Massachusetts Hunting

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Written by:  Devn Schumacher 

May, 10 2021

Massachusetts is one of the smallest states in the USA, but it is one of the best states for hunting. Popular games in the state are deer, bears, and other small games. There are also a lot of small games in the state.

The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game also makes hunting permits and tags available online for residents and non-residents. This makes it very easy for them to easily purchase permits for the games they want to take.

Massachusetts Hunting Regulations

The department of fish and game in Massachusetts has various hunting regulations, laws, and requirements to be met by all resident and out-of-state hunters. Some of the hunting regulations in Massachusetts include the following:

Massachusetts Hunting Prohibitions

Unlawful hunting activities that are prohibited in Massachusetts include the following:

  • It is a prohibition to make use of airbows, arrow firearms, or any other hunting firearms that need project arrows, bolts, compressed airs, or gun powders in any way. Exceptions are allowed for flexing and bowstring releases.
  • It is a prohibition to make use of arrows that are poisoned or coated with chemicals, arrows with explosive tips, arrows with firearm cartridges such that they explode or discharge when they hit a target, bows that are shot with mechanical aids except for those permitted by Massachusetts hunting laws.
  • It is a prohibition to make use of any type of artificial light for the taking of wildlife and game animals. Exceptions are allowed for games like opossum and raccoon.
  • It is a prohibition to set baits for game animals like deer, turkeys, bears, or migratory game birds within a period of at least 10 days prior to the state of the game animal’s hunting season.
  • It is a prohibition to carelessly or negligently make use of firearms in the name of hunting.
  • It is a prohibition to set traps or nets to hunt game animals or birds in Massachusetts.
  • It is a prohibition to discharge firearms or release an archery device across public roads and highways in Massachusetts. The required distance allowed for hunting within a highway is 150 feet.
  • It is a prohibition to possess a loaded firearm, shoot, or hunt any game animals on private lands and within at least 500 feet of any building occupied by humans. An exception is allowed for those that seek permission from private landowners before hunting on the premises.
  • It is a prohibition to make use of electronic calls to lure out migratory birds, deer, or turkeys in Massachusetts.
  • It is a prohibition to hunt games with the use of a ferret if you do not have a valid Massachusetts permit to do so.
  • It is a prohibition to have in your possession rifles and handguns in Wildlife Management Areas that have quail and pheasant while hunting in either quail or pheasant hunting seasons.
  • It is a prohibition to hunt of lands that have posts restricting hunters, except you obtain permission from the management in charge
  • In Massachusetts, it is a prohibition to hunt on Sundays.
  • It is a prohibition to hunt, possess firearms, practice target shooting, release arrows, or any other hunting weapon while under the influence of alcohol or any other type of intoxicating substance.
  • It is a prohibition to possess loaded rifles or shotguns on recreational vehicles or any other type of vehicle. This includes motorboats and aircraft.
  • It is a prohibition to make use of firearms like machine guns, automatic guns, or inflammable ammunition while hunting in Massachusetts.
  • It is a prohibition to use motor vehicles including snowmobiles, aircraft, or off-way vehicles to take game animals and birds.
  • It is a prohibition to have in your possession, game animals that are listed as endangered species by the Massachusetts Department of fish and game. Hunters should know that it does not matter if the game is alive or dead. However, exceptions are allowed for those with permits.
  • In shotgun seasons, it is a prohibition to make use of firearms such as handguns, rifles, or hunting dogs. However, the use of hunting dogs to take waterfowls is allowed in coastal waters.
  • It is a prohibition to hunt games such as bobcats, turkeys, bears, and deer with hunting dogs.
  • It is a prohibition to make use of powerboats or sailboats to take birds except the boat has been powered off and is at sail. There is also an exception for retrieving injured birds with boats.
  • It is a prohibition to remove game mammals from their holes, grounds, logs or any place where they live.
  • It is a prohibition to make use of rifles built to take ammunition that is more than .22 calibers, pistol, and revolvers to take ammunition with more than .38 calibers, between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes prior to sunrise.
  • It is a prohibition to sell game animals and birds with exception of the sale of heads and hides to fur buyers that are licensed, and the sale of deer hooves and shin bones to anyone.

Open Carry While Hunting.

You can possess a firearm while hunting except if you are bow hunting.

Massachusetts prohibits the possession of firearms while hunting for deer in the state.

The state also has hunter harassment statutes to help protect hunting activities.

They include the following:

  • Nobody shall disturb or interfere with any hunting activity in the state, or prevent a legal taking of animals in the wild in an area licensed for such activity.
  • Nobody shall disturb wildlife or fishes to interrupt legal hunting.
  • Nobody shall harass, disturb, or impede a person that has the license to hunt in wildlife areas or fishes in aquatic areas.
  • Nobody shall use any manner of stimuli to affect animals in wildlife or fishes, in such a way that they influence hunting activity, or prevent the possibility of taking the animals.
  • Nobody shall, to prevent hunting movements, erect a barrier in a place meant for legal hunting activities.
  • Nobody shall put himself or herself in the line of fire to prevent the legal taking of an animal in the wild.
  • Nobody shall affect the settings of a property, either personal or public owned, intended to hunt wildlife.
  • Nobody shall trespass on public or private land used for hunting without obtaining permission from the owner or those in charge of the property.

Massachusetts Hunting License, Permits, and Tags

A hunting license in Massachusetts is issued based on the hunter’s residency, type of game, and the age of the hunter. There are a lot of valid Massachusetts hunting licenses, permits, and tags, and they include the following:

Residents Hunting License

These are the hunting licenses available to residents of Massachusetts. To apply for these licenses, you must have been a resident of the state for at least 6 months.

Adult Hunting and Fishing License

This license is available to adult residents of Massachusetts and it allows them to partake in fishing and hunting activities. There are 2 types of adult hunting and fishing licenses based on validity. The annual licenses cost $38.75, while the ones valid for 3 years cost $97.

Junior Hunting and Fishing License

This license is available to teenage residents of Massachusetts between the age of 14 and 17. It allows them to partake in fishing and hunting activities. There are 2 types of Junior hunting and fishing licenses based on validity. The annual licenses cost $19, while the one valid for 3 years’ costs $49.

Senior Hunting License

This license is available to senior residents of Massachusetts that are 65 years old or more. It allows them to partake in fishing and hunting activities. There are 2 types of senior fishing licenses based on validity. The annual licenses cost $13.75, while the ones valid for 3 years cost $33.5.

Sportsman’s Package License

This license comes with all the privileges of a resident hunting license as well as tags for taking games like turkeys, wolves, mountain lions, elks, and bears. Holders of this license are allowed to make use of muzzleloader firearms and archery firearms. It costs $144.6

Disabled Veterans License for Hunting and Fishing

This license is available to residents of Massachusetts that are disabled and have a letter from the veteran affair proving their disability percentage. They must be at least 40% disabled to apply for the license. It costs $5.57.

Non-Residents Hunting License

This is an Massachusetts out-of-state hunting license for non-residents that wish to take games within the state.

Adult Hunting and Fishing License

This license is available to adult nonresidents and it allows them to partake in fishing and hunting activities. There are 2 types of adult hunting and fishing licenses based on validity. The annual licenses cost $264, while the one valid for 3 years cost $788.50

Adult Ordinary Hunting License

This license is available to adult nonresidents and allows them to partake in only hunting activities. There are 2 types of adult hunting licenses based on validity. The one valid for 3 days costs $185, while the one valid for 3 years costs $551.5.

Small Game Hunting License

This license allows holders to partake in the hunting of games like migratory birds, upland games, cottontail rabbits, turkeys, furbearers, hares, and predators. However, the license is invalid for the first 5 days of the Massachusetts pheasant hunting season. There are 2 types of small game hunting licenses for non-residents based on validity. The one valid for 5 days costs $141.75, while the one valid for 3 days costs $71.71.

Trapping License

Nonresidents with this license are allowed to trap games in Massachusetts. It costs $331.75.

Junior Mentored Hunting License

This license is available to non-residents that are between the age of 10 and 17 years old. Non-residents with this license are not allowed to hunt on their own. They will be accompanied by a licensed adult who will be within conversation distance throughout the hunting. Junior non-residents that are 9 years old but will reach the age of 10 before hunting season can purchase this license. The license will also allow fishing access for 3 days. There are 2 types of this license based on validity. The one valid for one year costs $91.75. The one valid for 3 years cost $271.5

Disabled Veteran License for Non Residents

This license is available to nonresidents that are disabled and have a letter from the veteran affair proving their disability percentage. They must be at least 40% disabled to apply for the license. The license also comes with fishing access for 3 days and costs $31.5.

Massachusetts Fishing License, Permits, and Tags.

Fishing license, permits, and tags issued in Massachusetts include the following:

Residents Fishing License

These are the fishing licenses available for residents of Massachusetts.

Adult Fishing License

This license is available for resident adults that want to fish in Massachusetts water bodies. There are 2 types of resident adult fishing licenses in Massachusetts based on validity. The one valid for a year costs $30.5 and the one valid for 3 years costs $73.75.

Daily Fishing License

This license is valid per day for residents of Massachusetts that want to fish. It cost $13.5 for the first day, while each consecutive day after will cost $6.

Junior Fishing License

This license is valid for teenage residents in Massachusetts between the age of 14 and 17 that want to partake in fishing. There are 2 types of junior fishing licenses in Massachusetts based on validity. The one valid for a year costs $13.75 and the one valid for 3 years costs $73.75.

Military Hunting and Fishing License

This is a combination of both fishing and hunting licenses valid for residents of Massachusetts that are members of the US military. It costs $20.5.

Non Residents Fishing License

This license is valid for non-residents that want to fish in Massachusetts. They include the following:

Adult Fishing License

This license is available for nonresident adults that want to fish in Massachusetts water bodies. There are 2 types of nonresident adult fishing licenses in Massachusetts based on validity. The one valid for a year costs $98.25 and the one valid for 3 years costs $291.25.

Daily Fishing License

This license is valid per day for nonresidents of Massachusetts that want to fish. It cost $15 for the first day, while each consecutive day after will cost $7.

Junior Fishing License

This license is valid for teenage nonresidents between the age of 14 and 17 that want to partake in fishing. There are 2 types of junior nonresidents fishing licenses in Massachusetts based on validity. The one valid for a year costs $21.75 and the one valid for 3 years costs $61.75.

Massachusetts Hunting Season 2020/21

Hunting season in Massachusetts varies from one game to another. It is important for hunters in the state to know the hunting season for the game they want to take.

The 2020/21 hunting season for various wildlife in Massachusetts includes the following:

Massachusetts Deer Hunting Seasons

  • General Hunting Season (10th of October to 1st of December)
  • Massachusetts Elk Hunting Seasons
  • General Hunting Season (1st of August to 31st of December)

Elk hunting season in Massachusetts varies based on the various hunting zones and methods in the state. You can make inquiries from the Massachusetts Department of fish and game about hunting zones.

Massachusetts Pronghorn Hunting Seasons

  • Controlled Hunting Season (25th of September to 31st of December)

Massachusetts Black Bear Hunting Seasons

  • General Hunting Seasons (30th of August to 31st of October and 15h of April to 30th of April.

For bear hunting in Massachusetts, there is a seasonal limit of just one bear per season. It is also unlawful to trap, capture or snare bears.

Massachusetts Turkey Hunting Season

  • General fall Hunting Season (30th of August to 31st of January)
  • Spring Youth Hunting Season (8th of April to 14th of April)
  • Spring General Hunting Season (15th of April to 25th of May)

Massachusetts Small Games Hunting Seasons

  • Cottontail and Hare Hunting Seasons (30th of August to 31st of March)
  • Quail Hunting Seasons (18th of September to 31st of January)
  • Chukar and Partridge Hunting Seasons (19th of September to 31st of January)
  • Male Pheasants Hunting Seasons (9th of October to 31st of December)
  • Squirrel Hunting Season (30th of August to 31st of March)

Dates for the start and end of a game hunting season will vary based on the different Massachusetts hunting zones.

Also, most big games in Massachusetts have controlled hunting to curb their overpopulation. To hunt these games, you will need permits.

Massachusetts Wildlife, Games, and Fish

There are various games and wildlife available in Massachusetts, and they include the following:

Massachusetts Deer Hunting

Deer hunting in Massachusetts is common statewide. The species common to the northern part of the salmon river is the whitetail deer. They are hunted in the fall period, even more, than the mule deer. However, mule deer are more occurring in the southern part of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Turkey Hunting

Turkey hunting in Massachusetts is common around rivers in the state. But they are more established in Weiser Payette and Snake Rivers. There are also great hunting opportunities for Turkeys in places like the Craig Mountain WMA. You can find turkeys in federal and state hunting lands as well as private sand timber lands in the state.

Massachusetts Fox Hunting

There are various types of fox species available for hunting in Massachusetts. The red fox is common in almost all regions of the state. There are the kit foxes that are usually rare but inhabit the southern part of Massachusetts. Kit foxes are miniature and only weigh around 3 to 6 pounds with lengths between 18 to 21 inches. The largest fox species in Massachusetts is the gray fox.

Massachusetts Bear Hunting

Black bear hunting in Massachusetts is common. They are usually difficult to hunt because their habitat is surrounded by terrains that are almost inaccessible. They live in areas surrounded by plenty of food sources like shrubs and hard mast. Bears in Massachusetts are also found in deciduous forested areas, subalpine ridgetops, and wet meadows.

Massachusetts Pronghorns Hunting

Because of their nature, pronghorns will mostly be found in areas of the state with wide and open spaces. They inhabit shrubby and grasslands regions where the plants do not exceed 2 feet and these are the places where pronghorn hunting in Massachusetts mostly takes place. In the southern part of Massachusetts, they inhabit the sagebrush, especially in the winter period where they get most food sources from this area.

Massachusetts Quail Hunting

The most common quail in Massachusetts is the California quail found in the south-central part of the state. They can be found along water bodies like streams and rivers.

Massachusetts Pheasants Hunting

Pheasants hunting in Massachusetts takes place in clearwater areas and Magic Valley regions. However, their populations have reduced in recent years due to new farming methods and increased urbanization in the state. But there are still a lot of wild pheasants available in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Duck Hunting

There are various species of ducks in Massachusetts, and because they are waterfowls, the best places you can locate them are in wetland regions away from human settlements. Duck hunting in Massachusetts also takes place in wildlife refuges. Ducks inhabit water bodies like ponds and lakes, and they can be found in the shallow parts of the water.

Massachusetts Public Shooting Ranges for Hunting Practices

Hunters are advised to improve their use of firearms whenever they have the time to do so. Some of the shooting ranges in Massachusetts that is open to the public include the following:

  • Cape Ann Sportsman's Club
  • Cape Cod Fish & Game Association
  • Fall River Rod & Gun Club
  • Georgetown Fish and Game Association
  • High Hill Fox and Coon Club
  • Lee Sportsmen's Association
  • Martha's Vineyard Rod & Gun Club
  • Massapoag Sportsmen's Club
  • New England Airgun

Massachusetts Hunting Lands for Sale and Lease

Hunting lands for sale in Massachusetts include the following:

  • Heath, Massachusetts (Franklin County) 95 acres.
  • Chester, Massachusetts (Hampden County) 25 acres.

Hunting lands for lease in Massachusetts include the following:

  • Pheasant and Chukar Packages on 130 Acres of Gorgeous New England Cover on Private Preserve in Worcester County, 130 acres.
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