Junior deer hunters don’t get automatic any-deer permit

From the “let’s get this straight, once and for all” file, here’s another clarification of the state’s any-deer rules.

And let’s start with this: Junior hunters DO NOT automatically have the right to shoot a doe this year. and they won’t receive that right next year, either.

Sorry if you’ve heard this explanation before, but seeing as how readers are still asking me about this (non-existent) law, and some are very excited that their son or daughter will automatically be able to hunt for does and bucks this fall (they won’t), let’s take another stab at a clarification.

Back in August, a BDN blogger wrote a post that incorrectly stated that all junior hunters would be given an any-deer permit this year, as long as they were hunting in a Wildlife Management District where permits were offered.


That blog was quickly corrected online, but the damage was done. Several readers read the initial post, didn’t read the corrected version, and are moving forward with plans to allow their children to shoot an antlerless deer come November, even though those junior hunters have not received an any-deer permit through the state-run lottery.

Bad idea. Illegal idea, actually.

Here’s how the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife explains the new law, “An Act to Increase the Number of Junior Hunters,” in its most recent rules and laws booklet:

“[The law] directs the commissioner to adopt an antlerless deer permit system that may give special consideration to junior hunters by granting at least 25 percent of the available antlerless deer permits in WMDs when the junior hunter applies for a permit in the district.”

Key points:

  • The system may give special consideration to youths. Or it may not.
  • If that consideration is given, youths would be granted at least 25 percent of the any-deer permits in the district. There’s no guarantee that every youth hunter would receive one.
  • The youth hunter would first have applied for an any-deer permit through the state lottery. There is no “You’re young, so you get a permit you didn’t apply for” provision.
One last point: Youth Deer Day rules are still in effect, and on that day — Saturday, Oct. 26 — youth hunters will be allowed to take a deer of either sex, as long as they’re hunting in a WMD where any-deer permits have been allocated.

As there is still confusion among hunters, here’s my best advice: If you know someone who’s going to take a youth hunting this year, ask them if they know about the new law. And if they say they do, make sure they really, truly understand what that law says.


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John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.