All About Hunting In Maryland

If you are planning for an exciting waterfowl hunting trip in the United States, your adventurous spirit won’t be quenched without a visit to the state of Maryland.

Known as the Goose Hunting Capital of the world, the eastern shore of Maryland is home to 25 different species of waterfowl including duck, dove, goose, wild turkey, quail, woodcock and many more.

Much to the advantage of hunters, the land also doesn’t disappoint those who love to hunt large game animals as a wide diversity of wildlife are found here, from black bear to white-tailed deer.

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1. What Species To Hunt

1.1 Duck

Duck is the most hunted species of Maryland with 117,900 ducks harvested state-wide and 88,000 hunters participating annually.

The famous Chesapeake Bay is the hotspot for scooters, long-tailed ducks as well as canvasbacks, scaup, ringnecks and green-winged teal. Every year around 29,000 waterfowl licenses are sold annually in Maryland which proves its popularity amongst hunters.

During 2019-20 season, more than 33,000 and 8,000 mallards and wood ducks are shot respectively. Mallards and black ducks can be found ponds, rivers, larger bays and also in many WMAs.

So, if you are considering coming to Maryland for exciting waterfowl hunting sports, don’t reconsider your thought.

1.2 Canada Goose

Canada Geese, both the native species and migratory ones, are commonly found in the Eastern Shore of Maryland including Kent, Queen Anne’s and Dorchester counties.

Hunters are thrilled every year to have 150 acres of public land along with decoys, boats, open fields, river sites and much more providing excellent hunting opportunities for Canada geese.

1.3 Snow Goose

There are two types of snow geese found in Maryland – greater snows along the Atlantic Coast and lesser snows in other parts of the land.

The population of snow geese is exponentially increasing each year by 5% in Maryland. Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge expanded over 25,000 acres and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge are the two major areas for snow geese hunting.

1.4 Whitetail Deer

The native species to North America, Whitetail deer is the most popular hunting animal of all. The mountainous areas of Western Maryland and also some parts of the coastal areas are the most sought-after destinations for deer hunting.

Green Ridge Forest, Dan’s Mountain Wildlife Management Area and Indian Springs WMA are one of the most visited places for deer hunting.

1.5 Sika Deer

Unlike Whitetails, the origin of Sika deer is in Asia. It sprang into population after its first appearance in the Chesapeake Bay area when a local released five of them.

Hunters having an adult, senior or junior hunting license can hunt both types of deer in Maryland with special restrictions in Allegany, Garrett and Western Washington counties.

1.6 Mourning Dove

Among many types of migratory birds, mourning doves can be hunted all over Maryland. They are heavily populated over the planted sunflower fields of the Delmarva Peninsula.    

1.7 Small Game Species

Maryland’s small game species include cottontail rabbit, squirrel, fox, hare, grouse, quail, pheasant and crow. However, hunting of the Delmarva fox squirrel and snowshoe hare is illegal in Maryland.    

1.8 Black Bear

The numbers of black bear population are going up by each year in Maryland. The largest animal of the state offers several opportunities to hunters, especially in Garrett and Allegany counties.

2. Seasons

Hunting season refers to that time of the year when killing, seeking or pursuing a certain species of wildlife for sport or food is legal without any restriction.

In the United States, each state ascertains its own specific dates to hunt a certain sport animal considering the complete understanding of its breeding and incubation period, ideal distribution of age and gender and also the economic concerns of the state.

In Maryland, hunting game proves to be excessively profitable to the state leaving a $401 million worth of economic activity in the state.

  • There are two regions for deer hunting in Maryland – Region A and Region B. Open season for region A and region B starts from September to February including hunting of whitetail antlered and antlerless, sika deer.
  • Black duck season lasts from November to December. Hunters can take 6 ducks including not more than 2 mallards.
  • Resident Canada Goose season opens in the month of September.
  • Migratory Canada Goose season starts from December to January. Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil are one of those counties for geese hunting.
  • Mourning dove season lasts from September to December.
  • Black bear hunting season opens in the month of October.

3. Where Can You Hunt

3.1 Wildlife Management Areas

The WMA system of Maryland comprises 61 Wildlife Management Areas ranging over 123,000 acres of land in 18 counties of Maryland. It aims to conserve diverse wildlife populations and emphasize on their development in terms of habitat, food and other needs. Some of the most visited WMAs in Maryland are

  • Hugg-Thomas Wildlife Management Area
  • Dans Mountain Wildlife Management Area
  • Deal Island State Wildlife Management Area
  • Earlville Wildlife Management Area
  • Johnson Wildlife Management Area       

3.2 Maryland National Capital Park And Planning Commission

With a valid hunting license and an open season in hand, one can thrive for exciting hunting adventures in selected parks of Maryland. The following parks are available for public hunting

  • Aquasco Farm CWMA
  • Gardner Road Park
  • Patuxent River Park

3.3 State Forests

This include several Natural Environment Areas and Natural Resources Management Areas and many federal, state and local properties where hunting is legal. Hunters enjoy a lot liberty here from hunting with dogs, target shooting though with some restrictions.

Top 5 Maryland Public Hunting Areas

3.4 Private Land

Private land hunting is also available in Maryland with a written permission from the owner or occupant. Hunters are liable for any damage caused by him or her to the property though the owner is not responsible for any harm to the hunter caused in his or her land.

4. License And Stamp Requirements

There are several types of hunting license available in Maryland for hunters such as Apprentice Hunting License, Resident Hunting License, Non-resident Hunting License and various stamps for hunting.

Hunters must represent a certificate of competency in firearms and hunter safety to acquire a junior license. You need to show a proof that you held a hunting license before 1977 if you want to purchase a license.

Resident and Non-resident Apprentice Hunting License can be availed by a person of any age if he or she is purchasing it for the first time. In order to acquire that, one needs to finish a short hunter safety course successfully.

For non-residents, Senior Hunting License may be purchased for those of the age of 65 or above. There is a 3-day Short Term Non-resident Waterfowl and Small Game License which allows to hunt all game species except deer, bear and turkey for 3 consecutive days.

Hunters wit mobility impairments may hunt from a vehicle using Universal Disability Pass. A former prisoner of war or a 100% service connected disabled American veteran can purchase a complimentary lifetime hunting license.

All Maryland residents serving in the United States Armed Forces must obtain a Resident Hunting License. Non-residents serving in the United States Armed Forces or stationed at Maryland are applicable for a Non-resident Hunting License.

Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp is required by all hunters for hunting migratory game birds including coots, doves, rails snipe, waterfowl and woodcock. Apart from these, there are Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, Archery Stamp, Muzzleloader Stamp and many more.       

5. Hunter Education

Aspiring hunters must register either for classroom courses or internet courses.

5.1 Do You Need It

In Maryland, all first-time hunters are required to complete a hunter education course. This law came into effect from 1977.

5.2 Classroom Courses

Hunters are educated in a traditional way with a live demonstration by the course instructor in this form of class. There is also a Maryland Specialty Hunter Education Course which covers bow hunting, muzzleloading and trapping.     

5.3 Internet Courses

In order to take the internet-based course, one must be of the age of 10 years. It usually 12 to 14 hours to complete.

After the completion of the course, a student must pass a 50-question multiple choice test with a score of 80 percent and is required to convince the instructor by a live demonstration of firearm handling with safety.      

Students below the age of 14 must be accompanied by a parent or participating adult.     

6. Rules And Regulations

6.1 Distance

Maryland hunters must maintain a distance of 100 yards for archery season in Anne Arundel County. Though in Calvert, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Montgomery, St. Mary’s and Washington counties, the maximum distance requirement is 50 yards.

While hunting between 50 and 100 yards of a building or camp, hunters must be on an elevated position.

6.2 Required Documents

Hunters must carry personal photo identification such as driving license or a secondary form of positive identification in order to legally hunt. You are also required to have a printed paper copy or electronic copy of your hunting license while hunting.       

6.3 Can You Hunt On Sundays

You may hunt deer, turkeys, small game species and other animals on Sundays in specific areas. A person with possession of a falconry permit is allowed to hunt certain game animals and birds during the open season on Sundays.

Hunting on Sundays is also legal for persons hunting on regulated shooting areas and participating in an organized fox chase being unarmed.    

6.4 Fluorescent Color Clothing Requirement

Hunters, those who accompany or assist them must wear a cap and a vest or jacket containing back and front panels of at least 250 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange or pink color as an outer garment.

It is mandatory to wear for property owners and their spouses, children, hunters with archery equipment and also for black bear open season in some counties.  

6.5 Can You Hunt At Night

It is considered legal to hunt coyotes, foxes, opossums, raccoons on foot at night during open season with dog and light.

Maryland Tree Stand Safety

7. Prohibited Practices

  • Hunters are not allowed to hunt, shoot or even trap any animal within 150 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings without permission.
  • Hunters cannot damage or harm anything or anybody on a private property and if done, must take the responsibility of it.
  • It is illegal to consume alcohol or any other narcotic drug while hunting any game bird or animal.
  • On the first day of Deer Firearms season, one can only hunt deer legally and also take down ducks in the Sea Duck zone.
  • The use of any artificial light from a vehicle on houses, buildings, fields, animals, birds, woods or livestock is prohibited. Though in Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, this act is allowed to observe or photograph wildlife until 9 p.m.    
  • It is unlawful to hunt on private property without a written permission from the owner or occupant.
  • Shooting on state lands except in designated areas is illegal.
  • Baiting is prohibited on state lands in Maryland.
  • Hunters are also not allowed to possess any hunting device without permission in state parks and state forests


Maryland may be small in size but its hunting opportunities are grand in nature. The abundance of wildlife, natural resources, public land and well-equipped officials force hunters to revisit the land again and again.

For further information, you may also the visit the online website of Maryland Department of Natural Resources:


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