Deer Hunting FAQs
- What type of license do I need to hunt deer in Massachusetts?
- What do I need to legally hunt deer during the Archery or Muzzleloader season?
- Is it lawful to use a muzzleloading firearm or a bow during the Shotgun season?
- Is it lawful to use a bow during the Muzzleloader season?
- Is it lawful to use a muzzleloader during the Archery season?
- What type of firearm is lawful during the Muzzleloading season?
- I'm new to the area (or state), how can I find out about lands open to hunting?
Antlerless Deer Permit Related Questions
- What is an antlerless deer?
- When am I required to use an antlerless deer permit to harvest a deer?
- What is the difference between an antlerless deer permit and a deer tag?
- Why does MassWildlife now require ALL deer hunters who wish to harvest an antlerless deer to possess a permit?
- How many antlerless permits are available in the state this year?
- Do I have to purchase a separate antlerless deer permit for each deer season?
- How many deer may I take during the seasons?
- How many deer can I take during one day?
- If I possess an antlerless deer permit, does this allow me to harvest an antlerless deer anywhere in the state?
- How can I obtain an antlerless deer permit?
- How many antlerless deer permits may I lawfully possess?
- In what zones may I possess more than one antlerless deer permit?
- When will permits be available; what is their cost; and where will they be sold?
- What permits are available ?
- I already possess an antlerless deer permit. Can I purchase a second permit for that same zone?
- What do I need to purchase an antlerless deer permit?
- May I purchase a permit for someone else?
- I plan to participate in the Quabbin Hunt, are
deer harvested in the Quabbin considered part of the statewide
What do I need to legally hunt deer during
the Archery or Muzzleloader season?
In addition to a valid hunting or sporting license, a person must have a valid archery stamp and/or primitive firearms stamp to hunt deer during those seasons. The stamp(s) must be signed across the face in ink and affixed to the back of the license. Electronic license buyers may purchase stamps via the MassFishHunt website which are printed on the license. An antlerless deer permit is also required for any hunter wishing to harvest an antlerless deer during the archery and/or or muzzleloader season.
Is it lawful to use a bow during the Muzzleloader
YES, however, a Primitive Firearms Stamp is required and muzzleloader regulations apply, including wearing 500 sq inches of blaze orange on head, chest and back.
What type of firearm is lawful during the
Primitive Firearms season?
A shoulder-fired muzzleloader .44 to .775 caliber. Barrel length must be 18 or more inches with only one barrel operative. In-line ignition systems are permitted providing the rifle loads from the muzzle. Buckshot is prohibited. Only single projectile ammunition is permitted. Sabot rounds are legal. Powder is limited to black powder or approved substitutes. Scopes and 209 primers are legal.
As of 2011, break-open or hinge action muzzleloaders are now allowed for use during the Primitive Firearms Season.
If you are new to hunting or new to an area in Massachusetts, it's easiest to start out scouting state lands which are open to hunting. All Division Wildlife Management Areas are open to hunting, fishing, and trapping. Many state forests, parks, and reservations are also open to hunting. See the Hunting and Shooting Opportunities page for links to this and other state lands open to hunting.
You can also pick up an Outdoor Recreation Map from any District office in Dalton, Belchertown, W. Boylston, Ayer, Bourne or our West Boylston Field HQ or Boston offices. This map shows all wildlife management areas and state forests and parks as well as state boat ramps. An information grid indicates which state forests and parks are open to hunting.
Hunters should be aware that some towns, particularly in the eastern part of the state, have bylaws or ordinances requiring landowner permission to discharge a firearm or to hunt. (Any WMA in that town's situation is open to hunting and does not require agency permission.) In order to find out about those bylaws, go to the Town Clerk's office and ask for any relevant bylaws (in writing) relating to shooting or hunting.
Some town lands are also open to hunting and in most cases they are town conservation lands. Consult with the town conservation commission or conservation agent to find out what lands may be open to hunting.
Lastly, if you want to find out who owns a piece of property you might want to hunt on, the town assessor's office will have maps showing parcels of land and who owns the property. That way you can contact the landowner well in advance of the season to ask permission to hunt.
What is an antlerless deer?
A deer is legally defined as antlerless if it has no antlers or has antlers that measure less than 3" in a straight line from the center of the anterior (front) base of the antler burr to the tip.
When am I required to use an antlerless
deer permit to harvest a deer?
An antlerless deer permit is required to harvest an antlerless deer in ALL deer seasons (archery, shotgun, and muzzleloader). No one may harvest an antlerless deer without an antlerless permit.
What is the difference between an antlerless
deer permit and a deer tag?
An antlerless deer permit entitles the holder to take one antlerless deer in the Wildlife Management Zone (WMZ) specified on the permit and is always used with a valid antlerless deer tag (attached to your permit). The deer tag functions as the temporary record of kill, enabling the hunter to lawfully possess the deer for up to 48 hours prior to bringing it to a deer check station. Antlered (buck) deer tags are attached to the hunting or sporting license. The antlerless deer tags are issued with and attached to antlerless deer permits. For antlerless deer, the permit must always remain in the possession of the hunter while the tag is affixed to the deer. Both the permit and tag are surrendered at the check station when the deer is registered and a metal seal is attached to a hind leg. For antlered deer, only the tag attached to the deer is surrendered at the check station.
Why does MassWildlife require ALL
deer hunters who wish to harvest an antlerless deer to possess a permit?
By requiring an antlerless deer permit for archers, shotgun, and muzzleloader hunters alike, MassWildlife gains a measure of control of the antlerless kill for all seasons in all Wildlife Management Zones (WMZ). In recent years, the archery and muzzleloader kill of antlerless deer has become increasingly significant, particularly in some central and western DMZs, limiting the effectiveness of reduced permit allocations during the Shotgun season. With the ability to use permits to regulate the antlerless take during all seasons, the agency is in a position to reduce or increase deer densities in specific zones through the use of required permits. With that added control, MassWildlife can offer increased opportunities for all hunters, including bow hunters and muzzleloaders to pursue their traditional passions without concern about over harvesting the female segment of the deer population.
Do I have to purchase a separate antlerless
deer permit for each deer season?
NO, Antlerless deer permits are not season specific. A permit can be used during any deer season. A permit allows you to harvest one antlerless deer in a specified WMZ.
The number of valid paper tags in a hunter's possession determines the seasonal bag limit. Two ANTLERED ONLY tags are attached to your hunting/sporting license and each antlerless deer permit has a tag attached.
How many deer can I take during one day?
You may take up to 2 deer in a single day without having to check the first deer, provided you possess the necessary tags and/or permits. However, all deer must be taken to a check station within 48 hours.
If I possess an antlerless deer permit, does
this allow me to harvest an antlerless deer anywhere in the state?
NO, antlerless deer permits are Wildlife Management Zone (WMZ) specific.(see WMZ map) Every antlerless deer permit comes with an attached tag. This tag allows the hunter to harvest one antlerless deer in the specified WMZ.
Zone permitting is important for managing deer on a regional basis. With the ability to use permits to regulate the antlerless take during all seasons, the agency is in a position to reduce or increase deer densities in specific zones through the use of required permits.
Antlerless deer permits may be obtained via an annual application and Instant Award Process and/or by purchasing surplus permits (if available) following the drawing. Please note that the deadline for applying for an antlerless deer permit is July 16.
How many antlerless deer permits may I
There is no limit on the number of antlerless deer permits a hunter may possess in a given year as long as the permit quota for that WMZ has not been filled. Once the quota is reached, sales will stop for that WMZ.
A hunter may possess multiple valid permits in any WMZ's.
When will surplus permits be available; what
is their cost; and where will they be sold?
Surplus antlerless deer permits for Wildlife Management Zones 10, 11, 13, and 14 will be available for sale beginning Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 8:00 am. Antlerless deer permits are $5/permit.
NEW THIS YEAR: Hunters who do not have a computer may purchase antlerless deer permits at any walk-in license agent location or any computer such as at a public library. As in the recent past, hunters who have access to the internet may purchase a permit online.
Surplus antlerless deer permits will be issued on a first-come/first-served basis. Deer hunters may purchase 1 permit/Zone/day for Zones 10 and 11 and (NEW THIS YEAR) may purchase up to 4 permits/Zone/day for Zones 13 and 14 (Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket).
To avoid long lines at MassWildlife offices, hunters are encouraged to purchase surplus antlerless deer permits online from a home or work computer at www.mass.gov/massfishhunt, or have a friend or family member purchase permits online for them. Anyone purchasing surplus antlerless deer permits MUST have the last name and Customer ID # for all hunters for whom they are purchasing permits.
Hunters may also purchase surplus antlerless deer permits at any MassWildlife office or authorized license agent location, but should check vendor hours of operation prior to October 9th. Online map of license agent locations and phone numbers.
What permits are available?
The Zones for which permits will be available will be announced around the end of September or beginning of October.
I already possess an antlerless deer permit
from applying by July 16. Can I purchase a second permit for that same
Yes, but only if a permit for that zone is still available. Deer hunters will only be allowed to purchase 1 permit/WMZ/day in all WMZ's that have permits available after the drawing.
Anyone purchasing surplus antlerless deer permits MUST have their name and Customer ID #.
YES. To avoid long lines at a license vendor or DFW office, hunters are encouraged to purchase surplus antlerless deer permits online from a home or work computer at www.mass.gov/massfishhunt, or have a friend or family member purchase permits online for them.
Anyone purchasing surplus antlerless deer permits (either online or at a license vendor location) MUST have the last name and Customer ID # for all hunters for whom they are purchasing permits.
- If you harvest an ANTLERED deer (buck with antlers 3" or longer), you must use one of the tags attached to your license to tag the deer. Be sure to use the tag marked Antlered Deer #1 with your first deer.
- If you harvest an ANTLERLESS deer(doe, or buck with antlers less than 3"), you must use the tag associated to your WMZ-specific antlerless deer permit. Do not use the Antlered Deer tags # 1 and #2 on your hunting/sporting license and do not use a tag from an antlerless deer permit for a different WMZ.
I plan to participate in the Quabbin Hunt,
are deer harvested in the Quabbin considered part of the statewide
ANTLERED DEER harvested in the Quabbin ARE considered part of the statewide bag limit.
ANTLERLESS DEER harvested in the Quabbin ARE NOT considered part of the statewide bag limit.
If you harvest an antlered deer during the Quabbin controlled hunt you would use one of the "ANTLERED ONLY" tags associated with your hunting or sporting license to tag the deer. If you harvest an antlerless deer during the Quabbin hunt you would use the tag attached to your QUABBIN ANTLERLESS DEER PERMIT to tag the deer. The Quabbin antlerless deer permits are only valid for the Quabbin controlled hunt. When you hunt the Quabbin do not use WMZ-specific antlerless deer permits issued by MassWildlife.
Information on the Quabbin Hunt, or call the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation's Divison of Watershed Supply in Belchertown at (413) 323-7221.