The first segment of Maryland’s muzzleloader deer season opens on October 16. This season serves as one of many that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers from September to January each year to manage deer populations, and provide hunters with recreation and food.

The early muzzleloader season will run from October 16-18 in Deer Management Regions A and B. Region A consists of Garrett, Allegany and western Washington counties (private land codes 250 & 251) and Region B is the rest of the State. Also in Region B, hunters can harvest antlerless-only deer from October 20-25. 

As a reminder, there is a statewide bag limit for antlered deer (bucks) of one per weapon season (i.e., bow, muzzleloader and firearm seasons). Hunters in Region B have the option to take one additional bonus buck after purchasing a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp and taking two antlerless deer. The antlerless bag limits differ between the two Deer Management Regions.

New this year, an antler point restriction mandates that a hunter may not harvest more than two white-tailed deer, within the yearly bag limit, that have two or fewer points on each antler present. Any additional antlered deer taken within the legal seasons and bag limits must have at least three points on one antler. Junior Hunting License holders are exempt from the antler point restriction. Also new, hunters in Region A may take only two antlerless deer for the license year.

The early muzzleloader season is open for sika deer of either sex in Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester counties from October 16-18, and for antlerless sika deer only from October 20-25. New this year, the sika deer muzzleloader season bag limit has increased to three deer with no more than one being antlered. An antlered sika is defined as a deer with at least one antler visible above the hairline.

Hunters should carefully inspect all tree-stands and always wear a full-body safety harness when entering, leaving or in the stand. DNR 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. Hunters are urged to view the treestand tips and safety video.

Complete bag limits, season dates, deer registration procedures and hunting regulations can be found on the DNR Wildlife and Heritage website and in the 2014-2015 Maryland Guide to Hunting & Trapping.

DNR encourages deer hunters to donate any unwanted harvest to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, www.fhfh.org. Last year more than 600,000 venison meals were provided to food banks through the program.

Keep up to date with DNR’s Wildlife & Heritage Service on Facebook and Twitter @MDDNRWildlife.