Deer numbers in Maine are high in 2020, particularly in southern and central Maine where deer are as numerous now as they’ve ever been during the past decade. With roughly 110,000 any deer permits recommended for 2020, hunters will have ample opportunities to fill their freezers with venison and enjoy one of Maine’s five regulated deer hunting seasons. Our first deer hunting season kicks off with the expanded archery season opener on September 12, so now is the time to start scouting and for preparatory work for the 2020 seasons.
Here are a few tips and considerations for this year’s deer hunt:
To ensure you make the most of your opportunities and make a quick, clean kill, it’s important to practice early and often with your weapon. Try different shooting distances, angles, and wearing the same clothing you’ll wear when hunting.
The best way to up your odds is to know the deer in your hunting area. Spend time scouting for deer sign and getting to know the land and what’s on it. Look for trails, bedding areas, and preferred food sources. Sometimes talking to other locals or your local registration station may yield valuable intel on deer in the area.
Maine’s Wildlife Management Areas offer wonderful hunting opportunity! Find one in your neck of the woods.
Maine is fortunate to have landowners who offer access to their private property to hunt. Read more about exploring private land in Maine and remember, ALWAYS ask for permission.
Don’t forget to apply for your any deer permit:
To apply online, visit mefishwildlife.com. Applications must be completed online by 11:59 pm on August 17, 2020. It is free to apply for the any-deer permit lottery. A chance drawing will be held on September 11, 2020 and results will be posted on the Department’s website.
Decide which Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) you would like to apply for by viewing the Wildlife Management District Map or Wildlife Management Districts by Town. Learn more about the any-deer permit lottery.
High numbers of bonus permits anticipated for 2020
While a regular any deer permit allows a hunter to harvest either a buck or a doe, limited numbers of bonus permits are issued most years as well. A bonus permit allows a hunter to harvest an additional antlerless deer, meaning a hunter can take a buck with their regular hunting license in addition to another antlerless deer with their bonus permit. Bonus permits become available when there are more any deer permits available than there are applicants for those permits, and with record high numbers of any deer permits in 2020, we anticipate that there will be many bonus permits available to hunters as well.
Bonus permits allow a hunter to harvest an additional antlerless deer in the specified wildlife management district (WMD).
You may apply for a bonus permit during the any deer permit lottery. Just select your preferred WMD from the “Bonus Choice” dropdown menus when you fill out the “Districts” information on your application.
A limited number of bonus permits are also allocated in two deer management subunits in WMDs 25 and 26 where we are trying to increase antlerless harvest to limit high levels of deer-human conflict. Learn more.
The deadline to apply for your any deer permit or bonus permit is August 17, 2020 at 11:59 EST. Click here to apply now.
Expanded archery changes for 2020
Your earliest opportunity to hunt deer in Maine occurs during the expanded archery season, where archers may hunt beginning September 12 in designated areas. These areas were established to provide opportunity and increase harvest in areas where firearms discharge ordinances, urban development, and land access issues limit our ability to regulate deer numbers. Maine currently has 11 Expanded Archery areas, and the boundaries were expanded on four of these areas effective for 2020. These changes impact the Augusta, Camden, Lewiston, and WMD 24 areas. For more information, please visit the expanded archery page.
New opportunities for Maine crossbow hunters
Starting January 1, 2020 and through December 31, 2022, all Maine hunters may use a crossbow to hunt deer during the regular October archery season as long as they meet permit requirements and purchase a crossbow hunting permit. Crossbow hunters under the age of 65 will need an any deer permit or bonus permit to harvest an antlerless deer during the Regular October Archery or Firearms seasons. For more information, please visit the crossbow information page.