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Rabbit hunting regulations

Regulations for hunting cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare in Massachusetts.

2018 season hunting dates

Cottontail Rabbits

Zones 1-12: Jan. 1 – Feb. 28 and Oct. 13 – Feb. 28, 2019
Zones 13-14: Jan. 1 – Feb. 28 and Nov. 15 – Feb. 28, 2019

Snowshoe Hare

Zones 1-4: Jan. 1 – Feb. 28 and Oct. 13 – Feb. 28, 2019              
Zones 5-12: Jan.1 – Feb. 5 and Oct. 13 – Feb. 5, 2019        
Zones 13-14: Jan. 1 – Feb. 5 and Nov. 15 – Feb. 5, 2019

All dates are inclusive. Hunting is prohibited on Sundays. Check a zone map to learn where each zone is.

Regulations

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
  • No additional permits

Non-residents:

  • Small game license or big game license
  • No additional permits

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
  • Jackrabbit: 1 per day, 2 in possession, no annual bag limit

Hunting Implements

When hunting pheasants on WMA’s 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 tackle 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. 

Hunter 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.

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