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Quabbin Reservation Deer Hunt

Learn more about the Quabbin Reservation Deer Hunt.

The 2021 Deer Hunt at Quabbin

There is only one type of deer hunt currently scheduled for Quabbin this year: Hardwick, Pelham, and New Salem will be open for the entire two week 2021 shotgun season (Nov. 29 - Dec. 11, 2021).  Similar to last year's hunt, access is by foot from DCR gates or designated access points .There will be a few interior DCR access roads that you will be allowed to drive down to get better access to each Zone (Gate 8 in Pelham, Gate 29 in New Salem, and Gates 45 and 43 in Hardwick).  Please see the map for more detail.

There is no lottery for permits in these zones.  Each hunter will apply for their own permit.  DCR will not limit the number of permits. 

General Public Advisory

The general public should be aware that hunters are allowed access from November 29 - December 11, 2021 in the Pelham (which includes parts of Belchertown), New Salem, and Hardwick Quabbin Reservoir Controlled Hunt Zones, through Gates 3A-16A, 21A-37, and 41-50.  Click here for the Quabbin Reservoir Controlled Hunt interactive map showing controlled hunt areas (in green) and gates. 

There are also areas outside of the traditional Deer Hunt Zones - "Off-Reservation" land that is north and west of Routes 202 and 122 -  which are open for hunting and trapping for all game during the state hunting season.  You can view these other areas within the Quabbin watershed that are not part of a Controlled Hunt on the Deer Hunter Field Map, where they are shown as yellow or green.

All visitors are advised to wear blaze orange during hunting season. Hunting is not allowed in Quabbin Park. 

Buck in the fall
Photo courtesy of Dale Monette, North Quabbin Photography

Table of Contents

The Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt

The Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt is an annual event conducted on Quabbin Reservoir watershed lands, implemented as part of the management program to maintain a balance between deer herd densities and forest regeneration. Participants are selected from an applicant pool in a special lottery in early September. Since 2016, all applications must be submitted online; the application must be filled out and submitted from the DCR Deer Hunt web page starting July 1, 2021; there is no specific deadline this year for submitting an application. If you need assistance completing the online application, call the Quabbin Visitor Center at (413) 323-7221 and leave a message; someone will get back to you within one or two business days.

The special lottery will not be used for the 2021 Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt.  All participants must apply for an individual permit; DCR is not limiting the number of permits granted for the 2021 season.  

Once selected, all successful applicants will receive their access permit via email by mid-November. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:

Quabbin Reservoir - Visitor Center
Department of Conservation & Recreation

485 Ware Rd.
Belchertown, MA 01007
(413) 323-7221
QuabbinVisitor.Center@mass.gov

Additional Information:

Interactive Maps

The Division of Water Supply’s (DWSP) has developed several interactive maps with detailed information about hunting areas on DWSP property.  There are two ways to access these maps: one is an online program that is accessible from your desktop computer or mobile device’s web browser; the other is through an App you can download directly to your mobile device and use in the field.  The mobile device App is recommended for use in the field.

Click on the links below to directly access the on-line program.  Please see the Instructions for Using DCR Division of Water Supply Protection's Deer Hunt Interactive Maps for information about the mobile app.

Note: Location information on these maps is for reference purposes only.  The maps are not meant to be used to determine accurate location with regards to boundaries or other features.  Please obey signage and respect our neighbors.  Hunters should be aware that these maps are updated as needed and setbacks, boundaries and available features may change.  

Additional Resources

Background

Since its creation in the 1930s, hunting had not been permitted on the Quabbin Reservation. This allowed deer populations to grow immensely.

In June of 1989 the Office of Watershed Management determined that the deer herd was negatively impacting its mandate to protect the natural resources and water of Quabbin. At that time it was also determined that the best solution to this situation was to reduce deer populations using a series of controlled public hunts.

Controlled hunts began in 1991 in the Pelham area and expanded to the four other management blocks (Prescott, New Salem, Hardwick and Petersham) during the next three years. As deer populations were lowered, yearly hunting effort was reduced so that by 1996 only one hunting segment was used in each hunt area. This was in keeping with DCR’s intent to scale back hunting effort as the program moved from the initial reduction phase to a population maintenance phase. The goal of this latter phase is to maintain deer populations at levels that allow for forest regeneration. While hunter success has been lower during this phase than in earlier years, the exceptional scenery and habitat of Quabbin Reservation still makes for a quality hunting experience.

Doe in the field
Photo courtesy of Dale Monette, North Quabbin Photography

Organization of the Controlled Deer Hunt

There is only one type of deer hunt currently scheduled for Quabbin in 2021: Hardwick, Pelham, and New Salem will be open for the entire two week 2021 shotgun season (Nov. 29 - Dec. 11, 2021.  Similar to the hunt in 2020, access is by foot from DCR gates or designated access points. There may be increased vehicle access for parking on interior roads at designated gates in each section.  

There is no lottery for permits in these zones.  Each hunter must apply for their own permit.  DCR will not limit the number of permits. 

Each hunter will be able to use the two buck tags issued with their hunting license as well as have a chance to win a Quabbin-specific antlerless tag purchased from MassFishHunt's instant award lottery. 

Quabbin Park Hunt

The Quabbin Park hunt is still pending.  DCR is not taking applications for this hunt.  All the hunters that were accepted and completed orientations before the postponed 2019 hunt will be issued permits if the Quabbin Park hunt occurs in 2021.

Please Note

  • No orientation is necessary to participate in the 2021 Controlled Deer Hunt in Hardwick, Pelham, and New Salem.
  • Hunters must obey all regulations and directions of DCR and law enforcement personnel.
  • There may be a limited number of Antlerless Deer Permits available to participating hunters; not all hunters may be able to purchase an Antlerless Permit.
  • Since 2007, hunters have been able to use muzzleloaders for the Quabbin Deer Hunt. However, all hunters must possess a valid FID Card in order to participate in the hunt.
  • The hunt may be cancelled due to severe weather conditions or security situations.

Controlled Hunt Application

Click here for the 2021 Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt application. 

The application must be filled out and submitted online through the DCR Deer Hunt web page. 

There is no application fee.   

There are several required fields on the application which must be completed before it can successfully be submitted, including a valid email address. 

You will receive an email message confirming successful submission of the application and this is where your permit will be sent. 

Please make sure the email address is valid and entered correctly.  

Instructions for Completing the Controlled Hunt Application

  1. Click here for the 2021 Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt application. 
    Please note that there is no deadline for submitting the application in 2021.  However, to be eligible for the bonus Quabbin Antlerless Permits you must apply for the DCR Quabbin deer hunt access permit by Sunday, October 31, 2021.  After that date, you can still apply to hunt at Quabbin, but you will not be able to purchase a bonus antlerless permit through the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.  Quabbin Antlerless Permits will go on sale in November on the MassFishHunt website. Click here for Instructions for Purchasing Quabbin Reservoir Controlled Deer Hunt Antlerless Permits.
  2. You must possess a valid 2021 Massachusetts Hunting or Sporting License BEFORE you apply.
  3. Complete the online application with all required information.
  4. Successful hunters must self-report harvest information here: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/8223cbb4543049a1bf4058f5ae5a4da1

Controlled Hunt Schedule

July 1:  Online application available.
July - August:  Application assistance by Quabbin Visitor Center staff.  If you need assistance completing the online application, call the Quabbin Visitor Center at (413) 323-7221 and leave a message; someone will get back to you within one or two business days.
November – December:  Quabbin Antlerless Permits available from MassWildlife (Specific dates to be determined).
November 29 - December 11: Shotgun season.

There will be no vehicle scouting in 2021.

Deer Harvest Reporting

Harvest data is important to understand the deer populations on DCR Division of Water Supply Protection lands.  Information collected about the deer harvest helps DCR with the management and logistics of the hunts held on the Quabbin Reservoir, Wachusett Reservoir, and Sudbury Reservoir watersheds, which provide drinking water to 3 million people. 

In addition to checking your deer with MassWildlife, anyone who harvests a deer on DCR Water Supply Protection property is required to submit that harvest information to DCR.

Online Deer Harvest Reporting Instructions: 

Other Hunting Opportunities at Quabbin

Off-Reservation Hunting

There are areas managed by the Division of Water Supply Protection that are outside of the traditional Deer Hunt Zones - "Off-Reservation" land that is north and west of Routes 202 and 122 -  which are open for hunting and trapping for all game during the state hunting season.  You can view these other areas within the Quabbin watershed that are not part of a Controlled Hunt on the Deer Hunter Field Map, where they are shown as yellow or green.  Click on any location to find additional information about rules, regulations, and contact information.   All State Fish and Wildlife Regulations are in effect for these properties.

Some properties, as shown as yellow on the Deer Hunter Field Map, allow increased access through the gates with a Deer Hunt Vehicle Access Permit. Information about applying for a 2021 Deer Hunt Vehicle Access Permit will be posted here on October 1.  If you have any questions email the Visitor Center at QuabbinVisitor.Center@mass.gov  or call  413-323-7221.

Paraplegic Hunt

Each year MassWildlife holds a special three-day deer hunting season for paraplegic hunters at Quabbin. Staff and volunteers place hunters in safe areas at several hunt locations. When a hunter shoots a deer, volunteers assist the hunter by retrieving the deer, field dressing it, and getting it checked in. For more information about this special hunt and how to take part click here:  www.mass.gov/service-details/deer-hunt-for-paraplegic-hunters.

Deer Hunt Reports and Surveys

Hunter Survey Results

DCR is conducting research on the different types of hunts that are hosted by the Division of Water Supply Protection hosts. We reached out to the hunters who took part in the 2019 Pelham Zone hunt to ask about their experience.  This information helps DCR make improvements to the existing hunt structure and provides information  to evaluate the success of the hunt. This short survey took less than five minutes and the responses were completely anonymous. Thanks to all the hunters that participated.  We really appreciate your input!

Click here for DCR Watershed Pelham Hunt 2019 Survey Results.

Past Reports

Harvest Locations 2010-2018

Contact

Address

100 Winsor Dam Rd.
Belchertown , MA 01007
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