As the end of rifle season nears, "last ditch deer season" gives hunters a shot at extending their hunt with a muzzleloader.

The rifle season is quickly drawing to a close. In Maine, Deer may be harvested with a firearm until Nov. 28. After that, hunters can take to the woods to fill an empty tag or tags with a muzzleloader for an additional two weeks in certain wildlife management districts. A muzzleloader permit is required, as well as a valid big game hunting license. Muzzleloader permits are included in junior hunting licenses, and senior lifetime licenses.

Muzzleloaders are defined by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife as:

"Muzzleloader means a firearm that is capable of being loaded only through the muzzle; is ignited by a matchlock, wheel lock, flintlock, or caplock, including an in-line caplock or shotgun or rifle primer mechanism; has a rifled or smooth-bored barrel capable of firing only a single charge; propels a ball, bullet, or charge of shot; and may have any type of sights, including scopes."

Newer muzzleloaders that allow for a pre-measured amount of factory loaded encapsulated gun powder that is not loaded through the muzzle, but the bullet is, meets the definition of a muzzleloader.

The 2020 muzzleloader season runs statewide Nov. 30 through Dec. 5. An additional week of hunting is permitted from Dec. 7-12, in WMD: 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, and 29.

Hunters who have yet to harvest a buck can do so during this season. Hunters with any-deer or bonus any-deer permits can fill their tags during the muzzleloader season.

For more information about the Maine muzzleloader season, visit MDIFW website.