Skip to Main Content Skip to Main Navigation

Deer Hunting

Hunting of antlered deer is legal throughout the State during any open deer hunting season.

Hunting of antlerless deer (having antlers less than 3 inches in length measured from the skull) is prohibited except by special permit during both the firearms season and the muzzleloading season.

In WMDs where no any-deer permits are issued, archers and junior hunters are also restricted to bucks only.

Multiple deer may be taken during the expanded archery season, and one may be taken during any one of the remaining seasons (with appropriate licenses or permits).

Deer Hunting Prohibitions

  • Baiting deer by placing salt or any other bait or food to entice deer or hunting from an observation stand or blind overlooking salt, grain, fruit, nuts or other foods known to be attractive to deer, during any open hunting season on deer is prohibited. (Does not apply to hunting from an observation stand or blind overlooking: standing crops; foods that have been left as a result of normal agricultural operations or as a result of natural occurrence; or bear bait that has been placed at a bear hunting stand or blind in accordance with bear baiting laws.
  • Deer may not be hunted with the use of dogs, artificial lights, snares, traps, set guns or any firearm using .22 caliber rimfire cartridges, except that .22 caliber rimfire magnum cartridges are permitted. Deer decoys are legal.
  • Driving deer or taking part in a deer drive is unlawful, except that 3 or fewer persons may hunt together, without the aid of noisemaking devices. Driving deer is an organized or planned effort to pursue, drive, chase or otherwise frighten or cause deer to move in the direction of any person(s) who are part of the organized or planned hunt and known to be waiting for the deer.
  • It is unlawful to hunt deer after having killed or registered one during the open season of that calendar year (except for participants in the expanded archery season on deer — see below, or by individuals in possession of a valid bonus antlerless deer permit or superpack antlerless deer permit).
  • Gift deer may not be possessed unless clearly labeled with the name and address of the person who registered the animal, and the year it was registered.
  • For information on buying, selling or bartering animals, see General Hunting Provisions.

Special Restrictions

There is a closed season on deer in the following areas:

  • Mt. Desert Island in Hancock County;
  • Cross and Scotch Islands, located in Washington County;
  • The town of Isle au Haut and islands within that town, located in Knox County; and
  • In wildlife sanctuaries, unless otherwise provided. (Beauchamp Point Sanctuary in Camden and Rockport, Knox County, is open to archery hunting for deer during any open hunting season that allows archery equipment to be used to hunt deer.)

Frenchboro: On the island of Frenchboro it is lawful to hunt deer with shotgun only during the firearms season on deer.

Islesboro: In the town of Islesboro, Waldo County, it is lawful to hunt deer with bow and arrow only during the archery, expanded archery, or firearm season on deer.

Southport: In the town of Southport, Lincoln County, and on all islands within its confines, it is lawful to hunt deer with shotguns only, during the firearms season on deer.

Prout’s Neck; Richmond’s Island; Cape Elizabeth Sanctuary: Approximately 1,600 acres of this sanctuary is open to deer hunting with bow and arrow only during the archery seasons and the firearms season on deer.
(Note: Landowner permission required.)

Cranberry Isles: In the town of Cranberry Isles, Hancock County, it is lawful to hunt deer with bow and arrow only during the archery and firearms seasons on deer or with shotgun during the firearm season on deer.

Municipal Ordinances: Several Maine cities and towns have adopted local ordinances which restrict or prohibit the discharge of certain projectiles (e.g., arrows, bullets). Prior to hunting near thickly settled communities, hunters should check with local authorities regarding such ordinances.

Deer Permits & Licenses

Muzzleloader Deer Season

  • A muzzleloading license, in addition to a valid adult or junior big game hunting license that allows the use of firearms, is required to hunt deer with muzzleloading rifles during this season.
  • Hunter orange clothing is required during this season.
  • Hunting hours are from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.
  • Except as specified, all other laws relating to the taking of deer with firearms shall apply to the taking of deer with muzzleloading firearms.
  • Only muzzleloading firearms that are 40 caliber or greater and capable of firing only a single charge and crossbows by persons 70 years of age or older may be used to hunt deer during this season. Muzzleloading firearm means a firearm that is capable of being loaded only through the muzzle; is ignited by a matchlock, wheel lock, flintlock, or caplock, including an in-line caplock or shotgun or rifle primer mechanism; has a rifled or smooth-bored barrel capable of firing only a single charge; propels a ball, bullet, or charge of shot; and may have any type of sights, including scopes (§10001 42-A and §11404).

Muzzleloading License: Required for hunters 10 years of age or older prior to hunting deer during the muzzleloading deer season. (See below.) The resident junior hunting license includes the muzzleloading license.

Expanded Archery Permit

Restricted to designated areas (contact the Department for maps of areas). Archery hunting only. Hunters who have a valid archery license will be able to purchase multiple antlerless deer permits for $12.00 each, and one buck permit for $32.00 (plus agent fee). (Junior hunters 10 years of age or older and under 16 years of age may hunt during this season with their junior hunting license but must purchase the expanded archery permits.) Limit: One buck and/or multiple antlerless deer (with appropriate expanded archery permits). Deer must be legally transported and registered as required for other deer seasons. All other archery deer hunting laws apply. The resident junior hunting license includes one expanded archery antlerless permit.

Antlerless Deer Permit

Hunting of antlerless deer during the firearms season and muzzleloading season is restricted to those hunters who possess a valid any-deer permit, bonus antlerless deer permit, or superpack antlerless deer permit. Antlerless deer may be taken by hunters during the expanded (September – December) and regular (October) archery seasons. Archers may not take antlerless deer in WMDs where antlerless deer permits are not issued. Applications are available mid-June.

In several WMDs, there may be more any-deer permits available than applicants. Unclaimed bonus antlerless deer permits will be allocated in a chance drawing until all permits in that district have been issued. Application deadline: To be Announced

Maine’s antlerless deer (firearms) hunt is a “permit only” hunt. Information on this hunt is contained in a separate publication. Contact the Department at (207) 287-8000 for more information or visit our web site at


Deer Hunting


2012 Deer Seasons & Bag Limits







Daily Bag Limit

Possession Limit

Expanded Archery

(limited area/ permit required)

Sept 8 – Dec 8

Only 1 may be taken annually.

Exception: Additional deer may be taken by participants in the Expanded Archery Season or by anyone possessing a bonus antlerless deer permit or superpack antlerless deer permit.

Regular Archery


Sept 27 – Oct 26


(allows use of bow and arrow, crossbows*, firearms, or muzzleloaders)

Maine Residents Only:

Oct 27

All Hunters:
Oct 29 – Nov 24

Youth Deer Hunting Day

Oct 20


Week 1: All Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs)

Nov 26 – Dec 1

Week 2: WMDs 12, 13, 15–18, 20–26, 29

Dec 3 – Dec 8





All dates are inclusive except that hunting is prohibited on Sunday.

See Archery & Crossbow Laws for  information on the use of crossbows.


Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

Return to the home page
Conservation Partner Advertisements: The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife allows appropriate advertising in its annual regulation guides in print and online, in order to defray or eliminate expenses to the state, and support enhanced communications with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Constituents. Through a unique partnership with J.F.Griffin Publishing, LLC &, ‘Conservation Partners’ have been established that pay for advertising in support of the regulations both in print and online. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife neither endorses products or services listed or claims made; nor accepts any liability arising from the use of products or services listed. Advertisers interested in the Conservation Partners program should contact J.F.Griffin/ directly at 413-884-1001,
J.F. Griffin reaches 20 million sportsmen every year through our print and digital publications. We produce 47 hunting and fishing regulation guides for 22 state agencies.
For advertising information, please visit: