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Rabbit and hare hunting regulations

Regulations for hunting cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare in Massachusetts.

2021 hunting season dates

Cottontail Rabbits

Zones 1–12: Jan. 1 – Feb. 27, 2021 and Oct. 16, 2021 – Feb. 28, 2022
Zones 13–14: Jan. 1 – Feb. 27, 2021 and Nov. 15, 2021 – Feb. 28, 2022

Snowshoe Hare

Zones 1–4: Jan. 1 – Feb. 27, 2021 and Oct. 16, 2021 – Feb. 28, 2022
Zones 5–12: Jan.1 – Feb. 5, 2021 and Oct. 16, 2021 – Feb. 5, 2022
Zones 13–14: Jan. 1 – Feb. 5, 2021 and Nov. 15, 2021 – Feb. 5, 2022

All dates are inclusive. Hunting is prohibited on Sundays. You may not hunt rabbit or hare during the 2-week shotgun deer season. Click here for wildlife management zone map.

Table of Contents

Hunting hours

Hunting hours begin ½ hour before sunrise and ends at midnight. (Exception: on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season, hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.) Consult this sunrise/sunset table to learn exactly when sunset and sunrise are.

Required licenses and permits

To hunt cottontail rabbit in Massachusetts you must have the appropriate license, which you can buy through MassFishHunt.

Massachusetts residents:

  • Hunting or sporting license

Non-residents:

  • Small game or big game license

You can buy the license you need through MassFishHunt.

Bag limits

  • Cottontail rabbit: 5 per day, 10 in possession, no annual bag limit
  • Snowshoe hare: 2 per day, 4 in possession, no annual bag limit

Hunting implements

When hunting rabbits on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail, during the pheasant or quail season, only shotguns and archery equipment are allowed. 

Shotguns (including smoothbore muzzleloaders): Do not use birdshot larger than #1 (pellet diameter equal to or less than 0.160 inches) for snowshoe hare hunting.

Archery equipment: Archery equipment is legal. You must use a device that works by flexing and releasing a bowstring. You may not use poisoned arrows, explosive tips, bows drawn by mechanical means, or any device that propels an arrow, dart, or bolt by gunpowder, compressed air, or any other means. You may only use a crossbows if you have a permit.

Rifles and handguns (including rifled muzzleloaders): Rifles and handguns are legal except on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season. 

Hunting methods

Prohibited:

  • 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

Hunters must wear a hunter orange cap when hunting on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season.

Tagging, transporting, and reporting requirements

You do not have to report harvest for cottontail rabbit.

Hunting season framework

Cottontail rabbits may be hunted in Zones 1-12 from the first Saturday after Columbus Day to the following last day of February, and in Zones 13 and 14 from Nov. 15 to the following last day of February.

Snowshoe hare may be hunted in Zones 1-4N and 4S from the first Saturday after Columbus Day to the following last day of February, and in Zones 5-12 from the first Saturday after Columbus Day to the following Feb. 5, and in Zones 13 and 14 from Nov.15-Feb. 5.

Contact

Phone

Open M–F, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (closed noon–12:30 for lunch)

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