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2016 Season Dates
Youth Deer Hunt* Day: Oct. 1
Paraplegic Hunt:Nov. 3 - Nov. 5
Archery Season: Oct. 17 - Nov. 26
Shotgun Season: Nov. 28 - Dec. 10
Primitive Firearms Season: Dec. 12 - Dec. 31

ATTENTION: All deer harvested during the 2-week shotgun deer season must be brought to an official check station for biological data collection.Use the check station map to find a check station or download a printable list of check station hours for the 2016 Shotgun Deer Season: Week 1 (Nov. 28 - Dec. 3) pdf format of Check Station Hours November 28 - December 3 2016
Week 2 (Dec. 5 - 10) pdf format of Check Station Hours December 5 - 10 2016

Hunting Hours:

Half-hour before sunrise – Half-hour after sunset; except On WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season, hunting hours are sunrise to sunset. Click here for a sunrise/sunset table.

Required License and Permits:

Massachusetts Residents:
- Hunting or sporting license
- Antlerless deer permit*
- Archery stamp**
- Primitive Firearms stamp***

Non-Residents:
- Big game license
- Antlerless deer permit*
- Archery stamp**
- Primitive Firearms stamp***

*Antlerless deer permit is required to harvest a deer without antlers or with both antlers less than 3 inches in length and are specific to a Wildlife Management Zone. Hunters who have purchased a license and wish to hunt antlerless deer in any deer season must apply for an antlerless deer permit through the MassFishHunt system by July 16th. After August 1st, hunters must go back into the MassFishHunt system to participate in the Instant Award process to see if they were selected for a permit. Surplus permits are available for certain zones during early October. More details.

** Archery stamp required to hunt deer during the archery deer season.

*** Primitive Firearms stamp required to hunt deer during the primitive firearms deer season.

Quabbin Deer Hunt Information

Blue Hills Deer Hunt Information

Click here to purchase licenses and permits through MassFishHunt

Bag Limits:

Possession Limit: 2 unreported deer in WMZs 1-12; and 4 unreported deer in WMZs 13 and 14. There is no daily bag limit. Reporting is required. After checking/reporting harvested deer, a hunter may continue to hunt deer within the same day, given they have still have unfilled tags/permits.
Season Limit: 2 antlered deer per year and as many antlerless deer as the hunter has valid antlerless deer permits for.

Note: Youth Deer Hunt Day permits allow for the take of one deer.

Hunting Zones:

Wildlife Management Zones 1 – 14 pdf format of Wildlife Management Zone Map
.

Hunting Implements:

deer hunting implements table

 

 

 

 

 

*stamp required to hunt during these seasons

Shotgun: Allowed only during the shotgun season. Shotgun, including shotguns with a rifled bore, not larger than 10 gauge (i.e., 12 or 20 gauge is legal). Slugs or buckshot only.

Archery Equipment: Arrows must have a well sharpened steel broadhead blade not less than 7/8 inches in width. Expanding broadheads are legal. All bows must have a draw weight of at least 40lbs at 28 inches or at peak draw. Poisoned arrows, explosive tips, and bows drawn by mechanical means are prohibited. Crossbows may be used by certain permanently disabled persons by permit only. Archery equipment may be used during the archery season, shotgun season, and primitive firearms season.

Muzzleloader: .44 to .775 caliber, barrel length at least 18 inches, fired from the shoulder, using a single projectile. Inline ignition systems are legal providing the projectile loads from the muzzle. Allowed during the shotgun season and primitive firearms season.

Handgun: Handguns are not a legal implement for deer hunting and may not be in your possession while deer hunting.

 

Hunter Orange Requirements:

-Youth Deer Hunt Day: 500 square inches of hunter orange on the chest, back and head is required, regardless of the hunting implement you are using.
-Archery Season: Hunter orange is not required except on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail, in which case a hunter orange hat is required.
-Shotgun Deer Season: 500 square inches of visible hunter orange on the chest, back and head is required during the shotgun deer season, regardless of the hunting implement you are using. The hunter orange may not be concealed (i.e., when using a hunting blind, hunter orange must be visible).
-Primitive Firearms Season: 500 square inches of hunter orange on the chest, back and head, regardless of the hunting implement you are using.

Hunting Methods:

It is illegal to hunt deer using:

-Bait
-Dogs
-Electronic Calls
-Rifles or Handguns

Special Rules on WMAs Stocked with Pheasant or Quail During the Pheasant or Quail Season:

-Hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.
-Hunter orange hat is required.

Tagging, Transporting, and Reporting Requirements:

Upon harvesting a deer, you must immediately fill out and attach the paper tag from your permit the carcass. Your game must remain intact (other than field dressing), with the harvest tag attached, until it is reported and prepared for food or taxidermy purposes. Hunters may report their harvested game online or bring their game to an official check station. All deer harvested during the 2-week shotgun deer season must be brought to an official check station for biological data collection. If reporting your harvest online, you will be issued a confirmation number. You must write the number on the harvest tag attached to the carcass. The harvest tag with harvest report confirmation number must remain attached to the carcass until it is prepared for food or taxidermy purposes. Hunters must report their game within 48 hours of harvest. A complete list of checkstations is available at mass.gov/dfw/checkstation.

Hunting Season Framework:
Youth Deer Hunt: On the fourth Saturday following Labor Day
Paraplegic Hunt: Beginning the last Monday in October and ending the following Saturday, any three days of which may be selected by the Director.
Archery Season: Beginning on the sixth Monday prior to Thanksgiving and ending on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, all days inclusive, except Sunday
Shotgun Season: Beginning the first Monday after Thanksgiving and ending the second Saturday thereafter, all days inclusive, except Sunday.
Primitive Firearms Season: Beginning the third Monday after Thanksgiving and ending on December 31, all days inclusive, except Sunday.

Upon harvesting a deer, you must immediately fill out and attach the paper tag from your permit the carcass. Your game must remain intact (other than field dressing), with the harvest tag attached, until it is reported and prepared for food or taxidermy purposes. Hunters may report their harvested game online or bring their game to an official check station. All deer harvested during the 2-week shotgun deer season must be brought to an official check station for biological data collection. If reporting your harvest online, you will be issued a confirmation number. You must write the number on the harvest tag attached to the carcass. The harvest tag with harvest report confirmation number must remain attached to the carcass until it is prepared for food or taxidermy purposes. Hunters must report their game within 48 hours of harvest. A complete list of checkstations is available at mass.gov/dfw/checkstation.

 

Special Harvest Reporting/Tagging Regulations for the Islands (Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and the Elizabeth Islands): Unchecked Possession Limit: The possession limit of unchecked deer in Wildlife Management Zones 13 and 14 (Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and the Elizabeth Islands) is 4 deer. YOU MUST REPORT YOUR HARVEST BEFORE LEAVING THE ISLANDS! All deer harvested on the islands must be reported before deer carcasses are transported off-island. You can report online through the MassFishHunt system or at a physical check station.  Hunters on the islands cannot check their game online during the 2-week shotgun deer season, so must go to a physical check station. Hunters who are deer hunting on the islands (WMZs 13 and 14) are also reminded that they may purchase up to four antlerless deer permits per zone per day for Zones 13 and 14 available online and at any license agent location. Hunters are encouraged to purchase their permits well ahead of their planned hunting activities.

 

Overview of Online Deer Harvest Reporting

The harvest tag must remain attached to the harvested deer throughout this process. At the end of the online harvest reporting process, a confirmation number will be generated; write this number on the harvest tag. You must report your deer BEFORE processing for food or taxidermy.

Please use care when entering information into the MassFishHunt system, particularly the date of harvest. Once submitted, you cannot correct the information. If you have a problem reporting your harvest online, please contact MassWildlife at 508-389-6300 from 8:00 A.M. - 4:30 P.M., Monday – Friday; if it is outside of those hours, please contact the Environmental Police at 1-800-632-8075.

Steps for online harvest reporting:

1. Got to Mass.gov/MassFishHunt. Click Enter MassFishHunt.

2. Log in using your last name and customer ID (located on your hunting/sporting license).

3. Select Report a Harvest.

4. Select Deer from the Harvest Menu, and then click the Add button to the left of the appropriate harvest report type (Archery Antlered Deer, Archery Antlerless Deer, etc.)  You will then be asked a series of questions. You will need to examine your deer to answer some of these questions. Responses provide MassWildlife biologists with important information used to evaluate and manage the deer population. Please answer each question accurately.

5. After you have answered all the required questions, a Confirmation Number will be generated. You must write this confirmation number on the harvest tag (which should still be on the harvested deer), where it shall remain until the deer is processed for food or taxidermy purposes. Butchers or taxidermists should not accept deer without an official metal tag (deer checked at a physical check station), or a harvest tag with a confirmation number (online game check).

If you made an error on your harvest report, you can no longer edit it and must contact MassWildlife during business hours at 508-389-6300 from 8:00 A.M. - 4:30 P.M., Monday – Friday; if it is outside of those hours, please contact the Environmental Police at 1-800-632-8075.

Though Massachusetts is the 3rd most densely populated state in the country, it is a state where quality deer can be found anywhere. There are 85,000 to over 100,000 deer statewide. Densities range from about 12-15 per square mile in northwestern Massachusetts to over 50 deer per square mile on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Islands, and certain areas of eastern MA.

2015 Deer Seasons

10,102 deer were harvested in Massachusetts during the 2015 hunting seasons.

  • 146 taken on the youth deer hunt day and Paraplegic hunt
  • 4,187 taken in the archery season
  • 4,136 taken during the shotgun season
  • 1,633 taken during the primitive firearms season

MassWildlife uses regulated hunting to manage deer numbers across the state, with a goal to keep deer numbers below the level where major impacts are seen to the habitat, but in balance with social desires/tolerance. The deer population is managed using 15 Wildlife Management Zones pdf format of Wildlife Management Zone Map
. The Fisheries and Wildlife Board oversees any changes to hunting seasons, bag limits, and antlerless deer permit numbers, which are set annually to achieve goals.

Deer Harvests in Massachusetts