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Deer Hunting

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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 restricted from shooting 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 archery 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 2014-15 Licensing Information) 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 buck 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 10 years of age or older and under 16 years of age may hunt during this season with their junior hunting license.
  • The junior hunting license includes one expanded archery antlerless permit.  If the hunter wants to take additional deer, one expanded archery antlered deer permit and unlimited expanded archery 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 web site 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.

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.

Regulations on feeding deer

The commissioner can stop anyone from feeding deer when it is deemed to be a public safety hazard or detrimental to the deer population.

Hunters For the Hungry

Attention hunters! Some Maine citizens lack adequate nutrition. A gift of meat from your hunt can help reduce hunger in Maine.

Hunters for the Hungry is a program for donating wild game meat to food kitchens, shelters, and charitable organizations statewide.

To find out how you can help call

1-888-4DEERME (433-3763)

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.

2014 Deer Seasons & Bag Limits



Daily Bag Limit

Possession Limit

Expanded Archery

(limited area/ permit required)

Sept 6 – Dec 13

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 2 – Oct 31


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

Maine Residents Only:

Nov 1

All Hunters:
Nov 3 – Nov 29

Youth Deer Hunting Day

Oct 25


Week 1: All Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs)

Dec 1 – Dec 6

Week 2: WMDs 12, 13, 15–18, 20–26, 29

Dec 8 – Dec 13

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.

Big Buck Club

Maine has a club for deer hunters called “The Biggest Bucks in Maine Club,” which is sponsored by:

The Maine Sportsman
183 State St., Suite 101
Augusta, ME 04330

To qualify, the minimum dressed weight (without heart, lungs, and liver) must be 200 pounds. Application blanks are available from Department wardens and biologists or by calling The Maine Sportsman at (207) 622-4242.

Hunting with Dogs

Dog Training Season

  • Dogs may be trained on fox, snowshoe hare, and raccoons from July 1st through the following March 31st. It is unlawful to use or possess a firearm, other than a pistol or a shotgun, loaded with blank ammunition, while training dogs on fox, snowshoe hare, or raccoons (except during the open hunting season on these species). Dogs may be used to hunt wild hares during the firearm season on deer.
  • Residents may train up to 6 dogs on bear from July 1st to August 21st, 2014 except in portions of Washington and Hancock counties that are situated south of Route 9.
  • Sporting dogs may be trained on wild birds (does not include wild turkey) at any time. The commissioner may authorize the use of firearms during such training to shoot and kill wild birds propagated or legally acquired by the permittee and possessed in accordance with the laws pertaining to breeders licenses.
  • A person must possess a valid hunting license to engage in these activities, except Sunday or when training on pen-raised birds.
  • A person may not hunt with a dog in pursuit of bear, coyote or bobcat unless the dog has a collar that legibly provides the name, telephone number and address of the owner of that dog.
  • A person or persons may not use more than 6 dogs at any one time to hunt coyotes or bobcats.
  • A person may not use a dog to hunt coyotes during the period from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.

A person with a suspended or revoked license may not train dogs.

Leashed Dog Tracking License

A license is available which allows the tracking of wounded deer, moose, and bear with dogs. The fee for this license is $27. The fee for a 3-year license is $81. A person who holds a valid license may charge a fee for dog tracking services without having to hold a guides license as long as that is the only service provided. Contact the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for details.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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