Massachusetts Pheasant Hunting Laws and Regulations

Pheasant Hunting Table of Contents

  • Pheasant Stocked Areas

    • Locations where pheasants are released
    • Maps and access details
  • Hunting Hours

    • Legal hunting time frames
    • Sunrise and sunset times
  • Required Licenses, Permits, and Stamps

    • Hunting license types and eligibility
    • Permit application procedures
    • Stamp collection and usage
  • Bag Limits

    • Daily and seasonal limits
    • Species-specific restrictions
  • Hunting Zones

    • Geographic boundaries
    • Zone-specific regulations
  • Hunting Implements

    • Approved firearms and archery equipment
    • Caliber and ammunition regulations
  • Hunting Methods

    • Legal hunting strategies
    • Prohibited practices
  • Blaze Orange Requirements

    • Mandatory clothing for visibility
    • Minimum coverage areas
  • Tagging, Transporting, and Reporting Requirements

    • Tagging each harvest
    • Legal transport of game
    • Mandatory harvest reporting
  • Hunting Season Framework

    • Season opening and closing dates
    • Special season designations
  • Pheasant Hunting Regulations

    • Detailed rules and legal considerations
    • Hunter responsibilities and ethics
  • Special Pheasant and Quail Hunt

    • Dates and locations
    • Additional permit requirements
  • Contact Information

    • Regulatory bodies and assistance
    • Hotlines for reporting and inquiries

Pheasant Stocked Areas

  • Annual Stocking

    • Approximately 40,000 ring-necked pheasants distributed statewide
  • Stocking Locations

    • Both public and private lands open to hunting
    • Includes MassWildlife-managed properties
  • Additional Species Stocking

    • Bobwhite quail stocked at:
      • Myles Standish State Forest, Plymouth
      • Francis Crane Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Falmouth
  • Resources for Hunters

Hunting hours

Hunting hours begin at sunrise and end at sunset. Click here for a sunrise/sunset table.

Required Licenses, Permits, and Stamps

General Requirements

  • Licenses and Permits Purchase: Via MassFishHunt.
  • New Permit: Pheasant/Quail Permit

Pheasant/Quail Permit

  • Who Needs It: Hunters 15+ years old (including falconers).
  • Purpose: To hunt, take, or possess pheasants or bobwhite quail.
  • Exceptions: Not required for those hunting or possessing birds from licensed commercial shooting preserves.

Massachusetts Residents

  • Hunting or Sporting License: Mandatory.
  • Pheasant/Quail Permit: Required.


  • Small Game or Big Game License: Must-have.
  • Pheasant/Quail Permit: Essential.

Hunting on Commercial Shooting Preserves

  • License for Residents and Non-Residents: Either type is acceptable.
  • 1-Day License: Available specifically for commercial shooting preserves.

Bag limits

  • 2 per day
  • 4 in possession
  • New: No season limit

Hunting zones

New: Hen pheasants can be hunted statewide. 

Pheasant Hunting Implements Regulations

Shotguns and Smoothbore Muzzleloaders

  • Shot Size Restriction:
    • No larger than #1 birdshot (pellet diameter equal to or less than 0.160 inches) can be used for pheasant hunting.

Archery Equipment

  • Legal Use:

    • Archery equipment is legal for pheasant hunting.
  • Crossbows:

    • Crossbows may only be used by permit.
  • Prohibited Implements:

    • 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.

Wanton Waste Prohibition in Hunting

Unlawful Practices

  • Leaving Wounded or Dead Game:
    • 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.

Responsible Practices

  • Retaining or Transferring Animals:
    • Each retrieved animal shall be retained or transferred to another until processed or used for food, pelt, feathers, or taxidermy.


  • Animals Unfit for Consumption or Use:
    • This prohibition 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

When hunting for pheasant on WMAs where pheasant or quail are stocked during the pheasant or quail season, you need to wear a hunter orange cap.

Tagging, transporting, and reporting requirements

Harvest reporting is not required for pheasant.

Hunting season framework

The first Saturday after Columbus Day to December 31. All dates inclusive. Hunting is prohibited on Sundays. Pheasant hunting is closed during the shotgun deer season.

Pheasant Hunting Regulations


  • Reference Nature: Page serves as a guide, not comprehensive law.
  • Subject to Change: Regulations may be updated or modified.

Legal Sources

  • Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR): Refer to 321 CMR 3.02(6) for specifics on pheasant, quail, and ruffed grouse hunting.
  • Massachusetts General Laws: Additional details in Chapter 131.

Resources for Hunters

Special Pheasant and Quail Hunt

Application for Special Hunt

  • Eligibility: Licensed hunters only.
  • Permit Availability: Free 1-day permit via MassWildlife district offices.
  • Activity Permitted: Private purchase, liberation, hunting of ring-necked pheasants/bobwhite quail.
  • Season: January 1 – March 31.

Locations for Special Hunt

  • Southeast (SE) District: Frances A. Crane WMA, Erwin Wilder WMA.
  • Central District: Bolton Flats WMA, Winnimusset WMA.
  • Northeast (NE) District: Martin Burns WMA.
  • Connecticut (CT) Valley District: Herm Covey WMA.
  • Western District: Housatonic Valley WMA.

Permit Details

  • Distribution: First-come, first-served.
  • Exclusivity: One party per WMA per day.
  • Stocking Limits: None.
  • Bag Limits: None.

Additional Requirements for Imported Birds

  • Importation Permit: For out-of-state birds, obtain from MassWildlife Boston Office.
  • Contact: (617) 626-1575 for permit issuance.

Contact MassWildlife



  • Call MassWildlife:

    • Reach MassWildlife at (508) 389-6300.
  • Office Hours:

    • Open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (closed noon–12:30 for lunch).
Wild Advisor Pro


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.