General Hunting Provisions

Hunting Regulations Icon Maine Hunting

To hunt means to pursue, catch, take, kill or harvest wild birds and wild animals (wild by nature, whether or not bred or reared in captivity including any physical part of that species of mammal or bird) or attempt to catch, take, kill or harvest wild animals or wild birds.

Unlawful Conduct

The hunting, possession, transporting of any species of wild animal or wild bird, or parts thereof, for which an open hunting season is not specifically provided, and except as provided in the fish and wildlife laws, is unlawful. It is also unlawful to take, possess or needlessly destroy the nest or eggs of any wild bird.

Prohibition Regarding Selling of Wild Animals

Selling wild birds:

A person may not sell or possess for sale a wild bird, except as provided in this Part. A person may sell the plumage of lawfully taken wild birds if that sale does not violate regulations of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

A person who has lawfully killed and registered a deer, bear or moose may (without a hide dealer’s license) sell:

  • The head, hide, antlers and feet of that deer.
  • The head, hide, antlers, feet and bones of that moose.
  • The head, hide, teeth, gallbladder and claws (not attached to the paws) of that bear.

A person may buy the above listed items for their personal use, except buying, bartering for or trading for bear gallbladders and raw antlers always requires a hide dealer’s license.

The commercial buying, selling, bartering and trading of any raw, untanned animal hides (including fur-bearing animals) or parts of wild animals and wild birds, not prohibited above, requires a hide dealer’s license.

Any parts bought or sold may not be attached to wild animal or wild bird parts which are prohibited from being sold.

Bear gall bladders and raw, unfinished deer and moose antlers must be tagged or accompanied with documentation containing the name and address of the person who legally killed the animal.

A person may buy or sell naturally shed antlers of deer or moose without a hide dealer’s license.

A person may buy, sell, barter or trade legally obtained finished wildlife products, excluding federally protected wild animals and birds.

Please refer to mefishwildlife.com for latest changes to this license and the new reporting requirements.

Night hunting:

Except as otherwise provided, wild birds and wild animals may not be hunted from 1/2 hour after sunset until 1/2 hour before sunrise the following day. Exceptions: migratory game bird, raccoon, and coyote.

Raccoon hunting:

Raccoons may be hunted at night during the open season only when the hunter:

  • is accompanied by a dog;
  • uses an electric flashlight to locate raccoons that are treed, or held at bay by a dog or dogs, and;
  • uses a rifle or handgun of no greater power than one which uses .22 caliber long rifle ammunition; said rifle to be loaded only when being used to dispatch a raccoon that is treed or held at bay by dogs.

Placement of bait for hunting purposes:

A person placing bait for hunting purposes must:

  • Obtain oral or written permission from the landowner or landowner’s agent.
  • Plainly label the bait with a 2-inch by 4-inch tag containing the name and address of the baiter.
  • Clean up the bait site immediately upon landowner request, or if not requested, within 20 days of the last day the site is hunted.
  • A person may not hunt over another person’s bait site without the baiter’s permission.

As used in this section “bait” means an animal or plant or a part of an animal or plant used to attract wild animals for the purpose of hunting.

A person may not place any medicinal,poisonous, or stupefying substance to entice any animal, including bear.

This subsection does not apply to bear baiting, which is summarized on page 21. Baiting deer during any open season on deer is prohibited. Baiting moose and turkey is prohibited September 1, 2016 to December 15, 2016. Baiting turkey is also prohibited during the spring wild turkey season.

Shooting within 100 yards of dwelling:

It is unlawful to discharge any firearm, including muzzleloaders or crossbow, or cause a projectile to pass as a result of that discharge within 100 yards of a building or residential dwelling without permission from the owner. In the owner’s absence, an adult occupant who dwells in that location may grant permission. As used in this section “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. “Projectile” means a bullet, pellet, shot, shell, ball, bolt or other object propelled or launched from a firearm or crossbow.

Exception: Persons target practicing with a crossbow, on their own land or on land which they have permission to use, may discharge a crossbow within 100 yards of a dwelling provided the projectile does not enter the property of another.

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.

Hunting under the influence:

It is unlawful to hunt while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs.

Possession of hunting equipment on Sunday:

Possession of hunting equipment in the fields and forests or on the waters or ice of this State on Sunday is prima facie evidence of a violation of Sunday hunting unless: the hunting equipment is carried, securely wrapped in a complete cover, fastened in a case, or carried in at least 2 separate pieces in such a manner that it cannot be fired unless the separate pieces are joined together. For the purpose of this paragraph, a clip, a magazine, or a cylinder of a firearm shall not be considered a piece of the firearm. Bows and arrows must be kept in a case or cover if broadheads or field points are kept attached to the arrows.

A person may possess hunting equipment on Sunday for legitimate activities such as target practice, sighting in rifles, etc.

Airborne hunting:

A person on the ground or airborne may not use aircraft (including drones & remote-controlled aircraft) to aid or assist in hunting deer, bear, or moose.

Shooting from a motor vehicle or motorboat or possessing a loaded firearm or crossbow in or on a motor vehicle:

It is unlawful to shoot while in or on a motor vehicle, motorboat, snowmobile or ATV or have a loaded firearm or cross bow while in or on a motor vehicle, trailer, or other type of vehicle being hauled by a motor vehicle except as specifically allowed.


  • Persons who hold a valid Maine permit to carry a concealed weapon may carry a loaded pistol or revolver in a motor vehicle as prescribed by Title 25 sub 2001A please see page 10 for more information on carrying concealed firearms.
  • Paraplegics and single or double amputees of the legs may shoot from motor vehicles that are not in motion.
  • Migratory waterfowl may be hunted from a motorboat in accordance with federal regulation.
  • A person may shoot from a motorboat if that boat is not being propelled by the motor and forward momentum of the boat has stopped. However, the wanton waste law allows you to shoot crippled waterfowl from a motorboat. under power on coastal waters and all waters of rivers and streams lying seaward of the first upstream bridge.

Note: A loaded clip may be carried in a motor vehicle, but it must not be inserted in, or attached to, a firearm; a crossbow may be carried as long it is not cocked and armed; a muzzleloader is considered to be loaded only if charged with powder, projectile and a primed ignition device or mechanism.

Shooting from or over a public paved way:

A person is guilty of hunting from or over a public paved way if that person shoots at any wild animal or wild bird from any public paved way or within 10 feet of the edge of the pavement of the public paved way or from within the right-ofway of any controlled access highway or discharges any firearm, crossbow, or bow and arrow over a public paved way (any road treated with bituminous or concrete material).

Shooting of domestic animals:

It is unlawful for any person, while on a hunting trip, to negligently, carelessly, or willfully shoot and wound or kill any domestic animal or domestic bird.

Firearms on school property:

Possession of a firearm or crossbow on public school property or discharging one within 500 feet of school property, except as used in supervised educational programs or by law enforcement officials, is a violation of Title 20-A Section 6552.

Disposal of Remains:

It is unlawful, except during normal field dressing or for baiting purposes, to dispose of the carcass, waste parts or remains of a wild animal, unless you are on the private property owned by you, or on property where you have landowner permission.

Outdoor Safety Courses

Do you need to take an outdoor safety course to obtain your license for firearms, archery, crossbow, or trapping?

Maine law requires completion to obtain your adult license unless you have previously done so or have held an adult license.

These courses are made available in your area by volunteer instructors certified by the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. Pre-registration is requested and/or required. Courses will include 6 to 12 hours of instruction dependent on the subject.

Sponsors include school districts, sports clubs, civic groups, and others. Courses will be scheduled based on instructor availability.

For information on becoming a volunteer instructor, contact your local Regional Safety Coordinator or the Recreational Safety Division Office at (207) 287-5220.

For course listings, see Safety/Education Courses.

Recreational Safety Division:

Mailing Address: 284 State Street, Station 41, Augusta Maine 04333
Office Address: 8 Federal Street, Augusta Maine 04330

Michael Sawyer, Recreational Safety & Vehicle Coordinator (207) 287-5222, cell (207) 557-0553
Brenda Chaplin, Secretary, (207) 287-5220