Procedures for Offshore Blind Site Licensing

​Last updated July 28, 2021

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For the 2021-2022 hunting season, the Department will use an online lottery for the opening portion of the virtual blind site licensing process to issue blind sites for waterfowl hunting. The procedure provides each participant with an equal chance to receive an electronic place “in line” to obtain a site at a designated location to hunt waterfowl in state waters. This process ensures a fair opportunity for all interested participants.

We understand this is a new process for many waterfowl hunters. Department representatives will be available to answer questions through email and our website will be updated frequently. All appointments made through this process will be served in the order of the lottery drawing and no one will be taken out of turn. We greatly appreciate your patience as we continue improving the new licensing process.

Lottery and Licensing For Opening Days

The lottery for the opening days of licensing will be conducted online through the Department’s Compass licensing system. Beginning July 12, 2021 and ending on July 26, 2021 at 11:59 pm, hunters can register online through the Compass licensing system to be entered into a random lottery for a county of their choice. There is no charge to enter the lottery. In addition to the county in which they wish to obtain a blind site, the applicant must provide a valid email address at which they will receive all communications from the department and a cell phone number where they can be reached in case of technical issues. The department will randomly select winners for each county where licensing occurs and those hunters will select blind sites in order of those lottery picks. Hunters must be Maryland residents and have purchased either a 2020-2021 or 2021-2022 Maryland hunting license prior to their appointment to license sites.

Winners of the lottery will be provided a time and date for a virtual online meeting to select their sites with notification and instructions occurring by email. No in-person meetings will occur. The email will include a link to communicate with a DNR staff person at the appropriate date and time through the Microsoft Teams virtual meeting application. Appointments will last 20 minutes and during that time hunters will have up to 10 minutes to license a maximum of two sites. Virtual meetings will begin on August 3 and continue during normal business hours until all appointments assigned by lottery have been held. Due to the increased time needed for online appointments and the volume of customers in some counties, appointments will occur over several business days. The appointments may not be rescheduled. If a winner is unable to keep their appointment time, they should cancel their appointment and make a new appointment once the process opens for appointments on request (Please see “Licensing After Opening Days” below).

Landowners who would like to license their riparian shoreline may also enter the same lottery through Compass. Landowners will be required to provide a copy of the property information (available online) and a tax map or other legible map showing the exact location of the shoreline to be licensed. Any landowners wishing to license their own property, or hunters who have the written permission of a landowner, are exempt from the requirement to possess a current or past-year hunting license.

Licensing After Opening Days

After the opening days, licensing for all counties will occur by appointment only. Customers may begin making appointments through the department’s website on August 18 for virtual meetings that will begin August 23. Customers who schedule an appointment will receive an email that includes a link to communicate with a DNR staff person at the appropriate date and time through Microsoft Teams. Owners of riparian property in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties, where only landowners or those with the written permission of the landowner may register sites, should make appointments during this period.

Virtual Meeting

As described above, hunters who have won a place in the lottery, or those who make an appointment for remaining blind sites after the lottery, will be emailed an invitation to a virtual meeting with a DNR staff person. The email will be from an address that is formatted as OBSL.countyname@maryland.gov, with the name of the county for which you applied in the lottery so please keep your eyes open for this invitation in both inboxes and spam/junk folders. The invitation will be for a specific date and time and may not be changed.

The invitation email will contain a web link to a virtual meeting that will be conducted through the Microsoft Teams online platform. Although downloading the Microsoft Teams program onto your computer will be an option, it is not necessary. We strongly recommend using the online link rather than downloading the program. The hunter will need to click on the link provided to them by email and indicate that they accept the meeting invitation. On the day of their scheduled meeting, the hunter will enter the meeting by clicking on that same link, prior to their appointed time, and wait to be connected with a MD DNR representative who will assist them with selecting up to two waterfowl blind sites.

We recommend joining Microsoft Teams 5 -10 minutes prior to the scheduled meeting, especially if you are unfamiliar with Microsoft Teams. Hunters should review Microsoft Teams prior to the meeting to familiarize themselves with its functions. For best results, we recommend using a newer computer with Windows 10 and Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. We also recommend an internet connection speed of around 6 - 8 Mgps (download) or more for optimal results. Speeds less than this may work, but the video quality may begin to degrade as speeds decrease. You can test the strength of your connection by typing “Internet Speed Test” into your browser for a quick online test. For maximum speed, be sure to close all other programs that may be running and sit close to your Wifi router.

The Microsoft Teams meeting can also be joined from a smartphone or tablet through the Microsoft Teams App. Hunters who wish to use their smartphone or tablet must first download the Microsoft Team App well before the meeting. Brief instructions for downloading the App are included HERE.

We recommend that the user familiarizes themselves with the functions of this app, and find a place that has a strong, reliable cellular signal of at least three out of four bars for optimal use during the meeting.

During this virtual meeting, the hunter and DNR representative must be able to see and speak to each other. If a hunter has a computer with a monitor and built-in microphone, they should be able to see and speak via the Microsoft Teams video-conferencing platform. Hunters are not required to have a computer with a built-in camera in order for the process to work. However, if a hunter has a computer that does not have a built-in microphone they will need to have a cell phone or landline where they can call into the virtual meeting (phone number will be provided with the invitation). In this case, the hunter will be watching the process on their monitor and listening and talking through their phone. If the hunter is running the Microsoft Teams app on their smartphone, they should be able to both see the process and speak via the app, rather than needing to call in.

As part of this process, the hunter will be able to view a map of their selected county and work with DNR staff to pick blind sites from eligible locations. Offshore waterfowl blind site placement specifications remain the same as in past years and can be viewed by clicking HERE.

The DNR representative will review the hunter’s Compass account to make sure they are eligible to participate in the blind site licensing process. The hunter may be required to present information, such as a driver’s license, to verify that they are the person scheduled for that appointment. The actual lottery winner or person who made the appointment must be present in the virtual meeting for blind sites to be reserved. Only one connection with the DNR representative is allowed during the meeting. As with in-person licensing, the meeting will end if the DNR representative cannot verify the identity of the hunter or determines that they are ineligible to participate.

The DNR representative will then share their screen allowing the hunter to view an electronic map showing the tidal waterways in their selected county, the shoreline mapping layer, and riparian properties that have been licensed by landowners. The DNR representative will be able to move the map around the screen and designate each blind site by clicking on the location indicated by the hunter.

After the blind sites are selected the DNR representative will verify the hunter’s contact information, provide them with their license number(s), and review payment instructions with the hunter before ending the meeting.

Payment Process

After selecting up to two blind sites, the hunter will have to submit electronic payment ($20 per site) through their COMPASS account. Further instructions regarding the payment process will be provided at the conclusion of the virtual meeting.

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