Deer season is a Maine tradition, with close to 200,000 deer hunters participating throughout the state. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is again urging hunters and all who enjoy the outdoors this fall to act appropriately while on private land.

“Over 90 percent of the state is privately owned, and it is the generosity of private landowners that sustain Maine’s outdoor traditions,” said Chandler Woodcock, commissioner of the MDIFW. “These landowners are a vital part of our outdoor community, and we hope that this fall, everyone who enjoys the outdoors on private land acts respectfully and appropriately.”

Hunters, as well as others, who utilize private land for outdoor recreation, are asked to keep these suggestions in mind while enjoying the outdoors this fall:

Ask first

If possible, obtain permission before accessing private land. While it is not the law, it is the right thing to do, as both a courtesy and out of respect for the landowner. Do not wait until the last minute to ask for permission, and provide the landowner with your name, address and what vehicle you will be driving.

Communicate with the landowner

Ask where to park, and if there are certain areas that they would prefer you do not hunt. Remember, you need landowner permission to operate an ATV on the property of another, so make sure you get permission, verbal or written, before utilizing an ATV on someone else’s property. Ask for permission if you plan to use a tree stand or a ground blind, and if you leave a stand on the property, make sure it is appropriately marked with your name and address.

Respect the land and landowner

Remember, you are the guest of the landowner, so act appropriately. Carry out all your trash, and if possible, items left by others. Stay within the boundaries set by the landowner, and be aware of the location of buildings, dwellings, livestock, trails and agricultural or logging operations. Never block roadways or trails, and leave gates and barriers the way you found them.

Thank the landowner

After your hunt, make sure you thank the landowner. If possible, offer to share some of your game with the landowner. After the season, follow up with a personal note or a holiday card thanking the landowner. Showing your appreciation goes a long way.

As always, obey all signs posted on property. A recent law change also has changed the silver paint stripe “Access by Permission Only” law. The new rule allows property owners to post their property “Access by Permission Only” by painting one purple vertical stripe at least one inch in width and at least eight inches in length placed on trees, posts or stones between three and five feet off the ground. These stripes should be no more than 100 feet apart and the paint markings must be maintained so as to be conspicuous at all times. The vertical purple stripe replaces the two horizontal silver bars.

Without a doubt, public access is one of the greatest challenges that face hunters and others who enjoy the outdoors. Remember that your actions reflect not only on you, but all who enjoy the outdoors. Treat the landowner and land with respect.