John Lewis

A Breakdown of Massachusetts General Hunting Regulations

Massachusetts provides abundant opportunities across various seasons and geography, from marshes to hills and forests. Here is a comprehensive overview of the key regulations, guidelines, and requirements for hunting in the bay state.

Important Regulations




MA Hunting Season Schedule

Licenses and Permits

  • Hunting license – Mandatory for aged 15 and above. Special exemption for youth aged 12-14 under adult supervision. Prior license or hunter education certificate required.
  • Special permits – Required for pursuing deer, bear, turkey, pheasant, quail. Free youth permit for deer/turkey.
  • Disabled crossbow permit – With doctor approval for permanent disability.
  • Stamps – Waterfowl, primitive firearms, archery stamps mandatory depending on game and season.
  • Wildlands stamp – May be required for first license purchase, supports conservation.
  • Agricultural permits – Special permits for farmland owners.

Licenses, permits, and tags must be carried during hunts. Proper tagging and paperwork for harvested game is mandatory.

General Regulations

Methods and Tools

  • Archery – 40lb draw weight minimum. 7/8″ wide steel blades. Crossbows restricted.
  • Firearms – One firearm only, cased and unloaded when transported. Restrictions on gauges.
  • Dogs – Allowed for certain game like waterfowl and rabbits. Training allowed with licenses.
  • Non-toxic shot – Required for waterfowl and other migratory birds.

Seasons and Bag Limits

Deer – Shotgun, primitive firearms, archery seasons. Antlerless permits.

Safety Tips

  • Take a hunter safety course even if not mandatory.
  • Know game laws and regulations inside-out.
  • Identify your target and what’s beyond clearly before shooting.
  • Treat firearms with care at all times; keep muzzle pointed away from people.
  • Wear blaze orange and avoid colors that blend into the landscape.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before or during hunts.
  • Report poachers and unethical behavior immediately.
  • Follow best practices for field dressing game and processing meat.

Key Facts and Figures

  • 110,000+ hunting licenses issued per year in Massachusetts
  • Over 60,000 deer harvested in 2021 season
  • Fall turkey season runs October – November
  • Over 50,000 ducks harvested in 2020
  • Hunting contributes $140 million to Massachusetts economy
  • It is illegal to pursue on Sundays in Massachusetts
  • Black bear population estimated at over 4,500

Permits, and regulations aim to ensure ethical, sustainable hunting practices continue for generations. Being an informed, responsible hunter is essential for success and safety.

John Lewis
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