Woman dressed warmly in camouflage and standing in marsh reeds aims a shotgun into the air

If you hear what sounds like an elk bugle coming from the marshes of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, you aren't imagining things. The shrill bugle is coming from a sika, a small Asian elk species that thrives at this refuge. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge offers fantastic hunting for sika and white-tailed deer during archery, muzzleloader and shotgun seasons. A refuge permit is required and can easily be obtained via the Recreation.gov website. Hunters have many options and can choose to hunt more than 12 weeks of archery from September through January, up to 10 days of muzzleloader, and up to eight days of shotgun. In addition, the refuge offers a special two-day youth hunt for hunters 16 and under. More than 16,000 acres are open to hunting across the refuge’s 20-plus hunt units, including two units that are designated for hunters with permanent disabilities. Parking is distributed throughout the refuge, and hunters access their units on foot. The refuge also offers boat-accessible waterfowl hunting October through January in both inland and Chesapeake Bay waters. Finally, turkey hunters can apply for a lottery for the refuge’s spring turkey hunt, which takes place in April and May, including a special day for youth hunters.

2022 Turkey Hunt

The 2022 Spring Turkey Hunt has ended. You can still view the 2022 turkey hunt regulations on our Library page, but keep in mind that some regulations may change next year.

2022-23 Deer Hunt

The 2022-23 deer hunt regulations and table of dates are posted below (PDF files).

Permits are now available for purchase at the recreation.gov website, with the exception of the new primitive hunt, which will be available August 25th at 10:00 am EST.

Please note that the deer hunt has transitioned to an online application system located at www.recreation.gov. Applications will no longer be mailed. Hunters apply directly on the website or by calling the recreation.gov customer service number, 877-444-6777. Once you access the website, you will need to create an account and search for "Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Deer Permits". Instructions on the website will guide you through the application process.

Hunters are required to have a signed permit in hand when hunting or scouting on the refuge.

Questions? Please see our FAQs page below!

Wayfinding Map for Smartphones

Wayfinding maps for Blackwater’s hunt units are now available using the AVENZA MAPS smartphone app. This free app uses your phone’s GPS to find your location, and works without a signal from your carrier. It is available for Apple and Android devices. Learn how to install the Avenza app here. After installing the app on your phone, download the Blackwater Avenza Hunt Unit Map below to use with the app while hunting on the refuge. Please note that any boundary markings you find on the ground trump boundary lines on the hunt unit map. 

Related Documents

Frequently asked questions about hunting at Blackwater NWR.


Deer hunting regulations specific to Blackwater NWR for the 2022-23 hunting season.


Table of deer hunt dates for Blackwater NWR for the 2022-23 hunting season.


Map of deer hunting areas on Blackwater NWR for the 2022-23 season.


Instructions for deer hunting in Area Q2, which is designated for disabled hunters only.


Map of Area U1, which is designated for disabled hunters only.


Additional information about e-bike use for hunting on Blackwater NWR.


Geospatial map that can be downloaded and used for wayfinding with the Avenza Maps smartphone app.