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Pheasant hunting regulations

This page contains pheasant hunting regulations as well as links to pheasant stocking locations.

2021 hunting season dates
Oct. 16 – Nov. 27, 2021

All dates inclusive. Hunting is prohibited on Sundays.

Table of Contents

Pheasant stocked areas

Every year, MassWildlife stocks about 40,000 ring-necked pheasants statewide. These birds are stocked on public and private lands that are open to hunting.

MassWildlife is working on a new pheasant stocked area map. The map is still in development, and your feedback this season will help us finalize the features and design. Click here to try the new map or use the links below to see lists of stocking locations by district.

Hunting hours

Hunting hours begin ½ hour before sunrise and end ½ hour after sunset. (Except on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season, hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.)

Click here for a sunrise/sunset table.

Required licenses, permits, and stamps

To hunt pheasant in Massachusetts you must have certain licenses and permits, which you can buy through MassFishHunt.

Massachusetts residents:

  • Hunting or sporting license
  • No additional permits


  • Small game or big game license
  • No additional permits

If you hunt on a licensed commercial shooting preserve, you need a resident or non-resident license, or a 1-day license for commercial shooting preserves.

Bag limits

  • 2 per day
  • 4 in possession
  • 6 per season

Hunting zones

  • All Wildlife Management Zones
  • Cocks and hens can be hunted on any WMA state wide.

Only cocks can be hunted in the area east of this line (see map below): from the New Hampshire border southerly on Rte. I-95 to the junction with Rte. I-495, southerly on I-495 to the junction with I-95, northerly on Rte. 95 to the junction with I-93/Rte. 128, easterly on Rtes. I-93/128 to the junction with Rte. 3, southerly on Rte. 3 to the junction with Rte. 228, and northerly on Rte. 228 to the Hull town line. However, on any wildlife management area within the above zone which is stocked with pheasant, the taking of hen pheasants is lawful.

Pheasant Zones

Hunting implements

Shotguns (including smoothbore muzzleloaders): No larger than #1 birdshot (pellet diameter equal to or less than 0.160 inches) can be used for pheasant hunting.

Archery equipment: Archery tackle is legal. Crossbows may only be used by permit. Poisoned arrows, explosive tips, bows drawn by mechanical means, or any device that propels an arrow, dart, or bolt by gunpowder, compressed air, or by any other means except by the flexing and release of a bowstring are prohibited.

When hunting pheasants on WMA’s stocked with pheasant or quail, only shotguns and archery equipment are allowed.

Hunting methods

Wanton waste (as of 7/20): It is unlawful for hunters to intentionally or knowingly leave a wounded or dead game animal in the field or the forest without making a reasonable effort to retrieve and use it. Each retrieved animal shall be retained or transferred to another until processed or used for food, pelt, feathers, or taxidermy. This does not apply to animals unfit for consumption or use—animals and their parts that are damaged, destroyed, decayed, rotting, diseased, or infected.

Blaze orange requirements

When hunting for pheasant on WMA's where pheasant or quail are stocked during the pheasant or quail season, you need to wear a hunter orange cap.

Tagging, transporting, and reporting requirements

Harvest reporting is not required for pheasant.

Hunting Season framework

The first Saturday after Columbus Day to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Pheasant hunting regulations

This page is to be used as a reference, it is not the entire law and is subject to change. You can refer to the Pheasant, Quail, and Ruffed Grouse Hunting regulations in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, 321 CMR 3.02(6) and to several provisions of the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 131 for more information about pheasant hunting. 

Special options

You may submit an application to MassWildlife district offices to get a free 1 day permit that allows the private purchase, liberation, and hunting of ring-necked pheasants and/or bobwhite quail on selected WMAs from Jan. 1 - March 31.

You will need a separate importation permit to purchase birds from out of state. 

Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Only one party can hunt on each WMA per day. There are no stocking limits, or bag limits.