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General Regulations

Hunting Regulations Icon Massachusetts Hunting & Fishing

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, including firearms cartridges affixed to the end of arrows in such a way as they discharge upon impact with the target, 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 ⅞ inches in width. Expanding broadheads are legal for deer, bear, and turkey hunting. All bows, except permitted crossbows, used for hunting (recurve, long, and compound) must have a draw weight of at least 40 lbs. at 28 inches or at peak draw. 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 Hunting.) Archers may hunt with a bow and arrow during the shotgun and primitive firearms 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 mass.gov/masswildlife or contact MassWildlife at (508) 389-6300.

Blaze Orange: No person shall hunt during the pheasant or quail season on WMAs where pheasant or quail are stocked without wearing a “blaze 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 on coastal waters 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 “blaze orange” clothing or material. During the primitive firearms season, all deer hunters must comply with the 500 sq. inch blaze orange requirement.

Hunting Dogs: May be trained at any time (except during the shotgun season for 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: Persons 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 hang-on tree stands.

Non-Resident Hunters:

  • Must have a valid Massachusetts non-resident hunting license in order to hunt.
  • Must have successfully completed a Basic Hunter Education course or held a hunting license anywhere in North America prior to 2007 in order to purchase a Massachusetts hunting license. Non-resident adults and minors (ages 15–17) purchase the same class license, H5 or H6, see 2019 License, Stamp & Permit Fees.
  • 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).
  • Must have their firearms unloaded and enclosed in a case while travelling into or through Massachusetts.
  • No gun license (FID) is needed to possess or transport long guns.
  • Should 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.

Federal Wildlife Law Information

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.