Who Needs a License?
In general, anyone who hunts wild birds or animals in Maine needs a hunting license. The type of license you need depends upon your age, resident status, and other factors, and there are some exceptions.
In addition to a license, most hunting activities also require a permit. See individual species sections for details.
Junior and Adult Hunters: Hunters under age 16 must possess a junior license, and those 16 and up need an adult license. Note: a junior license holder who turns 16 may hunt with that junior license for the remainder of the calendar year.
Exception for Assisting in a Hunt: A person may assist in a hunt without a license or permit for that activity, as long as they do not carry hunting equipment (means to kill) or drive deer.
Exception: See dog training and hunting permit requirement
Landowner Privilege: Maine resident landowners and their immediate family members may hunt without a license using firearms, archery, or muzzleloader on land they own and reside upon, provided the land exceeds 10 acres in size and is used exclusively for agricultural purposes. The landowner privilege is not available to hunters with revoked or suspended licenses, and does not apply to moose hunting, for which a license is still required.
To obtain a hunting license in Maine, you generally need to show that you have either (1) held that license in a prior year, or (2) taken a hunter safety course. License-specific requirements and exceptions follow.
Firearms Licenses: When applying for an adult firearms hunting license in Maine, you must show proof of residency, and that you have either possessed an adult license to hunt with firearms in any year beginning with 1976, or successfully completed an approved hunter safety course in any U.S. state, province or country. Convicted felons cannot purchase or possess a firearms hunting license in Maine unless they have been issued a permit to carry a firearm.
Archery Licenses: To obtain an adult archery hunting license, you must show proof of having held an adult license to hunt with bow and arrow in any year after 1979, successful completion of an archery education course, or evidence of previously holding a crossbow permit in Maine prior to 2024.
Exceptions to Safety Course Requirement:
Native American Exception: Native Americans are exempt from the safety course requirement for archery and trapping.
Military Exception: An active-duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces who is permanently stationed outside of the U.S. and home on leave is exempt from firearms and archery safety course requirements if they can show proof at time of license application that their home state of record is Maine.
From MDIFW: Residents and non-residents may obtain hunting licenses from the MDIFW office in Augusta, or online.
From Agents: Licenses can also be purchased from agents throughout the state (sporting good stores, many convenience stores, town clerks, and turnpike service centers). Agents who process applications online for moose and antlerless deer permits may charge a fee of $2.00. Note: Not all town clerks issue nonresident licenses.
A person buying a trapping license for the first time must purchase it from the MDIFW office in Augusta (in person, by email at [email protected], or mail). As of 2021, trapping license renewals including bear permits can be purchased online. Visit mefishwildlife.com or call (207) 287-8000 for more information.
It is unlawful to obtain a license or permit through misstatement or misrepresentation, or to possess a license or permit that has been altered or tampered with in any way.
Guide Required for Big Game Hunters from New Brunswick or Quebec:
Any resident of New Brunswick or Quebec who is not a U.S. Citizen and who wishes to hunt bear, deer, moose, or wild turkey in Maine must be accompanied by a Maine Guide unless they can provide documentation to MDIFW that they own or lease land in Maine, are current on property taxes for that land and keep that land open to hunting. That person’s family member including a parent, spouse, daughter or son or a grandchild who is less than 18 years of age also qualifies.
Resident means a citizen of the United States or a person who is not a citizen of the United States who has been domiciled in the State for one year who:
- if registered to vote, is registered in this State;
- if licensed to drive a motor vehicle, has made application for or possesses a motor vehicle operator’s license issued by the State;
- has registered in Maine any motor vehicles they own that are located within the state;
- is in compliance with the state income tax laws;
- is a full-time student at a Maine college or university who satisfies above requirements.
Nonresident means a person who does not fall within the definition of a resident.
You are required to keep an electronic and/or paper copy of your hunting license and any necessary permits with you while hunting or transporting wild birds and wild animals and, if requested to do so, must present it for inspection to any warden, law enforcement officer, MDIFW employee, guide or landowner upon whose land you are hunting.
Special Privilege Licenses
Military Currently Stationed in Maine: Anyone serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and permanently stationed at a military base in Maine (including spouse and dependent children if they permanently reside with that person) may purchase a resident license to hunt, trap, or fish.
Maine Resident Military Currently Stationed Outside of Maine: Residents who are on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and permanently stationed outside of Maine may purchase either a hunting, fishing, trapping, or combination hunting and fishing license for the Maine Resident Serviceman combination price upon verification that Maine is their home of record and that they are permanently stationed outside of Maine. Their spouse and any dependent children residing with them are also entitled to discounted rates.
Exchange Students: Any citizen of a foreign nation under age 21 who is living with a family in Maine for a cultural or educational exchange program may purchase a resident license to hunt or fish.
Nonresident College Student license: Allows an applicant between the ages of 18 and 23, inclusive, to obtain a license at the Maine Resident cost. Applicant must be a full-time student, and have completed at least one semester prior to applying for the license. To obtain the license they need to apply through Augusta MDIFW. The student will need to fill out the application, provide us with a current college ID card and last semester's transcripts.
Disabled Veterans: Maine resident and non-resident veterans (if reciprocal privileges exist in their home state) who have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces or the National Guard and have a service-connected disability of 50% or more will be issued, upon application, a complimentary license that entitles the holder to all privileges they are qualified to receive including hunting, trapping, archery, and fishing. The license also includes the following permits: bear hunt, bear trap, muzzleloader, migratory waterfowl, pheasant, spring and fall turkey, coyote night hunt, one expanded archery antlerless and one either-sex. Veterans must still apply for antlerless deer and moose permits each year.
These licenses can be obtained at Maine Bureau of Veterans Services Central Office located at (Camp Keyes) 194 Winthrop Street Augusta, ME 04333 or emailing [email protected]
Their hours are 7:30am to 4:00pm Monday through Friday.
Licenses can also be obtained by completing and mailing in the application form (PDF).
Native Americans: The commissioner shall issue a complimentary lifetime hunting, archery, trapping and fishing license, including permits and other permissions needed to hunt, trap and fish, to a person, who is an enrolled member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Penobscot Nation, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, or the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, if the person presents certification from the respective reservation governor or the Aroostook Micmac Council stating that they are an enrolled member of that federally recognized nation, band or tribe.
Available at the Augusta Office only. For detailed information on the following licenses, contact the Department at 207-287-8000.
Hide Dealers License: See Prohibition Regarding Selling of Wild Animals.
Seasonal Hide Dealers License: Required for any place of business that butchers wild animals and commercially sells or barters the heads or untanned hides of deer or moose that they have butchered.
Taxidermist License: Allows a place of business to lawfully possess fish or wildlife for the sole purpose of preparing and mounting them and to also buy, sell or barter raw, untanned hides or heads of wild animals. This includes skull and bone mounts, commonly referred to as European mounts, reptile and amphibians, and freeze-dried mounts.
Guides License: Required for anyone who receives any form of remuneration for their services in accompanying or assisting others while hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, snowmobiling, ATVing, or camping at a primitive camping area.
Maine law requires all firearms, archery, or trapping license applicants to complete an outdoor safety course, unless they have previously held an adult license. For bear trapping education course requirements, please see Black Bear Trapping Education.
Firearms and archery hunter safety and bear trapping education courses are available in three formats; online, homestudy, or traditional. Homestudy includes the completion of the hunter education workbook, or online course, followed by a skills and exam day. An in-person skills and exam session is required for students ages 10-15 who take firearms and archery safety courses online.
The in-person classes are sponsored by school districts, sports clubs, civic groups, and others, and are taught statewide by volunteer instructors certified by MDIFW. Pre-registration is typically required.
To begin taking a course online or to register for an in-person course, visit Safety/Education Courses.
For information on becoming a volunteer instructor, contact your local Regional Safety Coordinator or the Recreational Safety Division Office.
Recreational Safety Division (207) 287-5220
Firearms Licenses: When applying for an adult firearms hunting license in Maine, you must show proof of residency, and that you have either possessed an adult license to hunt with firearms in any prior year beginning with 1976, or successfully completed an approved hunter safety course in any U.S. state. Convicted felons cannot purchase or possess a firearms hunting license in Maine unless they have been issued a permit to carry a firearm.
Archery Licenses: To obtain an adult archery hunting license, you must show proof of having held an adult license to hunt with bow and arrow in any year after 1979, or successful completion of an approved archery education course.
Exceptions to Safety Course Requirements:
- Native American Exception: Native Americans are exempt from the safety course requirement for archery and trapping.
- Military Exception: An active-duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces who is permanently stationed outside of the U.S. and home on leave is exempt from firearms and archery safety course requirements if they can show proof at time of license application that their home state of record is Maine.
License Revocation Information
The MDIFW Commissioner may, at their discretion, revoke the hunting privileges of anyone convicted of a hunting violation, or any violation of fish and wildlife laws. This is in addition to any penalties imposed by a court of law. Some violations result in a mandatory revocation (summarized below):
Minimum Mandatory Ten Year Revocation of Hunting Licenses
If a person is convicted of Assault While Hunting [17A MRSA §208(A)] and the offense occurred in the context of hunting activity, and if, through failure of the hunter to make proper target identification, the offense resulted in the injury or death of another person.
Minimum Mandatory Five Year Revocation of Hunting Licenses
- Shooting a domestic animal while hunting.
- Hunting under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs.
- Conviction of violation of 17A MRSA while on a hunting or fishing trip or in the pursuit of wild animals, birds or fish and when the wounding or killing of a human being has occurred.
Minimum Mandatory Three Year Revocation of ALL MDIFW Licenses
- Disturbing traps.
- Conviction of any of the violations listed within 12 MRSA §10902-6 while having a firearm with a noise suppressor device.
Minimum Mandatory Two Year Revocation of ALL MDIFW Licenses
- Burglary or criminal trespass of a building located within any unorganized township.
- Theft of any equipment used for hunting, fishing and trapping.
- Theft of any animal which has been obtained by hunting or trapping and which was in the possession or control of the person who hunted or trapped the animal.
Minimum Mandatory Two Year Revocation of Hunting Licenses
- Second offense of placing or hunting over bait for deer.
- A second violation of civil trespass with a hunting dog.
Hunting Violations with a Minimum One Year License Revocation
- Illegally hunting and/or possessing deer, bear, or moose during closed season.
- Night hunting.
- Discharging a firearm within 100 yards of a building or residential dwelling without permission of the owner, or in the owner's absence, an adult occupant who dwells in that location.
- Illegally buying and/or selling deer, bear, moose or wild turkeys.
- Illegally hunting/possessing wild turkeys including using illegal hunting methods.
- Hunting deer, bear, moose, or wild turkey after having killed one and/or exceeding the bag limit.
- First offense of placing or hunting over bait for deer.
- Destroying or tearing down a property posting sign (loss of hunting and fishing license).
- Destroying or tearing down a property posting sign.
- Hunting over another person's bear bait without written permission from that person.
- Hunting under the influence of liquor or drugs.
- Hunting while license is revoked.
- Civil trespass with a hunting dog.
- Coyote night hunting without a permit.
- Coyote night Hunting outside December 16th-August 31st.
Civil Trespass with Hunting Dog
If a person is convicted or adjudicated of civil trespass with a hunting dog in violation of section 10657-A, that person is ineligible to obtain a dog training and hunting permit as follows:
- For a first offense, for a period of one year from the date of adjudication
- For a second offense, for a period of 2 years from the date of adjudication.
Littering on WMAs
In addition to penalties provided by Maine's littering laws, a person convicted of littering on a state owned wildlife management area or sanctuaries as defined in Title 12 shall surrender their hunting and/or fishing licenses for a period of up to one year.
Maine is a participating member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, an agreement that recognizes suspension of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses across member states. This means that illegal activities in one state can affect a person's hunting, fishing, or trapping privileges in all participating states as well. If a person plans to hunt, fish, or trap in another state, and they have a license suspension in Maine, it is their responsibility to contact the other state to see if they can legally hunt, fish, or trap in that state.
Suspension or Revocation of or Refusal to Issue a License or Permit. Any conviction, adjudication, deferred disposition pursuant to Title 17‑A, section 1902, subsection 1 or written filing agreement with the State for a violation of DIFW Title 12 Part 13 laws is grounds for suspension of any license or permit issued under this Part. Except when provided by law, the commissioner shall determine the suspension period.
Refusal to issue license or permit. If a person is convicted, is adjudicated, enters into a deferred disposition pursuant to Title 17‑A, section 1902, subsection 1 or enters into a written filing agreement with the State in violation of DIFW Title 12 Part 13 laws and is not the holder of a valid license or permit issued under this Part, the commissioner may refuse to issue a related license or permit to that person for up to 5 years following the date of conviction or adjudication, except when the killing or wounding of a human being has occurred, in which case the commissioner may refuse to issue the license or permit for a period of not less than 5 years.
Failure to pay fine or a reinstatement fee. If a license, permit or registration is suspended pursuant to this section or Title 14, section 3142, the suspension remains in effect until the person pays the fine and the reinstatement fee.