Maine licenses are on sale … all you have to do is remember to carry one

Over the past several years, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has made it remarkably simple to purchase your hunting and fishing licenses on the Internet.

That’s a very good thing. Most of the time. And after I tell you how you can get your hands on next year’s licenses today, I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s entirely possible for the added convenience of Internet commerce to put you in hot water with your local fish and wildlife constabulary.

First, the nuts and bolts: Go to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s website (, or to the DIF&W’s licensing page ( and in just a few clicks you can be equipped for all of 2012’s outdoor adventures.

The best part: You can print off multiple copies to stow away in strategic places. Put a fishing license in your tackle box, in your boat, and in your truck. Tuck a hunting license in your bird-hunting vest, your deer-hunting jacket, and in your camo turkey-hunting gear.

Then, no matter where you are, you’ll have the license you need. Simple. Right?

Well, it would certainly seem so. As I proved a few years back, it’s also fairly simple to screw up this seemingly foolproof system.

Here’s all you have to do: When it’s time to enter the moose permit lottery, pull your hunting license out of your wallet. If you’re like me, you won’t have another copy of the license (even though you could have printed several duplicates), because no matter what you’re doing in the outdoors, you’ll always be carrying your wallet.

(Do you see where this is going?)

Now that you’ve got your hunting license out (which is also your fishing license, since all of your permits are listed in one convenient column), put it beside your computer. Log in. Buy as many chances in the moose permit lottery as you choose. Print off the confirmation of that transaction.

Now go about your daily business.

Then, a few weeks later, go fishing. Like I did. Go to Grand Lake Stream. On opening day. When you’ll be able to share the famous Dam Pool with 20 other crazy fly fishermen (and likely be under the watchful eyes of a couple of game wardens, whether you know it or not).

When your feet get cold (which they will, very quickly) trudge up the bank to the parking lot. Say “Hi” to the waiting game warden. Smile. And when he asks you if you’ve got a fishing license you can show him, do what I did.

Fumble through your wallet, produce fishing licenses for the past four years (but not the present year), and wonder what happened. Think back. Remember entering the moose permit lottery. Remember putting your license on your desk, right next to your computer.

Where it still is.

Then, laugh along as the warden takes your name and date of birth. Chuckle as he says he’ll check you out on the computer and see if, in fact, you’re duly licensed. Assure him that you are. Wonder, throughout the entire interaction, whether this warden knows what you do for a living, and how embarrassing this whole incident has been.

And finally, turn red as the warden delivers his punch line, just before you leave.

“Just wondering,” this particular warden said on that icy morning not too long ago. “Are you going to write about this one?”

I didn’t really have an answer for that.

Now, after fessing up, I apparently do.

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.