The natural beauty of Maine is some of the most impressive in the country, and along with that comes a range of game animals to enjoy, including whitetail deer and moose. With excellent conservation and many public places for hunting, it’s an excellent state for harvesting a trophy buck. However, Maine does have extensive hunting regulations, so you need to know the Maine hunting season dates for 2023 as well as license requirements and restrictions on methods of take.
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Maine 2023 Deer Hunting Season Dates
Maine generally has easy-to-follow seasons based on the method of take with a couple of special seasons. The only thing to be aware of is that a some seasons vary based on the Wildlife Management Districts, or WMDs.
Also note that regardless of the dates below, hunting is prohibited on Sundays.
|Expanded Archery||Designated areas only||September 9-December 9, 2023|
|Regular Archery and Crossbow||All||September 30-October 27, 2023|
|Youth*||All||October 21, 2023|
|Maine Resident Only||All||October 28, 2023|
|Firearms||All||October 30-November 25, 2023|
|Muzzloader Statewide||All||November 27-December 2, 2023|
|Muzzloader||12, 13, 15-18, 20-26, 29||December 4-9, 2023|
Maine Bag Limits
Maine has a strict bag limit of one antlered deer per year. An antlered deer is defined as one with antlers at least three inches long. In other words, no button bucks.
If you want to take antlerless deer, there are a few exceptions to this strict bag limit:
- During the Expanded Archery Season: You may take antlerless deer with antlerless permits (see below).
- During the Regular Archery and Crossbow Season: In WMDs 12, 13, 15-18, 20-26 and 29, you may harvest one deer of either sex without an antlerless permit.
- During Youth Deer Hunting Day: Youth hunters may harvest an antlerless deer without an antlerless permit.
Maine Deer Hunting License Requirements and Costs
Maine’s licensing and permit scheme is quite complicated compared to other states and requires specific licenses and permits based on the method of take and sex of the deer. Moreover, all deer must be transported to a registration station and registered, which costs $5.00.
Because the scheme is so complex, I recommend deciding your hunting plans for the season and then speaking to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife by emailing [email protected] or calling (207) 287-8000.
For instance, if you want to take one antlered and one antlerless deer with a compound bow, you would need an Archery Hunting license as well as an expanded archery antlerless permit. However, if you plan to take the antlered deer with a firearm during the appropriate season, the Archery Hunting license no longer covers you, and you’ll also need a Big Game Hunting license or a license that gives more privileges like the superpack or lifetime licenses.
Maine defines a resident as someone who has been domiciled in Maine for a year and who:
- if registered to vote, is registered in Maine;
- if holding a driver’s license, has applied for or already has a Maine driver’s license;
- has registered any motor vehicles they own in Maine;
- is in compliance with the state income tax laws;
- is a full-time student at a Maine college or university who meets the above requirements.
|Big Game Hunting (16 and older)||$26.00|
|Junior Hunting (under 16)||$8.00|
|Combination Hunting and Fishing||$43.00|
|Combination Fishing and Archery||$43.00|
|Serviceman (resident) Combination Hunting & Fishing||$3.00|
|Serviceman (dependant) Combination Hunting and Fishing||$20.00|
|Serviceman (dependant) Hunting||$10.00|
|Disabled War Veteran||FREE|
|Archery Hunting (16 and older)||$26.00|
|Big Game Hunting (16 and older)||$115.00|
|Combination Hunting and Fishing (16 and older)||$150.00|
|Junior Hunting (under 16)||$35.00|
|Archery Hunting (16 and older)||$75.00|
|6-Day Archery Hunting||$26.00|
A lifetime license includes just about all the necessary licenses and permits within it. For instance, it includes the crossbow permit and expanded archery antlerless and either-sex permits. As a result, it’s often a more economical option.
|Residents||Fishing||Hunting||Archery||Trapping||Combinationof any two||Combination of any three|
|5 years & under||$150||$150||$150||$150||$250||$400|
|6 – 15 years||$300||$300||$300||$300||$500||$800|
|65 years of age||$50||$50||$50||$50||$80||$110|
|66 years of age||$40||$40||$40||$40||$64||$94|
|67 years of age||$30||$30||$30||$30||$48||$78|
|68 years of age||$20||$20||$20||$20||$32||$52|
|69 years of age||$10||$10||$10||$10||$16||$26|
|70 and older||$8.00 — Covers all authorities that you are qualified to receive.|
|Nonresidents||Fishing||Hunting||Archery||Trapping||Combinationof any two||Combination of any three|
|5 years & under||$450||$450||$450||$450||$750||$1,200|
|6 – 15 years||$900||$900||$900||$900||$1,500||$2,400|
|Resident Crossbow Hunting Permit||$26.00|
|Non-Resident Crossbow Hunting Permit||$56.00|
|Expanded Archery Antlerless Permit||$12.00|
|Expanded Archery Either-Sex Permit||$32.00|
|Resident Muzzleloader Permit||$13.00|
|Non-Resident Muzzleloader Permit||$69.00|
Antlerless Deer Permits
Starting in 2022, the expanded archery antlerless permits allow you to harvest one antlerless deer in the specified area as well as one antlered deer statewide. You can get an antlerless permit by enrolling in the antlerless permit lottery. If you are allotted a permit, you must pay the $12.00 fee in addition to a $2.00 agent fee.
You can only apply for the antlerless permit lottery online.
Hunter Education Requirements and Apprentice Licenses
To obtain a Maine hunting license, you must take a relevant recreational safety course. There are specific courses for each method of take, so even if you have taken the firearms safety course, you must still take the bowhunter or crossbow hunter safety course if you want one of the bowhunting licenses. Many of these courses can be taken online.
If you do not take the relevant course, you cannot obtain the relevant hunting license, but there are apprentice licenses that allow you to hunt with the given method of take as long as you are supervised by another hunter over 18 who’s held a valid license for the past three consecutive years.
Note that you cannot purchase an apprentice hunting license more than five times, and you may need more than one license depending on how you wish to hunt.
|Resident Crossbow Permit||$26.00|
|Resident Muzzleloader Permit||$13.00|
|Non-Resident Crossbow Permit||$56.00|
What Weapons Can You Hunt With in Maine?
To hunt whitetail deer with a vertical bow or crossbow, it must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds. You must also use a fixed or mechanical broadhead with a cutting diameter of at least ⅞ inches.
Hunter orange clothing is not required if using a vertical bow, but it is required if using a crossbow.
Firearms may only be used during firearms season, and there are a number of restrictions on the firearms you can use. The following weapons are prohibited:
- Automatic firearms
- Semi-automatic firearms, which Maine classes as “auto-loading firearms,” unless their magazine holds five cartridges or less or has been permanently altered to do so
- Tracer or explosive cartridges
- .17 and .22 caliber rimfire cartridges, with the exception of .22 Magnum
You may also use archery equipment during firearms season.
Can You Hunt With an AR-15 in Maine?
You can hunt whitetail deer in Maine with an AR-15. The standard cartridge for the AR-15 is the .223 Remington, a centerfire cartridge not restricted by the state.
However, if you hunt with an AR-15 in Maine, you must be careful to follow the restrictions on magazine capacity and use one that doesn’t carry more than five rounds.
What Types of Deer Are Popular in Maine?
Like throughout the rest of the country, whitetail deer represent the lion’s share of hunting in Maine. They are the favorite game animal of Maine’s more than 200,000 paid hunting license holders with a harvest of 38,947 in 2021.
While many people don’t think of them as “deer,” there’s another closely related species that’s popular to hunt in Maine: moose. With a 2022 harvest of 2,334, it’s one of the few states in the nation where you can hunt the animal and one of the best places to do so.
The bag limit for moose is one animal per year, and you must obtain a permit through one of four ways:
- Competitive auction
- Controlled moose hunt for disabled veterans
- Hunting lodge lottery
You must apply for the lottery online during the February-March application period each year. Season dates vary by zone and sex but take place in the fall.
What Else Is Popular to Hunt in Maine?
Besides deer and moose, black bear and wild turkey are popular to hunt in Maine with more liberal seasons and permits than many other states. Additionally, there are seasons for:
- Migratory game birds: crows, snipe, woodcock, rails, goose, ducks, brant
- Ruffed and spruce grouse
- Snowshoe hare
- Furbearers: bobcat, fox, raccoon, skunk, opossum, woodchuck, porcupine, lynx, cottontail rabbit
- Gray and red squirrels