December 15, 2018
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Regular firearms season over, but muzzleloader hunters still targeting deer

Pete Warner | BDN
Pete Warner | BDN
BDN digital sports editor Pete Warner removes the primer cap from his muzzleloader on Dec. 4, 2015, after an unsuccessful two-week deer hunting stint.

Here in Maine, many consider the month of November “deer season,” but in reality, some bowhunters begin targeting deer in early September and others using primitive firearms hunt with muzzleloaders into December.

So, while more than 30,000 deer have been registered thus far, there is still plenty of hunting to be done by those muzzleloader hunters, who extend their own hunting opportunities by as much as two weeks by using those weapons.

The statewide muzzleloader season runs from Nov. 26 through Dec. 1. In 14 more southerly Wildlife Management Districts, a two-week muzzleloader season is observed, so hunters can use those firearms until Dec. 8.

A muzzleloader hunting permit costs $13 for Maine residents and $69 for nonresidents. Those from outside the U.S. pay $79 for the permit.

Nathan Bieber, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s deer biologist, said hunters making a last-gasp effort to fill their tags during muzzleloader season may want to focus on food.

“I think this late in November and into December, particularly with snow down early, I’d start hunting food sources if I could find any in my area with active sign,” Bieber said in an email. “When the easy food is covered, deer may be doing some digging for apples, mast crops, etc.”

Some highlights of the state’s muzzleloader regulations, as posted on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website:

— 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.

— 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 may be used to hunt deer during this season.

 


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