Maryland’s Eastern Shore is well known for its beaches, goose hunting and white marlin, but it’s also a hotspot for white-tailed deer and a haven for the elusive Sika deer. With deer season in full swing, here are the Eastern Shore’s top public lands for deer hunting.
The Chesapeake Forest
With more than 30 different tracts of land scattered over the lower Eastern Shore, the Chesapeake Forest offers an abundance of deer hunting opportunities for whitetail and sika deer alike. At least eight tracts are larger than 1,500 acres. Larger tracts, and those nestled adjacent to other public hunting lands, provide opportunities to find remote interior zones for the hunter seeking to be farther away from the parking areas. The production of commercial timber products has generally left interior logging trails intact for easier navigation on larger tracts.
E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area
Interspersed with leased agricultural fields, early successional habitat plots and tidal wetland creeks, the coastal plain forests on E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area’s property provide an excellent opportunity to deer hunt in a quintessential Delmarva landscape. This 2,630-acre plot includes abundant small grain agriculture, and the many mixed-deciduous bottomland forests, provide ample year-round food sources. Limited camping is available and there are a variety of other lodging options nearby. Located along the Atlantic coastal bays, just a couple of miles from the Virginia state line, this wildlife management area may be outside of the typical driving zone for many traveling hunters, but is an easy drive from the towns of Pocomoke City, Snow Hill and “America’s Coolest Small Town,” Berlin.
Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area
Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area’s at about 29,000 acres it is the state's largest wildlife management area and largest parcel of publicly owned tidal wetlands in Maryland. With expansive tidal marshlands transition into low, wetland forests and island hummocks that offer one of the best public land opportunities to pursue Sika deer. Upland access and an extensive interior trail network, in association with adjacent Chesapeake Forest Lands tracts, offer the ability to get away from parking areas for a solo hunting experience. Smaller forested tracts are scattered throughout Dorchester County's low country. Multiple public boat ramps provide access to waterways for exploring marsh islands and hummocks, which can provide good hunting opportunities as well.
Millington Wildlife Management Area
This 4,000-acre parcel is located in eastern Kent County and consists of hardwood forests with some pine stands, various types of wetlands, fallow managed fields, meadow plantings and open agricultural fields. The land in Millington has a rich history and was once the home of the Lenni Lenape Indians. Diverse early successional habitat types are common throughout the area due to intensive habitat management, creating prime habitat for white-tailed deer. Hunt-from-a-vehicle opportunities are also available (Universal Disability Pass required). To start planning your deer hunt on the Eastern Shore, be sure to visit the Resources of our site to find lodging, guides and outfitters, outdoor retailers and shooting ranges. Be sure to visit Maryland Department of Natural Resources online for more information on seasons and regulations before heading out!
Places to Stay
Images courtesy of Jan Branscome, Penny Ingles, and Bonnie Cole via the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Flickr account as well as Queenstown Harbor