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Ruffed grouse hunting regulations

Before you go hunting for ruffed grouse, be sure you know the rules. This page contains regulations for hunting ruffed grouse in Massachusetts.

2021 hunting season dates

Oct. 16 – Nov. 27, 2021

All dates are inclusive. Hunting is prohibited on Sundays. Click here for wildlife management zone map.

Table of Contents

Hunting hours

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

Click here for a sunrise/sunset table.

Required licenses and permits

To ruffed grouse in Massachusetts you must have the certain licenses and permits, which you can buy through MassFishHunt.

Massachusetts residents:

  • Hunting or sporting license

Non-residents:

  • Small game or big game license

Bag limits

  • 3 per day
  • 6 in possession
  • 15 per season

Hunting zones

All Wildlife Management Zones statewide.

Hunting implements

When hunting ruffed grouse on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season, only shotguns and archery equipment are allowed. Possession of handguns and rifles are prohibited.

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

Archery equipment: Archery equipment 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.

Rifles and handguns (including rifled muzzleloaders): Can not be used for Ruffed Grouse hunting on WMAs stocked with pheasant and quail during the pheasant and 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 blaze orange cap when hunting for ruffed grouse on WMAs where pheasant or quail are stocked during the pheasant or quail season.

Tagging, transporting, and reporting requirements

You do not have to report harvest for ruffed grouse.

Hunting season framework

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

Ruffed grouse 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 ruffed grouse hunting.

Contact

Phone

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

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