Small Game

Whether you’re a seasoned rabbit hunter, or taking the kids out on their first-ever hunt, Maryland’s small game species and opportunities cater to all skill sets. Cottontail rabbit, squirrel, fox, hare, grouse, quail, pheasant, and crow can be found in abundance all throughout Maryland. Hunt private and public lands, as well as regulated shooting areas (RSAs), while you teach the youngsters the hunting basics or brush up on your own small game expertise right here in Maryland.


  • 09/02/2017-1/15/2017 (dates range by species)
  • 12/15-2017-02/28/2018

Seasons vary between mammals and birds. While small game mammal hunting takes place from early September through the end of February, birds generally run from November to mid-January, as well as mid-April to mid-March. Start planning your next hunt here in Maryland by visiting the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ list of small game species and seasons.

Hunting on private and public lands for small game is permitted throughout the state during the specified season. For the novice hunter, acquiring a guide while hunting small game may be your best choice to get the most out of your hunting trip to Maryland. Not only do guides have extensive knowledge of the land, but they have access to hunting opportunities on private lands not open to the general public.

Is this your first time hunting? A first-timer may find a Regulated Shooting Area (RSA) more suitable than trekking through the woods. A RSA is a tract of land, including any waters, on which the licensee may release and shoot captive-raised turkey, pheasant, bobwhite quail, chukar partridge, Hungarian partridge, and mallard ducks. Great for first-time bird hunters, RSAs offer a chance to hone their skills before heading out in the field to hunt. Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a full list of RSAs in our state.

Acquiring a hunting license in Maryland is easily done through DNR’s app, or through the application process online. Nonresident hunters seeking a Maryland hunting license can download the Hunting License Application & Instructions. DNR’s app is the easiest way to apply, register, and report a harvest with the push of a button.

A Regular Hunting License, Junior Hunting License, Senior Hunting License, or Nonresident Hunting License is required to hunt small game in Maryland. See Licenses, Stamps, & Regulations for descriptions, prices, and availability of licenses, stamps, and permits.

Other Regulations:

  • Hunters must wear fluorescent orange when hunting small game except crows. See fluorescent orange.
  • The use of decoys, calls, and/or recordings for hunting crows is allowed.
  • The head, plumage, and feet shall remain attached to all pheasants to permit identification of species and sex while being transported from the place where killed to the place of final disposition. This does not pertain to captive-reared pheasants taken on Regulated Shooting Areas.
  • On private and designated public lands in Allegany, Garrett, and Washington counties, eastern cottontail rabbits, gray, fox and red squirrels, quail (Washington County only), ruffed grouse, and pheasants may be hunted on all Sundays during the open season. Designated public lands open to Sunday hunting are: ONLY Billmeyer-Belle Grove WMA, Cunningham Swamp WMA, Dan’s Mountain WMA, Indian Springs WMA, Mount Nebo WMA, Prather’s Neck WMA, Sideling Hill WMA, and Warrior Mountain WMA.

Money generated from the sale of licenses goes directly to the conservation, protection, and preservation of Maryland’s natural habitat and cherished wildlife. Maryland DNR works tirelessly to maintain a healthy population of small game animals and the regulations needed to sustain hunting in Maryland. Changes in regulations, dates, and requirements vary year-to-year. Please check with DNR frequently for the most up-to-date information.