Maryland General Hunting Laws and Regulations

General Maryland Hunting Regulations

Identification and License Requirements for Hunters

  • Carrying photo identification, such as a driver's license, or an alternative positive ID is mandatory for hunters.
  • Hunters must have either a printed or electronic copy of their valid hunting license with them while hunting.

Prohibitions on Intoxication and Selective Hunting

  • Hunting while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs is illegal.
  • On the first day of Deer Firearms Season, only hunting deer is allowed, with the exception for coyotes.

Artificial Light Restriction

  • It is against the law to use a vehicle to shine artificial light on habitats and residential properties, with specified exceptions in Baltimore City, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties for wildlife observation or photography until 9 p.m., sans hunting devices. Night hunting with a dog and light is permitted for coyotes, foxes, opossums, or raccoons during their respective open seasons.

Safety Zones for Hunting

  • A safety buffer of 150 yards from occupied buildings or camps is enforced unless explicit permission is given by the owner. The distance varies for archery hunters: 100 yards in Anne Arundel County, and 50 yards in several other counties, with additional provisions for elevated positions and tree stand use in certain areas.
  • Within these safety zones, discharging a weapon at wildlife is strictly prohibited.

Archery Hunting Guidelines

  • Howard County has a 50-yard safety zone for archery under designated permits or managed hunt programs.
  • Elevated positions are required for archery hunting close to occupied dwellings in Montgomery and Washington counties.

Firearm Discharge Near Schools

  • It is illegal to fire a weapon within 300 yards of schools during operational hours or while they are occupied, not applicable to higher education institutions or home schooling.

Legal Trapping Protection

  • Tampering with or removing wildlife from any legally set traps is a violation of the law.

Hunting Permissions and Regulations on Private Property in Maryland

Requirement of Written Permission

To legally hunt or trap on private property within all counties of Maryland, hunters are required to obtain written permission from the landowner before engaging in any such activities.

Liability for Damage and Landowner Protection

Hunters are responsible and may be held liable for any property damage incurred during their hunting activities on private property. Conversely, landowners are typically not held accountable for accidental damages or injuries sustained by hunters on their property, regardless of whether permission was granted. Essential information on landowner liability is accessible through the University of Maryland Extension's Bulletin EB357, titled "Landowner Liability and Recreational Access," which can be found at Landowner Liability and Recreational Access.

Controlling Hunter Access on Private Property

Property owners have the right to control hunter access. By conspicuously posting property boundaries through the utilization of blue paint stripes and/or signs, landowners can legally prohibit trespassing. To comply with Maryland law for marking private property boundaries:

  • Vertical blue paint marks—specifically oil-based and bright blue—must be used.
  • Each mark should be at least 2 inches wide and 8 inches long.
  • Marks need to be placed at a height of at least 3 feet but no more than 6 feet from the ground or water surface.

Sunday Hunting Regulations in Maryland

Falconry Permit Holders

Individuals who hold a valid Falconry Permit are permitted to hunt specific game birds and mammals on Sundays, provided that the season for hunting migratory game birds is officially open.

Organized Fox Chases

On Sundays, unarmed participants engaged in official organized fox chases are allowed to pursue foxes without the intention of capturing or harming them.

Regulated Shooting Areas

Hunter activity on regulated shooting areas is permissible on Sundays. This includes the shooting of captive-raised game birds, with the exception of free-flying captive-raised waterfowl which are not included under this provision.

Designated Hunting on Sundays

Hunting for deer, turkeys, small game, and furbearers is allowed on specific Sundays in designated areas. These provisions are subject to change, and hunters should consult the latest regulations for current information and restrictions.

Regulations for Hunting and Trapping on Maryland State-Owned Lands

Target Shooting Restrictions

  • Target shooting is strictly prohibited on state lands, with the exception of designated areas specifically allocated for this purpose.

Tree Stands and Blinds

  • The construction or use of permanent blinds or tree stands on state-owned or controlled properties is illegal unless explicitly supplied by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
  • Hunters must use temporary tree stands and blinds, and these must be completely removed after each day's hunt.

Trapping Permissions

  • Trapping on state lands is not allowed without obtaining written permission from the controlling agency that manages the specific state property.

Baiting Prohibition

  • The placement of bait for the purpose of hunting on state lands is against the law and not permitted under any circumstances.

Fluorescent Clothing Requirements for Maryland Hunters

Visibility and Safety

Daylight fluorescent orange or pink clothing significantly enhances hunter visibility, providing safety benefits in various outdoor environments. The law mandates that anyone hunting wildlife or assisting hunters must wear these colors with specific exceptions.

Mandatory Clothing for Hunters and Companions

During hunting activities, all hunters and their companions must don either:

  • A solid daylight fluorescent orange or pink hat; or
  • A vest or jacket with back and front panels totaling at least 250 square inches of solid color; or
  • An outer camouflage garment with at least 50% daylight fluorescent color worn above the waist.

Additional Requirements for Ground Blind Hunters

Hunters using a ground blind are required to display at least 250 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange or pink within 25 feet of their blind to alert other hunters to their presence.

Specific Mandatory Fluorescent Clothing Scenarios

  • Property owners and their immediate families need to wear fluorescent clothing while hunting on their land.
  • Archery hunters must wear fluorescent colors during Junior Deer Hunt Days, Deer Firearms, Muzzleloader Seasons, and Primitive Deer Hunt Days.
  • Deer archery hunters in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington counties during open black bear season are also mandated to wear fluorescent clothing.

Exemptions from Fluorescent Clothing Requirements

  • Deer archery hunters are exempt, except for specific seasons and locations as noted.
  • Falconry permit holders using birds of prey to hunt game are exempt.
  • Hunters of brant, coot, crow, dove, ducks, furbearing mammals, geese, rails, snipe, and wild turkey do not need to adhere to this requirement.

Maryland Trespassing Law for Hunters

Legal Implications of Trespassing

Hunters are cautioned that encroaching on posted private property is considered a significant violation. Maryland's Criminal Law §6-402 sternly penalizes such actions. Penalties for a first offense include:

  • A potential jail term of up to 90 days;
  • A fine that may reach up to $500;
  • Or the possibility of both imprisonment and fine.

Private Land Near Public Hunting Areas

Specific attention should be given to private lands neighboring public hunting areas, as these grounds are also protected under the trespassing law. Hunters must ensure they have lawful access or explicit permission to enter any adjacent private properties to avoid legal consequences.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.