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Firearm Regulations

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Legal methods

Wild animals and wild birds may be hunted only by the use of firearms (not larger than 10-gauge), hand-held bow and arrow, 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 currently legal for deer, bear, turkey, moose, and coyote hunting. Electronic calling devices are illegal for migratory game birds.

Crossbows, drawlocks and set bows are illegal unless otherwise permitted for disabled hunters and those 70 or older. Crossbows are legal during the firearm seasons on deer and bear and for moose hunting for hunters 70 years of age or older.

Shotgun to be plugged

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.

Firearms Laws

Legal firearms for hunting

Handguns, rifles, and shotguns not larger than 10-gauge are legal for hunting in Maine, except as follows:

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 automatic firearm.

Auto-loading firearm
(a firearm which reloads itself after each shot and requires a separate trigger pull for each shot)

It is unlawful to hunt with or possess for hunting any auto-loading firearm 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.)

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 Regulations).

New This Year: 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.

Illegal devices

It is unlawful to hunt with the use of (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).

Illegal devices for hunting

In addition to poisonous bolts or set guns, the following are illegal:

Silencer

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.

Illegal cartridges

Cartridges which contain tracer bullets or explosive bullets may not be used for hunting.

Deer hunting

No firearm may be used 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.

Moose hunting

It is illegal to use .17 or .22 caliber rimfire firearms, shotguns using shot loads or a crossbow. Hunters 70 years of age or older may use crossbows (expires 1/1/2015).

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 chief of 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 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 muzzleloading firearm is considered to be loaded only if charged with powder, lead and a primed ignition device or mechanism. This provision also applies to crossbows.

It is illegal to:

  • Discharge a firearm, including muzzleloading firearms, or crossbow within 100 yards of a building without the permission of the owner, or in the owners absence, an adult occupant who dwells in that location. 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.
  • Possess firearms or crossbows on public school property or discharge a firearm within 500 feet of school property.

Other illegal areas

Firearms and crossbows may not be carried on game preserves. Firearms and crossbows must be in a case or stored in the trunk of a car when transported through Baxter State Park.

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This is not the full law. Consult the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife for further details. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal authorities.
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