Hunter Education course descriptions

The Massachusetts Hunter Education Program offers six courses that provide instruction in outdoor activities related to hunting, trapping, and firearm use.

Basic Hunter Education

Basic Hunter Education is mandatory for anyone 18 or older who wants to obtain their first hunting license.

  • Students receive instruction in the safe handling and storage of hunting arms and ammunition, hunting laws and ethics, care and handling of game, and wildlife conservation.
  • To find a Basic Hunter Education course, view a course schedule or sign up to be notified of upcoming courses in your area. To enroll, contact the Hunter Education Program at (508) 389-7830.
  • Courses are offered year-round across the state in different formats and typically include 15 hours of instruction.
  • Upon successful completion, graduates will receive a Certificate of Completion recognized in all U.S. states, Canada, and Mexico. Successful completion of this course also fulfills the requirements to apply to your local police department for a License to Carry Firearms or Firearms Identification Card.
  • Those looking for a refresher of concepts offered in Basic Hunter Education but do not need to take the official course can learn about a free online study guide.
  • This course is not recommended for anyone under 10 years of age. 

Trapper Education

Trapper Education is mandatory in Massachusetts for Problem Animal Control (PAC) agents and first-time trappers who wish to apply for a trap registration number.

  • Using both classroom work and field training, students receive instruction on best management practices for trapping furbearers, the proper use of traps, furbearer identification, trapping laws, ethics, and landowner relations.
  • To find a Trapper Education course, sign up to be notified of upcoming courses in your area or contact the Hunter Education Program at (508) 389-7820.
  • Courses are offered about 5 times a year in the spring, summer, and fall and typically include 10 hours of instruction. 
  • Upon successful completion, graduates receive a Certification of Completion, which is required to apply for a Massachusetts trap registration number.

Bowhunter Education

This course is not required for bowhunting in Massachusetts and does not qualify a person to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license. However, a Massachusetts Bowhunter Education Certificate is accepted in other states and provinces that mandate the completion of a bowhunter education course.

  • Students receive instruction on bowhunting methods, the selection of equipment, bowhunting safety, ethics, and handling of game. 
  • To find a Bowhunter Education course, sign up to be notified of upcoming courses in your area or contact the Hunter Education Program at (508) 389-7820.
  • Courses are offered in spring, summer, and fall, and include a minimum of 8 hours of instruction.

Black Powder Education

This course is not required for hunting with a muzzleloader in Massachusetts. It is designed for both experienced and novice hunters who want to improve their skills and learn more. 

  • Students receive instruction on the selection of hunting equipment, state laws, the safe handling of muzzleloaders, and powder storage. 
  • To find a Black Powder Education course, contact the Hunter Education Program at (508) 389-7820.
  • Courses are 10 hours long with classroom and field instruction.

Waterfowl Identification and Hunting

This course is not required for waterfowl hunting in Massachusetts. It is designed for both experienced and novice hunters who want to improve their skills and learn more.

  • Students receive instruction on the identification of migratory waterfowl, with an emphasis on ducks in flight. It includes fall and winter plumage and the size, shape, and flight characteristics of birds, as well as hunting safely from boats and blinds. 
  • To find a Waterfowl Identification and Hunting course, contact the Hunter Education Program at (508) 389-7820.
  • Courses are offered a few times a year and are 8 hours long. 

Map, Compass, and Survival

  • Students receive instruction on the use of a compass and topographical map for land navigation, as well as wilderness survival. 
  • To find a Map, Compass, and Survival course, contact the Hunter Education Program at (508) 389-7820.
  • Courses are offered once a month from April through October and are 10 hours long with classroom and field instruction.
  • This course is not recommended for anyone under 12 years of age. 

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