Outdoor Skills Program

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Develop Outdoor Skills with MassWildlife! Learn to Hunt Programs

Hunters with little or no experience can learn skills and techniques used to hunt different game animals. Courses are geared toward recent Basic Hunter Education graduates and include classroom learning and outdoor skills exercises. Taught by volunteers, the courses utilize the experience and knowledge of seasoned sportsmen and -women. Courses range from one-day condensed classes to three-day, in-depth courses. To learn more, to be notified about upcoming courses, or to volunteer as an instructor, visit mass.gov/dfw/learn-to-hunt.

Explore Archery and Bowhunting

These programs are designed to help instructors, program leaders, and educators teach outdoor skills to students of any age.

Explore Archery is an international style target shooting program that was created to promote the lifelong interest and participation in the sport of archery to participants of all ages.

Explore Bowhunting is an educational program designed to teach students ages 11 and up the basic skills of bowhunting through 23 innovative lesson plans. Through these hands-on experiences students gain confidence interacting with the natural environment and strengthen their appreciation for wildlife and the woods.

For more information about these programs, call (508) 389-6305.

Angler Education Program

The Angler Education Program introduces people of all ages to fishing, educates them about the state’s aquatic wildlife and habitats through fishing, and promotes Massachusetts’ abundant waterways and freshwater fishing opportunities. Program elements include one-day family fishing festivals and short fishing clinics offered by volunteers and MassWildlife staff across the state. A Fishing Gear Loaner Program is available for groups and organizations that already have an event organized, but need equipment. Occasional specialty classes such as fly tying or ice fishing are also scheduled. For more information call

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman

Designed primarily for adult women, BOW is an opportunity to learn new skills. Past workshops have included basic fishing, beginning shotgun, kayaking, map and compass, wildlife tracking, archery, nature photography, fly tying, game cooking, and edible plants. Workshop notices are posted at mass.gov/dfw/bow. For more information, call (508) 389-6305.

Hunter Education Program

Provides courses in the safe handling of firearms, and other outdoor activities related to hunting and firearm use. Designed for novices, courses in Basic Hunter Education, Bowhunter Education, Trapper Education, and others are offered statewide throughout the year. Certificates in certain courses satisfy hunting license requirements for Massachusetts as well as other states and Canadian provinces. For more information, call (508) 389-7820.

Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp

This two-week residential program, held in August for boys and girls ages 13–17, provides a solid grounding in outdoor skills. Participants learn about fisheries, wildlife, forestry, and camping, and become proficient in the use of shotgun, rifle, archery equipment, map and compass, and more. Participants complete Basic Hunter Education and Boat Safety programs. For more information, call (508) 389-6300, or go to juniorconservationcamp.org.

Youth Pheasant and Turkey Hunt

Designed for Hunter Education graduates 12–17 years of age, these programs are supported by the Division and are conducted by sporting clubs across the state. This program includes instruction on firearms safety in the field, hunting ethics, regulations, and game preparation, as well as supervised shooting practice. The program culminates in a supervised hunt under the guidance of an experienced adult hunter. The youth pheasant hunts are conducted on one of the six Saturdays prior to the start of the regular pheasant season. The youth turkey hunt, developed through a partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation, allows for a mentored hunt. After completion of a pre-hunt workshop, a special permit is issued that allows for a mentored hunt on the Saturday prior to the last Monday in April. This permit remains valid for the regular spring turkey season following the youth hunt date. Youth must complete a basic hunter education course and a youth turkey and/or pheasant hunting seminar to participate. To find a participating sporting club check MassWildlife website at mass.gov/dfw/yaph or mass.gov/dfw/yath, or call (508) 389-6305.

The Massachusetts Outdoor Exposition

The Massachusetts Outdoor Expo (the Big MOE) is a 1-day, family-oriented event traditionally held on or near National Hunting and Fishing Day, on a weekend in the second half of September in Sturbridge. It is designed to introduce children and adults to a variety of traditional outdoor activities, demonstrations and displays relating to hunting, fishing, trapping, water sports, nature observation, and shooting sports, with one-on-one and mentored instruction available. The Big MOE is organized by Facts about Wildlife and Nature Society (FAWNS), a non-profit conservation organization, in cooperation with MassWildlife, sporting clubs, and other conservation organizations. For more information, visit FawnsExpo.com.