This is the 2015 Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Guide
This guide contains regulations effective today through December 31st, 2015. For regulations effective January 1st, 2016, please refer to the 2016 Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Guide.
Hunting, Freshwater fishing, & Trapping licenses
Licenses are valid from January 1 through December 31 (except for limited term licenses). Licenses, stamps, and permits may be purchased on-line at www.mass.gov/massfishhunt. Licenses are also issued by DFW offices, some city and town clerks, and selected sporting goods retailers.
Licenses are required for all persons 15 years of age and over for hunting any bird or mammal; and/or for fishing the inland waters of Massachusetts. Hunting or Sporting 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. Minors see below.
Hunting, fishing, and trapping are permitted on private land that is not posted against trespass. As a courtesy, contact the landowner for permission in advance. Landowners with posted land may allow access if asked, and should provide written permission. Written landowner permission is required to trap on posted land.
No freshwater (inland) fishing license is required on the Merrimack River seaward of the first upstream bridge (northbound traffic) of Route 495 in Haverhill. (Saltwater fishing permit required.)
A trapping license is required for persons aged 12 years and over. Please see additional information on trapping.
Hunters may display a true, complete and legible image of a valid license using a mobile device; however, the hunter must still 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 tag attached to the appropriate documentation (i.e. license or permit).
Minors (Residents & Non-residents) 15–17 years of age must be licensed and have required stamps and permits to hunt any bird or mammal. To obtain a hunting or sporting 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 DFW offices or license vendors, not from a personal computer, as 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.
Minors between 12 and 14 inclusive 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 adult is permitted. No Firearms Identification (FID) card is needed by the minor. No person under the age of 12 may hunt.
Minors 12–17 may obtain a trapping license. To obtain a trapping license a minor must have a letter of consent from a parent or guardian. Minor trapping licenses can only be purchased from DFW offices or license vendors, not from a personal computer, as vendor must verify the minor has a consent letter. To trap on the land of another, a minor must have a trap registration number which requires proof of completion of a Trapper Education course from any U.S. state.
Residency Requirement: To obtain a resident license, applicant must reside in Massachusetts for six consecutive months immediately prior to purchase.
Non-residents: A valid Massachusetts non-resident license (hunting, fishing, or trapping) is required of all non-residents. A big game license (license Class H5) is required to hunt deer, bear, and wild turkey. For more information, see General Hunting Regulations.
Trap registration numbers are required to trap on the land of another and may be obtained from the Permit Section, Boston Office (617) 626-1575 after completing a Trapper Education course from any U.S. state.
A furbuyer is any person who buys or sells raw furs. A valid Massachusetts furbuyer license is required for any person who is receiving, buying, or bartering the raw pelts of wild animals. This includes persons handling green pelts (pelts that have not been dried or tanned) or raw pelts (pelts, including green pelts, which have been dried, fleshed or cured). A permit is not required if a skin or skins are purchased from a licensed furbuyer, hunter, or trapper for the personal use of the
purchaser and not for sale.
Licenses are valid from January 1 to December 31. Furbuyers receive a reporting book in which they must record transactions of pelts received as they occur. Log books must be open to inspection by Environmental Police Officers (EPOs) or any agents of the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (DFW) at any reasonable time.
Furbuyer annual report forms from record books must be initialed by an EPO and submitted yearly to the Division no later than April 1.
Applications for furbuyer licenses or a listing of current furbuyers can be obtained by calling (617) 626-1575, or by writing the Boston office of the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife.
Special Licenses or Permits are 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 the DFW Boston office, Permit Section (617) 626-1575. Contact Field Headquarters at (508) 389-6300 about permits for crossbows, falconry, problem animal control, or shooting preserves.
Agricultural Landowners: If you own or lease land that is principally used for agriculture and you are domiciled on said land, then you do not need a hunting, fishing, or trapping license to hunt, fish, or trap on that land. Permits and stamps are still required.
HUNTING PERMITS: Bear, turkey, and antlerless deer permits are not transferable. They may only be used by the hunter to whom they are issued.
ANTLERLESS DEER PERMIT: Required to
take an antlerless deer during archery, shotgun, and muzzleloader 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. Between August 1 and December 31, hunters must return to the MassFishHunt system (www.mass.gov/massfishhunt) to try to draw an antlerless deer permit for the zone in which they applied. Notification of whether the applicant was successful will be instant. Selection is random and the odds of drawing a permit remain the same throughout the instant award period (instant award permit issuance is NOT first-come-first-served). The odds of drawing a permit depend on the number of antlerless deer permits allocated for a given zone and the number of hunters who applied for that zone. Successful applicants will be assessed a $5.00 fee and may print the permit immediately or at a later date. See website for information on how to purchase additional antlerless deer permits from zones where there were fewer applicants than permits allocated.
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 second 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.
Harvest Information Program (H.I.P.): Woodcock, rail, coot, snipe, and waterfowl hunters must complete a Harvest Information Program (H.I.P.) survey when they purchase their license and/or the Massachusetts waterfowl stamp through any license vendor or online computer. Once the survey is completed, that fact is printed on the license, providing proof the survey has been completed.
Archery: ($5.10) Required to hunt deer during the archery season.
Primitive Firearms: ($5.10) Required to hunt deer during the primitive firearms season.
Massachusetts Waterfowl: ($5.00) Required of all waterfowl hunters aged 15 and over. Stamp is not required for hunting woodcock, snipe, American coot, or rails.
Federal Migratory Game Bird Stamp: In addition to a hunting license and a Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamp, any waterfowl hunter aged 16 or older must have a Federal Migratory Bird Stamp. These stamps are available at National Wildlife Refuges, at select offices of the U.S. Postal Service, by mail from the U.S. Postal Service or from select private vendors, or on-line at www.fws.gov/duckstamps/Stamps.htm.
Federal Migratory Game Bird Stamps are available each year starting July 1 and expire on the following June 30.
A hunting license is required of anyone practicing falconry in Massachusetts.
Be Safe, Be Seen – Get Your Orange On
ALL outdoor users who are in the woods during hunting seasons are encouraged to wear “hunter orange” to increase their visibility.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.