2-week deer firearms hunting season opens Saturday

ANNAPOLIS — The two-week firearms hunting season for sika and white-tailed deer opens Saturday, Nov. 25 and runs through Saturday, Dec. 9.

The season includes Sunday hunting in all but three counties (Baltimore, Howard and Prince George’s), affording hunters more weekend opportunities to hunt and to contribute to managing Maryland’s deer population.

The two-week firearms season is the most popular season with deer hunters, according to Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Karina Stonesifer.

“For many, taking part in the firearms season is a tradition and provides a great opportunity to introduce new hunters to deer hunting,” Stonesifer said in a news release on the DNR website.

She said this season also is essential for managing the state’s healthy deer population.

Bag limits for the firearms season, along with other deer hunting seasons and regulations, are available in the 2023-2024 Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping.

New for the 2023-24 hunting season, if hunters intend to pursue sika deer, they must purchase a sika hunting stamp. Sika stamps may be purchased online through COMPASS, at a licensing agent, or by calling DNR Licensing and Registration Services at 866-344-8889.

Hunters are reminded that an antler-point restriction remains in effect.

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 or younger, are exempt from this restriction.

Hunters also should be aware that the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area expanded earlier this year and now includes all of Allegany, Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties. Hunters are reminded they cannot transport whole carcasses or certain parts of deer harvested from within the management area to locations outside of its boundaries unless meeting certain exceptions.

Research suggests chronic wasting disease is not naturally transmitted to humans. However, as a general safety precaution it is recommended that hunters avoid consuming the meat of sick animals as well as the brain, lymph nodes or spinal column of any deer – all of which are normally removed during the butchering process.

During firearms 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% daylight fluorescent color.

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. 

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 processor.

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