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General Hunting Regulations

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Accidents: All hunting-related injuries or deaths MUST be reported to state or local police and to the Environmental Police.

Archery: Poisoned arrows, or explosive tips, or bows drawn by mechanical means, except for crossbows as permitted, are prohibited. Mechanical releases are permitted. Arrows used on deer, bear or turkey must have well-sharpened steel broadhead blades not less than inches in width. Expanding broadheads are legal for deer, bear, or turkey hunting. All bows, except permitted crossbows, used for hunting (recurve, long, and compound) must have at least 40 lbs. pull at 28 inches or peak draw weight. No arrows may be released within 150 feet of, or across, any state or hard-surfaced highway, and hunting is prohibited within 500 feet of any dwelling or building in use, unless authorized by the owner or occupant thereof.

A firearms license (FID or LTC card) is not required for bowhunting. Archers shall not possess firearms on their person or use dogs while hunting deer. (See deer regulations.) Archers may hunt with a bow and arrow during the shotgun and muzzleloader deer seasons, but must comply with all regulations of those seasons, including the hunter orange and Primitive Firearms Stamp requirements. Crossbows may be used by certain permanently disabled persons by permit only. For regulations and an application, visit
or contact DFW at (508) 389-6300.

Hunter Orange: No person shall hunt during the pheasant or quail season on public shooting grounds or WMAs where pheasant or quail are stocked without wearing a “hunter orange” cap or hat except while night-hunting for raccoons or opossums, or while hunting waterfowl from a blind or boat. During the period when it is legal to hunt deer with a shotgun, all hunters, except waterfowl hunters hunting within a blind or from a boat, must wear, in a conspicuous manner on chest, back, and head, a minimum of 500 square inches of “hunter orange” clothing or material. During the muzzleloader season, all deer hunters must comply with the 500 sq. inch hunter orange requirement.

Hunting Dogs: May be trained at any time (except during the shotgun season on deer) provided that only pistols or revolvers and blank cartridges are used or possessed. No sporting or hunting license is necessary. During the shotgun deer season, dogs may be used for waterfowl hunting on coastal waters only. Hunting bear or bobcat with dogs, or training dogs on those species, is prohibited.

Tree stands: Must have written permission of the landowner (on either public or private lands) to construct or use any tree stand which is fastened to a tree by nails, bolts, wire, or other fasteners that intrude through the bark into the wood of the tree, or that is fastened or erected in any manner and is emplaced for a period exceeding 30 days. This includes lock-on tree stands.



  • Must have a valid Massachusetts non-resident hunting license in order to hunt.
  • Must have proof of a Basic Hunter Education course certificate or previous license from any jurisdiction in order to purchase a Massachusetts hunting license. Non-resident minors (ages 15–17), see MINORS. Each license includes a $5.00 charge for a Wildlife Conservation Stamp.
  • Must obtain the same stamps and permits as residents. Permit and stamp fees are the same for residents and non-residents. Non-resident migratory game bird hunters must complete a Massachusetts H.I.P. survey to hunt.
  • May not purchase ammunition in Massachusetts (including materials used in black powder firearms).
  • While travelling into or through Massachusetts must have their firearms unloaded and enclosed in a case.
  • No gun license (FID) is needed to possess or transport long guns.
  • Must contact the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB) Firearms Support Services, 200 Arlington St., Suite 2200, Chelsea, MA 02150, tel. (617) 660-4780 for information on handgun permits.

RECREATION VEHICLES (ATVs, OHVs, dirt bikes, etc.)

Recreation vehicles are inherently damaging to most environments in which they are operated. It is illegal to operate any motorized vehicle on any WMA or other property owned or controlled by the DFW; on most state park and state forest lands; and it is illegal to operate them on private lands without the written permission of the landowner. Moreover, legislation enacted in 2010 (Chapter 202 of the Acts of 2010) strengthens the regulation of these recreation vehicles, increases penalties for violations, prohibits the unauthorized use of recreation vehicles on public property; imposes new operator age restrictions, which may be further modified by the MA Environmental Police (MEP) through regulation; and establishes a fund to support riding opportunities and law enforcement and regulatory activities. For more information, contact the Safety Bureau in MEP at (508) 759-0002, or go to and click on the Safety Bureau link.



Please note that fishing and hunting laws on federal parks, refuges, and reservations, such as those controlled by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service or the National Park Service, may differ from state regulations. Contact the agency in question.


Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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