About the Hunter Education courses

The MassWildlife Hunter Education Program offers courses in six disciplines including the Basic Hunter Education course which is required of first-time adult hunters to purchase their first hunting license.

Any person regardless of race, gender, citizenship, or handicap may participate in the Hunter Education Program's courses.

Students 17 years of age or younger will need written permission from a parent or legal guardian to attend any courses offered by the Hunter Education Program. Students of all ages are welcome to take our courses, however, most students are 12 years of age or older as all materials and exams are written at a 6th grade reading level.

About 130 courses, each year, are offered across the state from January through October/early November. Courses are offered in different formats to try and meet the public’s needs.

Funding for the program is derived from the sale of hunting and sporting licenses, and from federal excise taxes on firearms and archery equipment.

All courses are conducted free of charge.

Table of Contents

Basic Hunter Education

By state law, all first-time hunters (18 years of age or older) must successfully complete a Basic Hunter Education course before they may purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license. Government-issued certificates of completion from any jurisdiction are accepted.

Basic Hunter Education was developed by the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) and includes the safe handling and storage of hunting arms and ammunition, hunting laws and ethics, care and handling of game, and wildlife conservation. Courses are typically 15 hours in length and offered in different formats to meet the public's needs.

Upon successful completion, graduates receive a Certificate of Completion recognized in all U.S. states, Canada, and Mexico.

To find a Basic Hunter Education course, view the listing at Mass.gov/HuntSafe.

Additional Resources

Bowhunter Education

Bowhunter Education is not mandatory in Massachusetts and completion of just a bowhunter education course does not qualify a first-time hunter for a Massachusetts hunting license.

However, a Massachusetts Bowhunter Education Certificate is recognized by other jurisdictions that mandate the successful completion of the course.

The Bowhunter Education course was developed by the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) and National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF). Topics covered include bowhunting safety, ethics, and bowhunting laws. 

Bowhunter Education is not an archery course. You will NOT learn how to shoot a bow in this course. If you are seeking archery lessons or looking for archery ranges, visit Archery360.com 

Click here to find a Bowhunter Education course.

Trapper Education

In Massachusetts, Trapper Education is mandatory to apply for a MassWildlife Trap Registration Certificate. Anyone who wants to set traps on someone else’s property must identify and register those traps. Therefore, a MassWildlife trap registration certificate is required. The certificate includes a registration number (a four-digit alpha numeric) that must be embedded/stamped on each trap you own and use.

Trapper Education students receive instruction on best management practices for trapping furbearers, the proper use of traps, the identification of fur bearing animals and their habitats, trapping laws, ethical trapping behavior, and landowner relations.

This course is typically offered every spring and fall. Trapper Education is also offered online.

Click here to find a Trapper Education course.

Additional Resources

Map, Compass, and Survival

In a Map, Compass, and Survival course students receive instruction on the use of a compass and topographical map for land navigation, as well as wilderness survival.

Courses are traditionally held once a month from April-September typically in the town of Westminster (North Central Worcester County). 

Click here to find a Map, Compass, & Survival course.

Waterfowl Identification and Hunting

Waterfowl Identification and Hunting courses teach the identification of waterfowl with an emphasis on ducks in flight. It includes fall and winter plumage and the size, shape, and flight characteristics of the birds, as well as hunting safely from boats and blinds.

This type of course is offered when resources allow.

Click here to find a Waterfowl ID and Hunting course.

Additional Resources

Black Powder (Muzzleloader) Education

The Black Powder (Muzzleloader) Education course is designed for both experienced and novice hunters who want to improve their skills. Students receive information on muzzleloading equipment, the safe handling of muzzleloaders and ammunition, and muzzleloader hunting laws. 

This type of course is offered when resources allow.

Click here to find a Black Powder (Muzzleloader) Education course.

Contact   for About the Hunter Education courses


MassWildlife Field Headquarters
1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581

Special accommodations

If you have a disability or a medical condition and you would like to request special accommodations, or if you speak a language other than English and you would like to request an interpreter, please email Hunter.Education@mass.gov or call the Hunter Education Program at (508) 389-7820 and press zero to speak with an attendant.

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