Massachusetts law about recreational hunting and fishing

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on recreational hunting and fishing law.

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Table of Contents

Best bets

Fishing & hunting,
Provides a topical list of links to hunting and fishing information on

Hunting prohibitions, Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.
A list of activities that are illegal in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts guide to hunting, freshwater fishing, and trapping laws
Each year, MassWildlife publishes a guide containing a summary of laws and regulations for the current year. Some people refer to this publication as “the Abstracts” or “the Guide.”

The Massachusetts saltwater recreational fishing guide
Comprehensive guide to regulations, species, access sites, bait and tackle shops, and more, updated annually.

State agencies

Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife)
Primary resource for official information about freshwater fishing and hunting, as well as Massachusetts wildlife and conservation.

Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF)
Primary resource for official information about saltwater fishing, lobstering, and crabbing.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.130 Marine fish and fisheries

MGL c.131 Inland fisheries and game

MGL c.131B Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact

Massachusetts regulations

302 CMR 12.11 Hunting, fishing & trapping in state parks

313 CMR 11.13 Deer management program in the Quabbin Reservoir area

321 CMR 2 Miscellaneous regulations relating to fisheries and wildlife 

321 CMR 3 Hunting 

321 CMR 4 Fishing 

322 CMR Division of Marine Fisheries

Hunting regulations, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
These pages provide a summary of the regulations and statutes that relate to hunting and trapping in Massachusetts. Regulations are set annually by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board.

Recreational saltwater fishing regulations, Mass. Dept. of Fish and Game.
Includes fishing limits and size regulations for fish and shellfish. For example, quahogs must be 1 inch in thickness.

Federal regulations

50 CFR 32 Hunting and fishing

Selected cases

Dapson v. Daly, 257 Mass. 195 (1926)
"…the title to wild animals and game is in the Commonwealth in trust for the public, to be devoted to the common welfare…"

Web sources

About the hunter education courses, Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Basic required course as well as advanced classes. Basic Hunter Education, Bowhunter Education, Trapper Education, Map, Compass, and Survival, Waterfowl Identification and Hunting, Black Powder (Muzzleloader) Education.

Apply for a crossbow permit, Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.
If you have a permanent disability and want to hunt with a crossbow, you can apply for a permit.

Hunting at Cape Cod National Seashore, National Park Service.
Hunting is permitted for deer, upland game, and migratory waterfowl. There is no open season on non-game species.

Hunting information for minors, Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Youth hunters, 12 to 17 years of age, must follow regulations specific to their age. Learn about how to buy a minor hunting license online or in person. Get information about youth hunt days and programs in Massachusetts as well as rules about minor firearms licensing.

MassFishHunt licensing and harvest reporting, Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Use MassFishHunt to purchase and print fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses, permits, and stamps. You can also use it to report a harvest or manage your account. 

MassWildlife lands viewerMass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Tool to create customizable maps showing wildlife lands open to hunting, fishing, trapping and other recreation activity jointly owned by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and MassWildlife throughout the Commonwealth.

Recreational shellfishing and clamming, Visit New England.
Information on noncommercial digging for clams, oysters and mussels. Permits and regulations are issued by coastal towns.

Take me fishing: get a fishing license online,
Resource by state to all things fishing-related, including regulations, licenses, places to fish, fishing reports, educational programs and events, species of fish, and fishing techniques.

Where to hunt in Massachusetts, Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Learn about hunting on different types of properties and get scouting tips.

Print sources

Massachusetts environmental law, 4th ed., MCLE, loose-leaf, Chapter 8 – "Fisheries and Wildlife Law."

Contact   for Massachusetts law about recreational hunting and fishing

Last updated: January 19, 2024

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