Legislature kills lots of deer bills

Legislators had lots of ideas about how to improve deer hunting, from allowing baiting to letting kids shoot does anywhere anytime to protecting small bucks.

But the bills didn’t get much support from the legislature’s Fish and Wildlife Committee and they were all killed by the House and Senate, although some of them got a few votes of support from F&W Committee members.

Here are the bills that are now dead.

LD 1038 would have allowed junior hunters to take does in any WMD on youth hunting day. DIF&W pointed out that junior hunters already get 25% of the any-deer permits that are issued.

LD 1041 would have extended the no-shooting zone from paved ways to 100 feet and made violations class E crimes. When I was at SAM, we got the legislature to change the laws governing shooting from and across roads. At that time you couldn’t walk up the road or cross the road with a loaded gun. That’s now legal. We also established the no-shooting zone as 10 feet from the road, and made it illegal to shoot across a paved road.  Colonel Joel Wilkinson, who testified against LD 1041 while supporting increased penalties for violating existing laws, reported that the Warden Service had prosecuted about 200 violators of this law in the last 7 to 10 years.

LD 62 would have removed the ban on deer baiting, and drew lots of testimony and discussion. Two members of the IFW Committee voted to support the bill.  It was noted that hunters in Canada can bait deer, and in other states too. There was testimony from Maine sportsmen who hunt in places that allow baiting that baiting doesn’t make it easy to get a deer. Judy Camuso, DIF&W’s Wildlife Division Director, spoke against the bill, noting that the Commissioner does have authority to allow baiting in specific situations (such as hiring a sharp shooter to reduce deer populations).

LD 341, “An Act to Promote Deer Hunting,” would have limited hunters to bucks with 3 or more tines of one inch or longer along the main beam of either or both antlers. LD 732 would have done the same thing. This issue drew tons of discussion and I’ve written about it in previous outdoor news columns.

LD 555 would have allowed landowners with 25 acres or more that is open to hunting to shoot does without permits.

LD 1002 would have added .17 Caliber Hornady Magnum Rimfire Rifle cartridges to the cartridges acceptable for deer hunting.

Any-Deer Permits

Several bills would have directed any-deer permits to specific groups. LD 279 would give veterans priority in allocations of any-deer permits. Speaking against the bill, DIF&W Bill Swan noted that 25% of the permits now go to landowners and 25% to kids, plus 2.5 percent to SuperPack license purchasers and 15% to nonresidents, leaving only 32.5% for all the rest of Maine’s resident hunters.

LD 509 would have allocated a minimum of 10 percent of any-deer permits to hunters 70 years of age or older and LD 60 would have allowed hunters 70 years old or older to shoot does without permits. I let the committee know that, a few years ago, the legislature enacted a law that gives hunters age 100 or older an any-deer permit. I don’t believe anyone has ever taken advantage of that generous move!

LD 340 would have given any-deer permits to 100 percent disabled veterans, and LD 427 would have allocated all any-deer permits to landowners who own 50 acres or more that are open to the public for hunting. If there were not enough landowners to take all the permits, the rest would go to junior hunters.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.