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Laws Pertaining to Hunting Equipment


Legal methods

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.

Illegal Methods

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.

Firearms Laws

Legal firearms for hunting

Handguns, rifles, and shotguns not larger than 10-gauge are legal for hunting in Maine, except as follows:

Automatic firearm

(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.

Auto-loading 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.

Illegal devices

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.

Illegal cartridges

Cartridges which contain tracer bullets or explosive bullets may not be used for hunting.

Deer 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.

Moose hunting

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:

  • Discharge a firearm, including muzzleloading firearms, crossbow or bow and arrow or cause a projectile to pass as a result of that discharge within 100 yards of a building or residential dwelling without the permission of the owner, or in the owner’s absence, an adult occupant who dwells in that location. Building means any residential, commercial, retail, educational, religious or farm structure that is designed to be occupied by people or domesticated animals or is being used to shelter machines or harvested crops.
  • Possess firearms or crossbows on public school property or discharge a firearm within 500 feet of school property.

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.

Archery Information


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).

  • Hunter orange clothing is NOT required when hunting with bow and arrow. Anyone who hunts with a firearm or crossbow must wear hunter orange (see Laws Pertaining to Hunting Equipment).
  • A handgun may be carried by licensed* hunters while bowhunting but may NOT be used to dispatch deer.
    * License to hunt with firearms.
  • Laws which allow you to hunt without a license on your own land under certain conditions apply to archery hunting (see below).
  • Deer may be taken under the archery provisions only by means of hand-held bow with a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds, and broad-head arrow. Arrow heads (including expandable mechanical broadheads) must be at least inch in width. It is unlawful to use a set bow, or to use arrows with poisonous or explosive tips. Until 1/1/2015 hunters 70 years of age or older may hunt any wild bird or wild animal with a crossbow.
  • All deer killed by bow and arrow during the archery seasons must be inspected and registered at the first open deer registration station.
  • It is legal to hunt until ½ hour after sunset during both archery deer seasons.
  • In WMDs where no any-deer permits are issued, archers and junior hunters are restricted to bucks only during the archery season on deer. (Deer taken during the expanded archery deer season are by appropriate permit as described above.)

In addition, all other laws pertaining to deer hunting shall apply to archery hunting.

Crossbow Information

Crossbow Permit

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:

  • Only crossbows with a shoulder-type stock may be used; hand-held pistol-type crossbows are prohibited;
  • the draw weight may not be less than 100 pounds nor more than 200 pounds;
  • arrowheads, including mechanical broadheads when open, must be at least inch in width;
  • arrows having explosive or poisonous tips are prohibited;
  • crossbows must be equipped with a mechanical trigger safety device in working condition;
  • crossbows equipped with scopes or sights may be used.

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:

  • Bears the risk of loss of legitimate prey to avoid the risk of the destruction of human life; neither disregards the risk of causing the death of another human being nor fails to be aware of that risk as a consequence of misidentification; and never bases identification upon sound alone or even upon sound in combination with what appears to be an appendage of the wild animal or wild bird sought.
  • Bases identification upon obtaining an essentially unobstructed view of the head and torso of the potential target.
  • Recognizes that these sound and sight target-determining factors are affected by a number of other considerations, including, but not limited to the distance to the target, surrounding or intervening terrain and cover, lighting and weather conditions, the hunter’s own ability to hear and see, the hunter’s own experience and the proximity of other persons in the hunter’s immediate vicinity.

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.

Hunter Orange Clothing Requirements

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

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.

New Trail/Game Cameras Law

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.

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