Deer Hunting

2024 Antlerless Deer Permit Lottery

hunting laws book cover

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Hunting of antlerless deer (a deer that has no antlers or has antlers less than 3 inches in length measured from the skull) is prohibited except by special permit during both the firearms and muzzleloader seasons.

Persons may take antlerless deer without an antlerless deer permit only in designated WMDs/subunits during the regular archery season and during the Youth Deer Hunt. An antlerless deer permit is required in non-designated WMDs/subunits.

Multiple deer may be taken during the expanded archery season, as a result of receiving an antlerless deer permit(s), or due to having purchased a super pack antlerless deer permit. Otherwise, one deer may be taken during any one of the remaining seasons (with appropriate licenses or permits).

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Deer Hunting Prohibitions

Baiting deer by placing salt, grain, fruit, nuts or other foods or bait known to be attractive to deer or hunting from an observation stand or blind overlooking such bait, is prohibited from June 1 to December 15. This does not apply to hunting from an observation stand or blind overlooking:

  • Standing crops
  • Foods that have been left as a result of natural or normal agricultural operations
  • Bear bait that has been placed at a bear hunting stand or blind in accordance with bear baiting laws

Illegal equipment: Deer may not be hunted with the use of dogs, artificial lights, snares, traps, airbows, set guns or any firearm using .17 or .22 caliber rimfire cartridges, except that .22 caliber rimfire magnum cartridges are permitted.

Driving Deer: A person may not participate in a hunt for deer during which an organized or planned effort is made to drive deer. Four or more persons working together to move deer constitutes such an effort.

One and done: It is unlawful to hunt deer after having killed or registered one during the open season of that calendar year, unless you are participating in the expanded archery season on deer (see Expanded Archery Permit) or possess a valid antlerless deer permit or super pack antlerless deer permit.

Gift deer: Gift deer may be possessed if clearly labeled with the name and address of the person who registered the animal, and the year it was registered.

Buying, selling, and bartering deer: For information on buying, selling or bartering animals, see Prohibition Regarding Selling of Wild Animals.

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The Following Areas are Closed to Deer Hunting

  • Mt. Desert Island in Hancock County;
  • Cross and Scotch Islands, located in Washington County;
  • The town of Isle au Haut and islands within that town, located in Knox County; and
  • In wildlife sanctuaries. See exceptions below.

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The Following Areas are Open to Deer Hunting

But with These Special Restrictions:

  • Beauchamp Point Sanctuary in Camden and Rockport, Knox County, is open to archery hunting for deer during any open hunting season that allows archery equipment to be used to hunt deer (crossbows are not permitted).
  • Cranberry Isles in Hancock County is open to bow and arrow hunting for deer only during the archery and firearms seasons on deer and to shotgun hunting during the firearms season on deer (crossbows
    are not permitted).
  • The area within Drake’s Island and Wells Sanctuaries, situated in the Town of Wells in the County of York: shall be open to the hunting of antlerless deer with a hand‑held bow and arrow (crossbows are not permitted), by permit only, during a specified period between November 1 and January 30; permits may be issued by the department to licensed archery hunters authorized by a landowner.
  • The Island of Frenchboro is open to deer hunting with shotgun only during the firearms season on deer.
  • Islesboro, Waldo County, is open to deer hunting with bow and arrow only during the archery, expanded archery, or firearms seasons on deer.
  • Prout’s Neck: Richmond’s Island; Cape Elizabeth Sanctuary contains approximately1,600 acres open to deer hunting,with bow and arrow only (crossbows are not permitted), during the open special archery season and the firearms season on deer. Note: Landowner permission required.
  • Southport: In the town of Southport, Lincoln County, and on all islands within its confines, it is lawful to hunt deer with shotguns and archery equipment only during the firearms season.

Please refer to municipal ordinances that may prohibit certain hunting methods.

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Deer Permits & Licenses

Muzzleloader Permit

  • Muzzleloader means a firearm that is capable of being loaded only through the muzzle; is ignited by a matchlock, wheel lock, flintlock, or caplock, including an in-line caplock or shotgun or rifle primer mechanism; has a rifled or smooth-bored barrel capable of firing only a single charge; propels a ball, bullet, or charge of shot; and may have any type of sights, including scopes.
  • New technology: There are new types of muzzleloaders on the market that allow for a pre-measured amount of factory loaded gun powder that is encapsulated and is not loaded through the muzzle as a traditional muzzleloader would require. The bullet is still loaded through the muzzle. This still meets the definition of a muzzleloader and is legal for hunting during the muzzleloader hunting season.
  • A muzzleloader permit, in addition to a valid adult big game hunting license that allows the use of firearms, is required for hunters 16 years of age or older prior to hunting deer during the muzzleloader deer season. The muzzleloader permit is included in the junior hunting license and the senior (age 70+) lifetime license.
  • Hunter orange clothing is required during this season (see Hunter Orange Clothing Requirements).
  • Hunting hours are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
  • Except as specified, all other laws relating to the taking of deer with firearms shall apply to the taking of deer with muzzleloaders.
  • Only muzzleloaders that are .40 caliber or greater and capable of firing only a single charge and crossbows by persons 65 years of age or older or crossbows by persons with a special disability permit to hunt with a crossbow may be used to hunt deer during this season.

Expanded Archery Permits

  • Restricted to designated areas (contact MDIFW, or see Expanded Archery Season on Deer, for maps of areas).
  • Bow and arrow hunting only except for a hunter who is 65 years of age or older or who has a special disability permit to hunt with crossbows may use crossbows.
    Note: This is subject to change pending rulemaking that will be finalized by April 2024.
  • Hunters who have a valid archery license can purchase multiple expanded archery antlerless deer permits and one expanded archery either-sex permit.
  • Deer must be legally transported and registered as required for other deer seasons.
  • All other archery deer hunting laws apply.
  • Junior hunters may hunt during this season with their junior hunting license. The junior hunting license includes one expanded archery either-sex permit. If the hunter wants to take additional deer, unlimited expanded archery antlerless deer permits may be purchased.

Antlerless Deer Permit

  • Hunting of antlerless deer during the firearms season and muzzleloader season is restricted to those hunters who possess a valid antlerless deer permit or super pack antlerless deer permit.
  • Antlerless deer may be taken by hunters during the expanded archery season (Sep - Dec) with expanded archery permits.
  • Antlerless deer may be taken during the regular archery season (Oct) without a permit in designated WMDs or with antlerless deer permits.
  • Antlerless deer permits are acquired by lottery and any remaining permits are available for purchase on the MDIFW website. Hunters selected for antlerless deer permits in the antlerless deer permit lottery must claim and pay for their per­mits. Super pack license holders selected from the special super pack license holder category may claim their permits at no cost. If a super pack license holder is not selected from the special super pack license holder category, the hunter is eli­gible to receive an antlerless deer permit from the regular antlerless deer permit applicant category, and if selected must claim and pay for their permit.

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2023 Deer Seasons and Bag Limits

Season Dates Annual Bag & Possession Limit
Expanded Archery
(limited area/permit required)
September 9, 2023 - December 9, 2023

Only 1 antlered deer may be taken annually.


  • Additional deer may be taken by hunters possessing antlerless deer permit(s) or during the Expanded Archery season with appropriate permits.
  • During the Regular Archery Season, hunters may harvest an antlerless deer without an antlerless permit in any WMD/ subunit.
  • During the Youth Deer Hunt, hunters may harvest an antlerless deer without an antlerless permit in any WMD/subunit.
Regular Archery September 30, 2023 - October 27, 2023
(allows use of bow and arrow, crossbows, firearms, or muzzleloaders)
Maine Residents Only:
October 28, 2023
All Hunters:
October 30, 2023 - November 25, 2023
Youth Deer Hunt October 20, 2023 - October 21, 2023
Muzzleloader Week 1:
All Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs)
November 27, 2023 - December 2, 2023
Week 2:
WMDs 12, 13, 15-18, 20-26, 29
December 4, 2023 - December 9, 2023

All dates are inclusive except that hunting is prohibited on Sunday.

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Reporting Accidents and Aiding Victims

Any person who knows or has reason to believe that they have inflicted injury to another person by the use of firearms or archery equipment is required to make themselves known to the victim and render such first aid and assistance as they are capable of under the circumstances. The incident must be reported by the quickest means, to a game warden or other law enforcement officer.

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Harassment of Hunters

It is illegal for any person to willfully interfere with the lawful hunting of any wild animal or wild bird, including the willful disturbance of wild animals or wild birds with intent to interfere with their lawful taking. Note: This law does not limit the ownership, use, access, or control of property rights otherwise provided by law.

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Hunters for the Hungry

Attention hunters! Some Maine citizens lack adequate nutrition. A gift of meat from your hunt can help reduce hunger in Maine. Hunters for the Hungry is a program for donating wild game meat to food kitchens, shelters, and charitable organizations statewide. To find out how you can help call 207-287-7513.

Learn more about Maine Hunters for the Hungry

Big Buck Club

Maine has a club for deer hunters called "The Biggest Bucks in Maine Club," which is sponsored by:
The Maine Sportsman
183 State Street, Suite 101
Augusta, ME 04330

To qualify, the minimum dressed weight (without heart, lungs, and liver) must be 200 pounds. Learn more by calling the Maine Sportsman at (207) 622-4242 or visit

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