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General Hunting Regulations

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Accidents: All hunting-related injuries or deaths MUST be reported to state or local police and to the environmental police.

Antlerless deer permit: Required to take antlerless deer in any zone during any deer season, in addition to a hunting or sporting license. See Deer Regulations for more details.

Archery: Poisoned arrows, or explosive tips, or bows drawn by mechanical means, are prohibited except for crossbows as permitted. Mechanical releases are permitted. Arrows used on deer, bear or turkey must have well-sharpened steel broadhead blades not less than ⅞ inches in width. Expanding broadheads are legal. Recurve or long bows for deer, bear or turkey hunting must have at least 40 lbs. pull at 28 inches or at peak draw weight for compound bows. No arrows may be released within 150 feet of, or across, any state or hard-surfaced highway, and hunting is prohibited within 500 feet of any dwelling or building in use, unless authorized by owner or occupant thereof.

A firearms license (FID or LTC card) is not required for bowhunting. Archers, while hunting deer, shall not possess firearms on their person or use dogs (see Deer Regulations). Archers may hunt with a bow and arrow during the shotgun season and muzzleloader season but must comply with all other shotgun or muzzleloader season regulations. Crossbows may be used by certain permanently disabled persons by permit only. For regulations and an application, visit or contact DFW at (508) 389-6300.

Hunter Orange: No person shall hunt during the pheasant or quail season on public shooting grounds or WMAs where pheasant or quail are stocked without wearing a “hunter orange” cap or hat except while night-hunting for raccoons or opossums, or while hunting waterfowl from a blind or boat. During the period when it is legal to hunt deer with a shotgun, all hunters, except waterfowl hunters hunting within a blind or from a boat, must wear, in a conspicuous manner on chest, back, and head, a minimum of 500 square inches of “hunter orange” clothing or material. During the muzzleloader season, all deer hunters must comply with the 500 sq. inch hunter orange requirement.

Hunting Dogs: May be trained at any time (except during the shotgun season on deer) provided that only pistols or revolvers and blank cartridges are used or possessed. No sporting or hunting license is necessary. During the shotgun season on deer, dogs may be used for waterfowl hunting on coastal waters only. Hunting bear or bobcat with dogs, or training dogs on those species, is prohibited.

Treestands: Must have written permission of landowner to construct or use any treestand held in place with nails, bolts, etc., or in place for more than 30 days.


The Division of Fisheries & Wildlife owns 144 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), 13 Wildlife Sanctuaries, and other properties. Maps are available for many properties on the DFW website and at all DFW offices.

  1. No person shall possess any alcoholic beverage except under permit, or dump or discard any can, bottle, or rubbish.
  2. No person shall remove vegetation, soil, or stones from any WMA except under permit.
  3. No person shall use excessive speed in driving a vehicle.
  4. No person, unless under permit, shall drive or possess any vehicle except on roads or trails maintained for public vehicular traffic.
  5. No person shall deface or tamper with any sign, building, or equipment.
  6. No person shall build or maintain a fire without written permission from the Director of the DFW or his designee.
  7. No person shall camp within any WMA without written permission from the Director or his designee.
  8. No person shall engage in target practice without written permission from the Director or his designee.
  9. No person shall use any means other than shotgun or bow and arrow during the pheasant and quail season on areas stocked with pheasant or quail except for hunting raccoons and opossums between 9pm and 3am.
  10. No person shall hunt before sunrise or after sunset on any WMA where pheasant or quail are stocked during the open season on pheasant or quail, Oct. 15 to Nov. 26, except for the hunting of raccoons and opossums between 9pm and 3am.
  11. No person shall hunt during the pheasant or quail season on WMAs where pheasant or quail are stocked without wearing a ”hunter orange“ cap or hat except while night hunting for raccoons or opossums or while hunting from a blind or boat.
  12. No person, except under permit, shall dig or disturb any artifact or archaeological remains.
  13. The Director may make special regulations to handle special situations peculiar to any WMA. Controlled hunts are in effect at certain times on Martin Burns, Delaney, and Ludlow WMAs. Contact District Supervisor for details.


  • Must have a valid Massachusetts non-resident hunting license in order to hunt.
  • Must have proof of a Basic Hunter Education course certificate or previous license from any jurisdiction in order to purchase a Massachusetts hunting license. Non-resident minors (ages 15–17), see Minors. Each license includes a $5.00 charge for a Wildlife Conservation Stamp.
  • Must obtain the same stamps and permits as residents. Permit and stamp fees are the same for residents and non-residents. Non-resident migratory game bird hunters must complete a Massachusetts H.I.P. survey to hunt.
  • May not purchase ammunition in Massachusetts (including materials used in black powder firearms).
  • While travelling into or through Massachusetts must have their firearms unloaded and enclosed in a case.
  • No gun license (FID) is needed to possess or transport long guns.
  • Must contact the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB) Firearms Support Services, 200 Arlington St., Suite 2200, Chelsea, MA 02150, tel. (617) 660-4780 for information on handgun permits.

Hunter Harassment

Hunter harassment is against state law. Report violations to the Mass. Environmental Police (800) 632-8075 or to state or local police. Be prepared to provide a description of violators and/or a description and license plate number of the car.

Closed Seasons

Hunting seasons are closed throughout the year on all birds and mammals not mentioned herein or in Massachusetts Migratory Bird Regulations published each September. During shotgun deer season all hunting seasons are closed except for deer, coyote, and waterfowl.

Open Seasons

The following species may be taken year-round (except during shotgun deer season) by licensed hunters with no daily or seasonal bag limit: English sparrow, flying squirrel, red squirrel, chipmunk, porcupine, skunk, starling, weasel, woodchuck.

Hunting hours

Hunting hours are from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset on each day of open season (see Sunrise-Sunset table) except for:

  • Rabbit, hare, fox, and coyote hunting, which closes at midnight.
  • Spring turkey hunting (see Upland Game Bird Regulations).
  • Raccoon and opossum hunting (see Furbearer Regulations).
  • WMA Reg. #10 (above) which states that no person shall hunt before sunrise or after sunset on any WMA where pheasant or quail are stocked during the pheasant or quail season (Oct. 15–Nov. 26) except for the hunting of raccoons and opossums between 9pm and 3am.
  • Migratory game bird hunting, which is 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset.

Checking or Reporting Game

Hunters who harvest a deer, bear or turkey are required to check their game within 48 hours of killing the animal. For a complete list of report stations visit the DFW website Online checking of game will be available this year starting with the spring turkey season. Check website for instructions/forms. For general furbearer checking requirements see Trapping.


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