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Deer Hunting

Hunting Regulations Icon Maine Hunting

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 muzzleloader 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 Expanded Archery Permit, 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 Prohibition Regarding Selling of Wild Animals.

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 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 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 muzzleloader deer season. The muzzleloader permit is included in the junior hunting license and for individuals who have reached 70 years of age and possess a senior lifetime license.
  • 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 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 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 Permits

  • Restricted to designated areas (see Expanded Archery Season on Deer or contact the Department for maps and descriptions of areas).
  • Archery hunting only.
  • Hunters who have a valid archery license will be able to purchase multiple expanded archery antlerless deer permits for $12.00* each, and one expanded archery either-sex permit (allows either an antlered or antlerless deer but not both) 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 expanded archery either-sex permit (allows either an antlered or antlerless deer but not both). If the hunter wants to take additional deer, unlimited expanded archery antlerless deer permits may be purchased.

Antlerless Deer Permit

  • Hunting of antlerless deer during the firearms season and muzzleloader 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 anydeer 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 anydeer 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. See Any-Deer Permits or contact the Department at (207) 287-8000 for more information.

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 (Winter Severity Index) and WMR (Winter Mortality Rate) 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. Begin to understand predator-prey dynamics for white-tailed deer, in Maine.

Deer Hunting Seasons

Seasons Dates Daily Bag and Possession Limit
Expanded Archery
(limited area/permit required)
See Expanded Archery Season on Deer
September 10 – December 10, 2016 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
(Statewide)
September 29 – October 28, 2016
Firearms
(allows use of bow and arrow, crossbows*, firearms, or muzzleloaders)
Maine Residents Only: October 29, 2016
All Hunters: October 31- November 26, 2016
Youth Deer Hunting Day October 22, 2016
Muzzleloader Week 1: November 28 – December 3, 2016
All Wildlife Management Districts (WMD’s)
Week 2: December 5 – December 10, 2016
Wildlife Management Districts (WMD’s) 12, 13, 15-18, 20-26, 29

All dates are inclusive except that hunting is prohibited on Sunday.
* See Laws Pertaining to Hunting Equipment for information on the use of crossbows.

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.

Reporting Accidents and 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.

Harassment of Hunters

It is illegal for any person to willfully interfere with the lawful hunting 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.

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).

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 Street, 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 the Department wardens and biologists or by calling the Maine Sportsman at (207) 622-4242.