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Laws Pertaining to Hunting Equipment

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GENERAL

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.

Illegal Devices

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 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.

FIREARMS LAWS

  • 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.
  • It is unlawful to hunt with cartridges which contain tracer bullets or explosive bullets.
  • No firearm may be used for deer hunting which uses .17 or .22 caliber rimfire cartridges, except .22 magnum. 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.
  • It is illegal to use .17 or .22 caliber rimfire firearms or shotguns using shot loads for moose hunting.

Carrying Concealed Firearms

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.

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. Persons who hold a Maine concealed firearms permit may carry a loaded pistol or revolver in a motor vehicle. 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.

Archery Information

Seasons

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 buck 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 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 any year after 1979. See exception for Native Americans under 2014-15 Licensing Information.

Junior hunters (at least 10 years of age and under 16) 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 licensed* hunters while bowhunting but may NOT be used to dispatch deer.
    * License to hunt with firearms.
  • 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. Until 1/1/2015 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 restricted from shooting 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.

Crossbow Information

Crossbow Permit

To be eligible to purchase a crossbow hunting license, you must hold a valid license to hunt big game (either a 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 licenses 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 may hunt with a crossbow if that person holds a valid junior hunting license (no crossbow license 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 10-69 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 2014-15 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 nor more than 200 pounds;
  • 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.

Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program

The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson (PR) Act established a “User Pay/User Benefit” philosophy for funding State wildlife restoration and conservation efforts directed towards America’s wildlife resources. These funds have played a vital role in the management of Maine’s wildlife since they were first used in 1939 to enhance the Department’s wildlife management capabilities. Revenues are collected from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, pistols, revolvers, bows and arrows and deposited in the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Fund.

These funds support a wide array of projects in Maine which include: wildlife population assessments, long-range species management planning, development of management recommendations, implementation of management programs, acquisition and management of wildlife habitat, and hunter education.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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