Maryland Muzzleloader Deer Hunting: Regulations, Dates, and Safety

2023-12-06 14:46:24

Maryland’s Muzzleloader Deer Hunting Resumes December 16

December 6, 2023

Photo by Ranger Elena Gilroy, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The second half of Maryland’s muzzleloader deer hunting season will reopen Dec. 16 and run through Dec. 30. This first half of the split season was held in October. Hunters may use muzzleloading firearms to harvest sika and white-tailed deer during this time.

“The late muzzleloader season is a vital part of the successful management of Maryland’s deer population,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Karina Stonesifer said. “It is a great time of year to get out into the woods and to introduce someone new to the traditions of hunting.”

DNR encourages hunters to consult the Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping for information on bag limits, registration procedures, and other regulations. Hunters are also reminded that an antler-point restriction remains in effect. Deer hunters may harvest one antlered white-tailed deer within the yearly bag limit that does not meet the requirement of having at least three points on one antler. Any additional antlered deer taken within the established bag limit must meet the minimum point restriction. Licensed junior hunters and apprentice license holders, 16 years of age or younger, are exempt from this restriction.

During muzzleloader season, Maryland requires deer hunters and their companions to wear daylight fluorescent orange or daylight fluorescent pink in one of the following manners: a cap of solid fluorescent daylight orange or pink, a vest or jacket containing back and front panels of at least 250 square inches of fluorescent daylight orange or pink, or an outer garment of camouflage daylight fluorescent orange or pink worn above the waist and containing at least 50 percent daylight fluorescent color.

More information on the muzzleloader season, along with season bag limits and other deer hunting regulations, are available in the 2023-2024 Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping.

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New for the 2023-24 hunting season, if hunters intend to pursue sika deer, they must purchase a sika hunting stamp in addition to the muzzleloader stamp. Sika stamps may be purchased online through COMPASSat a licensing agentor by calling DNR Licensing and Registration services at 866-344-8889. The sika deer muzzleloader season bag limit is three with no more than one being antlered. An antlered sika is defined as a deer with at least one antler visible above the hairline. The sika deer muzzleloader season is open in every county.

Hunters should carefully inspect all tree stands and always wear a full-body safety harness while in the stand and while climbing in or out. The department strongly recommends using a sliding knot, commonly known as a prusik knot, attached to a line that is secured above the stand that allows the hunter to be safely tethered to the tree as soon as they leave the ground.

Hunters are encouraged to help others by donating deer taken in Maryland. A state tax credit offers hunters an incentive for donated deer. Other local or state programs are also available so hunters should check with their deer processors.

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