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Upland Game Birds

Hunting Regulations Icon Massachusetts Hunting & Fishing


Open season
(All Dates Inclusive)

Daily BAG limit

possession limit

season limit


Wild Turkey

Spring: Zones 1–13

April 24 – May 20

See “Wild Turkey,” below.

Fall: Zones 1–13

Oct. 23 – Nov. 4

Youth Hunt: Zones 1-13

April 22 (see box below)


Zones 1–14

Jan. 2 – April 10
July 1 – April 10, 2018


Zones 1–14

Oct. 14 – Nov. 25




Youth Hunt

See page 47.


Zones 11–14

Oct. 14 – Nov. 25




Ruffed Grouse

Zones 1–14

Oct. 14 – Nov. 25





May be hunted on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays only during the open season. Electronic calls, rifles, and bait are permissible. Hunting hours close ½ hour after sunset except as noted in WMA Reg. #10. Crow hunting season may coincide with the Youth Deer hunt, special restrictions apply.


Cocks (males) and hens (females) may be hunted on all WMAs statewide. Only cocks can be hunted eastward of the zone from the New Hampshire border south on I-95 to I-495, south on I-495 to I-95, north on I-95 to I-93/128, east on I-93/128 to Rt. 3, south on Rt. 3 to Rt. 228, north on Rt. 228 to the Hull town line, including the town of Hull and also in Dukes and Nantucket counties. See WMA Reg. #9–11.


Zones 11–14 only. See WMA Reg. #9–11.

Ruffed Grouse

See WMA Reg. #9–11.

Wild Turkey

Permit required. Official safety sticker must be adhered to firearm such that it is visible to the hunter when sighting down the barrel (typically placed on the tang). If new or replacement sticker is needed, send self-addressed, stamped envelope to any MassWildlife office. Spring hunting hours: ½ hour before sunrise to 12:00 noon. Fall hunting hours: ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset except as noted in WMA Reg. #10.

Bag Limit: Annual limit of 2 wild turkeys total, only one turkey may be harvested per day; EITHER (a) 2 bearded birds in spring season (1 per day) with NO fall bird allowed, OR (b) 1 bearded bird in spring season, and 1 bird of either sex in fall season. No hunter may take 2 birds in the fall season. Hunting only with shotguns no larger than 10 gauge or .775 caliber smoothbore muzzleloading shotguns using #4-#7 size shot, and with archery equipment. Use of electronic calls, dogs, bait, and driving turkeys is prohibited. Successful hunters must fill out tag attached to permit and immediately (prior to moving) attach it to turkey, and must check/report their harvest within 48 hours by EITHER 1) reporting online and writing the assigned confirmation number on tag attached to turkey, or 2) bringing the turkey to an official check station.


Licensed hunters may submit an application to MassWildlife District offices for a free 1 day permit that allows the private purchase, liberation, and hunting of ring-necked pheasants and/or bobwhite quail on selected WMAs (see below) from January 1 – March 31. If purchasing birds from out of state, a separate importation permit is required. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis; only one party may schedule a hunt on each specific WMA per day. There is no minimum or maximum stocking limit, or daily/season bag limit. For a complete list of procedures and locations available for this permit, contact any MassWildlife District office. Locations include: Crane WMA and Erwin Wilder WMA (SE District), Bolton Flats WMA and Winnimusset WMA (Central District), Martin Burns WMA (NE District), Herm Covey WMA (CT Valley District), Housatonic Valley WMA (Western District).

Young Adult Turkey Hunt Requirements

To participate, Hunter Ed. graduates age 12 to 17 must complete the Youth Turkey Hunt Program. All past participants MUST complete and mail in the past participant application which can be found at

Identifying hen (female) and Tom (male) Wild Turkeys during the spring hunting season

A small proportion of female turkeys may have a beard and therefore can be legally harvested. However, their loss reduces the reproductive potential of the turkey population. To avoid misidentification, use the following features below to accurately determine the turkey’s sex.





Red, blue, or white colors with snood (fleshy mass over the beak)


Blue-gray, no snood

Dark, brown-black


Light, rusty brown

Long bristle/filament-like beard


Usually no beard



Usually absent

Gobble, drum


Yelps, clucks, cuts

Strut with tail fanned and wings dropped


Do not strut or fan tail

Larger than hen


1⁄2 to 2⁄3 size of tom

Turkey Hunting Safety Tips

  • Don’t stalk birds; sit or stand and call the turkeys to you.
  • Don’t wear red, white, blue or black anywhere on your body where the colors might be exposed during your hunt.
  • Don’t hide in a place where your view is obstructed.
  • Be completely sure of your target and what is beyond it before you shoot.
  • Positively identify male vs. female turkeys. Although bearded hens are legal to hunt during the spring season, their loss reduces the reproductive potential of wild turkeys in your area.
  • If another hunter approaches your setup, call out in a loud, clear voice. Make sure your presence is acknowledged before you move. Never wave to alert another hunter of your presence.
  • Never assume that you are alone in the woods – even if you are the only one on the land with permission to hunt.
  • Use hen calls. A gobbler call might attract other hunters.
  • To protect yourself from accidentally being struck by shotgun pellets, always sit with your back against a tree trunk, big log or a boulder that is wider than your body.
  • Avoid unnecessary movement. This alerts turkeys and could attract hunters.
  • Don’t carry harvested birds or decoys in the open. Cover birds with fluorescent orange or completely conceal from view in a game bag.