The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced today that the winter portion of the firearm deer hunting season opens Jan. 5 in Deer Management Region B, which includes all the state but its westernmost counties. Hunters with a valid hunting license may use firearms to harvest sika and white-tailed deer during this season.
The season is open Jan. 5 and 6 in all Region B counties and Jan. 7 – on private lands only – in Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Kent, Montgomery, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Washington (Zone 1) and Worcester counties. On Jan. 7, shooting hours end at 10:30 a.m. in Kent and Montgomery counties.
“The winter season is a popular one as it provides another opportunity to hunt with a firearm after the holidays,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “The hunt helps us meet our deer management goals of stabilizing the population in targeted areas.”
The bag limits for the season (including any deer taken during the previous firearm season) are:
One antlered white-tailed deer (statewide limit);
Ten (10) antlerless white-tailed deer;
Three sika deer, no more than one antlered.
In Region B, a hunter may also take one bonus antlered white-tailed deer per license year in the weapon season of their choice after purchasing a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp and taking two antlerless white-tailed deer during any season.
New this year, certain air guns are legal for hunting deer during the firearms season. They are defined as any gun that propels a projectile by means of non-ignited compressed air or other gas, with projectiles including arrows, balls, bolts and bullets. An air gun must shoot a 0.40 caliber or larger ball or bullet that generates at least 400 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, or shoot an arrow or bolt at least 18 inches in length with a minimum speed of 300-feet per second. Arrows or bolts must be tipped with a metal broadhead with a minimum cutting width of 7/8 inches. Please note that when checking in deer harvested with an air gun, hunters should choose “other” when asked what weapon they used to harvest their game.
Also new this year, the Apprentice Hunting License Program allows first-time hunters a lower-cost opportunity to explore the sport and tradition with an experienced and licensed guide and mentor.
The antler point restriction remains in effect for the coming hunting season. Deer hunters may harvest up to two antlered white-tailed deer within the yearly bag limit that do 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 are exempt from this restriction.
Hunters should carefully inspect all tree-stands and always wear a full-body safety harness while climbing in or out and while in the stand. The department strongly recommends using a sliding knot, commonly known as a prussic 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.