Firearms deer season is open first weekend of 2024 in most counties

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will open the abbreviated January firearms deer hunting season on Friday in Deer Management Region B, which includes all of the state except the westernmost counties.

Hunters with a valid hunting license may use firearms to harvest sika and white-tailed deer.

The season is open Friday and Saturday, Jan. 5-6 in all of Region B.

The season also is open through Sunday, Jan. 7 on private and designated public lands in Cecil, St. Mary’s, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties, and on private lands only in Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Harford, Kent, Montgomery, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot and Washington (Zone 1) counties. Shooting hours end at 10:30 a.m. in Kent, Montgomery, Talbot and Wicomico counties.

Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Karina Stonesifer said January hunting favors antlerless deer, which is a critical component of managing a healthy deer population in Region B.

Hunters are 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 or younger, are exempt from this restriction.

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 on COMPASS, at a licensing agent or by calling DNR Licensing and Registration Services at 866-344-8889.

The sika deer firearms 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 season is open in every county.

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 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 also are available so check with your deer processor.

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