It is lawful to hunt birds and mammals in Massachusetts with archery tackle, including longbows, recurved bows, and compound bows except:

1. It is prohibited to hunt or have in possession while hunting any poisoned arrow, arrow with explosive tips, or any bow drawn or held by mechanical means, including crossbows, except as provided in #3 below. The prohibition includes the use of stupefying substances, tranquilizers, or other chemical immbolizing agents.

2. Hand-held, hand-operated bow string releases are allowed. No permit is required.

3. Crossbows may be used only by persons who are permanently disabled in such a manner that the affliction prevents the person from using conventional archery equipment. The person must submit to MassWildlife a statement to this effect from a licensed physician. They will then be issued a free lifetime crossbow permit. Paraplegics and persons with cerebral palsy who were issued a permit under a previous law may continue to use their existing permit. Crossbows may also be used by any person for target practice on a skeet, trap, or target range.

4. Bows used for hunting purposes shall have a minimum pull of 40 lbs. at 28 in. draw, provided that compound bows and recurved bows shall have a minimum pull of 40 lbs. at peak draw.

5. Arrows used for hunting deer, bear, and wild turkey shall have well-sharpened steel broadhead blades not less than 7/8 inch in width. So-called "expanding" broadheads are lawful, providing they otherwise meet these standards. There is no maximum width restriction.

6. No person shall use or have under his control while hunting any "arrow gun" or any firearm or other device which propels or projects an arrow, dart, or bolt by gunpowder, compressed air, or by any means other than the flexing and release of a bow string.

7. The sale of arrows with broadhead or razorhead arrowpoints to a person under the age of 15 years is prohibited. Refer to M.G.L. c. 269, § 16.

8. Fishing in inland waters by means of bow-and-arrow is prohibited except for the taking of carp, suckers, and eels.

9. There is no requirement to mark arrows with the owner’s name or address. That requirement was removed from the hunting laws many years ago.

This is not the complete law and is subject to change. Refer to provisions of M.G.L. c. 131, §§ 50, 64 and 69, and to the "Hunting with Bows and Arrows" regulations, 321 CMR 3.01(3), and to other provisions of 321 CMR.

Last Revised: 8-15-03.