The Worst Hunting Legislation Ever

halloweenIt may have been the worst hunting bill ever, during my 18 years as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

LD 1186, introduced in the Maine legislature in 1997, was titled “An Act to Ensure Hunting Safety.” When I reported on the bill in the SAM News, I left out the name of the sponsor to save her from embarrassment.

The bill would have required hunters to quit hunting at 2 pm on Halloween, ostensibly to protect trick-or-treaters.

The bill was sponsored at the request of a woman from southern Maine who apparently believed her kids were in danger of getting shot by a hunter on Halloween.  “Some of the kids actually wear animal costumes,” she exclaimed.

Taking an opportunity to have some fun with the bill at the public hearing, I thanked the sponsor for putting in the bill, “because I do like to get out of the woods by 2 pm to get my mask and costume on for trick or treating.”

That was actually the truth. One of the best things about Halloween was that I got to go with my kids, with my own costume and bag for collecting treats.

I suggested at the hearing, tongue in cheek, that because the greatest danger to kids on Halloween is from automobile traffic, hunters should be allowed and encouraged to stay in the woods and hunt until 10 pm, rather than leave the woods and hit the roads, crowded with trick-or-treaters.

Someone else at the hearing suggested that the better arrangement would be to prohibit trick or treating until after sunset.

After a rollicking good time with the bill, it was quickly and quietly killed by the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.

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.