Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge has a long hunting tradition. Waterfowl hunting once dominated the area, and the refuge’s visitor center was originally a private hunting lodge. Today, the refuge serves as a resting area for ducks and geese, but hunters can still come to the refuge each fall to hunt white-tailed deer. Specific hunting days are designated annually by the refuge manager, including days for archery, muzzleloader and shotgun hunting. In addition, the refuge sets aside days for youth hunters and for hunters with permanent disabilities. A refuge permit is required, and can easily be obtained via the Recreation.gov website.
Hunting and Fishing Plan
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a final hunting and fishing plan for Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex in Maryland, which includes Blackwater and Eastern Neck NWRs. A draft plan was issued earlier this spring; during the 97-day public comment period, 24 comment letters were received. We are grateful to those who provided comments, which helped in developing the final plan.
A summary of all substantive comments, and our responses, can be found in Appendix E (Finding of No Significant Impact). No significant changes have been made between the draft and final versions of the Hunting and Fishing Plan. As part of next year’s proposed rule, Blackwater and Eastern Neck NWRs will propose a non-lead requirement, which will take effect on September 1, 2026. The Environmental Assessment analyzes the impacts of lead ammunition and tackle; based on the breadth of comments received on the plan to require non-lead ammunition and tackle by 2026, the Service intends to complete additional analysis and provide another opportunity to comment during next year’s annual rulemaking.
Other changes that are now in effect include the use of straight wall cartridges during shotgun hunts this fall, the incidental take of coyotes, and an early teal season in 2023.
We may begin to implement the Hunting and Fishing Plan for Chesapeake Marshlands NWR Complex upon publication of the final 2022-2023 Station-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations in the Federal Register. The final plan can be viewed here.
Update, June 2023: Chesapeake Marshlands NWR Complex is seeking public review and comment on its Supplemental Environmental Assessment (EA) for hunting and fishing. Blackwater and Eastern Neck NWRs will eliminate use of lead ammunition for all hunting and lead tackle for fishing starting September 1, 2026. The draft document can be viewed here. The Service seeks comments from the public on the proposed rule for 60 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register on June 23, 2023. The notice will be available at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket Number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2023-0038. If you wish to comment, please note “Chesapeake Marshlands NWRC” in the subject line of an email, and address to HuntFishRuleComments@fws.gov.
Youth Turkey Hunt
In partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation, the refuge hosts a mentored spring turkey hunt for a limited number of youth every April. Young people ages 12 to 16 (at the time of the hunt), who have not previously participated in this hunt, can apply. The application is free, and youth are chosen by a random draw.
The application period for the 2023 Youth Turkey Hunt has ended. Applications and instructions for the 2024 hunt will be posted to this page in February 2024. If you have any questions, please email us at email@example.com .
Hunting permits are now available for purchase at Recreation.gov.
New deer hunt regulations, dates, and a refuge map for the 2023 season are posted below. Please note these changes for this year's hunt:
- Group permits are no longer being sold. Each hunter will be required to purchase an individual permit. Anyone assisting a hunter who does not have a permit must sign the printed paper copy permit of the person they are assisting.
- All hunts will take place in October. There will be no primitive deer hunt this year on Eastern Neck NWR.
If you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Wayfinding Map for Smartphones
The Eastern Neck deer hunt map below is a georeferenced PDF file compatible with 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 Eastern Neck Deer Hunt 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.