Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Waterfowl Hunt Permits
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), located 12 miles south of Cambridge, Maryland, was established in 1933 as a refuge for migratory waterfowl. The refuge includes more than 30,000 acres, composed mainly of rich tidal marsh characterized by fluctuating water levels and variable salinity. Other habitats include freshwater ponds, mixed evergreen and deciduous forests, cropland and managed impoundments that are seasonally flooded for waterfowl.
Blackwater NWR is home to the largest natural population of formerly endangered Delmarva peninsula fox squirrels and is also home to one of the largest breeding population of American bald eagles on the East Coast.
The refuge contains one-third of Maryland's tidal wetlands, which makes it an ecologically important area within the state. These wetlands also provide storm protection to lower Dorchester County, including the town of Cambridge.
Permit & Season Information
This permit authorizes the permit holder and their group to hunt the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge for waterfowl only. Taking and/or collecting any other wildlife or plants is a violation of refuge regulations. Permits are only made through Recreation.gov. The refuge will not sell permits in-person or by phone.
Open hunt reservations begin at 10 am EST the week prior to the hunt and close at 3 pm on the last hunt day of that week.
Permit holder and each group member must always have a signed permit on their person while hunting in the refuge. The group members must hunt with the permit holder.
This permit does not authorize turkey, sika or white-tailed deer hunting. Interested hunters should visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Blackwater/visit/hunting.html to learn about these hunting opportunities.
Need to Know
You must print, sign your PDF permit from Rec.gov and bring it with you. The refuge will not print permits.
Accessing the Refuge
- Hunt units are only permitted to be accessed by boat. See the website for approved access points for early season hunt units. Hunters are strongly encouraged to scout hunt units prior to their hunt day. Scouting may only be done from a boat. Individuals scouting the Goose Dam Creek hunt units will be allowed on land at the Parsons Creek dam only for the purpose of portaging their boat
- In the event that ice, low water, or any other natural events prohibit access to hunt areas, no alternate hunt unit or hunt day will be made available
- The Blackwater River hunt units are accessed from the refuge car top boat launch on Route 335
- The Beaverdam Creek hunt units are accessed from the east side of Smithville Road near the Smithville Public Boat Launch
- The Goose Dam Creek hunt units are accessed from the southwest side of the Route 16 Bridge at Parsons Creek (please note that boats must be portaged over a small dam to reach the blind locations). Canoes/kayaks are recommended due to shallow water and tree stumps in the creek
- The Nanticoke, Marshyhope, Barren Island, Spring Island and Bishop’s Head hunt units can be accessed with a larger boat from a launch of your choice
- Each hunter must have the following in his/her possession and display them upon request of any FWS employee or MD Natural Resources Police officer
- Valid Maryland State waterfowl hunting license
- Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp). The Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (federal duck stamp) is required for all waterfowl hunters, including those who are not required to purchase a hunting license, except those under the age of 16. The stamp must be signed in ink to be valid.
- State Waterfowl Stamp
- Valid government issued photo identification
- Valid signed hunt permit (printed copy) issued by Recreation.gov on their person at all times during refuge hunting and scouting days
Rules and Regulations
- The regulations listed supplement the general regulations that govern hunting on NWRs set forth in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations. Failure to abide by any laws or regulations may result in the revocation of the permit and hunting privileges
- We only allow hunters to access hunt sites by boat; the use of air boats, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or amphibious vehicles of any type (including Argos), is prohibited
- Dogs must be controlled while on refuge property when not actively retrieving
- Use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited
- The removal or cutting of any vegetation on the refuge is prohibited
- Use of natural vegetation in any manner is strictly prohibited
- All hunt blind materials and decoys must be removed at the end of each hunting day
- We require all hunters in a hunt party to only hunt within their assigned hunt unit
- Hunters may only use temporary blinds and blind materials
- The refuge is closed to all hunter access from 9:00pm - 4:00am
- Legal hunting hours are one half hour before sunrise to sunset
- Commercial guiding is prohibited
- The maximum hunt party size is four
- The individual whose name is on the permit must be present in the hunt party on the day of the hunt
- Each hunter in the party must print, read, and sign the permit
- View the complete waterfowl hunting regulation on the Blackwater Waterfowl website.
- Report illegal activity including trespassing, illegal hunting or fishing, illegal collection of wildlife resources, and any other suspicious activity on the refuge to Federal Wildlife Officer Coles at (410) 221-8814
- Blackwater NWR does not rehabilitate wildlife
- For injured birds call Tri-State Bird Rescue at (302) 737-9543
- For all other injured animals contact Maryland Department of Natural Resources at (877) 463-6497
- The one exception is all injured or dead bald or golden eagles, please contact Officer Coles immediately
$6.00 non-refundable reservation fee per permit (up to 4 people can hunt as a group under this permit)
There are no modifications allowed for this permit.
Customers, the call center, and the facility can cancel a reservation at any time. No refunds are provided for cancellations. If a reservation is cancelled, that hunting opportunity will become available on a first-come, first-served basis through Recreation.gov
The permit is non-transferrable.
There are no refunds allowed for this permit.
2145 Key Wallace Drive Cambridge MD 21613
(410) 228-2677. Hearing-impaired visitors may call the Maryland Relay Service at TDD/(800) 735-2258