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Hunting at sunrise.

Massachusetts offers diverse wildlife for hunting. However, before residents and visitors can take on the outdoors, they must first receive the proper training to obtain a hunting license.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) provides hunter education courses that are free, open to the public, and available year-round. If a class is full, you can request to be notified of upcoming courses or any schedule changes by DFW.

Types of Hunter Education Courses

While some hunter education courses only last 8 hours in one day, others last can up to 16 hours, split over several days. DFW offers the following six courses:

  • Basic Hunter Education – In this class, students learn how to handle and store hunting arms and ammunition, about hunting laws and ethics, wildlife identification and management, care and handling of game, and basic survival skills such as first aid. This course is required for those who intend to buy a hunting license for the first time.
  • Trapper Education – This course covers basic techniques for trapping, with a focus on responsible treatment of animals, legal methods, safety, and ethical trapper behavior.
  • Bowhunter Education – This class reviews how to select proper equipment, as well as they safety and ethics of bowhunting. Participants can bring their own archery equipment.
  • Waterfowl Identification and Hunting Education – In this course, students learn how to identify waterfowl, hunt safely from boats, and shoot steel shots.
  • Black Powder Education – This class takes place year-round and focuses on the selection of hunting equipment and Massachusetts laws regarding black powder storage and the safe handling of muzzleloaders. Participants are asked to not bring any firearms or ammunition.
  • Map, Compass and Survival Education – Students learn about wilderness survival, as well as how to use a compass and map.

Visitors to Massachusetts over 18 years old must acquire a license from any state prior to purchasing a MA license or complete one of the above hunter education programs in the Commonwealth.

How to Prepare for Hunter Education Courses

Although each course has different requirements, all participants should:

  • Bring a snack or lunch unless otherwise advised by instructor;
  • Bring paper and a pen or pencil; and,
  • Dress appropriately, as courses include both classroom work and field training.

After finishing a hunter education course, students receive a Massachusetts Certificate of Completion. Afterward, participants can purchase a hunting license.

With the proper licensing, you’ll be on your way to hunting the great outdoors of Massachusetts.

For more information on hunter education courses, comment below or tweet us @MassGov.

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