Migratory Game Bird Hunting in Maryland

Migratory Game Bird Species Include:

  • Brant
  • Coots
  • Doves
  • Ducks
  • Geese
  • Rails
  • Snipe
  • Woodcock

*Note: Brant, ducks, and geese are collectively classified as waterfowl.

Regulations and Compliance

Migratory Game Bird Hunting General Laws and Regulations

Hunting Restrictions and Identification Requirements

  • Sunday Hunting: Migratory game birds cannot be hunted on Sundays.
  • Identification: Hunters must carry photo ID or a secondary form of identification.

Permissions and Licensing

  • Private Land: Written permission required for hunting.
  • Hunting License: Necessary for migratory game bird hunting, with some exceptions. Refer to Hunting Licenses for detailed information, including:
    • Military personnel
    • Costs
    • Licensing exemptions
    • Acquisition process
    • Various license types

Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp

  • Stamp Requirement: All hunters, including those exempt from licensing and senior hunters, must have the Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp validation.
  • Obtaining Validation: Available via the COMPASS portal, Licensing and Registration Service Centers, or a licensed Sport License agent.

Harvest Information Program Certification

  • HIP Certification: Mandatory, issued free with the Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp.
  • Certification Process: Involves answering questions for harvest survey sampling:
    • Intent to hunt brant in the upcoming season.
    • Previous season's bag count for ducks, geese, doves, and woodcock.
    • Past hunting activity related to coots, sea ducks, snipe, or rails.

Proof of Validation and Certification

  • Hunters must keep printed validation of Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp and HIP certification on hand while hunting.

Federal Stamp Necessities

  • Ages 16 and Over: Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp obligatory for hunting brant, coots, ducks, and geese.
  • Purchase Locations: National Wildlife Refuges, Post Offices, duckstamp.com, and COMPASS portal
    • Also available at Licensing and Registration Service Centers or through a Sport License agent.

Stamp Acquisition Procedure

  • Upon purchase via COMPASS, agents, or online, you receive a printed proof of purchase valid for 45 days.
  • Within that period, this document serves as proof for hunting.
  • Post 45 days, hunters must carry the physical stamp, signed in ink.
  • The stamp need not be attached to the hunting license.

In Case of Non-Delivery

  • If the federal duck stamp is not received within 2-3 weeks, contact duckstamp@amplex.com or call 800-852-4897.

Snow Goose Conservation Order Season Permit

  • Requirement: Maryland Snow Goose Conservation Order Hunting Season Permit mandatory for participation.
  • Proof of Permit: Hunters must have printed validation of purchase while hunting.

Regulated Shooting Area Hunting License

  • License Utility: Allows shooting of captive-raised game birds on Regulated Shooting Areas.
  • Extended Requirements:
    • For hunting free-flying, captive-raised mallard ducks or wild waterfowl on these areas, you need:
      • A Maryland hunting license
      • Printed validation for Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp
      • A Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (required if over 15 years old) or its proof of purchase
    • Further details can be found at Hunting Licenses.

Stationary Blind and Blind Site License

  • Necessity: Essential for hunting from offshore waterfowl blinds or public waters blind sites.
  • Information Access: Maryland Offshore Waterfowl Hunting provides additional guidelines and regulations.

Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations

Clothing Requirements

Bag and Possession Limits

  • Daily Bag Limit: Maximum allowed number of birds (single or aggregate species) one can harvest per day.
  • Field Possession Limit: Limit to one daily bag while in the field or while traveling to your vehicle, camp, or home.
  • Possession Limit: Total quantity of game birds (single or aggregate species) one is permitted to possess.

Ethical Hunting Obligations

  • Hunters must endeavor to retrieve any killed or wounded bird and count it towards the daily bag limit.

Treatment of Wounded Birds

  • Wounded birds taken into possession must be promptly dispatched and counted as part of the daily bag limit.

Transportation Regulations

  • Prohibition on fully field dressing or breasting out migratory game birds (other than doves) before leaving the field.
  • Identification requirement: One intact wing or head must remain on the bird(s) until they reach either your home or a processing facility.

Tagging Requirements

  • Any migratory game birds transferred to another person or left at a location must be tagged with:
    • The hunter's signature, address, and either hunting license number or DNRid number
    • Total number and species of birds harvested
    • Dates of the kills
  • Tagging applies even if the birds are being transported by another person or left for services such as cleaning, storage, shipping, or taxidermy.

Shipping Protocols

  • Shipped game birds packages must be marked with:
    • Sender's and recipient's names and addresses
    • The number of birds and species inside

Illegal Hunting Methods

  • Forbidden to hunt migratory game birds using:
    • Air guns with bullets
    • Drugs, explosives, traps
    • Fish hooks, nets, pistols
    • Poisons, rifles, snares
    • Stupefying substances, swivel guns

Baiting Laws & Restrictions

  • Baiting migratory game birds with lures or food, including grains or feed, is illegal.
  • An area remains legally defined as baited for ten days after bait removal.
  • Hunting migratory game birds over top-sown or broadcast seed is prohibited until seeds have germinated, are soil-covered or removed for minimum ten days prior to hunting.
  • Dove hunting exceptions:
    • Permissible in areas with manipulated seed-bearing plants (corn, sunflowers, wheat, small grains) without the ten-day waiting period.

Live Decoy Prohibitions

  • It is illegal to hunt waterfowl using live birds as decoys.
  • Violation if waterfowl are taken where live decoys are used unless:
    • Decoys have been absent or confined out of sight and call range for ten days before hunting.

Definition of Live Decoys

  • Captive-raised/domestic waterfowl lacking natural wariness.
  • Birds staying put despite loud noises or gestures indicating domestication.
  • Unretrieved wounded waterfowl.
  • Flight-impaired birds due to wing alterations.
  • Domestic species like Muscovy ducks, Egyptian geese considered live decoys if they don't exhibit wild caution.
  • Tethered or penned waterfowl at/near the hunting area.

Decoy and Blind Regulations

  • Selling taxidermy-mounted migratory game birds for decoy use is illegal.
  • Usage of common reed (Phragmites) is banned for blind construction on Department of Natural Resources lands.
  • Permanent hunting blinds or tree stands and leaving waterfowl decoys overnight on such lands require written departmental permission.

Hunting Restrictions

  • Hunting wild migratory game birds on Sunday is prohibited.
  • Usage of sink boxes for waterfowl hunting is illegal.

Vehicle and Boat Usage

  • Hunting waterfowl from or with any motor vehicles, motor-driven land conveyances, or aircraft is forbidden.
  • Waterfowl hunting from motorboats or sailboats is only permissible if the motor is off and/or sails furled, with the boat’s movement fully stopped.

Calling Device Limitations

  • Possession of electronic calling devices that convey or amplify bird calls during migratory game bird hunting is unlawful, except for light geese during the Conservation Order Season.

Waterfowl Disturbance

  • Driving, rallying, or chasing waterfowl with motorized or sail-powered means to bring them into hunting range is against the law.

Release of Captive-Raised Mallards

  • Releasing captive-raised mallard ducks into the wild requires a Regulated Shooting Area Permit, Retriever Training Permit, or a Field Trial Permit from the Department of Natural Resources.

Migratory Game Bird Hunting Devices and Regulations

General Regulations

  • Prohibited Weapons: Unlawful to possess air guns, rifles, or pistols while hunting brant, coots, ducks, and geese.
  • Approved Weapons: Only shotguns and certain archery equipment permitted for migratory game bird hunting.
  • Firearm in Vehicles: Illegal to have a loaded air gun or firearm in, on, or leaning against any vehicle.
  • Automatic Firearms: Prohibited for migratory game bird hunting.
  • Crossbows in Vehicles: Illegal to have a loaded crossbow in, on, or leaning against a vehicle.
  • Shooting Across Roads: Against the law to shoot on, from, or across any public road.

Shotguns Regulations

  • Shotgun Limitations: Only shotguns of 10-gauge or smaller allowed for migratory game bird hunting.
  • Shell Capacity Restriction: Shotguns holding more than three shells must be plugged, with exceptions for specific goose hunting seasons.
  • Muzzleloading Shotguns: Permitted for hunting all migratory game birds.
  • Shot Material Restrictions: Illegal to use lead shot for brant, coots, ducks, geese, rails, and snipe. Nontoxic shot required.
  • Nontoxic Shot Rules: Hunters must use nontoxic shot as determined by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • Shot Size Limitation: Nontoxic shot larger than No. T (.20 inches) prohibited for brant, coots, ducks, geese, rails, and snipe.
  • Prohibited Ammunition: Shotgun pumpkin balls, sabots, or slugs are not allowed for brant, coots, ducks, geese, rails, and snipe.
  • Lead Shot Exceptions: Doves and woodcock may be taken with lead shot.

Archery Equipment Regulations

  • Vertical Bows: Allowed for migratory game bird hunting.
  • Draw Locking Devices: Prohibited when hunting brant, coots, ducks, and geese.
  • Crossbows: Prohibited for brant, coots, ducks, and geese. Permitted for doves, rails, snipe, and woodcock.
  • Arrow and Bolt Restrictions: Poisoned or explosive-tipped arrows or bolts are not permitted.

Air Guns Regulations

  • General Prohibition: Air guns not allowed for migratory bird hunting, except those shooting arrows or bolts allowed for doves and woodcock.

For the latest information on nontoxic shot, visit Maryland DNR's Nontoxic Shot Page.

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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.