Hunting Equipment and Use Regulations

Approved Hunting Gear

Permitted Devices: When hunting wild animals and birds, the following equipment is sanctioned for use:

  • Rifles
  • Handguns
  • Shotguns up to 10-gauge
  • Muzzleloaders
  • Handheld Bows and Arrows
  • Crossbows
  • Falconry

Hunting Enhancements

Decoys and Sights: Hunting regulations authorize the use of deer and moose decoys. Additionally, laser sights such as red dots or beams are allowed for firearms, crossbows, and bows, aiding in target accuracy.

Electronic Calls

Usage for Game: Electronic calling devices are legal and can be used to lure deer, bear, turkey, moose, and coyote. However, applying such devices is unlawful when hunting any migratory game birds.

Local Regulations and Ordinances

Projectile Discharge Restrictions

Municipal Ordinance Awareness: Specific Maine municipalities have enacted local ordinances that impose limits or outright bans on the discharge of various projectiles. Before planning a hunt:

  • Verify local regulations with town authorities.
  • Awareness of bullet and arrow discharge restrictions is crucial in densely settled areas.

Firearm Discharge and Hunting Rights

Town Authority Limits: While towns have the authority to manage firearm discharge under Title 30-A, they do not have the jurisdiction to regulate nor can they impose fees for hunting, fishing, or trapping activities.

This legal framework ensures that hunters in Maine can exercise their sporting rights while complying with both statewide and local rules for the safety and respect of the community and wildlife populations. Always check the most recent Maine Hunting Regulations for any updates or changes.

Prohibited Hunting Practices and Equipment

Illegal Hunting Devices

Set Guns and Poisonous Substances: It is against the law to hunt using, sell, or provide for sale any set guns. Similarly, using medicinal or poisonous substances as hunting aids is strictly forbidden. There are exceptions for specific substances:

  • Rodenticides may be used for mouse control in orchards.
  • Gas cartridges are allowed solely for woodchuck control.

Restrictions on Archery Equipment

Drawlocks and Set Bows: These devices are generally illegal for hunting purposes. There is an exception for hunters with disabilities who may be granted permission to use such equipment.

Crossbow Limitations

Usage During Specific Seasons: The following restrictions apply to crossbow usage:

  • Muzzleloader Season: It is illegal to hunt deer with a crossbow.
  • Expanded Archery Permit: Holding an expanded archery permit does not authorize deer hunting with a crossbow.

However, under certain circumstances, crossbows can be used:

  • In expanded archery areas during the regular archery and crossbow season or firearms season, provided the hunter has a valid archery license or firearms hunting license.

For detailed explanations of exceptions and further insights into the legislations governing crossbow hunting, hunters should review the Crossbow Hunting Exceptions and Regulations section.

It is crucial for hunters to adhere to these regulations to avoid penalties and contribute to ethical hunting practices that ensure population control and conservation efforts are effectively managed.

Restrictions on Artificial Lighting for Hunting

Illumination of Wildlife

Prohibited Period for Lighting: Between September 1 and December 15, the use of artificial lights is illegal from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise. This rule specifically targets the act of using lights to:

  • Spot
  • Highlight
  • Locate, or attempt to locate
  • Make wild animals or wild birds more visible

Exception for Raccoon Hunting

Raccoons: During their open season, there is an exception that permits hunting raccoons with flashlights at night. Hunters should refer to the General Hunting Laws to understand the comprehensive rules governing raccoon hunting with artificial lights.

Special Permissions

Commissioner's Agents: There are circumstances under which appointed agents by the commissioner may hunt coyotes at night with artificial lighting within the restricted timeframe. Policies that define these exceptional cases are set by the Department.

For those considering night hunting activities, it is crucial to consult the Night Hunting Regulations to ensure compliance with the laws designed to protect wildlife and uphold hunting ethics. These rules aim to prevent disturbances and potential harm to wildlife populations outside of sanctioned hunting practices.

Firearm Restrictions for Hunting

Automatic and Auto-loading Firearms

Autofire Limitations:

  • Fully automatic firearms (those that fire continuously while the trigger is depressed) are prohibited for hunting.
  • Semi-automatic firearms with a capacity over 5 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber are banned, unless the magazine is permanently modified to hold a maximum of 5 rounds.


  • .22 caliber rimfire guns and smaller calibers do not fall under this limitation.
  • Auto-loading pistols with barrel lengths under 8 inches are also exempt.

Migratory Game Bird Shotgun Regulations

Shotgun Shell Limitation: Hunting migratory game birds with a shotgun that holds more than three shells is illegal. The shotgun must have a magazine that is plugged with a non-removable one-piece filler to limit its total capacity to three rounds, including the chamber.

Use of Silencers

Suppressor Regulation: Hunting with a silencer, or suppressor, no longer requires a permit from the Warden Service. However, to legally possess a suppressor-equipped firearm, obtaining a tax stamp from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) remains a mandatory federal requirement.

Prohibited Ammunition

Illegal Bullet Types: The use of tracer or explosive bullets is strictly against hunting regulations.

Caliber Restrictions for Hunting Big Game

Small Caliber Restrictions:

  • .17 or .22 caliber rimfire cartridges are not to be used for hunting deer, moose, or bear.
  • The only exception is that .22 magnum cartridges can be used for deer hunting.

Shotguns and Big Game

Shot Size Restrictions:

  • Shotguns loaded with shot are not allowed for bear or moose hunting.

Archery Season Firearms Prohibition

Dual Weapon Carry During Archery:

  • Firearms are prohibited while hunting deer during archery-only and crossbow seasons.
  • However, carrying a handgun is permissible according to Title 25 section 2001-A, provided it is not used to hunt or euthanize deer.

These regulations help ensure safety and fairness in hunting practices. Exclusive to each weapon and season, these laws are designed to conserve wildlife populations and maintain ethical hunting standards. For full comprehension of these rules and any recent changes, hunters should consult the Maine Firearms Hunting Regulations.

Transporting Firearms and Crossbows in Vehicles

Prohibition of Loaded Firearms and Crossbows

Loaded Weapon Ban: It is illegal to possess a loaded firearm or crossbow on or within any motor vehicle, which includes trailers, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), aircraft, snowmobiles, or railway cars. Specific circumstances may be outlined that create exceptions to this rule.

Magazine Restrictions

Unattached Magazines: While a loaded magazine can be inside a motor vehicle, it is unlawful to have it inserted in or attached to a firearm.

Unloaded Firearm Transport Rules

Visible or Secured Unloaded Firearms:

  1. An unloaded firearm can be transported in a motor vehicle if it is either:

    • Visible to the outside, or
    • Unloaded and placed in a compartment that is not easily accessible, such as a locked trunk or similar secure area.
  2. A concealed firearms permit is not necessary for transportation as long as the firearm adheres to the aforementioned conditions.

Specific Definitions of Loaded Weapons

Muzzleloader: A muzzleloading firearm is only classified as loaded if it has:

  • Powder
  • Projectile
  • Primed ignition device or mechanism ready to fire

Crossbow: A crossbow is considered loaded if it is both cocked and has a bolt or arrow in place, ready to be discharged.

Concealed Weapon Exception

Concealed Carry Permit: Individuals with a valid permit to carry concealed pistols or revolvers may have distinct authorizations under this law.

These regulations are in place to promote safety among hunters and the general public by preventing accidental discharges and ensuring legal transportation of hunting equipment. Always verify the current transportation laws through the official Vehicle Firearm Transportation Guidelines before heading out to ensure compliance with the most up-to-date rules.

Concealed Handgun Carrying Regulations

Permitted Concealed Carry Without a Permit

Eligibility for Concealed Carry:

  1. Legal Age Requirement: Individuals who are 21 years old or older are permitted to carry a concealed handgun. This also applies to having a concealed, loaded pistol or revolver inside or on a motor vehicle or trailer, provided they are not restricted from owning a firearm.
  2. Exceptions for Younger Individuals: Those between 18 and 21 years of age are also allowed to carry concealed if they meet specific criteria:
    • They must be on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces or the National Guard, or
    • They must be honorably discharged veterans of these forces, and
    • They should not have any legal prohibitions against firearm possession.

Duty to Inform Law Enforcement

Obligation During Official Interaction: Any person who carries a concealed handgun without a permit must immediately disclose this fact to a law enforcement officer upon encounter.

These stipulations cater to the responsible carrying of concealed firearms while respecting the rights of qualified individuals. Adhering to these carrying laws is essential for the safety of the public and to ensure compliance when interacting with law enforcement. For further clarification and potential updates to these regulations, interested parties should review the Maine Concealed Carry Laws.

Archery Hunting Guidelines and Requirements

Archery Seasons

Hunting Window: Holders of a regular archery license can hunt legally permitted game using a bow and arrow throughout most of the year except for deer during the muzzleloader season.

Archery Licensing

Mandatory Licensing: To participate in bow and arrow hunting during regular and expanded archery deer seasons, acquisition of an archery license is compulsory. Additionally, this license is required for general bow hunting activities.

Permits for Expanded Archery Season

Permit Requirements for Designated Areas:

  • Antlerless Deer Permits: Multiple can be obtained at $12 each for hunting in expanded archery areas.
  • Either-Sex Permit: A permit allowing the hunting of any deer in the expanded archery season areas is priced at $32.

Archery License Exceptions

Licenses With Privileges:

  • Complimentary licenses provided to Disabled Veterans and Native Americans are valid during the expanded archery deer season.
  • Individuals with a junior hunting license are also eligible to hunt within these guidelines.

Acquiring an Archery License

Proof of Competency:

  • Prospective archers must show evidence of having completed an archery hunter education course or having previously held a Maine adult archery license post-1979.
  • Alternatively, in the absence of such proof, a signed affidavit may suffice.
  • Native Americans are waived from the educational course requirement for archery, as well as crossbow and trapping.

Junior Hunters:

  • Those holding a junior hunting license may bow hunt when accompanied by an adult supervisor.

Handgun Carrying During Bowhunting:

  • Archers may carry handguns for defensive purposes but cannot utilize them to take down or euthanize deer.

Bow and Arrows Standards for Deer and Bear:

  • The minimum draw weight for a bow is set at 35 pounds, and for moose hunting, it's raised to 45 pounds.
  • Arrowheads, including mechanical broadheads, must measure at least ⅞ inch in width.
  • It is prohibited to use set bows or arrows equipped with poison or explosive tips.

Additional Archery Hunting Provisions:

  • Hunters aged 65 or older may utilize a crossbow during any season for hunting wild birds or animals.
  • Hunter orange attire is not mandated while bow hunting.
  • All deer harvested with bow and arrow must be reported and registered at the nearest deer registration station.
  • Archery hunting can continue until ½ hour post-sunset during archery deer seasons.

For comprehensive information and updates on archery hunting laws, review the Maine Archery Hunting Regulations. Remember, alongside specific archery rules, all other deer hunting laws are applicable to archery as well.

Hunter Orange Safety Gear Specifications and Requirements

Definition of Hunter Orange

Specifications for Hunter Orange: Hunter orange must meet the criteria:

  • Dominant wavelength between 595 and 605 nanometers
  • Excitation purity minimum of 85%
  • Luminance factor of at least 40% Decals on solid hunter orange clothing are acceptable. Visibility must be maintained from all directions, and the gear should be in serviceable condition.

Requirements by Hunting Season

Firearms and Muzzleloader Seasons on Deer

Mandatory Hunter Orange:

  • Two articles of clothing are required for hunters using firearms, muzzleloaders, or crossbows during any firearm or muzzleloader deer seasons, including Youth Deer Hunt Day.
    • A solid hunter orange hat
    • A major torso covering, such as a jacket or vest with at least 50% hunter orange (solid or camouflage pattern)

Archery Seasons on Deer

Hunter Orange Not Mandated:

  • Archery hunters are typically exempt from wearing hunter orange, except:
    • WMDs (Wildlife Management Districts) that also allow firearm or muzzleloader deer hunting
    • Concurrent moose hunts
    • Overlapping firearms or muzzleloader deer seasons

Moose Hunting Season

Hunter Orange for Moose Hunters:

  • In areas open for moose hunting, one solid hunter orange item is required if using a firearm or crossbow (hats qualify)
  • If moose and firearms deer seasons coincide, the two-piece requirement applies.

Bear, Turkey, and Upland Game Bird Hunters

Selective Hunter Orange Requirements:

  • When hunting these species with firearms or crossbows during the deer firearms or muzzleloader seasons or within moose season districts, hunter orange attire is essential.

Waterfowl Hunters

Hunter Orange Exemption: Waterfowl hunters are not subject to hunter orange rules when operating from boats, blinds, or employing waterfowl decoys.

Religious Exemption

Substituting Hunter Red:

  • Hunters whose religious beliefs exclude the wearing of hunter orange may wear red.
  • The same visibility standards apply to 'hunter red' as they do for hunter orange.

Adherence to these hunter orange clothing guidelines is vital for maintaining safety among hunters. It helps distinguish human presence, thus reducing the occurrence of accidents. For particular cases and further clarification, hunters should consult the Hunter Orange Clothing Regulations. These rules are fundamental during specific seasons and regions to protect both hunters and the integrity of the sport.

Trap Tampering: Legal Consequences

Anti-Tampering Legislation for Trapping

Prohibition on Trap Interference: It is a violation of the law to tamper with, take, or interfere with any trap or wild animal ensnared in a trap unless explicit consent has been granted by the trap's owner.

Penalties for Trap Disturbance

License Revocation and Eligibility Impact:

  • Upon conviction for trap disturbance, the offender will face immediate revocation of any existing hunting or trapping license.
  • Additionally, the convicted individual will be barred from purchasing any form of license issued by the Department for a span of three years following the offense.

This stringent rule is designed to respect the rights of trappers and protect the effectiveness of their trapping efforts. The potential loss of hunting privileges serves as a deterrent to ensure that traps, which are critical tools for managing wildlife populations, remain undisturbed. For information on responsible conduct around traps, individuals should refer to the Department's Trapping Regulations.

Private Land Trail/Game Camera Use Policy

Written Permission for Cameras

Private Property Access: The use of trail and game cameras is subject to privacy and property rights. Users must obtain and possess written permission from the landowner before installing these devices on another's private property.

Identification Tagging

Labeling Requirement: Owners must ensure all trail and game cameras are clearly labeled with their full name and contact information. This step is necessary for ownership identification and potential follow-up if the need arises.

Adhering to these laws is vital for maintaining respectful relations between landowners and camera users. For further guidance on responsible camera use, landowners and hobbyists can consult the Trail and Game Camera Property Laws.

Guidelines for Use of Observation Stands on Private Property

Prohibitions and Permissions

Tree Damage and Equipment Installation: Intruding on the integrity of trees on another individual's land by inserting materials such as metal or ceramic objects for the purpose of constructing a ladder or observation stand is illegal without the landowner's consent.

Consent and Identification Requirements

Permission Protocol:

  • Verbal or written permission from the landowner or their representative is mandatory for the erection or utilization of both portable and permanent ladders or observation stands.
  • Such equipment must be clearly marked with a conspicuous tag measuring 2 inches by 4 inches, displaying the names and addresses of each person given authorization by the landowner.

Exceptions to the Rule

Portable Equipment on Certain Lands:

  • Portable ladders and observation stands situated within the jurisdiction of the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission do not require permission or identification tagging, provided they are attended by the owner.
  • However, should such equipment be established permanently, landowner approval and labeling become necessary.

Additional Clarifications

Portable Blinds:

  • This regulation does not cover portable blinds positioned at ground level, which must always stay in the possession of the hunter and should not be left unattended when not actively in use.

Observation stands play a vital role in wildlife scouting and hunting, but the respect for private property must be upheld. For complete insight into observation stand regulations, one can reference the Maine Private Property Hunting Stands Laws. These rules ensure ethical behavior and communication between hunters and landowners, preserving both property rights and hunting traditions.

Crossbow Hunting Education and Licensing

Crossbow Permit Prerequisites

Licensing and Education: To be eligible for a crossbow hunting permit, applicants must possess an active hunting license—either a big game license for targeting big game species or a small game license for turkey and small game species. Additionally, applicants must provide proof of:

  • Successful completion of an approved archery hunting education or a firearms hunter safety course, AND
  • Completion of a recognized crossbow hunting education program.


  • Proof of a prior valid hunting license after 1976 and a valid license that allowed crossbow use after 1979, excluding junior or apprenticeship hunting licenses.

Affidavit Option: If formal documentation is not available, a signed personal affidavit claiming previous completion of the necessary education programs or holding of a valid license and crossbow permit may be accepted.

Crossbow Hunting Courses

Education Options: Crossbow hunting education programs are available both online and in-person. Details and listings for classes can be found on the Crossbow Hunter Safety page.

Junior and Apprentice Hunter Regulations

Rules for Young Hunters:

  • Junior hunting license holders can utilize a crossbow without completing hunter education courses or owning a crossbow permit. Still, junior and apprentice hunters must hunt under the supervision of a qualified adult.

General Crossbow Hunting Information

Wild Game Seasons: Crossbow hunters may pursue any wild bird or animal during open seasons, abiding by all other applicable laws for that species. This includes:

  • Hunting deer, moose, and bear during respective firearm seasons,
  • Hunting turkey in both spring and fall seasons,
  • Hunting deer during regular archery and crossbow seasons.

Either-Sex and Antlerless Deer Hunting:

  • Hunters can take an either-sex deer during the regular archery and crossbow season in certain Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs) without an antlerless deer permit, but taking a buck afterward is not permitted unless additional antlerless deer permits are held.
  • Antlerless deer may be hunted in designated WMDs with the correct antlerless deer permit during the archery, crossbow, or firearms seasons.

Senior and Disability-Accommodation Crossbow Use

Expanded Opportunities:

  • Hunters aged 65 and over, as well as those with special disability permits, may hunt deer with crossbows:
    • During the muzzleloader season,
    • During the expanded archery season, provided they have an expanded archery permit.

Crossbow Equipment Requirements and Restrictions

Mandatory Equipment Features:

  • Shoulder-mounted crossbows only,
  • Draw weight minimum of 100 pounds,
  • Operating mechanical trigger safety devices.

Prohibited Equipment Features:

  • Hand-held pistol-type crossbows,
  • Arrows with explosives or poisonous tips.

Allowed Equipment Features:

  • Scopes or sights can be equipped on crossbow units.

For comprehensive coverage and updates on crossbow equipment laws and special hunting areas where crossbows are not allowed during regular archery and crossbow deer hunting season, hunters should review the Crossbow Equipment Laws and Deer Hunting Area Guidelines.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.