This page, Massachusetts 2021 fall hunting season information, is offered by

Massachusetts 2021 fall hunting season information

Find the latest information about all fall hunting seasons. This page will be updated on a regular basis. Check Mass.gov/FallHunt2021 often for the most up-to-date information.

Table of Contents

MassFishHunt is getting an upgrade

MassFishHunt, the official licensing system for Massachusetts, is getting an upgrade! The new system will go live on December 1. As always, anglers, hunters, and trappers can use MassFishHunt to buy licenses and permits, report a harvest, and access account information online.

IMPORTANTYou will need an email address to log into the new MassFishHunt. Requiring a unique email address and password is an important new feature to keep information safe and secure. If you do not have an email address or wish to provide one, you can still buy licenses or report harvests in-person.

  • Returning customers: If you have purchased a fishing or hunting license in the past, your account information, including customer ID, will automatically transfer to the new system. When you visit the new MassFishHunt site for the first time, you will be prompted to claim your account and add a unique email address and password. Once logged in, you will have access to your order history and any current licenses or permits. You will also be able to purchase new products and report harvests.

  • New customers: If you've never had a license before, you can easily sign up for a new account by entering some simple information like your name, address, and email.  

To learn more about the improved system and to get tutorials and updates, visit Mass.gov/NewMassFishHunt.

Buying licenses and permits

Starting December 1, hunters and anglers can use the new MassFishHunt system to purchase 2022 licenses, permits, and stamps online (see section above). Use care when purchasing during December, as both 2021 and 2022 products will be available.

  • Buy hunting licenses and permits online. Hunters are strongly encouraged to purchase licenses online. Hunters can purchase licenses and permits online with a computer, tablet, or smartphone through MassFishHunt, or through any open license vendors. While hunting deer, bear and turkey, hunters must have in their possession a printed copy of their license and all necessary permits/tags.
  • Minor hunting licenses can now be purchased online or in person. Youth hunters, 12 to 17 years of age, must follow regulations specific to their age. Learn about how to buy a minor hunting license online or in person.

Understanding your bill 

All funds from freshwater fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses go directly into the Inland Fish and Game Fund, which can only be used to support MassWildlife’s programs and services. Depending on where you buy your license, additional transaction fees may apply that are not collected by MassWildlife. Administrative and convenience fees are collected by Kalkomey Enterprises, the company that operates the online MassFishHunt licensing system. Agent fees are collected by license vendors, such as sporting goods stores or town offices.  

  • Is the new MassFishHunt system more expensive? Overall transaction fees are decreasing for online customers in the new MassFishHunt system. The existing online system charges an administrative fee of $1.34 per license and 3% convenience fee on the total transaction. The new online system will charge an administrative fee of $1.45 per license and 2% convenience fee on the total transaction. Example: If you bought a sporting license online in 2021, transaction fees were $2.73; this will be lowered to $2.52 in 2022. 
  • License fee increases: Because a license price increase was recently approved for some freshwater fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses, you may notice your overall bill is higher than usual moving forward. Beginning in 2022, the fees for some licenses, permits, and stamps will gradually increase over the next 5 years. After 26 years without a fee increase, these changes were approved to help fund MassWildlife's programs and services. This change in license prices is not caused by the new licensing system. To learn more about how MassWildlife is funded and view the 5-year fee schedule, please visit Mass.gov/Masswildlife-Funding

Harvest reporting

Hunters are required to report a deer, bear, turkey, coyote, and fox within 48 hours of harvest. Hunters can use MassFishHunt to report harvests online using a computer, tablet, or smartphone (except for the first week of shotgun deer season, see note below). Otter and bobcat must be checked at a MassWildlife office; click here for MassWildlife locations and office hours. If you decide to report your harvest in person, you can use MassWildlife's check station map to find locations that are open this fall. MassWildlife recommends calling ahead to confirm hours.

Reporting deer, bear, or turkey

Online harvest reporting: The new MassFishHunt system launched December 1 during hunting season. Your license, permit, and harvest reporting information will transfer seamlessly to the new system. You can simply click “Report a Harvest” and enter your name and existing customer ID to report a harvest without logging in. To get full use of the new MassFishHunt system and purchase licenses online, you will need to claim your account and add an email and password. Click here for instructions to log in for the first time. You can claim your online account at any time. 

Shotgun deer season: During the first week of the shotgun deer season (November 29–December 4), all harvested deer must be brought to a physical check station within 48 hours so MassWildlife biologists can collect biological data; online harvest reporting is NOT available during this time. Click here to find a check station near you that is open this fall.

Reporting furbearers

The new MassFishHunt system will launch on December 1 during hunting season. Your license, permit, and harvest reporting information will transfer seamlessly to the new system.

Step 1: Claim your account in the new MassFishHunt system (click here to watch a tutorial video).

Step 2: Once you are logged in, go to "My Account" and select "Report a Harvest." Enter your information under Furbearer Harvest Reports.

Deer hunting announcements

Shotgun Season Harvest Reporting

All deer taken during the first week of shotgun season must be brought to a physical check station so that MassWildlife staff can collect biological data. Use MassWildlife's check station map to find locations that are open this fall.

Check Antlerless Deer Permit award status

If you applied for an Antlerless Deer Permit by the July 16 deadline, you still have to check to see if you were awarded a permit. If you are awarded an Antlerless Deer Permit, you must purchase it in order to use it. To see if you've won or to purchase an existing 2021 Antlerless Deer Permit, call MassFishHunt customer support at (844) 595-2930. The Instant Award Period begins August 1 and ends on December 31. Your odds of being awarded a permit are the same regardless of when you check your permit status. See 2021 allocation and odds of winning.

Surplus Antlerless Deer Permits on sale now

Surplus permits for zone 13 & 14 are still available. Get instructions for purchasing surplus antlerless deer permits here

Stamp Reminder

Licensed hunters need an archery season stamp to hunt deer during the archery season and a primitive firearms stamp during the primitive firearms season. Click here for all deer hunting regulations.

What you should know about deer and COVID-19

MassWildlife has been receiving inquiries from hunters and others regarding COVID-19 and its effect on deer and other wildlife. While experts are still learning about this virus, currently there is no evidence that wildlife might be a source of infection for people in the United States, and there is no evidence that you can get COVID-19 by preparing or eating food, including hunted wild game meat. 

Research

As a novel emerging disease, research is ongoing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and its impacts on wildlife. Multiple studies have found SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in wild North American mammals including white-tailed deer. New studies are showing that wild deer have contracted multiple strains of COVID-19 from humans, and Ohio State University recently found active infection in wild Ohio deer using PCR tests. Experimental research with captive deer has shown that SARS-CoV-2 can spread among deer, however, deer are only contagious for a short duration (less than seven days).  

Transmission Risks

The risk for transmission from deer to humans is likely very low due to the outdoor aspect of hunting and the short period of time deer are contagious with the virus. SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted by inhaling aerosolized droplets. These droplets can come from respiration or from the digestive tract. Currently: 

  • The transmission mode from humans to white-tailed deer is currently unknown. 

  • There have been no known cases of humans contracting COVID-19 from deer.  

  • There is no evidence people can contract COVID-19 by eating wild game. 

Tips for Handling and Preparing Game

To minimize the transmission risk of diseases, MassWildlife always recommends hunters use best practices for processing game

  • Avoid handling or consuming wild animals that appear sick or those found dead. 

  • Wear gloves and a face shield when handling, field dressing, and processing game. 

  • When possible, process your game outdoors or in a well-ventilated location. 

  • Use caution and minimize contact with the brain or spinal tissues. Out of an abundance of caution for Covid-19, additional preventative measures include avoiding the head, lungs, and digestive tract. 

  • Handle knives carefully to prevent accidental cuts. 

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after handling carcasses and before and after handling meat. 

  • Thoroughly sanitize all tools and work surfaces used during processing with a bleach solution (1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon water). Consider keeping a separate set of knives used only for butchering game. 

  • Cook game meat thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill pathogens. 

Click here for more resources with research about COVID-19 and wildlife.

Help prevent chronic wasting disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease that is fatal to cervids, including deer, elk, and moose. It attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to exhibit abnormal behavior, become emaciated, and eventually die. Infected deer may spread the infectious agents through urine, feces, saliva, etc. for months before showing any clinical symptoms. No CWD infected deer have been found in Massachusetts. If you see a deer or moose in Massachusetts exhibiting any signs of this disease or any other disease, please contact MassWildlife at (508) 389-6300.

In order to keep CWD from coming into Massachusetts, certain restrictions regarding the movement of deer and deer parts have been put in place. If you hunt deer outside of Massachusetts, remember it is illegal to import deer parts from states or provinces where Chronic Wasting Disease has been detected (see map here). It is legal to import deboned meat, clean skull caps, hides without the head, or a fixed taxidermy mount. This ban includes all members of the Cervidae family including, but not limited to, white-tailed deer, mule deer, red deer, moose, caribou, or elk. If you are a non-resident hunting in Massachusetts, it's important for you to understand the rules for traveling back to your state with a deer harvested in Massachusetts. Check with your home state before bringing a harvested deer or deer parts back. Please click here to learn more about CWD

Controlled deer hunts

Applications are still open for some fall controlled deer hunts.

  • Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt: Hardwick, Pelham, and New Salem are the only areas that will be open to hunting this year, and they will be open for the entire two week 2021 shotgun season. There will be no lottery for permits; each hunter must apply individually and DCR will not limit the number of permits. There is no application deadline for DCR's Quabbin hunt. Learn more about hunting at the Quabbin Reservoir.
  • 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.
  • Wachusett Controlled Deer Hunt: There are 2 types of hunting permits for DCR properties in the Wachusett Reservoir watershed area. Application is closed for the “Reservoir Zone” hunt. 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: Registration is closed for the 2021 hunt.
  • Blue Hills Managed Deer Hunt: Registration is closed for the 2021 hunt.

2021–2022 migratory game bird hunting

The Fisheries and Wildlife Board recently approved season dates, bag limits, and other regulations for the 2021–2022 migratory game bird hunting seasons. NEW THIS YEAR: The early goose season will open statewide before Labor Day on September 1. The regular goose and duck seasons will now open on the same day (October 11) in the Central and Berkshire zones.

View the 2021–2022 Massachusetts migratory game bird seasons dates and bag limits.

Where to hunt this fall

Here are some resources to help you find your perfect hunting spot: 

Still need more ideas? Click here for information on where to hunt in Massachusetts

Safety reminders

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

Stay informed and help spread the word

MassWildlife will post new information as it becomes available to this page (Mass.gov/FallHunt2021). 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. If you have questions, contact us at (508) 389-6300 or mass.wildlife@mass.gov. 

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