:
- is 21 years old or older;
- possesses a valid Maryland hunting license, or is exempt from hunting license requirements; and
- is unarmed.
- Only bearded turkeys may be harvested in the Junior Turkey Hunting Days and Spring Season.
- Turkeys taken by junior hunters during these days count towards the entire Spring Season bag limit.
- The Junior Turkey Hunting Days bag limit is one (1) bearded turkey per day.
- Daily shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to sunset for Junior Turkey Hunting Days.
- Only shotguns (loaded with #4 shot or smaller), crossbows, or vertical bows may be used for the Junior Turkey Hunting Days.
- Dogs and organized drives may not be used.
Spring Turkey Season 2017
Statewide Season Dates:
- April 18-May 23
Includes Sundays in certain counties, see chart.
- Only bearded turkeys may be harvested in the Spring Season.
- The Spring Season bag limit is one (1) bearded turkey per day and two (2) bearded turkeys for the season.
- Spring Turkey Season daily shooting hours for April 18 through May 9 are one-half hour before sunrise to noon.
- Spring Turkey Season daily shooting hours for May 10 through May 23 are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
- Hunters may only use shotguns (loaded with #4 shot or smaller), crossbows, or vertical bows in the Spring Season.
- Dogs and organized drives may not be used.
Fall Turkey Season 2016
Fall turkey hunting is only permitted in Allegany, Garrett, and Washington counties.
- Oct. 29-Nov. 5
Includes a Sunday, see chart.
- The combined bag limit for the 2016 Fall and 2017 Winter Seasons is one (1) turkey of either sex.
- Fall Turkey Season daily shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset.
- Fall turkey hunters may only use rifles (including air rifles), handguns, shotguns (loaded with #4 shot or smaller or a solid, single projectile), crossbows, or vertical bows.
- It is illegal to hunt turkeys with the aid of bait or to place bait for turkeys during any turkey season. However, during the fall season, it is not considered to be hunting with the aid of bait if a hunter and any turkey that a hunter shoots at are at least 150 yards from any bait legally placed for other species (e.g. corn placed to attract deer).
- Be aware: Fall turkey hunters are encouraged to wear fluorescent orange clothing especially when other hunting seasons are open at the same time.
Winter Turkey Season 2017
Statewide Season Dates:
- Jan. 19-21
- The combined bag limit for the 2017 Winter and 2016 Fall Seasons is one (1) turkey of either sex.
- Winter Turkey Season daily shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset.
- Hunters may only use shotguns (loaded with #4 shot or smaller), crossbows, or vertical bows in the Winter Season.
SUNDAY TURKEY HUNTING 2016-2017
Sunday hunting is permitted on April 16 (Junior Hunt Day) and all Sundays during any open turkey season in the following counties:
Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Charles, St. Mary’s
Private Lands only
Private and public lands
Allegany, Garrett, Washington
Private and designated public lands*
* Designated public lands open to Sunday hunting in Allegany, Garrett, and Washington counties are only: Billmeyer-Belle Grove WMA, Cunningham Swamp WMA, Dan’s Mountain WMA, Garrett SF, Green Ridge SF, Indian Springs WMA, Mount Nebo WMA, Potomac SF, Prather’s Neck WMA, Savage River SF, Sideling Hill WMA, and Warrior Mountain WMA.