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Black Bear Hunting

Hunting Regulations Icon Massachusetts Hunting & Fishing

Open season
(All Dates Inclusive)

Daily BAG limit

possession limit

Annual Limit

Black Bear

Zones 1–14

First Season

Sept. 4 – Sept. 22

See “Black Bear,” below.

1

Second Season

Nov. 5 – Nov. 24

Shotgun Season (restrictions apply*)

Nov. 26 – Dec. 8

Black Bear

Permit required. Limit one bear per year. Hunting only with rifle .23 caliber or larger; muzzleloader .44–.775 caliber, fired from the shoulder, using a single projectile; bows, draw weight 40 lbs. or greater; revolvers .357 Magnum or .40 caliber or larger; or shotgun, no larger than 10 gauge, including shotguns with a rifled bore, slugs or single ball only. Hunting implements are restricted by season, see table below. Revolvers permitted during first season only, shotguns permitted during shotgun season only.

During the shotgun season hunters must wear 500 square inches of blaze orange on their head, chest, and back.

Use of dogs for training or hunting is prohibited (see Hunting Dogs). Baiting of bears is prohibited. During the shotgun season; rifles and handguns are prohibited; shotguns, muzzleloaders, and archery equipment allowed. Hunting hours close ½ hour after sunset except as noted in WMA Reg. #10. Successful hunters must immediately fill out and detach bear tag from permit and attach tag to bear prior to moving it, and then must check/report their harvest within 48 hours by EITHER 1) reporting online and writing the harvest report confirmation number on tag attached to the bear, or 2) bringing the bear to an official check station. Bear can only be field dressed, must not be concealed (bear or part of bear must remain open to view during transport), and must remain intact or whole (do not skin, butcher, or take to a taxidermist for mounting) until bear has been checked/reported.

Allowable Hunting Implements for Bear Seasons

Hunting Implement

First Season

Second Season

Shotgun Season

Rifle*

Revolver*

Muzzleloader*

Archery

Shotgun

ANIMALS Tagged for Research

Some bear, deer, coyotes, and other animals may have ear tags or radio collars. It is legal to harvest them. If you find or take one of these animals, contact DFW’s Field Headquarters (508) 389-6300 immediately. You will be asked for information that will help biologists determine the source and status of these animals AND you will be asked to return the equipment to MassWildlife. Thank you for your cooperation.

How Old is That Bear?

MassWildlife collects bear teeth to determine the age demographics of the harvest. Contribute to the scientific management of the MA Black Bear population! Follow the instructions below and you will receive a letter in June or July with the age of your harvested bear.

  1. Remove either the left or right premolar (see photo below), the small tooth just behind the canine. Using a small sharp knife, or a sharp ¼-inch wood chisel, slide the blade down the side of the tooth and cut or separate the gum tissue where it sticks to the tooth. Using small needle-nose pliers or the pliers on your multi-tool, wiggle the tooth slightly until you can pull it out of the jawbone and the gum. The root is the most important part; go slow and be careful not to break this very small tooth.
  2. Put the tooth in a small envelope or bag and mark it with your name, mailing address, customer ID number, and confirmation number (or seal number) of your bear. Enclose everything in a mailing envelope and send it to: Black Bear Aging, MassWildlife, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd., Westborough, MA 01581.