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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 (having 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 to bucks only.

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 .22 caliber rimfire cartridges, except that .22 caliber rimfire magnum cartridges are permitted. Deer decoys are legal.
  • Driving deer or taking part in a deer drive is unlawful, except that 3 or fewer persons may hunt together, without the aid of noisemaking devices. Driving deer is an organized or planned effort to pursue, drive, chase or otherwise frighten or cause deer to move in the direction of any person(s) who are part of the organized or planned hunt and known to be waiting for the 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, 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 Regulations.

Special Restrictions

There is a closed season on deer in the following areas:

  • 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, unless otherwise provided. (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.)

Islesboro: In the town of Islesboro, Waldo County, it is lawful to hunt deer with bow and arrow only during the archery, expanded archery, or firearm season on deer.

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.

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 archery seasons and the firearms season on deer.
(Note: Landowner permission required.)

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.

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 thickly settled communities, hunters should check with local authorities regarding such ordinances.

Deer Permits & Licenses

Muzzleloader Deer Season

  • A muzzleloading license, in addition to a valid adult or junior big game hunting license that allows the use of firearms, is required to hunt deer with muzzleloading rifles during this season.
  • Hunter orange clothing is required during this season.
  • 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 muzzleloading firearms.
  • Only muzzleloading firearms 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. Muzzleloading firearm 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 (§10001 42-A and §11404).

Muzzleloading License: Required for hunters 10 years of age or older prior to hunting deer during the muzzleloading deer season. The resident junior hunting license includes the muzzleloading license.

Expanded Archery Permit

Restricted to designated areas (contact the Department 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). (Junior hunters 10 years of age or older and under 16 years of age may hunt during this season with their junior hunting license but must purchase the expanded archery permits.) Limit: One buck and/or multiple antlerless deer (with appropriate expanded archery permits). Deer must be legally transported and registered as required for other deer seasons. All other archery deer hunting laws apply. The resident junior hunting license includes one expanded archery antlerless permit.

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 antlerless deer permits are not issued. 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. Application deadline: To be Announced

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


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.


Youth Deer 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 are bucks only. 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 complete information/restrictions.


Chronic Wasting Disease

Transportation of Certain Wildlife Into Maine From Outside of the State

Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD is a fatal brain disease of white-tailed deer, mule deer, caribou, moose and elk. It occurs in numerous western states and Canadian Provinces as well as Virginia and New York State. Where it is established, CWD can be very destructive to local deer, caribou, moose and elk herds, as well as to the hunting economies these populations support. Although there is no known link between CWD and any human disease, health officials advise against consuming meat from CWD-infected deer. The CWD disease agent, a type of protein, accumulates in certain high-risk tissues in a sick deer, caribou, moose or elk’s body. These include: the brain, spinal cord, spleen, lymph nodes, tonsils, eyes, saliva, urine, and feces. Deer meat is not known to harbor the disease agent, unless it is contaminated by other high-risk tissues.

In Maine, we have been monitoring for the presence of CWD in wild and captive deer since 1999. To date, no CWD diseased animals have been detected. To keep Maine free of CWD, the Department of Agriculture (captive deer and elk) and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (white-tailed deer) are actively working to prevent the introduction of CWD. Here’s how hunters can help:

Urine-based Deer Lures

At this time, we do not know whether any captive/farmed deer or elk used by the lure industry have ever contracted CWD. To date, urine-based deer lures are not being checked for the presence of CWD proteins. Until more is known about whether commercial deer lures pose a risk of spreading CWD, we recommend that hunters use caution in spreading urine-based lures in the environment, and avoid placing the lures on their clothing or skin. Avoid placing deer lures on the ground or on vegetation where deer can reach them. Deer lures can be safely placed above deer height, allowing air circulation to disperse the scent.

It is illegal for individuals to bring into Maine cervid carcasses or parts, except that the following carcass parts may be imported and possessed:

  • boned-out meat;
  • hardened antlers;
  • skull caps that have been cleaned free of brain and other tissues;
  • capes and hides with no skull attached;
  • teeth, and
  • finished taxidermy mounts.

Cervid carcasses or parts from New Hampshire and provinces of New Brunswick, Labrador, Newfoundland, and Quebec are exempt from this transportation restriction.

This transportation restriction applies to both any cervid wild by nature and to any cervid killed in a commercial hunting preserve, that are taken in any state, province, or country outside of Maine. Any person who imports into Maine any cervid carcass or parts described above and is notified that the animal has tested positive for CWD must report the test results to the Department within 72 hours of receiving notification.

It is legal for individuals to transport through the state of Maine cervid carcasses or parts destined for other states, provinces, and countries. Such transportation is to occur without undue delay and using the most reasonably direct route through Maine to the final destination for the cervid carcass or parts and in a manner that is both leak-proof and that prevents their exposure to the environment.

More detailed information about CWD can be found on the Department web site:, or contact us at (207) 287-8000.


Deer & Moose: Chronic Wasting Disease/Consumption Advisory


Caution on Liver & Kidney Consumption

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that the liver and kidneys of moose not be eaten because of possible contamination with the heavy metal cadmium. Also, recent studies have shown smaller amounts of cadmium in liver tissues from Maine deer, and deer, elk and antelope from other States. Maine health officials recommend that deer liver consumption be limited to 0.8 pounds in one sitting and 1 to 11⁄3 pounds per week. Human symptoms of acute cadmium poisoning include severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps and salivation. There is no known health risk from eating moose meat or deer meat.

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