Hunting with drones and remote live cameras– never in Maine!

DronesAs New Hampshire debates the use of drones and live-action game cameras for hunting, Maine acted years ago to prohibit them. But there is one use of drones that may be legal here.

I remember clearly the time I saw a news report on the use of live-action game cameras to locate wildlife and kill them with the use of a computer and remote firearm. I think some guy in Texas had set up the camera and gun, and was inviting hunters to log on to his site, for a fee, and shoot a deer or hog. You sat at your computer until the animal you wanted came into view, then you hit a key to fire the gun.

Along with many others, I was appalled. It didn’t take long for us to make that illegal in Maine. Here’s the law, enacted in 2005:

Remote-control hunting: An owner or operator of a commercial shooting area may not use a website or a service or business via any other means that permits a person to hunt or attempt to hunt a wild animal or wild bird that is located in this State through the use of a computer-controlled gun, shooting apparatus or any other remote-control device when the person using the website, service or business is physically removed from the immediate vicinity of the wild animal or wild bird.


As the Federal Aviation Administration takes steps to allow the use of small unmanned aircraft, it’ll be important for the hunting community and wildlife agencies to stay ahead of this. What a distortion of hunting that would be!

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department held a public hearing recently on proposed rules that would ban three things:

  • The taking of wildlife using an unmanned aerial vehicle;
  • The use of “smart rifles” for taking wildlife (these rifles contain a computer that locks in on the target, adjusts for wind, animal movement, etc., and automatically fires);
  • The use of live-action game cameras to locate wildlife for the purpose of taking said wildlife. These cameras transmit real-time images to a cell phone or computer.

Maine Law

In 2003, long before drones became an issue, the legislature enacted a law prohibiting hunting with the aid of aircraft. Here it is:

A person on the ground or airborne may not use an aircraft to aid or assist in hunting bear, deer, or moose.

The only violations I know of came on moose hunts, where a person in an airplane was scouting for moose and relaying sightings to hunters on the ground.

Although airplanes were the issue in 2003, luckily, this law also prohibits the use of drones for hunting. But I don’t think it prohibits scouting for game with the use of a drone, before you start hunting. That is likely to become an issue in Maine, sometime in the future, as will the use of smart rifles.

It is tough for DIF&W to stay ahead of the technology, for sure, but it’s good to know that we did take steps years ago to prohibit some of these practices.


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.