As autumn sweeps across Maryland, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is gearing up to celebrate the state’s rich hunting tradition while fostering mentorship in the great outdoors. The much-anticipated Junior Deer Hunting Days are fast approaching, and young hunters are encouraged to join experienced mentors for an unforgettable weekend of deer hunting.
This year, Junior Deer Hunting Days in Maryland are scheduled for November 11, with a special extension to Sunday, November 12. The season is open on both private and designated public lands across all counties in Maryland, excluding Baltimore, Howard, and Prince George’s on November 12. In addition, junior hunters in Allegany, Cecil, Garrett, St. Mary’s, and Washington counties will have the opportunity to hunt on designated public lands on November 12.
According to Karina Stonesifer, Wildlife and Heritage Service Director, “The Junior Deer Hunt provides a great opportunity for young hunters and mentors to bond and share the experience of deer hunting. Often coinciding with peak deer activity, the weekend offers one of the best times to be out in the woods pursuing deer.”
During the Junior Deer Hunt, hunters aged 16 or younger who possess a valid license are allowed to use air guns or firearms that meet the regulatory requirements to hunt sika and white-tailed deer. Each young hunter must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old who holds a valid Maryland hunting license. However, the accompanying adults may only serve as mentors and are not allowed to possess a hunting device while in the company of a junior hunter.
All hunters, including archery and other game hunters, are required to wear blaze orange or pink during the youth hunt dates to ensure safety and visibility in the field.
The bag limits for the Junior Deer Hunt Days vary by region:
- In Region A, hunters are permitted to take one antlered or antlerless white-tailed deer.
- In Region B, hunters can harvest three white-tailed deer, with no more than one antlered.
- For sika deer, hunters can take either one antlered or one antlerless.
It’s important to note that deer taken by youth hunters during these special days do not count toward regular archery, firearm, or muzzleloader bag limits, and they are exempt from the antler point restriction.
To stay informed about season dates, bag limits, hunting regulations, and registration procedures, hunters can refer to the Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping, which provides comprehensive information to ensure a safe and successful hunting experience.
In a notable change for the upcoming 2023-24 hunting season, hunters planning to pursue sika deer must purchase a sika hunting stamp. These stamps can be conveniently acquired through COMPASS, at licensing agents, or by contacting DNR License and Registration Services at 866-344-8889. An antlered sika deer is defined as a deer with at least one antler visible above the hairline.
Safety is a top priority during the Junior Deer Hunting Days, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources strongly advises hunters to carefully inspect all tree stands and always wear a full-body safety harness while in the stand or while climbing in or out. Hunters are encouraged to use a sliding knot, commonly known as a prusik knot, attached to a line secured above the stand to ensure they are safely tethered to the tree as soon as they leave the ground, reducing the risk of accidents.
Beyond the thrill of the hunt, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to give back to the community by donating deer taken in Maryland. A state tax credit serves as an incentive for hunters who make these donations, and other local or state programs are also available to support this cause. Hunters are encouraged to check with their deer processors to explore these opportunities for contributing to their local communities.
As the Junior Deer Hunting Days approach, Maryland’s young hunters and their experienced mentors are set to embark on a tradition that not only celebrates the state’s hunting heritage but also fosters the vital bond between generations while instilling a deep appreciation for the great outdoors. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources invites all eligible youth and their mentors to participate in this year’s event, creating lasting memories and upholding a time-honored tradition.