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
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.
- Quabbin Reservoir Controlled Hunt
View huntable areas within the Quabbin Reservoir Zone Controlled Hunt Zones.
- DCR DWSP Deer Hunter Field Map Watershed Lands Open to Hunting
View huntable areas across the DCR Watershed System that are not part of a Controlled Hunt. Click on any location to find additional information about rules, regulations, and contact information.
- Quabbin Deer Harvest Map
View where deer were harvested in past years during the controlled hunt.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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
- 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.
- You must possess a valid 2021 Massachusetts Hunting or Sporting License BEFORE you apply.
- Complete the online application with all required information.
- 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:
- Each deer harvested needs to be reported separately.
- Please click here to go to the on-line harvest report form (https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/22ef1a391a794f2faf964809236191e7)
- Please answer all of the questions. You will need to examine your deer to answer some of these questions.
Other Hunting Opportunities at Quabbin
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.
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.