Migratory Game Bird Regulations

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No one may take migratory game birds except during days and hours open to hunting. No one shall take more than one daily bag limit per day nor possess more than one daily bag limit in the field or while returning to vehicle, hunting camp, home, etc.


No person shall take migratory game birds by baiting (placing corn or any other food to constitute a lure or enticement) or hunting over a baited area. An area is considered baited for 10 days after removal of the bait. It is not necessary for the hunter to know that the area is baited to be in violation of this section.

Bow & Arrow

Lawful for hunting migratory game birds. Use of crossbows allowed by those duly permitted.


The head and one fully-feathered wing must remain attached to each migratory game bird while it is transported to the hunter’s home or preservation facility.


A person shall not hunt migratory game birds from or in connection with a motor driven land conveyance, aircraft, or any kind of motor or sail boat used in concentrating or driving birds either for himself or for others.

Electronic Calls

No person shall take migratory game birds using pre-recorded calls or sounds or any electronic imitations of calls.


All permitted ducks and coot may be taken by falconry October 9 – February 9. No geese. Falconry closed Sundays.

Hunting Hours

1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset except on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail seasons when hunting hours begin at sunrise. During Early Canada Goose season only, hunting hours end 1/2 hour after sunset.


No person shall import migratory game birds killed in any foreign country except Canada unless such birds are dressed, drawn, and the head and feet removed. One fully-feathered wing must remain on each bird transported between port of entry and the hunter’s home or preservation facility. No person shall import migratory game birds belonging to another. For further information on migratory game birds killed in another country, consult Title 50 CFR 20.61-20.66.

Live Decoys

No person shall hunt migratory game birds with the aid of live decoys or domesticated fowl of any kind. Such fowl must be removed for 10 consecutive days prior to hunting and be confined in an enclosure which reduces the audibility of their calls and conceals them from the sight of migratory waterfowl.

Non-Toxic Shot

Is required for all waterfowl and coot hunting – no lead shot in possession. Waterfowl hunters must use non-toxic shot up to and including BBB shot while hunting waterfowl.

Prohibited Devices

No one shall hunt migratory birds using a sinkbox, trap, snare, net, rifle, pistol, air gun, swivel gun, punt gun, battery gun, machine gun, fish hook, poison, drug, explosive or stupefying substance.

Life Jackets

Anyone aboard a canoe or kayak from Sept. 15–May 15 must wear a life jacket (PFD).


Any package containing migratory game birds must be marked on the outside with the name and address of the sender and recipient and number of birds, by species, contained inside.


Migratory game birds may be hunted with shotguns no larger than 10 gauge, fired from the shoulder. Shotguns capable of holding more than 3 shells may not be used unless plugged with a one-piece filler which limits the gun’s total capacity to 3 shells and which cannot be removed without disassembling the gun.

Shotgun Deer Seasons

During the shotgun seasons for deer (including Youth Deer Hunt on Sep. 28, 2019), dogs can be used for waterfowl, snipe, rail, and falconry hunting only on coastal waters and salt marshes. All hunters must wear 500 square inches of blaze orange (cap and vest) while hunting or in transit to their blind or boat during these periods. The orange may be removed once a hunter is in a blind or boat.


For most hunters, federal and state stamps are required for hunting any waterfowl: ducks (including sea ducks), geese, or brant. Stamps are not required for hunting woodcock, snipe, rails, or coots. (See License Information).


Any migratory game birds not in the custody of the hunter must be tagged with the hunter’s signature, address, total number of birds by species, and dates such birds were killed. No person shall receive or have in custody another’s migratory game birds unless such birds are properly tagged.


No person shall hunt migratory game birds from or with the aid of a motor vehicle or other motor driven land conveyance or aircraft except that paraplegics may take game birds from a stationary motor vehicle or other land conveyance. Further, no person may hunt from or by means of any motor boat or sailboat unless the motor has been completely shut off and/or sails furled and all progress therefrom has ceased. However, a hunter may pick up or retrieve dead or crippled birds from a craft under power and may shoot injured birds from powered craft in coastal waters seaward of the first upstream bridge.

Wanton Waste

Hunters are required to make a reasonable effort to retrieve all migratory birds killed or crippled. Cripples should be killed immediately, and, along with all other birds killed, must be retained by the hunter as part of the daily bag.

Youth Waterfowl Hunt

During the Youth Waterfowl Hunt season dates, only waterfowl hunters ages 12–17 may hunt ducks, coot, mergansers and geese. All youth hunters must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter with a valid MA waterfowl stamp. One firearm only. Adult hunter may not hunt and may carry firearm only when unloaded and cased. No license or waterfowl stamps required for Youth Waterfowl season hunters aged 12–14. License and MA waterfowl stamp required for 15 year old Youth Waterfowl season hunters. License, MA waterfowl stamp, and federal waterfowl stamp required for Youth Waterfowl season hunters aged 16–17. All other migratory game bird regulations and bag limits apply.

Harvest Information Program (HIP):

Each calendar year, all woodcock, rail, coot, snipe, and waterfowl hunters must register with HIP by completing a survey when they purchase their license and/or Massachusetts waterfowl stamp through any license vendor or online. Survey completion will be noted on your license providing proof you have registered with HIP. There is no fee.

Season Dates/Bag Limits

Migratory Game Bird season dates, bag limits, and hunting zone information are released in the spring. Visit mass.gov/migratory-game-bird for more information.

Due to a new federal regulatory cycle, migratory game bird hunting seasons and bag limits will be set by April 30. Seasons and bag limits are not included in this guide, but will be posted on the MassWildlife website by mid-May. Printed copies of the Migratory Game Bird Regulations, including seasons, bag limits will be available in August.


Consumption Advisory

A Waterfowl Consumption Advisory is in effect for the Housatonic River due to PCBs. For more information call the MA Department of Public Health at (617) 624-5757 or visit mass.gov/dph.