Hunting In Massachusetts

Looking to go hunting in Massachusetts? Great news! We have a comprehensive guide to help you make the most of the hunting opportunities in the state.

It’s essential to note that the state is populated. Meaning, hunters are in for stiff competition and increased hunting pressure, especially during peak hunting periods.

But despite that, hunting in Massachusetts remains a popular outdoor activity, with many hunters appreciating the state’s natural beauty and diverse wildlife.

Dig deep to learn what to expect in the wilderness of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Hunting Seasons

In Massachusetts, hunting seasons are set by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) to ensure the conservation and management of wildlife populations.

Regulating hunting seasons plays a vital role in preserving the ecosystem’s balance while offering hunting opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, boosting the state’s economy.

White-tailed DeerArchery: Early October to late November
Shotgun: Late November to mid-December
Primitive Firearms: Mid- to late December
Black Bear
(varies by zone)
Fall Season: Early September to early November
Wild TurkeySpring Season: Late April to late May
Fall Season: Early October to late November
WaterfowlDucks, Geese, and Coots: Early October to late January
Sea Ducks: Late September to late January
Upland Game BirdCrow: Early July to mid-April (on Fri, Sat, and Mon only)
Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, and Quail: Early October to late November
Early October to late November
Small GameCottontail Rabbit and Snowshoe Hare: Early October to late February
Squirrel: Early September to late January
These are general timeframes, and specific dates may change annually. Always check the MassWildlife website for the most up-to-date information.

White-tailed Deer Hunting

Massachusetts has a well-cultured tradition of deer hunting that holds a significant position within the state’s heritage. Generations of families and friends have passed down their knowledge and appreciation for the outdoors and wildlife, introducing many to the sport.

Aside from its cultural significance, the state has a healthy and growing white-tailed deer population, providing hunters ample opportunities to pursue their quarry.

The varied habitats in the state, including forests, fields, and wetlands, offer excellent conditions for deer to thrive. The successful management of the deer population by MassWildlife ensures a sustainable and enjoyable hunting experience for hunters.

Black Bear Hunting

Massachusetts has seen a steady increase in the black bear population, especially in the central and western parts of the state. The expanding bear population provides more opportunities for hunters to pursue this large and powerful game animal, adding to the appeal of black bear hunting.

Black bear hunting in Massachusetts offers a thrilling and challenging experience for hunters. Bears are intelligent and elusive animals, requiring hunters to use their skills in tracking, stalking, and identifying signs of bear activity.

The size and strength of black bears also contribute to the excitement, as hunters must respect the potential danger these animals can pose.

Wild Turkey Hunting

Spring turkey hunting in Massachusetts is particularly popular due to the focus on gobblers (male turkeys) during the breeding season. This is when hunters can easily deceive their target hunt.

Meanwhile, fall hunting can be a bit challenging as it requires more complex strategies. However, this season allows hunters to harvest either sex, offering different hunting opportunities.

Hunting for turkey in Massachusetts gives you a chance to connect with nature and wildlife and rewards you with delicious, lean meat. It’s a win-win situation for any hunter who appreciates a nutritious and tasty meal.

Top Hunting Locations

Massachusetts boasts various top-notch hunting locations scattered across the state, each offering unique opportunities and an array of wildlife species.

Here’s an overview of some top hunting spots, along with the hunting opportunities they offer:

Quabbin Reservoir

This hunting area in central Massachusetts is known for its abundant populations of white-tailed deer and wild turkeys, making it a popular hunting destination for these species.

The diverse habitats around the reservoir, such as forests, fields, and wetlands, support these game animals and offer hunters an enjoyable and challenging experience.

Remember that hunting around the Quabbin Reservoir is regulated to protect the water supply. With that, the MassWildlife and the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) have established a controlled hunting program in the Quabbin Reservoir area.

October Mountain State Forest

This state forest in the western part of the state is home to various game animals, including white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, and small game species like squirrels and rabbits.

The terrain in the forest can be rugged and steep in some areas, so be prepared for a physically demanding hunt. Several access points and trails within the forest can be used to reach your desired hunting location.

As a state forest, some areas may be off-limits to hunting or have additional restrictions to protect sensitive habitats. Check the hunting regulation of the site before heading afield.

Westfield River Watershed

This vast watershed in western Massachusetts is the best hunting destination for waterfowl enthusiasts.

The Westfield River Watershed is home to various waterfowl species, including ducks, geese, and other migratory birds. Some common species are mallards, wood ducks, Canada geese, and teal.

The area’s diverse habitats offer excellent nesting and feeding grounds for these birds, making it a popular destination for waterfowl hunters.

Hunting Regulation

Hunting License

For legal hunting in Massachusetts, hunters must obtain a valid hunting license before heading afield. The state opens hunting opportunities for resident and nonresident hunters, with varying licensing options to cater to everyone’s preference.

To obtain a hunting license, you must complete a state-approved hunter education course if you have never held a license before.


Adult Hunting$29.50
Youth Hunting
(Ages 15-17)
Senior Hunting
(Ages 65-69)
Paraplegic HuntersFREE


Big Hunting$101.50
Small Game Hunting$67.50
Paraplegic HuntersFREE

Hunting Permits and Stamp Fees

Certain game species and hunting activities in Massachusetts require additional permits and stamps beyond the standard hunting license.

Here’s the rundown of the permit and stamps needed to hunt a certain species in Massachusetts:

Permit/Stamp TypesResidentNonresident
Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamp$5.00$5.00
Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp$8.00$12.00
Deer Permit$10.00$15.00
Black Bear Permit$10.00$15.00
Wild Turkey Permit$10.00 $15.00

Antlerless Deer Restriction

In Massachusetts, most hunting opportunities do not require a limited or lottery-based permit.

However, there is an exception for hunting antlerless deer, which aims to control the deer population while maintaining a healthy herd.

The Antlerless Deer Permit is issued through a lottery system called the Instant Award Antlerless Deer Permit process.

Hunters must apply for these permits during a specified application period, usually between May and July. The results of the lottery are typically announced in September.

Antlerless Deer Permit

Resident Hunter$10.00
Nonresident Hunter$15.00


In conclusion, if you’re looking to go hunting in Massachusetts, you’re in for a treat!

While the state may be populated and hunting pressure can be high, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors and pursue your passion for hunting.