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Learn About Maryland Hunting Licenses

Hunters must obtain a Maryland hunting license under the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) before they may legally hunt in-season game birds and mammals. However, license types vary, depending on the age of the applicant.

For instance, various types of resident licenses are available to adults between the ages of 16 and 64, and juniors who are younger than 16 years of age. While the DNR once sold senior lifetime licenses to qualifying Maryland residents, the Department now sells senior licenses to residents who are at least 65 years of age.

Moreover, short-term licenses and nonresident hunting licenses for juniors, adults and seniors are also available if hunters do not reside in the state. Generally, a hunting permit is also needed to hunt for deer during archery or muzzleloader season, or if residents wish to hunt for black bears, furbearers or migratory game birds.

To obtain a DNR license in Maryland, resident or nonresident applicants may complete the application process via several available methods. If hunters complete the application process online, they may do so through the DNR’s electronic COMPASS portal, as this service is available 24 hours per day. Alternately, applicants may obtain a DNR hunting license in person at a Licensing and Registration Service Center, or they may complete a paper application and mail it to a local DNR Service Center. As another option, hunters may apply for a license by phone, if desired.  

How to Get a Hunting License in Maryland

The process of how to get a hunting license in Maryland varies by application method, as customers may apply online, in person, by mail or via phone. To obtain an online hunting license, customers must first create a new COMPASS account under the website of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), or they may log in to an existing account if they have previously held a hunter’s license in the state. As part of the hunting license requirements in MD, however, all nonexempt applicants must complete a firearms and hunting safety course before they may obtain a hunting credential.

In addition to a license, a permit is also needed for hunting migratory game birds, deer, bear and furbearers. While a standard hunting license year runs from August 1st through July 31st of the following year, full-season licenses become valid on the first day of issuance.

Types of Hunting Licenses in Maryland

Whether disabled veterans need a lifetime hunting license in Maryland or first-time adult hunters wish to obtain an apprentice hunting credential, many different types of full-season licenses are available through the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). For instance, the DNR’s youth hunting license is available to residents and nonresidents who are younger than 16 years of age, while adult licenses are available to applicants who are 16 years of age or older. Various licenses for adults include resident and nonresident senior licenses, the regulated shooting area credential, the stationary blind and blind site license, and the nonresident trapping license.

While most resident hunting license credentials remain valid for the entire hunting season, temporary licenses are also available. If customers need a nonresident license, for instance, they may obtain a three-day waterfowl and small game license.

Hunter Safety and Education Courses in Maryland

Most customers must complete a hunter safety course in Maryland before they may obtain a resident or nonresident hunting license under the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). However, there are several exceptions to this requirement. For instance, nonresidents who purchase a Three-Day Waterfowl and Small Game License do not need to complete a safety course, as long as they meet other DNR requirements. In addition to the general hunter education course, any customers who wish to trap furbearing animals must complete a trapper education program. Specialty programs are also available for bowhunters.

When enrolling in a Maryland hunters education program, customers may choose from an in-person or online course. If taking a course to obtain an apprentice hunting license, however, students must complete an online program. After choosing a delivery method, students may enroll online or by phone.

Hunting Laws and Regulations in Maryland

Before the Maryland hunting season begins, residents and nonresidents must purchase any necessary licenses, permits and stamps through the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), unless they are exempt from meeting the state’s licensing requirements. For instance, necessary credentials may include a junior, senior or regular hunting license. Additionally, it is important to review any new hunting regulations under the DNR, including daily bag and possession limits.

As part of the hunting regulations in MD, anyone who assists in a hunt must also wear fluorescent pink or orange clothing, unless exempt from doing so. For instance, hunters are generally exempt from meeting this clothing requirement if they hunt for wild animals such as ducks, geese and furbearing mammals. Additionally, hunters must abide by all laws that pertain to legal hunting hours and permitted locations.