Laws Pertaining to Hunting Equipment
Wild animals and wild birds may be hunted only by the use of rifles, handguns, shotguns (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 legal for deer, bear, turkey, moose, and coyote hunting, but are illegal for migratory game birds.
It is unlawful to hunt with the use of (or sell or offer for sale for the purpose of hunting) a set gun, or any medicinal, poisonous or stupefying substance (except rodenticide for orchard mouse control and gas cartridges for woodchuck control).
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 October archery, or the muzzleloading season. Please see exceptions and additional information related to crossbow hunting below under Crossbow Information.
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). 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.
- It is unlawful to hunt with or possess for hunting any 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 auto-loading firearm (a firearm which reloads itself after each shot and requires a separate trigger pull for each shot) 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.)
- 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.
- 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 without a permit.
- It is unlawful to hunt with cartridges which contain tracer bullets or explosive bullets.
- No firearm may be used for deer, moose, and bear hunting which uses .17 or .22 caliber rimfire cartridges, except .22 magnum can be used for deer hunting.
- 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.
Until October 15, 2015, 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.
Effective October 15, 2015: New law allows a person to carry a concealed handgun without a permit and may have that concealed, loaded pistol or revolver in, or on, a motor vehicle or trailer if:
- The person is 21 years of age or older and is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm or;
- The person is 18 years of age or older and under 21 years of age and on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces of the United State or the National Guard and is not otherwise prohibited from carrying a firearm.
Upon contact with a law enforcement officer, a person carrying a concealed handgun without a permit is required to notify them immediately.
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. 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 muzzleloader is considered to be loaded only if charged with powder, a projectile and a primed ignition device or mechanism. A crossbow is considered loaded if cocked and armed. For more information regarding carrying a loaded pistol or revolver see above.
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, and the expanded archery deer season. In addition to the regular archery license, hunters participating in the expanded archery deer season (designated areas only) must purchase permits as follows: Multiple antlerless deer permits may be purchased for $12 each and one either sex permit for $32 for the expanded archery deer season.
Complimentary archery license holders (Disabled Veteran, Native American) and junior hunting license holders may hunt with those licenses during the expanded archery deer season. One expanded archery antlerless deer permit and one either sex permit is 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 this state in any year after 1979. See exception for Native Americans on 2015-16 Licensing Information. When proof or evidence cannot be provided, the applicant may substitute a signed affidavit.
Junior hunters 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 Hunter Orange Clothing Requirements).
- A handgun may be carried by hunters while bowhunting but may NOT be used to dispatch deer.
- 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 ⅞ inch in width. It is unlawful to use a set bow, or to use arrows with poisonous or explosive tips. 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 not allowed to harvest antlerless deer 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.
To be eligible to purchase a crossbow hunting permit, you must hold a valid 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 permits 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 (See Junior Hunters for new laws which become effective January 1, 2016) may hunt with a crossbow if that person holds a valid junior hunting license (no crossbow permits 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 under 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 muzzleloader 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 2015-16 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.
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. Effective October 15, 2015, there will no longer be a maximum draw weight for crossbows;
- arrowheads, including mechanical broadheads when open, must be at least ⅞ 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.
Releasing Sporting Dogs from Traps
A dog’s reaction to being caught in a foot-holding trap can vary from calm to frightened. Dogs released from foot-holding traps do not normally sustain injury. The most common type of traps used for land trapping in Maine are of the coilspring variety. Other types of traps that may be used operate by similar mechanisms.
It is unlawful to take or destroy a trap without permission from the owner. Trappers commonly use lures and urine to attract furbearers such as foxes and coyotes. Sporting dogs can be trained to avoid trap location by utilizing these scents in mock trap sets.