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Message from the Director

Hunting Regulations Icon Massachusetts Hunting

The year 2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the Division. As we celebrate this century and a half of conservation, we take stock and note the many important resources held by the agency; over 200,000 acres of land under our care and control, a new zero-energy field headquarters building, a stable financial foundation, and a diverse and committed staff. We need to build on this foundation recognizing that the conservation and management of our wildlife resources improves the quality of life enjoyed by Massachusetts residents, and adds to the strength of our state’s economy.

As an agency, we will continue to acknowledge and value the role that hunters, anglers, and trappers have played in conservation, and recognize their ongoing, absolutely crucial contributions. Hunters and anglers have served as the bedrock of conservation in Massachusetts. America’s conservation legacy, which emerged from the vision of Teddy Roosevelt and others, resulted in large part from their experience as hunters and anglers. This is more valid today than ever.

Looking to the future, we intend to expand hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities; and we intend to make Hunter Education courses more accessible to a diverse and changing public.

We will continue to expand and develop our outdoor skills programs. The National Archery in the Schools Program has grown from 27 schools at the beginning of 2014 to over 70 schools statewide. Angler Education programs have been expanded and new Explore Bowhunting and Learn to Hunt Programs have been launched.

As we continue our land protection program for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of the public, it is critical that we also increase our investment in habitat management and stewardship if we are to protect the values of the lands we have purchased. Conservation science tells us that there is a serious imbalance in the types and age structure of forests in many areas of the state, a situation that we are — and must continue — addressing. Using forestry science, we must provide leadership and influence management decisions on private and municipal land. Active management is essential if we are to protect these critical resources. Our aggressive habitat program is resulting in direct benefits to hunters and wildlife.

We will continue monitoring and managing wildlife and fish in the context of an expanding human population. We must address the abundance of some wildlife species in urban and suburban areas and identify effective management approaches – including working to allow more hunting access.

I am pleased to announce several changes that will affect the sporting community:

  • A single-day Youth Deer Hunt season was established in 2015. Hunters between the ages of 12 and 17 now have the opportunity to harvest a deer on the 4th Saturday following Labor Day each year. This extra time afield builds a young hunter’s confidence and skill. In its first year we issued 1,339 permits to youth hunters and nearly 150 deer were harvested. (See Deer)
  • Black Bears may now be hunted statewide as well as during the shotgun deer season. (See Bear)
  • Successful hunters of any age may now use a mobile device to report a harvest (with the exception of the two-week shotgun deer season, Nov. 28 – Dec. 10, 2016) through the now-mobile-friendly MassFishHunt system.

While there are challenges ahead, the future looks bright, and I look forward to working with hunters, anglers, trappers, and all citizens to fulfill our public trust responsibility to the people and natural resources of the Commonwealth. I urge all to use this guide and enjoy the incredible hunting and angling opportunities available in Massachusetts.

Jack Buckley, Director


This Guide contains a summary of the laws and regulations in place as of October 10, 2015. Any changes in law or regulation enacted after October 10 are publicized through releases to the news media, all license sales outlets, and on our website. These are not the complete laws and regulations. Laws and regulations (MGL Ch. 131 and 321 CMR) are subject to change.

Since 1938, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sportsmen and Women, and the Fishing, Hunting, Shooting, and Boating Industries, to fund fish and wildlife conservation projects through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. Today, this pioneering program serves as a cost-effective model for fish and wildlife conservation by providing fishing and hunting access to those who both funded and directly benefit from the resource — the anglers and hunters. Their contributions through this “user pay, public benefit” conservation model — funded by license purchases and excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment — benefit all Massachusetts residents.