A Windham lawmaker has submitted a bill that would give Maine hunters who are 100 and over “the ultimate license” – an any-deer permit – for free.

Last year, one resident over the age of 100 paid the $8 fee to enter the any-deer lottery.

He was 102 and he got it.

Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland, said he’s taken a bit of ribbing over the legislation, things like “How come you’re leaving out 99-year-olds?”

The current law that gives free fishing, trapping and buck-only hunting licenses to residents 70 and over is due to expire in January 2006.

Diamond said it makes the issue ripe for discussion.

Each year, most hunters have buck-only permits. A minority of hunters wins the chance to shoot antlerless deer by entering a lottery.

In the past, when people have proposed giving free any-deer permits to older residents, Diamond said he’s heard arguments that it would hurt the deer population. He doesn’t believe it.

“I’m trying to get this issue fleshed out,” he said. “I think (free any-deer permits for older residents) sends a message. They’ve been hunting almost all their lives. There’s a point you can say ‘Thank you’ for that.”

He said he picked 100 because he wanted to initiate a discussion about the issue without opponents claiming the change would hurt the deer population.

A hearing on L.D. 652 is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday.

“I don’t expect a slew of 100-year-olds pounding their canes and demanding a free license,” Diamond said.

Marc Michaud, director of public information and education at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said no one over the age of 100 applied for any-deer permits in 2003 or 2002.

In 2004, 43 people between ages of 90 and 99 entered the lottery. All but 12 won permits.

The department can’t say how many residents age 70 and older receive the free buck-only licenses each year. Michaud said he’s also unsure of the age of the oldest person with a hunting license in Maine.

But at 102, “if he isn’t the oldest, he’s close to it,” Michaud said, referring to last year’s any-deer winner.


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