Back in September, under the headline “Sneaky New Law,” I wrote this:

If you are a Maine bowhunter or recreational archer, fasten your seat belt! You are not gonna believe this.

Among the assortment of new sportsmen-related state laws that got squeezed through under the public radar was LD 540, which, I predict, is destined to live in infamy, at least among the bowhunting community. Language in the new law, that goes into effect in early October, states that it is illegal to shoot any kind of a bow within 100 yards of any dwelling without first having permission of the dwelling owner.

The practical effect of this cockamamie new law is this: It makes a mockery out of Maine’s expanded archery deer hunting season in urban areas and it outlaws shooting your bow in your own back yard!

What were these state legislators thinking? How in the world did Rep. Steve Wood sneak this under the radar, or get his fellow legislative committee members to go along? Moreover, how did our Augusta watchdog groups like the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and the Maine Bowhunters Association fail to stop this abomination in its tracks?

SAM Director Dave Trahan says,”We had nothing to do with it. It was a last-minute issue added to the law. We will work to change it.”

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Six months later. Both SAM and the Maine Bowhunters Association have been jawboning IF&W policymakers to get this debacle straightened out. It looks like they may have made some inroads.

Once again, the Maine State Legislature has invoked its oversight authority and moved to reverse a bad decision (LD 540) that it made earlier in conjunction with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. According to Maine’s Chief Warden, Col. Joel Wilkinson, the ill-advised bow safety law, however well-intended, had profound consequences unforeseen by either IF&W policymakers or the state legislature.

Wilkinson said, “Bows were written into the law to address concerns and public complaints created by bow hunters shooting from paved roads in Washington County last year. We found a way to address this issue another way by writing bows into the law that prevents shooting a firearm across a paved way or within 10 feet of a paved way.”

Rep. Mike Shaw, the House chair of the Legislative Fish and Wildlife Committee, gets credit for the corrective legislation. Wilkinson says that the Warden Service supports corrective legislation and that it will be incorporated into IF&W’s omnibus bill this winter. At last report, Rep. Shaw’s bill to rescind is getting strong support from the legislative committee and is not expected to run in to major roadblocks.

Bottom line: A bad law that was never tested in the real world backfired badly. By next fall it will be legal once again for bowhunters or recreational archers to shoot their bows in their own back yards without their neighbor’s permission.

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The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WQVM-FM 101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is [email protected] . He has two books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” and his latest, “Backtrack.”


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