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/masswildlife. Licenses are also issued by some city and town clerks, all DFW offices and other selected outlets.
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, fishing, sporting, and trapping licenses must be carried on your person and shown on demand to any officer empowered to enforce these laws, and to landowners or lessees while on their property. A hunting, fishing or trapping license is not a permit to trespass or intrude on private land, posted or not. Remember, your privilege to enter on private land is a courtesy extended to you by the owner. Practice courtesy and leave a good impression if you want to continue hunting, fishing, or trapping. Hunting or Sporting licenses can be purchased only if (1) proof of a previous hunting license issued prior to 2007 from any jurisdiction is provided; (2) a certificate of completion of a Basic Hunter Education course issued by any jurisdiction in North America is provided; or (3) an affidavit stating that the applicant has either a Basic Hunter Education Certificate or has purchased a Hunting/Sporting license prior to 2007 is provided. Minors see below.
No freshwater (inland) fishing license is required on the Merrimack River seaward of the first upstream bridge (northbound traffic) of Route 495 in Haverhill.
A trapping license is required for persons 12 years and over. Please see Trapping for additional information.
Minors 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 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.
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 also have a trap registration number which requires proof of completion of a Massachusetts Trapper Education course.
Residency Requirement: To obtain a resident license, applicant must reside in Massachusetts for six consecutive months immediately prior to purchase.
Nonresidents: A valid Massachusetts non-resident license (hunting, fishing and trapping) is required of 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.
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 which 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 possession or release of certain fish, baitfish, wildlife and for fur dealers, propagators, wildlife rehabilitators, taxidermists, and/or fur buyers. Apply to the DFW Boston office, Permit Section (617) 626-1575. Contact Field Headquarters in Westborough (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 basic hunting, fishing or trapping license to hunt, fish or trap on that land. Permits and stamps are still required.
Antlerless Deer Permit is required to take antlerless deer during shotgun, archery, and muzzleloader seasons statewide. Hunters may apply for this permit when they purchase their hunting/sporting license, or at any time prior to July 16 through any license vendor or online computer. Selection is by a random, instant award process that will be available during a prescribed sales period after the application deadline has passed (see Online Licensing and Game Harvest Reporting). Successful applicants will be assessed a $5.00 fee. Additional permits, if available after the end of the instant award sales period, will be issued until the overall quota for each zone is reached. Check website for details.
Bear Permit: 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: 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. No H.I.P. number is required, and the former phone survey is no longer available.
Archery: ($5.10), required to hunt deer during the archery season Oct. 15–Nov. 24.
Primitive Firearms: ($5.10), required to hunt deer during the primitive firearms season Dec. 10–Dec 31.
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 http://www.fws.gov/duckstamps/Stamps.htm.