The Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt
The Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt is an annual event conducted on Quabbin Reservoir watershed lands, implemented as part of the management program to maintain a balance between deer herd densities and forest regeneration. Participants are selected from an applicant pool in a special lottery in early September. Beginning in 2016, all applications must be submitted online; the application must be filled out and submitted from the DCR Deer Hunt web page between July 1st and August 15th. No paper applications will be accepted this year, although hunters can get assistance completing applications online at the Quabbin Visitor Center on Saturdays (9 a.m. to noon) and Wednesdays (noon to 3 p.m.) during the application period.
Once selected, all successful applicants will receive written notification by early October. For further information, please contact the Quabbin Visitor Center at (413) 323-7221.
Since its creation in the 1930s, hunting had not been permitted on the Quabbin Reservation. Consequently, densities of several wildlife species exceeded those found in other parts of the state where hunting has historically been allowed. In particular, deer densities in some areas of the reservation were three to five times the statewide average.
In June of 1989, the former Division of Watershed Management of the Metropolitan District Commission, now the Office of Watershed Management of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, determined that the deer herd was negatively impacting its mandate to protect the natural resources and water of Quabbin. At that time it was also determined that the most workable and achievable solution to this situation was to reduce deer populations using a series of controlled public hunts.
Controlled hunts began in 1991 in the Pelham area and expanded to the four other management blocks (Prescott, New Salem, Hardwick and Petersham) during the next three years. As deer population densities were lowered, yearly hunting effort was reduced so that by 1996 only one hunting segment was used in each hunt area. This was in keeping with DCR’s intent to scale back hunting effort as the program moved from the initial reduction phase to a population maintenance phase. The goal of this latter phase is to maintain deer densities at levels that allow for the continued establishment and development of forest regeneration. While hunter success has been lower during this phase than in earlier years, the exceptional scenery and habitat of Quabbin Reservation still makes for a quality hunting experience.
Organization of the Hunt
During 2016, hunting will occur in the following areas: Pelham between Gates 8 and 16; Prescott between Gates 17 and 21; New Salem between Gates 22 and 37; Petersham between Gates 37 and 40. Each of the four areas will have one, two-day segment as follows: Prescott and Pelham on Dec. 1 & 2; Petersham and New Salem on Dec. 8 & 9. Access will be restricted to designated gates. Hunters must check in and out by posted times on each day they hunt and obey all regulations and directions of DCR and law enforcement personnel.
Hunters will be assigned to a specific access zone where they must check in and out each day. Beginning in 2016, there will be a limited number of Antlerless Deer Permits available to participating hunters, so unlike in past years, not all hunters are able to purchase an Antlerless Permit.
The application must be filled out and submitted online through the DCR Deer Hunt web page. This simple application can be filled out from any computer with internet access. Additionally there is now no application fee. To minimize vehicular traffic and increase efficiency, hunters may apply in groups of up to six with a MINIMUM of two. Hunters may only apply on one application. There are several required fields on the application which must be completed before it can successfully be submitted, including a valid email address for Hunter #1. This hunter will receive an email message confirming successful submission of the application.
Once selected, hunters will be assigned to a specific access zone where they must check in and out each day.
Since 2007, hunters have been able to use muzzleloaders for the Quabbin Deer Hunt. However, all hunters must possess a valid FID Card in order to participate in the hunt.
The hunt may be cancelled due to severe weather conditions or security situations.
Hunter Selection Process
Approximately 1,100 hunters will be randomly selected from the online applications. TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF BEING SELECTED, CHECK AS MANY SEGMENTS AS POSSIBLE FOR WHICH EVERYONE WILL BE AVAILABLE. Hunters will be placed in segments according to their preferences. Rank the segments from 1 (highest) through 4 (lowest) for all segments you want to hunt. Leave blank any segments you do not wish to hunt. The drawing to select hunters will be based on the last digits of your MassWildlife Customer ID Number. All eligible Customer ID numbers listed on the application will be included in the lottery.
Selected hunters will be required to attend an orientation session prior to the 2016 Quabbin deer hunt except for those who attended an orientation between 2013 and 2015. The DCR has developed an online orientation session option for returning hunters who have not attended an orientation session since 2012 but have attended an orientation session at some point. New Quabbin hunters will still be required to attend an in-person orientation session.
Instructions for Completing the Application:
- From the Quabbin Deer Hunt web page, click on the “” box.
- You must possess a valid 2016 Massachusetts Hunting or Sporting License BEFORE you apply.
- Complete the online application with all required information.
- Rank your hunt area preferences 1-4; 1=highest preference; 4=lowest preference for all segments you want to hunt. Leave blank segments you do not want to hunt.
- There must be at least TWO hunters on each application. Everyone’s license number is eligible for the drawing.
- No name can appear on more than one application. Duplicate applicants will be eliminated from the drawing.
- Hunter #1 on the application must have a valid email address. This information is used only for the purpose of sending a confirmation email or if there is important information about the deer hunt that must be conveyed to the hunting party.
July 1: Online application available.
July 2, 9. 16, 23 & 30; August 6, 13: Application assistance by Quabbin Visitor Center staff at the Visitor Center between 9:00 a.m. and noon.
July 6, 13, 20, & 27; August 3, 10: Application assistance by Quabbin Visitor Center staff at the Visitor Center between noon and 3:00 p.m.
August 29: Deadline for application submission.
September 7: Permit drawing to select hunters. Only winners will be notified by mail. Winning numbers will be posted on the DCR Quabbin Deer Hunt website.
October 1 – 31: Online Orientations Available (must be completed by Oct. 31)
October 24 – November 19: Classroom Orientation Period
November 14 – December 9: Quabbin Antlerless Permits available from MassWildlife
November 19: Last Orientation
November 19 & 20: Scouting days. Vehicle access allowed in all hunt areas for valid permit holders.
Pelham & Prescott: December 1 & 2
Petersham & New Salem: December 8 & 9
Deer Hunt Reports
- 2015 Quabbin Deer Hunt Summary
- 2014 Quabbin Deer Hunter Newsletter
- 2013 Quabbin Deerhunter Newsletter
Harvest Locations 2009-2014
For additional information contact the DCR Division of Water Supply Protection at:
Quabbin Reservoir - Visitor Center
Department of Conservation & Recreation
485 Ware Rd.
Belchertown, MA 01007