Who needs Basic Hunter Education?

If you are 18 years of age or older and you want to purchase your first-ever hunting license, you must complete a Basic Hunter Education course. Those wishing to obtain only a firearms license do not necessarily need Basic Hunter Education.

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If you are 18 years of age or older

All acts of hunting require a hunting license.

By state law, you are eligible for a Massachusetts Hunting or Sporting License if you meet one of the following statements:

  • I have earned a government-issued Basic Hunter Education certificate (from any jurisdiction). Proof is not required.

  • I held a hunting or sporting license before January 1, 2007 (from any jurisdiction). Proof is not required.

If you do not meet either of the criteria above, you must complete a Basic Hunter Education course (in any jurisdiction) before you purchase your Massachusetts Hunting or Sporting license.

Additional Resources

If you are a minor (less than 18 years of age)

No person under the age of 12 may hunt in Massachusetts.

Hunters 12 to 17 years of age follow a specific set of regulations. While minors are not required to complete a Basic Hunter Education course, it is a prerequisite for the youth turkey hunt program, the youth pheasant hunt, and it allows minors 15 to 17 years of age to hunt without direct supervision.

Additional Resources

Firearms Licensing

Massachusetts residents 15 years and older who wish to possess, carry, and transport firearms, ammunition, and feeding devices are required to have a firearms license. Firearms licenses are issued by municipal police departments.

As part of your firearms license application, you will need to provide proof that you have completed one of the following training courses:

  • A Massachusetts Basic Hunter Education course


  • A Massachusetts Certified Firearms Safety course

The Basic Hunter Education course is not the same course as a Certified Firearms Safety course.

Basic Hunter Education is offered by the MassWildlife Hunter Education Program and completion of this type of course not only allows you to apply for a firearms license but it also meets the requirements to purchase your first-ever hunting or sporting license in Massachusetts. 

To find a Basic Hunter Education course near you, visit Mass.gov/HuntSafe.

Certified Firearms Safety courses are offered by certified instructors and are the ideal course for non-hunters and individuals wishing to obtain a License to Carry (LTC). Completion of a Firearms Safety courses does NOT make you eligible for a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license. To learn if you qualify for a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license, read the sections above or visit MassFishHunt.

To find a Certified Firearms Safety course near you, click here and download the "Basic Firearms Instructor - Public Listing" or visit GOAL.org for a list of certified instructors.

Additional Resources



Program Office (508) 389–7820

Open M-F from 8 a.m.– 4 p.m.

Enrollment Line (508) 389–7830

Open M-F from 8 a.m.– 4 p.m.


MassWildlife Field Headquarters
1 Rabbit Hill Road
Westborough, MA 01581

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