Woman dressed warmly in camouflage and standing in marsh reeds aims a shotgun into the air

Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage. Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciate of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs. 

Various species can be hunted on the refuge including, big game species, upland game species, and migratory bird. The most active hunt period is during the shotgun deer season late November and early December.   

To purchase a permit visit https://easternmarefuges.recaccess.com/ 


In addition to State regulations, safety zones, closed areas, and archery-only areas are designated on the refuge to maintain safety on and around the refuge. 


Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of State and Federal laws. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32).

Vehicles and Parking 

Licensed motor vehicles are permitted only on public use roads as shown on the map. ATVs and UTVs are prohibited. You will receive a parking pass with your refuge hunting permit. The pass must be visible on your dashboard at all times when parked in a designated hunter parking lot.


Hunters may access the refuge via boat on the Assabet River. Boating is not allowed on Puffer Pond. State boating and hunting regulations must be followed on public waterways.

Hunting Regulations

Hunting regulations are designed to provide safe recreational opportunities through wise use of renewable wildlife resources. Hunting is permitted in accordance with Federal regulations governing public use on National Wildlife Refuges as set forth in Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations.” Hunting will be conducted in accordance with applicable State of Massachusetts regulations subject to the conditions stated below.


Hunters may only access the Refuge 1.5 hours before legal sunrise until 1.5 hours after legal sunset. Hunters must park in designated parking areas, as identified on the map below, to access the Refuge for hunting.

Tree Stands

Refuge hunters are allowed to place one tree stand per refuge for any and all hunting seasons permitted. Hunters must mark tree stands/blinds with their refuge permit number in such a way that it is visible from the ground. Tree stands may be put up the first eligible scouting day of the permitted season and must be removed by January 30th or 30 days after the end of permitted season.

Harvest Reporting

Hunters are required to report harvests according to Massachusetts State regulations.


Scouting can occur once the hunter has obtained a refuge permit. Hunters are required to have their refuge permits and state license with them at all times when scouting. Scouting can begin no earlier than 4 weeks prior to the opening day of the hunt season from half hour before sunrise to half hour after sunset.

Accessibility Information

Equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from programs and activities of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is available to all individuals regardless of physical or mental ability. For more information please contact the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Equal Opportunity, https://www.doi.gov/pmb/eeo/public-civil-rights.

Species Open to Hunting

Big game (white-tailed deer, American black bear, turkey)-

Bear hunting is open during the second season and the shotgun season only. White-tailed deer and turkey hunting is open during the archery, muzzleloader, and shotgun seasons in designated areas of the refuge. All areas of the refuge open to hunting are open for big game. Rifle and handgun is not permitted. North Unit B, South Unit, Unit C are archery-only for big game.

Upland game (fox, coyote, ruffed grouse, cottontail rabbit, gray squirrel)-

Coyote and fox hunting is open concurrent with deer season with corresponding method of take in North Unit A and with only archery equipment in other hunt units. Grouse, rabbit, and squirrel hunting is open in alignment with State seasons. Coyote and fox are open on all units. Rabbit, squirrel, and grouse are open in North Unit A. Rifle and handgun is not permitted. Coyote and fox may only be hunted with archery equipment on Unit C, North Unit B, and the South Unit. Eastern Massachusetts NWRC only permits non-toxic ammunition for upland game hunting. Night hunting and baiting are NOT Permitted on the refuge.

Migratory bird (waterfowl, American woodcock)- 

Migratory bird hunting is conducted in alignment with the State seasons and method of take. Waterfowl hunting is open on Unit C. Woodcock hunting is open on North Unit A. Eastern Massachusetts NWRC only permits non-toxic ammunition for migratory bird hunting. 

Prohibited Activities
  • Possession of alcoholic beverages
  • Camping and Fires
  • Night hunting
  • Baiting
  • Trimming or cutting vegetation
  • Searching for or removal of any natural items such as antlers, skulls, plants, historic and archaeological artifacts
  • Driving of deer by any means
  • Baiting or hunting over bait
  • Use of a spotlight or other artificial light to locate wildlife
  • Use of electronic calls
  • Marking of any tree, trail, or other refuge feature with flagging or paint
  • Permanent tree stands, nails, screw-in steps, or other items that penetrate the outer bark of a tree
  • Firearms capable of firing center fire rifle and pistol cartridge ammunition
  • Possession of loaded firearm, discharge of firearm, or hunting is prohibited within 500 feet of any dwelling
  • Discharge of any firearm or release of any arrow across roads or within 150 feet of roads

To purchase a permit visit https://easternmarefuges.recaccess.com/ 

Related Documents
Assabet NWR_GIS Hunt Map 10_20 (1).pdf

A map of the hunting areas in Assabet NWR.