Hunting Regulations and Requirements
- A hunter must carry personal photo identification (such as a driver’s license) or a secondary form of positive identification while hunting.
- A hunting license holder is required to have a printed paper copy or electronic copy of their hunting license in their possession while hunting.
- It is unlawful to hunt any game bird or mammal while under the influence of alcohol or any narcotic drug.
- It is unlawful to hunt any animal other than deer on the first day of Deer Firearms Season except coyotes.
- It is a violation of law to cast the rays of an artificial light from a vehicle on dwellings or buildings, fields, livestock, orchards, wild mammals and birds, or woods. However, in Baltimore City, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, a person may cast the rays of an artificial light from a vehicle for the sole purpose of observing or photographing wildlife until 9 p.m. A person may not have a hunting device in their possession while casting rays of an artificial light. Note: coyotes, foxes, opossums or raccoons may be hunted on foot at nighttime during open season with the use of a dog and light.
- Safety Zones: It is illegal to hunt, shoot or trap 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 Allegany, Calvert, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Montgomery, St. Mary’s, and Washington 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 and Washington counties, archers must be in an elevated position when hunting between 50 and 100 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings.
- A person may not shoot at any wild bird or mammal while it is within the safety zone.
- 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.
- It is unlawful to tamper with and remove the catch from any legally set trap.
Hunting on Private Property
Written permission is required from the property owner to hunt or trap on private property in all counties.
Any person hunting on private property shall be liable for any damage caused by that person to private property while hunting. The landowner may not be liable for accidental injury or damage to the hunter, whether or not the landowner or the landowner’s agent or lessee has given permission to hunt. For additional information regarding landowner liability read Bulletin EB357 (Landowner Liability and Recreational Access) at the University of Maryland Extension’s website (https://extension.umd.edu/resource/landowner-liability-and-recreational-access-eb-357).
Controlling Hunter Use of Private Property
Posting property boundaries in a conspicuous manner makes it illegal to trespass or for any person to enter without the landowner’s permission. Maryland law allows the use of blue paint stripes and/or signs to indicate private property boundaries. Vertical paint marks at least 2 inches in width and 8 inches in length must be centered at least 3 feet, but no more than 6 feet, from the ground or water surface. The paint must be oil-based and bright blue.
- A person who possesses a Falconry Permit may hunt specified game birds and mammals on Sundays during the open season (Migratory Game Bird Seasons & Limits).
- An unarmed person participating in an organized fox chase may chase foxes on Sundays.
- Persons hunting on Regulated Shooting Areas may shoot captive raised game birds (except free-flying captive-raised waterfowl) on Sundays.
- Persons may hunt deer, turkeys, small game and furbearers on certain Sundays in certain areas.
State Owned Lands
- It is illegal to target shoot on state lands except in designated areas.
- It is a violation of law to construct or use permanent blinds or tree stands on state-owned or controlled properties, unless provided by the Department of Natural Resources. Tree stands and blinds are limited to those of a temporary nature which must be removed at the end of each day.
- It is unlawful to trap on state lands without written permission from the controlling agency.
- It is illegal to place bait for hunting on state lands.
Fluorescent Color Clothing Requirements and Exceptions
Daylight fluorescent orange or daylight fluorescent pink clothing promotes hunter safety because it is easy for other hunters to see outdoors. Except as noted in the exemptions below, a daylight fluorescent color outer garment or hat must be worn by all people who hunt any wildlife or accompany, aid or assist a hunter in a field, marsh, wooded area or on the water. Even those who are exempt from this requirement are encouraged to wear fluorescent color clothing when hunting.
Whenever hunting, both hunters and companions must wear either:
- a cap of solid daylight fluorescent orange or daylight fluorescent pink color worn as an outer garment on the head at all times;
- a vest or jacket containing back and front panels of at least 250 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink color worn as an outer garment at all times; or
- an outer garment of camouflage daylight fluorescent orange or daylight fluorescent pink worn above the waist which contains at least 50 percent daylight fluorescent color.
Persons required to wear fluorescent color clothing that hunt from a ground blind that has four sides, a top and is placed 4 feet or less above the ground must display, on or within 25 feet of the blind, a cap of solid daylight fluorescent orange or daylight fluorescent pink color or a panel, band, strip, or garment containing at least 250 square inches (approximately 16 inches by 16 inches) of solid daylight fluorescent orange or daylight fluorescent pink color.
Be aware that:
- Property owners and their spouses and children (while hunting on the property owned) are required to wear fluorescent color clothing.
- Those who hunt with archery equipment during the Junior Deer Hunt Days, Deer Firearms Season, Deer Muzzleloader Season and Primitive Deer Hunt Days are required to wear fluorescent color clothing.
- Deer archery hunters hunting in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties during the open black bear season are required to wear fluorescent color clothing.
Those exempt from the requirement of wearing fluorescent color clothing are:
- except as noted above, a person who hunts deer during the Deer Archery Season.
- a person authorized by a Falconry Permit who hunts game birds or mammals using falcons, hawks or owls.
- a person who hunts or accompanies, aids or assists another person hunting the following species: brant, coot, crow, dove, ducks, furbearing mammals, geese, rails, snipe, wild turkey.
Trespassing on posted property is a serious crime and punishable under Md. Criminal Law §6-402. A first offense is punishable by imprisonment of up to 90-days or a fine not exceeding $500, or both.
This includes all private land adjacent to public hunting areas.
Hunting Safety Tips
Tree stand accidents are the leading cause of hunter injuries in Maryland. Most tree stand accidents occur in the transition between a climbing device and the tree stand.
- Always practice and understand the manufacturer’s recommendations for use of any climbing equipment or tree stand.
- Keep all tree stands, and climbing equipment in good repair.
- Practice with stands, harness, and climbing equipment at ground level first.
- Use only full-body safety harness/fall restraint systems and a lifeline when climbing a tree or in a tree stand.
- Only climb healthy trees. Even live branches may give way under your weight.
- Use three points of contact with the tree or climbing device for a secure hold.
- Climb higher than your stand and step down onto it.
- Wear boots with non-skid soles to prevent slips.
- Use a haul line to get hunting equipment into and out of your stand. Guns should be unloaded and broad heads covered.
- Don’t fall asleep in your stand.
- Tell others where you will hunt and when you will return.
Firearms Safety Tips
- Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
- Never point a gun at anything you don’t want to shoot.
- Always control the muzzle direction in case of a fall.
- Keep the barrel and action clear of obstructions. Carry only the proper ammunition for your firearm.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
- Unload guns and open the action when not in use.
- Never climb or jump with a loaded gun.
- Never pull the gun toward you by the muzzle.
- Never shoot a bullet at flat, hard surfaces or water.
- Store guns and ammunition safely and securely.
- Never use alcoholic beverages or medications before or during the use of a firearm.
Archery Safety Tips
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it before you shoot.
- Keep broadheads covered and only knock an arrow or load a bolt when you are ready to shoot.
- Never run, climb or jump with knocked arrow or a bolt loaded in a crossbow.
- Keep hands away from drawn crossbow strings and cables.
- Practice frequently with your hunting arrows and bolts to know your accuracy and distance limitations.
- Always use manufacturer recommended arrow or bolt weights.
Turkey Hunting Safety Tips
- Follow all firearms hunting safety recommendations.
- Call out in a loud, clear voice to announce your presence to other approaching hunters.
- Don’t wear red, white, blue or black colors that may be mistaken for the colors of a wild turkey gobbler.
- Cover harvested turkeys and decoys when carrying them.
- Stalking turkey sounds may put you and the hunter making them in danger.
- Protect your back from other hunters approaching from behind.