Saturday is the day many Maine youngsters have been waiting for all year.
Saturday is Youth Deer Day, which provides kids 16 and under across the state with the opportunity to have a one-day hunt all to themselves.
Youth hunters are prepared to head into the woods Saturday with a parent, grandparent, uncle, friend or other adult for what hopefully will be a fun, safe and productive outing pursuing deer.
The regular firearms season for deer begins with a dedicated hunting day for Maine residents on Saturday, Oct. 30, and starts on Monday, Nov. 1 for everybody else.
There are special rules concerning youth hunters established by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife that must be followed.
Children under the age of 16 must have a junior hunting license to hunt. After their 16th birthday, hunters may continue to hunt on their junior license for the remainder of the calendar year — with or without taking the hunter safety course.
Even once a 16-year-old has taken the hunter safety course, they must still have adult supervision to participate on youth-only day.
Hunters ages 10–15 must be in the presence of, and under the effective control of, a junior hunter supervisor. The same applies to hunters under the age of 10, but the supervisor must remain within 20 feet of the hunter at all times.
DIF&W defines “in the presence of” as in visual and voice contact without the use of visual or audio enhancement devices such as binoculars and two-way radios.
A junior hunter supervisor may include the parent or guardian of the junior hunter who holds or has held a valid Maine hunting license or successfully completed a hunter safety course. Or it can be any person at least 18 years old who is approved by the parent or guardian of the junior hunter and who holds or previously held a valid Maine hunting license or successfully completed a hunter safety course.
The accompanying adult is not allowed to possess a firearm, bow and arrow or crossbow, with the exception of youth waterfowl days.
All Maine laws pertaining to hunting deer, bear, spring and fall wild turkey and waterfowl apply on youth days.
Participants may take one antlered deer in Wildlife Management Districts where antlerless deer permits are not issued, or are only issued for a portion of that hunting zone.
In WMDs where antlerless deer permits are issued for the entire WMD, youth hunters may harvest one deer of either sex.
A junior hunter who shoots a deer on youth day is prohibited from taking additional deer this season, unless they have been awarded a bonus antlerless permit or participate in the expanded archery season (designated areas only) and have the required expanded archery permits.
Good luck to all the youth hunters on Saturday!