Each year countless candidates dream of becoming a Maine Guide. Maine has long been recognized as the most difficult State in the US in which to obtain a guide’s license. Maine’s Guide License examination and testing process is very involved and complex, making success difficult for those who enter the process without the benefit of formal training through a formal Maine Guide School.
The test requires applicants to demonstrate proficiency in map and compass skills, the ability to resolve incidents which result in life-threatening injuries, and an extensive knowledge of Maine’s hunting, fishing and recreational laws. The ability to resolve weather emergencies, identify typical Maine species and demonstrate a variety of outdoor skills make Maine’s Guide’s examination very challenging.
What is a Maine Guide?
IF&W defines a guide as follows:
“Guide” means any person who receives any form of remuneration for his services in accompanying or assisting any person in the fields, forests or on the waters or ice within the jurisdiction of the State while hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, snowmobiling or camping at a primitive camping area.
Maine’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife administers the testing process and sees a failure rate of well over 60% for those applicants who do not attend our Maine Guide Course prior to testing. After providing our Training programs for more than twenty-five years, our applicants continue to consistently achieve a success percentage of over 85%!
Maine Guide License Classifications
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife is the licensing agency for Registered Maine Guides. The state requires guides to be licensed in one or more categories, depending on how they exercise their guiding privileges. A Maine Guides License is available in one or more of the following categories. The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational categories are the most common.
Hunting – Allows licensed individuals to guide hunting and trapping activities, including overnight camping trips in conjunction with those hunting and trapping activities.
Fishing – Allows licensed individuals to guide fishing activities, including overnight camping trips in conjunction with those fishing activities on inland waters.
Recreational – Allows licensed individuals to guide boating, snowmobiling and camping activities.
Sea-Kayaking – Allows licensed individuals to guide sea-kayaking activities on the State’s territorial seas and tributaries of the State up to the head of tide and out to the three mile limit, including overnight camping trips in conjunction with those sea-kayaking activities.
Tide-Water Fishing – Allows licensed individuals to guide sport fishing activities on the State’s territorial seas and tributaries of the State up to the head of tide out to the three mile limit, including overnight camping trips in conjunction with those tide-water fishing activities.
Maine Guide’s License Test
To become a Registered Maine Guide, candidates must pass both an oral and written exam with a 70% or better grade. Exams are typically conducted in Augusta at the IF&W facility or a nearby state office.
All new applicants must be currently certified by the American Red Cross in standard first-aid. There is a $100.00 testing fee for each classification to be examined to become a guide. In the event the applicant fails the test, one re-examination is allowed before another application fee is assessed. The $100.00 fee is non-refundable and will not be credited toward the license fee.
The oral exam is three part process.
- Map & Compass
- Catastrophic/Lost Person Scenario
- General Information – Laws, species identification, client care, weather, ethics, safety
At the beginning of the oral exam candidates must demonstrate map and compass skills. Examiners will ask candidates to determine bearings and distances for several lines of travel on the provided topographic map. Candidates must also be familiar with map features, symbology, terminology, scale, etc.
The second part of the oral exam is scenario based, requiring candidates to properly describe how they would react in an emergency situation such as an injured or lost client. This part of the exam tests the candidates ability to make reasonable and timely decisions in an emergency.
The last part of the oral is what we refer to as “General Knowledge”. Candidates will be asked questions often specific to their license such as laws/regulations, fly/ammo identification, boating questions, first aid, client safety, weather, sanitation, clothing, and client care. In addition candidates often must identify mammals, fish and waterfowl and answer questions relating to ethics and legal business practices.
The written exam is a 100 question True/False, Multiple Choice exam. It covers a variety of topics specific to the test classification. Like the General Knowledge portion of the oral exam, the written exam covers a variety of topics ranging from bag limits, boating terms, safety, rules and regulations, camping, wildlife facts and habits, canoeing, hunting/fishing equipment, trapping, ATV/Snowmobile, and a variety of other pertinent topics. A 70% grade is required to pass this exam.