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Hunting Prohibitions

Hunting Regulations Icon Massachusetts Hunting & Fishing


Hunting Prohibitions

  • Airbows: No person shall use or have in his possession or under his control while hunting any arrow gun or any firearm or other device which projects or propels an arrow, dart or bolt by gunpowder, compressed air, or by any other means except by the flexing and release of a bow string.
  • Artificial lights for hunting any bird or mammal except raccoon and opossum.
  • Baiting migratory game birds, wild turkey, bear, or deer during or within 10 days of the start of the season. This does not apply to the hunting of crows.
  • Careless or negligent use of firearms.
  • Choke traps, leghold traps, or nets for taking any bird or mammal.
  • Crossbows are allowed for certain disabled persons only.
  • Decoys for hunting deer.
  • Discharge of any firearm or release of any arrow upon or across any state or hard-surfaced highway, or within 150 feet of any such highway, or possession of a loaded firearm, discharge of a firearm, or hunting on the land of another within 500 feet of any dwelling or building in use, except as authorized by the owner or occupant thereof. See page 26 for additional firearms regulations.
  • Electronic calls for hunting migratory game birds, wild turkey, or deer. This does not apply to the hunting of crows.
  • Ferrets: It is unlawful to hunt with a ferret. Possession of non-vaccinated/unneutered ferrets/fitches without a permit is unlawful.
  • Firearms other than shotguns and bows and arrows are prohibited on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant and quail season.
  • Hunting on posted land without permission.
  • Hunting on Sunday.
  • Importation, transportation, liberation, or possession of any live vertebrate protected under MGL Ch. 131 except under permit from the Director.
  • It is illegal to import, process, or possess whole carcasses or parts of any cervids (members of the deer family) from states or provinces where Chronic Wasting Disease has been detected (including NY and PA). It is legal to import deer meat that is de-boned, cleaned skull caps, hides without the head, or a fixed taxidermy mount. No live deer, of any species, may be brought into Massachusetts for any purpose.
  • Intoxication and drugs: No person under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs shall hunt, target shoot, carry a firearm, bow and arrow, or other weapon.
  • Loaded shotgun or rifle in or on any motor vehicle, recreational vehicle (including snowmobiles), aircraft or motor boat, except as stated in the Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations.
  • Machine guns, fully-automatic firearms, any tracer or incendiary ammunition for hunting.
  • Moose hunting is illegal.
  • Motor vehicles, off-highway vehicles (including snowmobiles), and/or aircraft for hunting any bird or mammal.
  • Possession of any Massachusetts Endangered Species Act-listed plants and/or wildlife, dead or alive, except by permit.
  • Possession of rifles, handguns, or dogs in any woodland or field, or use of same on any game, is prohibited during the shotgun deer season except that the use of dogs is lawful for hunting waterfowl on coastal waters.
  • Power or sailboats for hunting birds except when beached or tied to a blind or for retrieving injured birds.
  • Removal of any mammal from walls, or holes in trees, ground, or logs.
  • Rifles chambered to take ammunition larger than .22 caliber long rifle, and pistols and revolvers chambered to take ammunition larger than .38 caliber, between the hours of ½ hour after sunset and ½ hour before sunrise.
  • Sale of all species of mammals and birds or parts thereof, except unprocessed heads, hides, and hooves of deer.
  • Shotgun ammunition: Except as provided below, no species other than deer, coyote, or waterfowl may be hunted or taken with shot larger than #1 birdshot. Except during the prescribed open season when deer may be hunted lawfully with a shotgun, a person shall not have in his possession a shotgun shell loaded with a rifled slug, single ball, buckshot of any size, or any shot larger than or equal to air rifle shot in any place where birds or mammals may be found except on a skeet, trap, or target range between sunrise and sunset, or except for the hunting of coyotes (a) during the prescribed open season for coyotes with shot not larger than FF; or (b) during the shotgun deer season when coyotes may be hunted only with archery, muzzleloader, or shotgun—using slugs, buckshot, or shot of any size; or, except as specified in the annual Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations.
  • Swivel or pivot guns for hunting any bird.
  • Taking nests, destroying, or disturbing eggs or nests of birds.
  • Target shooting on Sunday except on one’s own property or on a recognized shooting range.
  • Traps for taking birds except under permit. All traps except cage or box traps and common mouse or rat traps are unlawful for the taking of fur-bearing mammals.
  • Vandalism or damage to property or livestock.

Penalties: License revoked for one year in addition to other penalties; fines of up to $1,000, restitutions, and /or 1 year in jail. Careless and negligent use of firearms; fines of up to $500 and /or 6 months imprisonment and loss of license for 5 years.

It is illegal to hunt, trap, or fish for any birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians not listed within this Guide or in the Massachusetts Migratory Game Bird Regulations.


It is a violation of Federal Law to transport illegally taken fish or wildlife across state lines. For additional information contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, (617) 889-6616.