Maryland’s 2023 Primitive Deer Hunt Runs February 1-3

Jan 23, 2023

Photo by Brendan Wolf submitted to the 2019 Maryland DNR Photo Contest

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announces the state’s Primitive Deer Hunt will be open Feb. 1-3 statewide. Hunters with a valid hunting license, or those exempt from the hunting license requirement, may use primitive bows or muzzleloaders to hunt sika and white-tailed deer during these days.

Primitive hunting devices are defined as longbows, recurve bows, flintlocks, or sidelock percussion muzzleloaders. Hunters may not use compound bows, crossbows, draw locks, and telescopic or other electronic aiming devices. However, fiber optic sights are permitted on otherwise legal primitive bows or muzzleloaders.

Any deer harvested during the Primitive Hunt Days count against the hunter’s 2022-23 archery or muzzleloader bag limit for antlered and antlerless deer. An exception is in Region A, where hunters may harvest one antlerless deer that will not count against their existing archery or muzzleloader bag limits.

Hunters are encouraged to consult the Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping for more information on the Primitive Deer Hunt and other deer hunting regulations.

“The Primitive Deer Hunt is a unique opportunity for hunters to challenge themselves to harvest a deer using the traditional methods of the past,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “The February hunting season provides avid deer hunters one last chance to experience Maryland’s great outdoors this winter.”

During the Primitive Deer Hunt days, Maryland requires deer hunters and their companions to wear daylight fluorescent orange or pink in one of the following manners: a cap of solid fluorescent color, a vest or jacket containing back and front panels of at least 250 square inches of fluorescent color, or an outer garment of camouflage daylight fluorescent color above the waist and containing at least 50 percent 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. The department strongly recommends using a sliding knot, commonly known as a prusik 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 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; hunters should check with their deer processors.