Massachusetts Hunting & Fishing
Hunting, Freshwater fishing, & Trapping licenses
Licenses are valid from January 1 through December 31 (except for limited term licenses).
Who Needs a License?
Licenses are required for all persons 15 years of age and over for hunting any game bird or mammal; and/or for fishing the inland waters of Massachusetts. No person under the age of 12 may hunt. Anglers under 15 may fish, but do not need a license. A trapping license is required for all persons age 12 years of age and older. In addition, to trap on the land of another, a Trap Registration Number is required.
Agricultural Landowners: Any person who owns or leases land that is principally used for agriculture and any immediate family members and who are domiciled on said land does not need a hunting, fishing, or trapping license to hunt, fish, or trap on that property. Permits and stamps are still required.
License Display: All hunters, anglers and trappers must have their license, permits and stamps in possession while engaging in these activities. Hunters and anglers may display a true, complete and legible image of a valid license using a mobile device. Hunters must comply with all tagging requirements. If a tag is required, as it is for hunting deer, bear, and turkey, hunters must carry a paper copy of the license, permits and tags.
Resident & Non-Resident Licenses: To obtain a resident hunting, fishing, or trapping license, applicant must reside in Massachusetts for six consecutive months immediately prior to purchase.
NOTE: For non-residents, a valid Massachusetts non-resident license is required. A big game license (license Class H5) is required of non-residents to hunt deer, bear, and wild turkey. (see General Regulations)
Purchasing Licenses, Stamps & Permits
Licenses, stamps, and permits may be purchased online by anglers 15 years and older, and by hunters and trappers 18 years or older at mass.gov/massfishhunt. Minor hunters (15–17 years old) and minor trappers (12–17 years old) (or parent/guardian) must purchase the license at a MassWildlife office or other license vendor including some city and town clerks, and selected sporting goods retailers, due to documents needed for verification.
Hunting and sporting (fishing/hunting) licenses for anyone aged 18 years or older can be purchased only if the buyer has successfully completed a Basic Hunter Education course or held a hunting license anywhere in North America prior to 2007.
Minor Hunters (15–17 Years Old): All minors 15–17 years old must be licensed and have required stamps and permits to hunt any bird or mammal. To obtain a hunting license, a minor must have a letter of consent from a parent or guardian and either a Basic Hunter Education Certificate from anywhere in North America or a letter signed by a parent affirming that the minor will be accompanied by a person 18 years of age or older. Minor hunting and sporting licenses can only be purchased from MassWildlife offices or license vendors, a vendor must verify the minor has a consent letter and either a Basic Hunter Education Certificate or an “adult accompaniment” letter. Minors must carry their Hunter Education Certificate while hunting. If gun hunting, a Firearms Identification card (FID) is required.
Minor Hunters (12–14 years old):
No person under the age of 12 may hunt. All minors 12–14 years old may hunt when accompanied by a duly licensed adult, provided that a single bag limit shall be observed and only one firearm/bow is possessed by the two. Only one minor per licensed adult is permitted. No Firearms Identification (FID) card is needed by 12–14 year old minors.
Hunting with birds of prey is allowed under a special permit from MassWildlife. A hunting license is also required. Contact MassWildlife at (508) 389-6300 for more information.
Freshwater Fishing License
Anglers 15 and older must have a freshwater fishing license to fish inland (fresh) waters of Massachusetts. Anglers under 15 may fish, but do not need a license. A freshwater (inland) fishing license is not required on the Merrimack River seaward of the first upstream bridge (northbound traffic) of Route 495 in Haverhill however a saltwater fishing permit is required. (See Saltwater Permits)
Trapping License & Trap Registration Number
To trap on the land of another, a Trap Registration Number is required and may be obtained from the Permit Section, Boston Office (617) 626-1575 only after successful completion of a Trapper Education course from any U.S. state. To obtain a trapping license, minors 12–17 years-old must have a letter of consent from a parent or guardian. (see General Trapping Regulations)
Bear, turkey, and antlerless deer permits may only be used by the hunter to whom they are issued. They are not transferable.
Antlerless Deer Permit: Required to take an antlerless deer during archery, shotgun, and primitive firearms seasons in all zones. The deadline to apply for an antlerless deer permit is July 16 at any license vendor or online through the MassFishHunt system. Only one application per person. The application is free. (see Deer Hunting)
Youth Deer Hunt Permit: Youth hunters ages 12–17 are required to obtain a free permit to hunt deer on the 4th Saturday following Labor Day. (see Deer Hunting)
Bear Permit: Required to hunt bear. Hunters may purchase this permit when purchasing their hunting/sporting license or at any time prior to the end of the third segment of the bear season through any license vendor or online computer. Fee is $5.00.
Turkey Permit: Required to hunt turkey. Hunters may purchase this permit when purchasing their hunting/sporting license or at any time prior to the end of the fall turkey season through any license vendor or online computer. Fee is $5.00.
Special Licenses or Permits
Special authorization is necessary for sale, possession, importation or release of certain fish and wildlife, and for fur dealers, propagators, wildlife rehabilitators, taxidermists and/or fur buyers. Sale and importation of baitfish require separate dealer and importation permits. Apply to MassWildlife Boston office, Permit Section (617) 626-1575. For permits regarding crossbows, falconry, problem animal control, or shooting preserves contact Field Headquarters at (508) 389-6300.
Archery Stamp: ($5.10) Required to hunt deer during the archery deer season.
Primitive Firearms Stamp: ($5.10) Required to hunt deer during the primitive firearms deer season.
Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamp: ($5.00) Required of all waterfowl (ducks and geese) hunters age 15 and older. Massachusetts state stamps are valid Jan. 1 – Dec. 31 and may be purchased online at mass.gov/massfishhunt or wherever hunting licenses are sold. This stamp is electronic, there are no physical stamps. Stamp purchase includes mandatory Harvest Information Program (HIP) Registration.
Federal Migratory Game Bird Stamp: ($25.00) Required of all waterfowl hunters 16 years or older. Federal stamps are valid July 1 – June 30 of the following year. Federal eDuck Stamps are available for purchase online through MassFishHunt (mass.gov/massfishhunt) or wherever hunting licenses are sold. The Federal eDuck Stamp is a temporary stamp expiring 45 days from the date of purchase. Before the eDuck Stamp expires, a physical Federal Duck Stamp will be sent to customers via U.S. mail. Upon receipt of the physical Federal Duck Stamp, it must be signed across the face in ink and carried while waterfowl hunting. If a physical Duck Stamp does not arrive after a few weeks, contact Amplex at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 852-4897. If you experience difficulty purchasing the Federal eDuck Stamp through the MassFishHunt system, call (888) 773-8450. Physical federal waterfowl stamps are also available at all National Wildlife Refuges and select post offices.