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Deer Hunting

Hunting Regulations Icon Maine Hunting

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

Hunting of antlerless deer (a deer that has no antlers or has 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 not allowed to harvest antlerless deer.

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 .17 or .22 caliber rimfire cartridges, except that .22 caliber rimfire magnum cartridges are permitted. Deer decoys are legal.
  • A person may not participate in a hunt for deer during which an organized or planned effort is made to drive deer. Four or more persons working together to move deer constitutes an organized or planned effort to drive 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.

The following areas are closed to deer hunting:

  • 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. See exceptions below.

The following areas are open to deer hunting but with these special restrictions:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 during the archery, expanded archery, or firearm season on deer with bow and arrow only.
  • 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 open special archery season and the firearms season on deer. (Note: Landowner permission required.)
  • 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.
  • 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 densely populated communities, hunters should check with local authorities regarding such ordinances. Towns may regulate the discharge of firearms as provided by Title 30-A, however, they cannot regulate or charge fees to hunt, fish or trap.

Deer Permits & Licenses

Muzzleloader Permit

  • Required for hunters 16 years of age or older prior to hunting deer during the muzzleloading deer season. (See below.) The muzzleloader permit is included in the junior hunting license. Those individuals who have reached 70 years of age and possess a senior lifetime license are qualified to receive a muzzleloader permit.
  • A muzzleloader permit, in addition to a valid adult big game hunting license that allows the use of firearms, is required to hunt deer with muzzleloaders during this season.
  • Hunter orange clothing is required during this season (see Hunter Orange Clothing Requirements).
  • 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 muzzleloaders.
  • Only muzzleloaders 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. Muzzleloader 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.

Expanded Archery Permit

  • Restricted to designated areas (contact the Department, or see our website, 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 either sex permit for $32.00*
    *Plus agent fee
  • Deer must be legally transported and registered as required for other deer seasons.
  • All other archery deer hunting laws apply.
  • Junior hunters may hunt during this season with their junior hunting license.
  • The junior hunting license includes one expanded archery antlerless deer permit and one either sex permit.
  • Other complimentary licenses include one expanded archery antlerless deer permit and one either sex permit.
  • For all expanded archery hunters, unlimited antlerless deer permits may be purchased.

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 any-deer permits are not issued. Any-deer permits are acquired by lottery only and 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.
  • 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 website at

Youth Deer Hunting Day

Youth 10 years of age and under 16 years of age may take an antlerless deer only in those WMDs where Any-Deer permits were issued. All other WMDs prohibit shooting antlerless deer. Limit is one deer per year unless they receive a bonus antlerless deer permit or participate in the expanded archery season (with appropriate licenses or permits). See Junior Hunters for complete information, restrictions and changes to Junior hunting laws, becoming effective January 1, 2016.

Deer Hunting

Deer Survey Results

MDIF&W biologists annually collect weather related data (i.e., temperature, snow depth, and deer sinking depth) from 27 representative sites across Maine to calculate a weather severity index. The index provides MDIF&W with an all-inclusive (i.e., accounts for predation, malnutrition, physical limitations of deer, etc…,) estimate of over-winter mortality rates. The metric has been used since 1973 to estimate annual over-winter mortality of white-tailed deer at the statewide and WMD levels. Since the correlation between WSI and WMR was identified, the metric has become one of the cornerstones of Maine’s deer management system.

Because the metric is derived from an ecological relationship, which may change through time, we must continue to monitor the efficacy of the metric to maintain our high standards of wildlife management.

As such, MDIF&W has initiated a 5-year population monitoring project using GPS-Satellite collar technology to track survival/mortality trends associated with Maine’s antlerless deer populations. The primary goals of the monitoring project are to:

  1. Reevaluate the correlation between WSI and WMR for white-tailed deer,
  2. Assess seasonal survival rates for the adult female (≥1.5 years) and fawn segments of the population,
  3. Assess cause-specific mortality of our adult female and fawn populations, and
  4. Reassess the current winter severity index and try to identify a new, and more simplistic metric.
  5. Begun to understand predator-prey dynamics for white-tailed deer, in Maine.

Harassment of Hunters & Trappers

It is illegal for any person to willfully interfere with the lawful hunting and trapping of any wild animal or wild bird, including the willful disturbance of wild animals or wild birds with intent to interfere with their lawful taking. (Note: This law does not limit the ownership, use, access, or control of property rights otherwise provided by law.)

Notice to Dog Owners

It is unlawful to allow any dog to run at large at any time, except when used for hunting. (“AT LARGE” means off the premises of the owner and not under the control of any person by means of personal presence or attention.) It is unlawful to allow any dog to chase, wound, or kill a deer or moose at any time or any other wild animal in closed season.

2015 Deer Seasons & Bag Limits



Daily Bag Limit

Possession Limit

Expanded Archery

(limited area/ permit required)

Sept 12 – Dec 12

Only 1 may be taken annually.

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

Regular Archery


Oct 1 – Oct 30


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

Maine Residents Only:

Oct 31

All Hunters:
Nov 2 – Nov 28

Youth Deer Hunting Day

Oct 24


Week 1: All Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs)

Nov 30 – Dec 5

Week 2: WMDs 12, 13, 15–18, 20–26, 29

Dec 7 – Dec 12

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

*See Laws Pertaining to Hunting Equipment for information on the use of crossbows.

Observation Stands

(10652, Subsection 1-B-1, 2) It is unlawful to insert any metallic or ceramic object into a tree on land of another for the purpose of erecting a ladder or observation stand, unless you have permission from the landowner. You must obtain verbal or written permission of the landowner (or representative) to erect or use a portable or permanent ladder or observation stand and the ladder or observation stand must be plainly labeled with a 2-inch by 4-inch tag identifying the name and address of the person or persons authorized by the landowner to use the observation stand or ladder. (Exception: Portable ladders or observation stands used on land within the jurisdiction of the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission and attended by the person who owns the ladder or observation stand shall not require landowner permission or labelling, but permanent ones do. (Note: For additional information on the use of private property, see Hunting Areas) Observation stands do not include portable blinds utilized at ground level that remain in the physical possession of the hunter.

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.

Reporting Accidents & Aiding Victims

Any person who knows or has reason to believe that they have inflicted injury to another person by the use of firearms or bow and arrow is required to make themselves known to the victim and render such first aid and assistance as they are capable of under the circumstances. The incident must be reported by the quickest means, to a game warden or other law enforcement officer.