Bait deer and you’ll never hunt again

Boy, did I get that wrong. On August 7, I reported that a new law required that the person who is convicted of hunting deer over bait during an open season on deer must lose his license for one year. A second offense would require revocation for two years.

That was the last amended version of the bill that I received during a work session of the legislature’s Fish and Wildlife Committee. But sometime between that day and enactment, the bill was substantially changed.

The new law requires that a second deer baiting offense results in the loss of hunting privileges – for a lifetime! I have to thank Representative Paul Stearns for calling this to my attention.

The original bill required a mandatory fine of $500 but that was removed, as committee members thought this should be left up to the Judge.

Representative Will Tuell of Washington County sponsored the bill, and began his testimony by thanking the committee for rejecting a bill that would have made hunting deer over bait legal. “Doing so would have encouraged and emboldened those bad actors who flout our game laws to push the envelope, while threatening the overall health of our deer herd,” he said.

Colonel Joel Wilkinson of the Maine Warden Service testified in favor of the bill for DIF&W, reporting that “hunting deer over bait prosecutions have steadily increased since 2004 to a point that we average over 100 cases per year now.”

Dave Trahan, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, supported the bill and suggested that community service be an option instead of a fine. The committee did not add that to the bill.

Mike Look of Washington County, as part of his testimony for the bill, handed out a very interesting report on baiting and deer feeding regulations in other states.

Here’s the new law.

An Act To Increase the Penalties for Hunting Deer over Bait

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1.  12 MRSA §10902, sub-§7-C  is enacted to read:

7-C Hunting deer over bait.     A hunting license of a person convicted of placing or hunting over bait in violation of section 11452, subsection 1 must be revoked, and that person is ineligible to obtain a hunting license as follows:

  1. A. For a first offense, for a period of one year from the date of conviction; and
  1. B. For a 2nd offense, the person is permanently ineligible to obtain a hunting license.

Effective 90 days following adjournment of the 128th Legislature, First Regular Session, unless otherwise indicated.



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,, 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.