September 24, 2020

Maine Clarifies Deer “Driving” Law…..Or Does it?

The Maine Warden Service (MWS) once again has attempted to define, redefine, examine, reexamine, improve, shorten, make better or choose any other description, but MWS says they have a solution in defining the law about driving deer. Finally, no more questions!

First, to clarify what “driving” deer is, it is an organized effort to force deer into a specific place where a shooter lies in ambush (my definition).

So, Maine now says, “A person may not participate in a hunt for deer during which an organized or planned effort is made to drive deer. For the purposes of this section to be considered ‘driving deer’ it would require four or more hunters, working together in an effort to move deer.”

At least we now know that if there are less than 4 hunters, you can drive deer……..orrrrr, or can you?

Stu Bristol, a former game officer in Vermont and freelance writer, wrote a while ago about the need for the MWS to “reexamine” the laws pertaining to deer driving.

I’m not a lawyer nor am I a law enforcement officer anymore but my previous years in law enforcement causes me to question how anyone could be charged with this violation, given that so much is written into the law demanding proof of intent. How does the Maine Warden Service determine that a person sitting on a deer stand could possibly know when other unknown hunters were moving through the woods in an organized attempt to drive deer?

If the driving deer law, prior to the MWS’s new wording was:

Driving deer or taking part in a deer drive is unlawful, except that 3 or fewer persons may hunt together, without the aid of noisemaking devices. Driving deer is an organized or planned effort to pursue, drive, chase or otherwise frighten or cause deer to move in the direction of any person(s) who are part of the organized or planned hunt and known to be waiting for the deer.

then I doubt that much has changed to get rid of the demand to prove intent.

Is an officer really going to be able to prove the intent that a hunt was an “organized or planned effort?” And what happens to the guy innocently (no seriously) sitting in his deer stand and 4 or more guys enter the woods a few hundred yards away and “drive” a deer or a few by his deer stand?

So with the new wording, can I hunt with two other people and use “noisemakers?”

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