Massachusetts – From a Deer Hunter’s POV

Posted: 08/20/2012 in Archery, Hunting, Legal, News, Regulations
Tags: , , , ,

This is an ongoing series looking at each state from the point of view of a nonresident hunter trying to find information about deer hunting, the basic explanation is HERE.


Is the information easy to find?

The Massachusetts hunting web site was at the top of the search results.

Grade: A

Website: is it easy to use and understand?

Massachusetts’ hunting web site starts by asking:

Are you looking for a place to hunt?

Do you need information on hunting laws, licenses, permits or other publications?

This was a surprise, but also a very good way to greet first time users of their system. The questions asked in the quote above lead to decent information including links to detailed, topic specific information.

Grade: A

Does the state hold a lottery system for non-residents or are over the counter licenses available?

The state does have an odd lottery system for antlerless permits, however two antlered deer are included in the basic nonresident license.

The drawing for antlerless deer permits can be found on this web site. The licensing is somewhat convoluted, though ‘two bucks’ is generous in comparison to many of the other states.

Grade: B

How much does it cost to hunt, and is there a short term license available?

Resident hunting licenses cost $27.50 including a $5.00 wildlife fee which is a first-license-only fee for residents. This is a confusing system, as the web site states that the fee is included in the list below, however that would mean several of the license are ten cents. Therefore, take these numbers with a grain of salt, since there is no clarity to the site involved.  There is also a $5.10 archery stamp and a $5.10 primitive firearm stamp, a $1.50 processing fee for the company that handles the transaction and a 3% online transaction fee.  Nonresident licenses are $99.50 with the same archery, primitive firearm, processing fee and percentage fee, therefore if the $5.00 per license wildlife fee is INCLUSIVE, the total would be $114.54 for all of the above.  Antlerless tags would be in addition to these licenses.

This strikes me as an annoying  system – far better to simply roll the nickle and dime fees into the overall fee – nobody would really complain about a $115.00 hunting license that included two antlered deer plus archery and primitive firearms tags for nonresidents, however seeing all of the little fees tacked on quickly becomes aggravating. In addition to the add-on permits, there Massachusetts lacks a short term license for nonresidents that would permit deer hunting.  I think the overall low cost of licenses including the permits goes quite far to make up for that lack.

Grade: C

Are the hunting seasons easy to find and laid out in a logical manner?

Massachusetts eRegulations website has a very easy, basic chart for deer hunting seasons.  The dates are simple, the bag limit is simple other than what is explained on the page, and it’s right at the top, where you can’t miss it when the pages loads.

Grade: A

Is public hunting available, if so, are the rules different? If the rules are different, are they easy to understand?

Massachusetts provides a lovely map of their Wildlife Management Areas, however for some reason it’s not interactive in any way.  The regulations for WMA’s within the state are on a separate page without any link to those regulations at all. The good news is that the regulations are not extensive, and appear to be statewide, the only caveat is the following rule (#13, appropriately enough:)

The Director may make special regulations to handle special situations peculiar to any WMA. Controlled hunts are in effect at certain times on Martin Burns, Delaney, and Ludlow WMAs. Contact District Supervisor for details.

This is not really a bad thing unless the Directors are abusing it, which could vary from year to year. I also suspect that every state has a similar rule, just not necessarily out in the open where it can be found this easily.

Grade: B

Are there major issues in hunting this state as a non-resident?

There are no known issues at this time. Chronic Wasting Disease is NOT an issue in Massachusetts, and there doesn’t appear to be any major factors to prevent an enjoyable trip for first time nonresident hunters.

Grade: A

Summary: Final Grade B+

Honestly, Massachusetts looks much friendlier to nonresident hunters than I expected by a wide margin.  Friendly license fees, decent bag limit and simple seasons, antlerless tags for $5.00 via an instant-award-or-not system, one which doesn’t matter after a given date in October.  It shouldn’t present any issue whatsoever for a first-time nonresident hunter to find all of the information needed to plan a hunt. It would certainly be worth doing the research to find the record book whitetails in this state and where they were harvested beforehand.

States Completed: AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelaware

FloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndiana, IowaKansasKentuckyLouisiana, Maine, Maryland


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