Wild animals and wild birds may be hunted only by the use of firearms (not larger than 10-gauge), hand-held bow and arrow, crossbow or by falconry. Deer and moose decoys are legal; laser sights (red dots or beam) for firearms and bows are legal. Electronic calling devices are currently legal for deer, bear, turkey, moose, and coyote hunting. Electronic calling devices are illegal for migratory game birds.
Shotgun to be plugged
It is unlawful to hunt any migratory game bird with a shotgun originally capable of holding more than 3 shells unless the magazine has been cut off, altered, or plugged with a one-piece filler (incapable of removal without disassembling the gun), so as to reduce the capacity of the gun to not more than 3 shells in the magazine and chamber combined.
It is illegal to shoot an animal restrained in another person’s trap without their permission.
Drawlocks and set bows are illegal unless otherwise permitted for disabled hunters. Crossbows cannot be used to hunt wild turkeys in the fall season, or deer during the expanded archery, regular Oct. archery, or the muzzleloading season. Please see exceptions and additional information related to crossbow hunting below under Crossbow Information.
Legal firearms for hunting
Handguns, rifles, and shotguns not larger than 10-gauge are legal for hunting in Maine, except as follows:
(A firearm that continues to fire as long as the trigger is held back.)
It is unlawful to hunt with or possess for hunting any automatic firearm.
(A firearm which reloads itself after each shot and requires a separate trigger pull for each shot.)
It is unlawful to hunt with or possess for hunting any auto-loading firearm which has a magazine capacity of more than 5 cartridges (plus 1 in the chamber for a total of 6), unless the magazine has been permanently altered to contain not more than 5 cartridges. (Note: This provision does not apply to .22 caliber rimfire guns or to auto-loading pistols with barrel lengths of less than 8 inches.)
Illegal use of lights
From September 1 to December 15, it is unlawful to use artificial lights from ½ hour after sunset until ½ hour before sunrise to illuminate, jack, locate, attempt to locate or show up wild animals or wild birds except raccoons which may be hunted at night with electric flashlights during the open season (see General Hunting Provisions for details).
New This Year: An exception to this may be made for agents appointed by the Commissioner to hunt coyotes at night during this period under policies established by the Department.
It is unlawful to hunt with the use of (sell or offer for sale for the purpose of hunting) a set gun, or any poisonous or stupefying substance (except rodenticide for orchard mouse control and gas cartridges for woodchuck control).
Illegal devices for hunting
In addition to poisonous bolts or set guns, the following are illegal:
It is unlawful to hunt with or possess for hunting any firearm fitted or contrived with any device for deadening the sound of the explosion.
Cartridges which contain tracer bullets or explosive bullets may not be used for hunting.
No firearm may be used which uses .17 or .22 caliber rimfire cartridges, except .22 magnum. No firearms of any kind may be carried while hunting deer with a bow and arrow during the special archery season on deer and the expanded archery season on deer, except that a person who also holds a license that allows hunting with firearms may carry a handgun but it cannot be used to shoot a deer or dispatch a wounded deer.
It is illegal to use .17 or .22 caliber rimfire firearms or shotguns using shot loads.
Carrying concealed firearms
A permit is required to carry a concealed firearm in Maine, except that licensed hunters and trappers are exempt while engaged in these activities; the latter provision does not authorize the carrying of a concealed or loaded firearm in a motor vehicle. Some town offices or city halls issue these permits to residents. If not, contact Maine State Police. Nonresidents may obtain concealed weapons permits from the Maine State Police: (207) 624-7210.
Loaded firearms in motor vehicles
It is unlawful to have a loaded firearm or crossbow in or on a motor vehicle (including trailer, ATV, aircraft, snowmobile, or railway car). A loaded clip may be carried in a motor vehicle, but it must not be inserted in or attached to a firearm. Persons who hold a Maine concealed firearms permit may carry a loaded pistol or revolver in a motor vehicle. Firearms may be transported in a motor vehicle without a concealed firearms permit provided they are (1) unloaded and in plain view, or (2) are unloaded and placed in a remote secure area (such as a locked trunk) away from the control of the occupants of the motor vehicle. For purposes of this law, a muzzleloading firearm is considered to be loaded only if charged with powder, lead and a primed ignition device or mechanism. A crossbow is considered loaded if cocked and armed.
It is illegal to:
Other illegal areas
Firearms and crossbows may not be carried on game preserves. Firearms and crossbows must be in a case or stored in the trunk of a car when transported through Baxter State Park.
The regular archery license allows bow and arrow hunting for all legal game throughout the year (except deer during the muzzleloading season). An archery license is required to hunt during the regular archery deer season, the expanded archery deer season, and the fall wild turkey archery hunting season. In addition to the regular archery license, hunters participating in the expanded archery deer season (designated areas only) and the fall wild turkey season must purchase permits as follows: Multiple antlerless deer permits may be purchased for $12 each and one buck permit for $32 for the expanded archery deer season. Wild Turkey permits may be purchased for a fee of $20 for residents and non-residents (Eff. Jan. 1, 2014).
Complimentary archery license holders (Disabled Veteran, Native American) and junior hunting license holders may hunt with those licenses during the expanded archery deer season and the Fall wild turkey season. One expanded archery antlerless deer permit and available wild turkey permits are included with these licenses.
Applicants for the regular archery license must show proof of having successfully completed an archery hunter education course or of having held an adult archery license in any year after 1979. See exception for Native Americans, 2013-14 Licensing Information.
Junior hunters (at least 10 years of age and under 16) who hold a valid Junior Hunting License are allowed to hunt with bow and arrow when accompanied by their parent or an adult 18 years of age or older (see Junior Hunters).
In addition, all other laws pertaining to deer hunting shall apply to archery hunting.
To be eligible to purchase a crossbow hunting license, you must hold a valid license to hunt big game (either a big game hunting license or an archery license), and must submit proof of having successfully completed an archery hunting education course and a crossbow hunting course or satisfactory evidence of having previously held adult archery and crossbow hunting licenses in this state or any other state, province, or country, in any year after 1979. When proof or evidence cannot be provided, the applicant may substitute a signed affidavit. By Maine State Law, a crossbow is not considered a firearm.
A resident or nonresident 10 years of age or older and under 16 years of age may hunt with a crossbow if that person holds a valid junior hunting license (no crossbow license required). A person may hunt any wild bird or animal with a crossbow during any open season on that bird or animal while still following all the other laws pertinent to that species except that a licensed crossbow hunter 10-69 years of age may not hunt wild turkey during the fall turkey season or hunt deer during the expanded archery, special October archery or muzzleloading seasons.
Persons 70 years of age or older or persons who have a special handicap permit to use a crossbow may use a crossbow for any species in season with appropriate permits. For Native Americans, see 2013-14 Licensing Information.
Conditions on the Use of Crossbows
Exceptions to crossbow hunting: Crossbows cannot be used to hunt wild turkeys in the fall season or deer during the expanded archery, regular October archery or the muzzleloading season (Eff. 10/9/2013).
The following conditions apply to the use of crossbows:
Target Identification While Hunting
This is a summary of 12 MRSA §11222.
While hunting, a hunter may not shoot at a target without at that point in time being certain that it is the wild animal or wild bird sought.
A reasonable and prudent hunter:
Always Seek Permission
Always seek permission before engaging in any form of outdoor recreation on property that belongs to someone else. If you know you are welcome to use someone’s land, don’t abuse the privilege. If you don’t know if you are welcome, find out. If the land is posted or you know you are not welcome, find another location. A hunting or trapping license does not give you the right — stated or implied — to go on another person’s land against their wishes.
Articles of hunter orange clothing must be in good and serviceable condition and visible from all sides. A decal on an article of clothing that is otherwise solid-colored hunter orange does not disqualify that article of clothing from satisfying the requirements of this subsection. Hunter orange means a daylight fluorescent orange color with a dominant wave length between 595 and 605 nanometers, excitation purity not less than 85% and luminance factor of not less than 40%.
Waterfowl Hunters: are not affected by the provisions below while hunting from a boat, blind, or in conjunction with waterfowl decoys.
Firearms Season on Deer
Anyone who hunts any species with a firearm or crossbow during any firearms season on deer (also on Youth Deer Day) must wear two articles of hunter orange clothing. One article must be a solid-colored hunter orange hat; the other must cover a major portion of the torso, such as a jacket, vest, coat or poncho and must be a minimum of 50% hunter orange in color (camouflage).
Archery Seasons on Deer
Hunter orange clothing is not required while hunting with a bow and arrow during the archery season.
Moose Hunting Season
Anyone who hunts any species with a firearm or crossbow in a Wildlife Management District that is open to moose hunting must wear one article of solid-colored hunter orange clothing (hat or clothing) except in the WMDs (15, 16, 22, 23, 25 & 26) open during deer season and WMDs (1-5, 7, 8, 19) open in November, where two pieces must be worn. All laws pertaining to deer hunting apply to Moose hunters during these seasons.
Muzzleloading Season on Deer
The hunter orange clothing requirements listed above under the firearms hunting season on deer apply.
Bear and Bird Hunters
When hunting bears and birds, hunter orange clothing is only required when hunting during the firearms hunting season on deer, the muzzleloading season on deer, or within an open moose hunting district during moose hunting season.
People using trail and game cameras may not place a game camera upon the private land of another without written permission. All game cameras must be labeled with the person’s name and contact information.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.