Table of Contents

  • Hunting Hours

    • Specific times of day legal for hunting
    • May vary by season or game species
  • Required Licenses, Permits, and Stamps

    • Necessary documentation for lawful hunting
    • Different types for residents, non-residents, youth, etc.
    • Special permits for certain game or methods
  • Bag and Possession Limits

    • Maximum number of game animals that can be taken
    • Daily and seasonal limits
    • Species-specific restrictions
  • Hunting Implements

    • Approved weapons and ammunition for hunting
    • Restrictions on caliber, magazine capacity, etc.
    • Bow hunting specifications
  • Blaze Orange Requirements

    • Mandatory visibility clothing for safety
    • Specifics on amount and situations requiring blaze orange
  • Hunting Methods

    • Legal techniques for taking game
    • Restrictions on baiting, electronic calls, etc.
    • Dog hunting regulations
  • Tagging, Transporting, and Reporting Requirements

    • Procedures for tagging harvested game in the field
    • Legal methods for transporting game
    • Mandatory reporting steps and timelines
  • More About Deer Hunting Regulations

    • In-depth information on season-specific rules
    • Antler-point restrictions
    • Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management zones
  • Contact

    • Information for state wildlife agency
    • Hotline numbers for reporting or inquiries
    • Online resources for regulation updates

For detailed information, visit your state's wildlife agency website.

Hunting Hours

Commencing half an hour prior to sunrise and concluding half an hour post-sunset, hunting hours are regulated to ensure the safety and ethical practices of hunters. It is imperative for hunters to adhere strictly to these specified timeframes to align with legal requirements and promote responsible hunting. For accurate scheduling, reference the provided sunrise/sunset table, which serves as a valuable tool for planning hunting activities effectively. By respecting these designated hours, hunters contribute to the preservation of wildlife and maintain compliance with established hunting laws.

Required Licenses, Permits, and Stamps

Massachusetts Residents

To engage in white-tailed deer hunting within Massachusetts, residents must obtain the following licenses, permits, and stamps, available for purchase on MassFishHunt:

  1. Hunting or Sporting License

    • Includes 2 antlered deer tags valid statewide.
  2. Archery Stamp

    • Essential for hunting during the archery season.
  3. Primitive Firearms Stamp

    • Required for participating in the primitive firearms season.
  4. No Stamp Required for Shotgun Season

    • Shotgun season hunting does not necessitate an additional stamp.
  5. Antlerless Deer Permit

    • Mandatory for hunting any deer without antlers or with antlers less than 3 inches in length.

Non-Residents

For non-residents partaking in white-tailed deer hunting in Massachusetts, the following permits and licenses are obligatory:

  1. Non-Resident Big Game Hunting License

    • Includes 2 antlered deer tags valid statewide.
  2. Archery Stamp

    • Necessary for engaging in the archery season.
  3. Primitive Firearms Stamp

    • Required for participation in the primitive firearms season.
  4. No Stamp Required for Shotgun Season

    • Similar to residents, non-residents hunting during the shotgun season do not need an additional stamp.
  5. Antlerless Deer Permit

    • Essential for hunting any deer without antlers or with antlers less than 3 inches in length.

Youth Regulations

Ages 15-17

  1. Resident Minor Hunting License or Non-Resident Big Game License

    • For youth aged 15-17, these licenses are required.
  2. Antlerless Deer Permit

    • Mandatory for hunting any deer without antlers or antlers less than 3 inches in length.
  3. Archery Stamp

    • Necessary for participating in the archery season.
  4. Primitive Firearms Stamp

    • Required for engagement in the primitive firearms season.
  5. No Stamp Required for Shotgun Season

    • No additional stamp is required for the shotgun season.
  6. Youth Deer Hunt Day Permit

    • Essential for hunting deer on the designated youth day.

Ages 12–14

  1. No Hunting License or Stamps Required

    • Youth aged 12-14 do not need a hunting license or stamps but must be accompanied by an appropriately licensed adult hunter.
  2. Youth Deer Hunt Day Permit

    • Needed for hunting deer on the youth day.

Bag and Possession Limits

Bag Limit

Hunters engaging in white-tailed deer hunting in Massachusetts must adhere to the following bag limits:

  1. Antlered Deer:

    • A maximum of 2 antlered deer annually, defined as any deer with at least one antler measuring 3 inches or longer.
  2. Antlerless Deer:

    • Hunters may take as many antlerless deer as they hold valid antlerless deer permits for, within the specified permitted zones.
  3. Youth Deer Hunt Day:

    • On Youth Deer Hunt Day, hunters are limited to harvesting 1 deer, whether antlered or antlerless.

Possession Limit

The possession limits for deer in Massachusetts vary based on the Wildlife Management Zones (WMZs):

WMZs 1–12

  • Hunters are permitted to take and possess up to 2 deer in a day before reporting or checking them.
  • Once the initial 2 deer are reported, the hunter may resume deer hunting on the same day.

Example: A hunter harvests 2 deer in the morning. After reporting the deer online or at a check station, they may return to deer hunting that same day.

WMZs 13 and 14

  • In these zones, deer hunters may take and possess up to 4 deer in a day before reporting or checking them.
  • After reporting the initial 4 deer, the hunter is allowed to resume deer hunting on the same day.

Hunting Implements

Archery Season

  • Archery Equipment:
    • All bows (recurve, long, and compound) are permitted, excluding crossbows unless allowed by permit.
    • Draw weight must be at least 40 lbs at 28 inches or at peak draw.
    • Crossbows may be used by certain permanently disabled persons with a permit.
    • Arrows must have well-sharpened steel broadhead blades of at least 7/8 inches in width.
    • Expanding broadheads and mechanical releases are allowed.
    • Prohibited items include poisoned arrows, explosive tips, airbows, and bows drawn by mechanical means.

Shotgun Season

  • Shotgun Use:
    • Shotguns must not exceed 10 gauge and are exclusively permitted during the shotgun deer season.
    • Rifled barrel shotguns are deemed legal for use.

Primitive Firearms Season

  • Muzzleloader Specifications:
    • Shoulder-fired muzzleloaders within the .44 caliber to .775 caliber range are allowed.
    • Barrel length must be 18 inches or more, with only one operational barrel.
    • Inline ignition systems are permitted, provided the firearm loads from the muzzle.
    • Only single projectiles are allowed; buckshot is prohibited.
    • Permitted items include sabot rounds, 209 primers, break/hinge-action muzzleloaders, and scopes.
    • Powder is limited to black powder or black powder substitutes.
    • A muzzleloader is considered unloaded when cap or pan powder is removed.

Prohibited Implements

  • Rifles and Handguns:
    • Possession or use of rifles and handguns is strictly prohibited in any woodland or field during the shotgun deer season, including the Youth Deer Hunt Day.

Note: A stamp is required to hunt during the Archery and Primitive Firearms seasons.

Blaze Orange Requirements

Youth Deer Hunt Day

  • During Youth Deer Hunt Day, all deer hunters are mandated to wear 500 square inches of blaze orange, covering the chest, back, and head.

Archery Season

  • For Archery Season on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) stocked with pheasant and/or quail during their respective season:
    • A blaze orange hat is a requisite for all hunters.

Shotgun Deer Season

  • Throughout Shotgun Deer Season, hunters, irrespective of the hunting implement in use, are obligated to wear 500 square inches of blaze orange on the chest, back, and head.

Primitive Firearms Season

  • In Primitive Firearms Season, the blaze orange requirement remains consistent:
    • Hunters must wear 500 square inches of blaze orange on the chest, back, and head.

Blind Usage

  • Blaze Orange in Blinds:
    • If utilizing a blind during a season or on a WMA with a blaze orange requirement, all deer hunters must wear the specified amount of orange while inside the blind.
    • Mass-Wildlife strongly recommends that blaze orange be visible on the outside of the blind.

Hunting Methods

Legal Methods

  • Use of Scents and Tools:

    • The use of non-food-related scents, deer antlers or replicas, and grunt tubes is permitted.
  • Coordinated Deer Drives:

    • It is legal to drive deer, attempting to move them in a coordinated effort, during hunting.

Prohibited Methods

  • Firearms and Electronic Devices:

    • Rifles and handguns are strictly prohibited during hunting.
    • The use of electronic calls, dogs, and decoys is also prohibited.
  • Baiting:

    • Baiting, defined as the deliberate placing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of bait to attract or entice deer, is strictly prohibited.
    • Bait includes natural or artificial substances like corn, wheat, hay, silage, fruits, vegetables, and salt.
    • A baited area is designated from 10 days before the opening of the archery season to the day following the close of the primitive firearms season.
    • On Youth Deer Hunt Day, hunting is prohibited in areas baited up to 10 days before the event.
  • Wanton Waste Prohibition:

    • Hunters are prohibited from leaving a wounded or dead game animal in the field without reasonable effort for retrieval and use.
    • Each retrieved animal must be retained or transferred until processed or used for food, pelt, feathers, or taxidermy.
    • This does not apply to animals unfit for consumption or use due to damage, destruction, decay, rotting, disease, or infection.

Tagging, Transporting, and Reporting Requirements

Tagging

  • Upon harvesting a deer, hunters are required to immediately fill out and attach the paper tag from the permit or license onto the carcass.
  • The deer must remain intact, with the attached harvest tag, except for field dressing, until it is reported.

Transportation

  • When transporting the deer, some part of it must be visible until the reporting process is completed.

Reporting

  • Hunters must report the deer online through MassFishHunt or at an official game check station within 48 hours of harvest.
  • If reporting online, a confirmation number will be issued, which must be written on the harvest tag and attached to the carcass.
  • Deer taken during the first week of shotgun season must be brought to a physical check station for MassWildlife staff to collect biological data. Refer to MassWildlife's check station map for open locations.

Post-Reporting Requirements

  • Once reported, the harvest tag with the confirmation number or the metal seal from the official game check station must remain attached to the carcass until it is prepared for food, taxidermy, or other uses.

Prohibited Actions

  • Importing certain parts of deer from states and provinces where Chronic Wasting Disease has been detected is strictly prohibited.
  • For more information about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), hunters can refer to the provided resources.

Deer Hunting Regulations Summary

Reference and Legal Framework

  • This page serves as a reference; it is not the complete law and is subject to change.
  • For comprehensive information on deer hunting laws and regulations, refer to the Deer Hunting regulations in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, 321 CMR 3.02(4), and the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 131.

Hunting Season Framework

  • Youth Deer Hunt:

    • Occurs on the fourth Saturday following Labor Day.
  • Paraplegic Hunt:

    • Begins the last Monday in October and ends the following Saturday. Any three days of this period may be selected by the Director.
  • Archery Season:

    • WMZs 1-9: Starts on the sixth Monday prior to Thanksgiving and concludes on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, all days inclusive, except Sundays.
    • WMZs 10-14: Begins on the eighth Monday prior to Thanksgiving and ends on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, all days inclusive, except Sundays.
  • Shotgun Season:

    • Commences on the first Monday after Thanksgiving and concludes on the second Saturday thereafter, all days inclusive, except Sundays.
  • Primitive Firearms Season:

    • Starts on the third Monday after Thanksgiving and ends on December 31, all days inclusive, except Sundays.

Legal References

  • Refer to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, 321 CMR 3.02(4), and Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 131 for detailed and up-to-date information on deer hunting laws and regulations.

Understanding and following these deer hunting regulations are crucial for a lawful and ethical hunting experience. Always refer to the official legal documents for the most accurate and current information.


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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.