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Massachusetts 2020 fall hunting season information

Find the latest information about all fall hunting seasons including impacts of COVID-19, new regulations, controlled hunt status, and safety information.

2020 hunting season date summary

 

Page updated July 2020

Table of Contents

Apply for Antlerless Deer Permits by July 16

If you want to hunt antlerless deer in 2020, you need an antlerless deer permit. If you apply for a permit by the July 16 deadline, you then must check back after August 1 to find out if you have been awarded the ability to purchase the permit. Hunters can apply online using MassFishHunt on a computer or smartphone. You need a valid hunting or sporting license to apply for an antlerless deer permit.There is no fee to apply; a $5 fee is charged only if you are awarded a permit during the instant award period.

The instant award period begins August 1st at 8 a.m. and ends on December 31. Your odds of being awarded a permit are the same regardless of when you check your permit status. You can check the status of your permit through MassFishHunt.

Learn more about Antlerless Deer Permits, including how to apply and 2020 allocations.

Fall hunting and COVID-19

1. Buy hunting licenses and permits online:

  • Hunters are strongly encouraged to purchase licenses online. MassWildlife offices are closed until further notice, and some license vendors are closed as well. Hunters can purchase licenses and permits online with a computer or smartphone through MassFishHunt, or through any license vendors that remain open (call first). While hunting deer, bear and turkey, hunters must have in their possession a printed copy of their license and all necessary permits/tags.
  • NEW online purchasing option for 15–17 year-olds. Under normal circumstances, minors aged 15–17 must purchase a license in person and provide written parental consent. Due to COVID-19 closures, parents and guardians can now use an electronic form to provide consent and then purchase minor licenses online. Click here to complete the form. Please email mass.wildlife@mass.gov if you have any questions.

2. Report your harvest online: Hunters are strongly encouraged to use MassFishHunt to report harvested game online using a computer or smartphone. Due to COVID-19 public health measures, physical check stations may be limited or closed during the fall seasons. Please check mass.gov/fallhunt2020 for updates on options for harvest reporting this fall.

3. Where to hunt: Access to some hunting areas may be impacted by COVID-19; hunters should check with landowners about any special restrictions. Additionally, hunters should be aware that more people may be enjoying the outdoors as a result of COVID-19. Avoid crowded areas and have a back-up plan if your usual hunting spot is crowded. Click here for information on where to hunt in Massachusetts, including resources for hunting on state lands, federal lands, municipal lands, and private property. Please note: All MassWildlife Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) remain open to the public for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation during this time. To find WMAs near you, please visit the MassWildlife Lands Viewer.

Youth Deer Hunt Day

The 2020 Youth Deer Hunt Day is Saturday, October 3. Youth Deer Hunt Day permits are available online, beginning August 1. With this permit, youth may take either an antlered or antlerless deer in any zone on the Youth Deer Hunt Day. Learn more about the Youth Deer Hunt Day. 

Controlled deer hunts

Applications are open for fall controlled deer hunts at Camp Edwards and at certain Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) properties: Quabbin Reservoir, Wachusett Reservoir, and Sudbury Reservoir.

  • Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt: Hardwick, Pelham, and New Salem are the only areas that will be open to hunting this year. There will be no lottery for permits; each hunter must apply individually. There is no application deadline for DCR's Quabbin hunt. Learn more about hunting at the Quabbin Reservoir.
  • Wachusett Controlled Deer Hunt: There are 2 types of hunting permits for DCR properties in the Wachusett Reservoir watershed area. To hunt in the “Reservoir Zone” you need to apply before August 31. Permits to hunt in other areas of Wachusett can be requested at any time. Learn more about hunting on the Wachusett Reservoir watershed. 
  • Camp Edwards Controlled Deer Hunt: Camp Edwards on Joint Base Cape Cod, located in Sandwich and Bourne, allows deer hunting. To hunt deer on Camp Edwards, you must pre-register by October 1 and follow special rules. Learn more about hunting on Camp Edwards.
  • Sudbury Reservoir Watershed Deer Hunt: A free, one year permit is required to hunt on the designated property in the Sudbury Reservoir watershed. You can apply any time - there is no deadline. Learn more hunting on Sudbury Reservoir property.

Note: DCR has not yet reached a decision about a 2020 controlled hunt at Blue Hills Reservation. When information becomes available, it will be posted on DCR's Blue Hills web page.

Safety reminders

MassWildlife encourages all hunters to review these safety tips before heading afield.

  • While hunting this year, be aware that more hunters and non-hunters may be out and about in the woods and fields as a result of the COVID-19 situation.
  • Always follow the 10 basic rules of firearm safety.
  • Be completely sure of your target and what is beyond it before you shoot. Always practice firearm safety.
  • Be safe, be seen—wear blaze orange.

Fall turkey hunting regulation changes

Several changes to turkey hunting regulations were approved by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board in 2019. The summary below provides an overview of the changes impacting the 2020 fall turkey hunting season. Click here to view all turkey hunting regulations. 

  • Increased annual limit of three birds. Hunters may now take 2 bearded turkeys in the spring and 1 of either sex in the fall.  

  • Expanded fall archery season. Hunters may now harvest turkeys with archery equipment during the entire duration of the archery deer season, which varies by Wildlife Management Zone. Hunters may use a shotgun, muzzleloader, or archery equipment during the two week season which begins the second to last Monday in October and ends the second Saturday thereafter.  

2020 Fall Turkey Hunting Season Dates and Implements

Zone 

Oct. 5–17 

Oct. 19–31 

Nov. 2–28 

WMZ 1–9 

No fall turkey hunting 

Shotgun, muzzleloading shotgun, archery 

Archery equipment only 

WMZ 10–13 

Archery equipment only 

Shotgun, muzzleloading shotgun, archery 

Archery equipment only 

  • Changed shot size to no larger than #4. Prior to the regulation change, turkey hunters were only permitted to use #4–#7 size shot for turkey hunting. With this change, hunters may now take advantage of advanced ammunition that will allow for greater flexibility with different shotguns, including #9 TSS shot produced by several manufacturers. 

  • Youth turkey permits issued to young hunters aged 12–14 may be used in the fall. Young hunters 12–14 years old who completed the mandatory training program for the Youth Day were issued a free Youth Turkey Permit with 3 turkey tags (2 tags for the spring and 1 new fall tag). Remember, young hunters aged 12–14 must always hunt with a licensed adult mentor hunter. (Note: Other hunters aged 12–14 who do not have the Youth Turkey Permit must use their mentor’s turkey tags and license. All youth aged 15–17 are required to have their own hunting license and turkey permit, which allows them to hunt in the spring or fall seasons.) 

2020–2021 Migratory game bird hunting

The Fisheries and Wildlife Board recently approved season dates, bag limits, and other regulations for the 2020–2021 migratory game bird hunting seasons. NEW THIS YEAR: There will be two special waterfowl hunt days for veterans. 

View the 2020-2021 Massachusetts migratory game bird seasons dates and bag limits.

Surplus antlerless deer permits

Beginning late September, surplus antlerless deer permits will be available for $5 in select zones until sold out.

Surplus permits will be sold by Wildlife Management Zone on the following days:

  • Zone 11: Tuesday, September 29 at 9 a.m.
  • Zone 10: Wednesday, September 30 at 9 a.m.
  • Zone 9 (if available), 13, and 14: Thursday, October 1 at 9 a.m.

 

Stay informed and help spread the word

Changes to the 2020 fall hunting season—mainly the availability of in-person harvest reporting—may be necessary to accommodate social distancing. MassWildlife will post new information as it becomes available to this page (Mass.gov/FallHunt2020). If you have an email associated with your MassFishHunt account, you will receive occasional emails if there are changes. You can easily add or update your email address by logging into your account at any time. Please help spread the word to other hunters, especially those who may not have access to email or a computer.

Although MassWildlife offices are currently closed to the public, you can contact us at (508) 389-6300 or mass.wildlife@mass.gov. 

Harvest summaries for 2019 deer seasons and the 2020 spring turkey season

2019 Deer Harvest

The statewide deer harvest for 2019 was 13,920—the second highest on record. For the first time ever, there were more deer taken during the archery season than the shotgun season. Harvest figures by season are as follows:

  • Youth Deer Hunt Day and Paraplegic Hunt: 94
  • Archery Season: 6,149
  • Shotgun Season: 4,956
  • Primitive Firearms Season: 2,692
  • Quabbin  Hunt: 29

Full 2019 deer harvest summary

2020 Spring Turkey Harvest

The spring turkey harvest for 2020 was 3,304, including the 73 turkeys taken on the Youth Day. This was the highest harvest ever recorded for the spring season. Harvests have totaled more than 3,000 on only two other occasions: 2009 (3,027) and 2017 (3,181). Last year's spring harvest was 2,740. This record harvest can most likely be attributed to the increase in hunter effort that resulted from COVID-19 closures.

View more turkey harvest data from 2009–2019

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