Top 3 Public Lands to Hunt Deer in Western MarylandPosted on: October 23, 2019 By: FHMD
With Maryland’s Deer Firearm Season opening just after Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26-Dec. 14, 2019), it’s time to start planning a hunt to fill your freezer. Known for its thriving white-tailed deer populations, Western Maryland is the perfect place to harvest deer for the winter. Its stunning natural beauty has long attracted outdoor enthusiasts and hunters. Whether you’re heading to Western Maryland from out of state, or just looking for a change of scenery from your usual tree line, read on to learn about three of the top public lands in Western Maryland to bag a deer. You’ll also find a few great hotel rates at the bottom to help make the most of your hunt!
Green Ridge State Forest
At 47,560 acres (the largest, unbroken block of public land in Maryland – all of which is open to hunting), Green Ridge State Forest has a long history as one of the most popular public hunting sites in all of Maryland. Once home to apple orchards that attracted wildlife, traditionally hunters from across the region, including Baltimore, D.C., and Pennsylvania, fill the available campsites the Friday before the Saturday-after-Thanksgiving Deer Firearm Season opener. Hunting had slowed down in this area for the past several years, which means good news for hunters this season.
The reduced hunting over the past several years in this big, beautiful forest has allowed the deer and wildlife populations to grow tremendously. It’s fair to say that hunting opportunities here have never been better. In fact, recent studies showed some of the highest quality bucks on the property in many years – including trail camera imagery of record-class animals – all within a short hike of the innumerable public roads carved throughout this area.
- The entire State Forest is open to public hunting.
- Hunt-from-a-vehicle opportunities available for mobility-impaired hunters. (Universal Disability Pass Required).
- Sunday hunting opportunities available.
- There are 100 primitive campsites and seven group sites available for groups of 20 or more.
Dan’s Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA)
Dan’s Mountain Wildlife Management Area – or “Dan’s” to locals and staff – is one of the region’s richest wildlife areas. It is also the largest wildlife area in the region. The remarkable changes in elevation, coupled with its prime location across the ridge top of its namesake mountain, give Dan’s its unique ecological character. Nearly half of the approximately 10,000 acres are designated Wildlands, which ensures the area maintains its wilderness character, and for sportsmen, guarantees a deer hunt won’t be interrupted by infrastructure.
Dan’s has some of the largest blocks of old-growth forest in the state – including many oaks nearing 300 years of age – perfect for your tree stand. Here you’ll find an abundance of Maryland’s prized white-tailed deer.
- Primitive camping available.
- Hunt-from-a-vehicle opportunities available. (Universal Disability Pass Required).
- Sunday hunting opportunities.
- Aside from the appropriate licenses and stamps, no special permits or drawings are required to hunt this area.
Indian Springs Wildlife Management Area (WMA)
The Indian Springs Wildlife Management Area is a 6,400-acre tract of public land located in Washington County near the town of Clear Spring, Maryland. Primarily forested, Indian Springs sports a patchwork of agricultural fields planted specifically to attract and support wildlife, as well as small forest openings that make for excellent deer habitat. The topography of Indian Springs rolls across a small group of steep ridges, known as the Bear Pond Mountains, where, true to their name, black bears may be found, their population having grown considerably in recent history. Hunters of Indian Springs also enjoy pursuing squirrels, turkey, grouse, woodcock, mourning dove and rabbits.
A popular feature of Indian Springs, beautiful and unique among western Maryland WMAs, is the Blair’s Valley Lake, a 30-acre freshwater impoundment that offers year-round fishing and occasional waterfowl opportunities. The lake is fed by the Little Conococheague, a creek whose high-quality waters attract beaver, mink and a host of other riparian-dependent species.
Several small roads and parking areas provide ample access to the Indian Springs WMA including Mooresville Road, which is a dedicated access for hunters with mobility impairments. A primitive camping area offers overnight opportunities for those hunters wishing to stay for more than a day in pursuit of wild game.
- Use of Indian Springs WMA is generally permitted seven days a week throughout the year. Hunting is allowed in accordance with open seasons and shooting hours.
- No special permits or drawings are required to hunt this area, except appropriate licenses and stamps.
- The primitive camping area has nine spots with picnic tables and campfire fire rings and is available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Fall and winter are prime deer time in Western Maryland. Don’t miss your chance to slip on your boots, grab your favorite rifle or archery tackle, and head to the big woods west of the beltways.
To start planning your deer hunt in Western Maryland, be sure to visit the Plan Section of our site to find lodging, guides and outfitters, outdoor retailers, and shooting ranges. Be sure to visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources online for more information on seasons and regulations before heading out!
Here are a few lodging deals in Western Maryland to help make the most out of this year’s deer hunt:
Cumberland Inn and Spa
120 Greene Street, Cumberland, MD 21502
$79 per night to hunters.
Multiple groups and/or multiple night stays will receive $10 off per room per night.
Little Orleans Campground
31661 Green Forest Drive, S.E., Little Orleans, MD 21766
Cabin and Cabinette rates range from $100-$180 per night for up to 4 people.
Super 8 by Wyndham
300 Tippin Drive, Thurmont, MD 21788
Flat rate – $65 + tax = $73.21 per night per room. Group name to be used by guest calling in to make the reservation: HUNTING GROUP
Images courtesy of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Stephen Schatz vie the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Flikr account