Deer Hunt FAQs

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Answers to your hunting questions!


How do I apply for a refuge hunt permit? 

The online hunt application and permitting system is administered by a third party, Recreation.gov.  Please note that an email will be required to receive permit(s).  Group permit reservations are available in which one person can receive all of your group members’ permits.  You may also call the reservation line at (877) 444-6777.

  1. Create an account with Recreation.gov.  This can be done any time. For help creating your account.

  2. Search for Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Permits within Recreation.gov  

  3. Follow this step by step guidance

When can I apply for the hunt?

Permits for Blackwater will be available for purchase at Recreation.gov starting July 8th at 10 am ET. Permits may be purchased up to the date of the hunt. 

What if I have questions or issues about applying for the hunt?

Most questions can be answered at the Help Center.

A call-in number is also available for questions and permit reservations at (877) 444-6777

What if I don’t have an email address or internet access?

We know that not everyone has computer access and an email address, so we made it possible to apply for the hunt as a group.  You can apply for the hunt in groups of up to four. Your group leader can apply for all four of the group members online and provide your Interagency Access Pass or Interagency Senior Pass numbers, if appropriate. The group leader (the permit holder) will then print out copies of the permit for each group member and each individual will then sign the document in order to validate it. 

If I purchase a permit as a group, do I have to hunt in my group? 

No, you may hunt solo, but you must have your signed copy of your permit on you at all times.  

Can I use my receipt as my permit?

No, your receipt is NOT your permit.  Please "View Your Reservations" and print and sign your permit.  Instructions for printing your permit can be found toward the bottom of the Step-by-Step Instructions.

How much does it cost to hunt at Blackwater NWR?

Archery

$20

Limited Muzzleloader

$10

Open Muzzleloader (Early Season)

$20

Open Muzzleloader (Late Season)

$20

Limited Shotgun

$10

Open Shotgun (Early Season)

$40

Open Shotgun (Late Season)

$30

Youth Hunt

Free

**For each permit type and each group there will be a $6 service fee on Recreation.gov .

The hunt dates change annually. Please refer to the dates on our deer hunt schedule table.

Why is there a transaction fee per permit? 

Recreation.gov is developed and administered by a third party for multiple Federal participating partners such as Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and US Forest Service.   Find out more about Recreation.gov.

To save on fees, we recommend using the group permit option.  Hunt dates were also grouped into early and late seasons so as to reduce total fees.

General Refuge Hunt Questions

What do I need to hunt at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge?

Hunters are required to possess an electronic or hard copy of a valid Maryland hunting license and all required stamps, an original valid government-issued photo identification (no copies or photos), and a valid hunting permit (signed hard copy) issued by recreation.gov on their person at all times during refuge hunting and scouting days. The corresponding State stamps are required to participate in the archery and muzzleloader hunts. Hunters hunting from a vehicle must possess a MD DNR issued Universal Disability Pass (formerly a “hunt from vehicle” permit).

Where can I hunt on the refuge? 

Not all hunt units are open for all hunt types. Please refer to the Deer Hunt Map for information about hunt units, boat launches, road access and hunt parking.

We suggest using a handheld GPS or the “Avenza” app on your smartphone to help navigate the refuge. Cell phone signal is often poor. Instructions for using the Avenza app.

When can I hunt the Refuge?

 The hunt dates change annually. Please refer to the dates on the deer hunt schedule table and the 2021-22 deer hunt regulations.

Are "E-BIKES" allowed while hunting on the designated roads?  

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge System announced on October 22, 2019, a Director's Order to allow the use of low-speed electric bicycles (e-bikes) at national wildlife refuges that permit traditional bicycling, expanding recreational opportunities and access. E-bike use is now permitted at any refuge where biking is deemed to be consistent with the site's statutory purpose. The Director's Order supports Secretary's Order 3376, which was signed by Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on August 29, 2019.

E-bikes (low speed electric bikes with power assistance) are now allowed wherever traditional bicycles are currently permitted on Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on a trial basis. On hunt units, the operator of an e-bike may only use the motor to assist pedal propulsion. The motor may not be used to propel an e-bike without the rider also pedaling, except in locations open to public motor vehicle traffic. Operators must not exceed 15 MPH as stated in the refuge hunt regulations, except as otherwise legally posted. Operating any bicycle off designated roads and trails is prohibited.

The trial use of e-bikes will authorize and allow the refuge to determine the impact on wildlife, hunt roads, and experience of other hunters. This trial is necessary because e-bikes, Class 3 in particular, weigh significantly more (over 69 pounds in many cases), are faster, and may cause considerable damage to the primitive, unimproved hunt roads especially when conditions are less than ideal. The "Compatibility Determination for Hunting on Blackwater NWR (2017)" currently prohibits the use of bicycles to access hunt areas except as authorized by the Refuge Manager. For 2019/20 hunt season, traditional bikes are authorized, hence e-bikes will be authorized.

How are the bugs? 

If it’s hot, it’s buggy.

If it’s warm, it’s buggy.

If the air is still, it’s buggy. 

The insects are at their least ferocious when it’s cool, crisp and a bit breezy!