Buying licenses and permits
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.
Hunters are required to report a deer, bear, turkey, coyote, and fox within 48 hours of harvest. Hunters are strongly encouraged to use MassFishHunt to report harvests online using a computer, tablet, or smartphone (except for the first week of shotgun deer season, see note below). 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. MassWildlife's offices are open to the public for harvest reporting; please visit the check station map to confirm hours.
- Shotgun Deer Hunters: 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.
- Furbearers: Otter and bobcat must be checked at a MassWildlife office. Click here for MassWildlife locations and office hours. MassWildlife encourages hunters and trappers to check all other furbearers online using MassFishHunt.
Deer hunting announcements
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. The easiest way to check is to log into MassFishHunt to check your permit status. If you need more assistance, click here for instructions on how to check your award status. The Instant Award Period begins August 1 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. If you are awarded an Antlerless Deer Permit, you must purchase it in order to use it. See 2021 allocation and odds of winning.
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 28 at 9 a.m.
- Zone 10: Wednesday, September 29 at 9 a.m.
- Zone 9 (if available), 13, and 14: Thursday, September 30 at 9 a.m.
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.
Youth Deer Hunt Day
The 2021 Youth Deer Hunt Day is Saturday, October 2. 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.
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.
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 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, 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.
- 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 2021 controlled hunt at Blue Hills Reservation. When information becomes available, it will be posted on DCR's Blue Hills web page.
Get ready for black bear hunting season
Bear season opens the Tuesday after Labor Day—it’s time to prepare! Start now by using Google Earth or Google Maps to search for areas with frequent bear activity by zooming into satellite images and looking for crop damage. It’s also a good time to ask landowners for permission to hunt on private property. Get details on these and other pre-scouting tips from our black bear hunting tips page.
With record-breaking bear harvests last year, the 2021 bear season is anticipated to provide great opportunities for hunters across Massachusetts. The 2020 bear harvest set a new record with 325 bears taken, breaking the previous record of 283 from 2014. Both the September and November seasons also showed record high harvests. We also saw a record number taken in eastern Massachusetts. The record harvest reflects the continued growth and expansion of the state bear population.
2021 Black bear hunting season dates
First season: Sept. 7 – Sept. 25, 2021
Second season: Nov. 1 – Nov. 20, 2021
Shotgun season: Nov. 29 – Dec. 11, 2021
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.
Where to hunt this fall
Here are some resources to help you find your perfect hunting spot:
- MassWildlife lands: All MassWildlife Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) remain open to the public for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation. To find WMAs near you, please visit the MassWildlife Lands Viewer.
- State parks and forests: Hunting is allowed in many state parks and forests, as well as DCR watershed properties. Learn which state parks and forests are open to hunting and about special regulations.
- Municipal lands: Many towns allow hunting on municipal lands, which are sometimes called "conservation lands." Some town bylaws do not allow hunting, and others may restrict the use of firearms. Some land trusts and other nonprofit land groups also allow hunting on their lands. Contact the town or group for details. Get tips for hunting municipal lands.
- Federal lands: Massachusetts is home to several National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Hunting is allowed on 5 of these properties; click here to learn more about hunting on NWRs.
- Private property: Finding a place to hunt on private lands requires research and planning, but can be well worth the effort. Barring a town regulation, in Massachusetts you don’t need permission to hunt on private land that is not posted against trespass. However, it’s strongly recommended that you ask the landowner and get written permission well in advance. Click here for tips on hunting private property, including learning how to find out who owns the land.
- Pheasant stocked areas: MassWildlife will be stocking about 40,000 ring-necked pheasants statewide this fall on public and private lands that are open to hunting. Click here to find pheasant stocked areas near you.
Still need more ideas? Click here for information on where to hunt in Massachusetts.
MassWildlife encourages all hunters to review these safety tips before heading afield.
- 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.
- If you are planning to mentor or hunt with others who live outside your immediate household, take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Click here for the latest guidance on COVID-19.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.