Coyote Hunting in Massachusetts
Update – September 2017: The Gun Owners Action League has filed legislation which would change many of the laws I discuss below.
As many gun owners and hunters in Massachusetts know we are governed by gun and game laws which can defy any theory of logic contemplated by the great mathematicians and philosophers of Western History. Because I’m a new coyote hunter here in the Bay State I want to critically opine on the game laws currently regulating coyote hunting here in this very dark blue state.
I have four issues sticking deepest into my craw. I queried Masswildlife about each affront to my most common of sense and I will share with you their responses (written by a state furbearer biologist) along with my thoughts on each matter.
- Why is there a published coyote season in Massachusetts?
Many states across America have no closed hunting seasons on coyote including Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island (on private land). There’s no concern for maintenance of coyote populations in fact coyotes are now prominent members of this state’s suburban wildlife.
The respondent for Masswildlife said the coyote season coincides with “coyote pelt primeness (sic), when the pelts are most valuable”. This makes no sense to me. Perhaps if we were talking about trapping this reason would have some validity. But this is hunting. I know of no hunters who pursue game for the purpose of profit. Of course it would be nice to come home with a marketable pelt or two, but that’s not why we’re out there.
My point here is a published coyote season benefits no one but the usual cabal of anti-hunters who would start whining and crying the moment changing this stupid law was mentioned.
- Except during the Deer Shotgun season why is it illegal to hunt coyotes with a shotgun using shot larger than FF (during the day)?
According to current law one could legally take to the field during the day in pursuit of coyote with a .338 Winchester Magnum. Why it not legal to shoot coyote (exclusive of Deer Shotgun) with ammo commonly used to kill deer? This law is particularly perplexing because the shotgun for deer mandate is due to the general population density of Massachusetts and rifles for deer are considered unsafe.
Masswildlife’s response was: this is a matter of statutory law and can be changed only by an act of the Legislature.
Translation: “We have no idea.”
Since the state’s responses to my next two questions are exactly the same as you just read above, going forward I will not repeat this non-answer.
- Why is night hunting limited to rifles no larger than 22 LR when this round is generally considered too small for clean, consistent kills?
For a clean and fast kill a .22 bullet will require perfect placement in the dark at a judged range and most likely really fast. This is a wounded coyote looking for a place to bleed.
Someone tell me what larger calibers do at night they don’t do during the day?
- Why is it illegal to use artificial lights when hunting coyote at night?
Again we have a law probably written by someone who knows absolutely nothing about hunting and perhaps had some twisted idea artificial lights gave hunters some kind of unfair advantage. Never mind the fact the use of artificial lights will allow hunters to more easily and reliably identify their targets and facilitate more precise aiming. With our .22’s, we need to use lights.
Maybe when these laws were written there were some sort of valid reasoning for them. As a lifelong resident of this Commonwealth I’m thinking these laws were as stupid then as they are now.