MassWildlife uses regulated hunting as the primary tool for managing the state’s white-tailed deer population. The most effective way to manage the population is through the controlled harvest of antlerless deer - defined as "any deer, male or female, with antlers less than 3 inches in length." Each year MassWildlife determines the number of antlerless deer permits to issue for each of its fifteen Wildlife Management Zones (WMZ). The female segment of the deer population is used for population management since with each female deer harvested, not only is the individual removed from the population but so too is that deer’s future reproductive potential. Therefore, in regions of the state where there are high numbers of deer per square mile, a large number of antlerless deer permits are made available. Conversely, in regions where there are relatively fewer deer (sometimes resulting from poor habitat quality), fewer antlerless deer permits are allocated for hunters.
To harvest an antlerless deer in Massachusetts, a hunter must possess a valid hunting or sporting license as well as an antlerless deer permit for the WMZ where they intend to hunt. The antlerless deer permit allows the harvest of ONE antlerless deer in the specified WMZ during any deer hunting season. Hunters must have their antlerless deer permits in their possession while hunting and be able to produce them for law enforcement officials if requested.