Laws Pertaining to Hunting Equipment hunting laws book cover

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General Laws

Wild animals and wild birds may be hunted only by the use of rifles, handguns, shotguns (not larger than 10-gauge), muzzleloader, handheld bow and arrow, crossbow, or falconry.

Deer and moose decoys are legal, as are laser sights (red dots or beam) for firearms, crossbows, and bows.

Electronic calling devices are legal for deer, bear, turkey, moose, and coyote, but are illegal for migratory game birds.

Municipal Ordinances

Several Maine cities and towns have adopted local ordinances that restrict or prohibit the discharge of certain projectiles (e.g., arrows, bullets, bolts).

Prior to hunting near densely populated communities, hunters should check with local authorities regarding such ordinances. Towns may regulate the discharge of firearms as provided by Title 30-A; however, they cannot regulate or charge fees to hunt, fish or trap.

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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 medicinal, 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 deer during the muzzleloader seasons.

    Please see exceptions and additional information related to Crossbow Hunting.

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Illegal Use of Lights

From September 1 to December 15, it is unlawful to use artificial lights from 1/2 hour after sunset until 1/2 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 flashlights during the open season (see General Hunting Laws 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.

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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.)
  • Auto-loading firearm (a firearm that reloads itself after each shot and requires a separate trigger pull for each shot) with 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 or smaller caliber guns or to auto-loading pistols with barrel lengths of less than 8 inches.

3-shell Max for Migratory Game Birds:

It is unlawful to hunt any migratory game bird with a shotgun 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.


While a person no longer needs a permit from Warden Service to hunt with a suppressor device, anyone who wishes to possess a firearm fitted or contrived with any device for deadening the sound of the explosion must still obtain the appropriate tax stamp from The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Bullet Types:

It is unlawful to hunt with cartridges that contain tracer bullets or explosive bullets.


  • Firearms with .17 or .22 caliber rimfire cartridges may not be used for deer, moose, or bear hunting, except that .22 magnum can be used for deer hunting.
  • Shotguns using shot loads cannot be used to hunt bear or moose.

Archery Season Provisions:

No firearms of any kind may be carried while hunting deer with archery equipment during the regular archery or expanded archery seasons on deer, except a person may carry a handgun in accordance with Title 25 section 2001-A; but it cannot be used to shoot a deer or dispatch a wounded deer.

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Loaded Firearms in Motor Vehicles

It is unlawful to have a loaded firearm or archery equipment in or on a motor vehicle (including trailer, ATV, aircraft, snowmobile, or railway car), unless otherwise specified. See page 12 for more information.

A loaded magazine may be carried in a motor vehicle, but it must not be inserted in or attached to a firearm.

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 the purpose 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. Exceptions apply when carrying a con­cealed pistol or revolver.

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Carrying Concealed Firearms

A person may carry a concealed handgun without a permit and may have that concealed, loaded pistol or revolver in, or on, a motor vehicle or trailer if:

  • The person is 21 years of age or older and is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm or;
  • The person is 18 years of age or older and under 21 years of age and on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard and is not otherwise prohibited from carrying a firearm.

Upon contact with a law enforcement officer, a person carrying a concealed handgun without a permit is required to notify them immediately.

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Archery Information

Archery Equipment: Archery equipment means a bow and arrow or crossbow.

Seasons:  The regular archery license allows archery equipment to be used to hunt all legal game throughout the year, except for deer during the muzzleloader season.

Licenses: You must have an archery license to hunt with archery equipment during the regular and expanded archery deer seasons or hunt with archery equipment in general.

  • Junior hunters who hold a valid Junior Hunting License are allowed to hunt with archery equipment when accompanied by a junior hunter supervisor (see Junior Hunters).
  • Laws that allow you to hunt without a license on your own land under certain conditions apply to archery hunting (see Who Needs a License).

Permits: In addition to an archery license, hunters participating in the expanded archery deer season (designated areas only) must also purchase permits. Multiple antlerless deer permits may be purchased for $12 each, and an either-sex permit for the expanded archery deer season is $32.

Exceptions: Complimentary archery license holders (Disabled Veteran, Native American) and junior hunting license holders may hunt with those licenses during the expanded archery deer season.

Obtaining an Archery License: Applicants for the regular archery license must show proof of having successfully completed an archery hunter education course or of having held a Maine adult archery license in any year after 1979, or evidence of previously holding a crossbow permit in Maine prior to 2024. When proof or evidence cannot be provided, the applicant may substitute a signed affidavit. Native Americans are exempt from safety course requirements for archery and trapping.

Archery Hunting Requirements:

  • A hunter may carry a handgun while bowhunting, but it may NOT be used to dispatch deer.
  • Anyone who hunts any species with a firearm or crossbow in a Wildlife Management District that is open to moose hunting must wear one article of solid-colored hunter orange clothing (hats count). When moose season overlaps with the firearms season on deer, then two pieces must be worn.
  • 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 ½ hour before sunrise until ½ hour after sunset during both archery deer seasons.

In addition, all other laws pertaining to deer hunting shall apply to archery hunting.

Archery Equipment Laws:

Required Features

  • Only hand-held bow and arrow may be used.
  • Draw weight must be at least 35 pounds (there is no max). For moose, a minimum draw weight of 45 pounds is required.
  • For hunting deer, bear, and moose, arrowheads, including mechanical broadheads when open, must be at least 7/8 inch wide.

Prohibited Features

  • It is unlawful to use a set bow.
  • Arrows with explosive or poisonous tips are prohibited.

Crossbow Equipment Laws:

Required Features

  • Only crossbows with a shoulder-type stock may be used.
  • Draw weight must be at least 100 pounds (there is no max).
  • For hunting deer, bear and moose, arrow­heads, including mechanical broadheads when open, must be at least ⅞ inch wide.
  • Crossbows must be equipped with a me­chanical trigger safety device in working condition.

Prohibited Features

  • Hand-held pistol-type crossbows are prohibited.
  • Arrows with explosive or poisonous tips are prohibited.

Optional, but Allowed Features

  • Crossbows equipped with scopes or sights may be used.

See Areas Open to Deer Hunting for info on special hunt areas where crossbows are NOT permitted during the regular archery deer hunting season.

Native American License & Hunting

See Hunting License Information and Special Licenses

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Hunter Orange Clothing Requirements

Hunter orange is defined as a daylight fluorescent orange color with a dominant wave length between 595 and 605 nanometers, excitation purity of at least 85% and luminance factor of at least 40%. A decal on an article of clothing that is otherwise solid hunter orange is permissible. Articles of hunter orange clothing must be in good and serviceable condition and visible from all sides.

Firearms and Muzzleloader Seasons on Deer

Anyone who hunts any species with a firearm, muzzleloader, or crossbow during any firearms or muzzleloader season on deer (also on Youth Deer Hunt) must wear two articles of hunter orange clothing. One article must be a solid- colored hunter orange hat; the other must cover a major portion of the torso, such as a jacket, vest, coat or poncho and must be a minimum of 50% hunter orange in color (camouflage).

Archery Seasons on Deer

Hunter orange clothing is not required while hunting with a bow and arrow during the archery seasons. Use of a crossbow during the archery season doesn’t require wearing hunter orange clothing unless firearms or muzzleloader hunting for deer can occur in that WMD or while a moose hunt is taking place, the November firearms season for deer is open or the muzzleloader season is open. These 3 seasons can overlap with expanded archery locations and the regular archery season.

Moose Hunting Season

Anyone who hunts any species with a firearm or crossbow in a Wildlife Management District that is open to moose hunting must wear one article of solid-colored hunter orange clothing (hats count). When moose season overlaps with the firearms season on deer, then two pieces must be worn. All laws pertaining to deer hunting apply to moose hunters during these seasons.

Bear, Turkey, and Upland Game Bird Hunters

When hunting bears, turkeys, and upland game birds, hunter orange clothing is only required when hunting with a firearm or crossbow during the firearms hunting season on deer, the muzzleloader season on deer, or within an open moose hunting district during moose hunting season.

Waterfowl Hunters

Are not affected by the provisions above while hunting from a boat, blind, or in conjunction with waterfowl decoys.

Religious Exemption

Any hunter whose religion prohibits wearing hunter orange may wear red instead. All minimum wear requirements for hunter orange still apply when hunter red is substituted for hunter orange.

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Disturbing Traps

It is unlawful to take or disturb any trap or wild animal caught in a trap without permission from the owner of the trap.

An individual convicted of disturbing a trap, will lose any license in effect, and be ineligible to purchase any license issued by the Department for 3 years.

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Trail/Game Cameras Law

People using trail and game cameras may not place a camera upon another person's private land without written permission. All cameras must be labeled with the owner's name and contact information.

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Observation Stands

It is unlawful to insert any metallic or ceramic object into a tree on another person’s land for the purpose of erecting a ladder or observation stand, unless you have permission from the landowner. You must obtain verbal or written permission of the landowner (or representative) to erect or use a portable or permanent ladder or observation stand, and the ladder or observation stand must be plainly labeled with a 2-inch by 4-inch tag with the names and addresses of everyone the landowner has authorized to use it.

Exception: Portable ladders or observation stands used on land within the jurisdiction of the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission and attended by the person who owns the ladder or observation stand do not require landowner permission or labeling, but permanent ones do.

Note: Information on private property use. Observation stands do not include portable blinds utilized at ground level that remain in the hunter’s physical possession and must not be left when not in use.

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