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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, bow deer hunters must purchase a Bow Stamp and muzzleloader deer hunters must purchase a Muzzleloader Stamp. Bow deer hunters must purchase a Muzzleloader Stamp in order to hunt deer with a bow during muzzleloader season. Hunters entitled to hunt without a license do not need to purchase Bow, Muzzleloader, or Bonus Antlered Deer Stamps. Hunters with a Senior Lifetime Consolidated License do not need to purchase Bow 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 (see Tagging and Checking).

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 (bow, 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 bow 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.

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 Firearms, Bow & Falconry 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

See the complete instructions for deer and turkey tagging and 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 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 seasons 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 Region map. 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. See white-tailed and sika deer seasons and bag limits for each Deer Management Region.

Deer Harvested With a Bow During Muzzleloader or Firearms Season

Deer harvested with a bow during the antlerless-only second split of the early Muzzleloader Season in Region B must count towards the bow bag limit. Deer harvested with a bow 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 a bow during the first-split either-sex early Muzzleloader or late Muzzleloader Season. Deer harvested with a bow 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 map).

  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.

  2. 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.
  3. 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.

 

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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