Pheasant Hunting in Massachusetts
MassWildlife recognizes the pheasant program as a core agency program that provides valuable hunting opportunities and other outdoor experiences. Ring-necked pheasants have been imported and released in Massachusetts since 1906. At that time the Massachusetts landscape was much different than it is today. The state was 80% open fields and pasture and 20% forested.
Today, just the opposite is true. Pheasants prefer agricultural areas and open field habitats. As both forests and human development have increased, pheasant habitat has decreased. This is why there are only scattered occurrences of breeding pheasants in the state.
For the most part, regulated pheasant hunting in Massachusetts relies on stocking of farm raised birds by MassWildlife into appropriate habitat. Pheasants are also stocked on other private and publicly owned lands by cooperating sportsmen's clubs who participate in what is known as the Club Pheasant Program. In this program sportsmens clubs raise birds (or cooperate with county correctional facilities for bird raising) then stock the birds during the pheasant season on lands open to the public.
Over the past 15 years MassWildlife has annually stocked an average of 40,000 pheasants statewide. Of these 40,000 pheasants that are stocked, 4,000 are stocked in the Western District, 10,000 in the Connecticut Valley District, 13,000 in the Central District, 5,000 in the Northeast District, and 8,000 in the Southeast District. The appropriations are based on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and appropriate stocking habitat availability. All 40,000 pheasants stocked for recreational hunting in Massachusetts are paid for entirely by licensed sportsmen and women.
The pheasant hunting season in Massachusetts is open from mid-October through the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Hunting is permitted from sunrise to sunset on any Wildlife Management Area where pheasants are stocked and a high visibility orange cap is required for participants. (See WMA Regulations for more details.) On all other property, hunting hours begin 1/2 hour before sunrise and run through 1/2 hour after sunset on those lands. The orange cap is not required, but wearing it ensures visibility to other hunters and outdoor users. The daily bag limit is two pheasants. The season bag limit is six. Pheasant hunting is an important upland game bird hunting activity and each year thousands of hunters enjoy this recreational opportunity in Massachusetts.
Pheasant Hunters! -- Please remember to respect the land and property owner's rights to privacy and safety on all lands open to pheasant hunting and stocking. Respect farmland and do not drive on agricultural fields or block barways to pastures and croplands with vehicles. Respectful and responsible behavior towards other hunters and other outdoor users will keep property open to recreation for everyone for years to come. Leave the property cleaner than you found it and be sure to report hunting, littering and other violations to the Environmental Police Radio Room at 1/800-632-8075.