Quabbin Reservoir Watershed Hunting and Trapping

Find information about hunting and trapping in the Quabbin Reservoir watershed.

Table of Contents

Background

Winter Buck, Photo by Dale Monette, courtesy of North Quabbin Photography

Winter Buck, Photo by Dale Monette, courtesy of North Quabbin Photography

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

Two-day controlled hunts with hunters selected through a lottery began in 1991 in the Pelham area and expanded to the other four 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 DWSP’s intent to scale back hunting effort as the program moved from the initial deer 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.

It was decided in 2019 that one zone (Pelham) would be open to deer hunting during the two-week shotgun season. Hunters who applied for a one-year access permit could hunt this zone. Due to the success of this program, it was expanded to additional zones; since 2020, Pelham, New Salem and Hardwick zones have been open to deer hunting during the shotgun season. Two-day controlled hunts are still scheduled on a rotating (non-annual) basis in Prescott and Petersham zones. While hunter success has been lower during the deer maintenance phase of the program than in earlier reduction phases, the exceptional scenery and habitat of Quabbin Reservation still makes for a quality hunting experience.

Quabbin hunting is still largely centered around the protection of its forest through a managed deer hunt.  However, there are several other opportunities for hunting and trapping within the Quabbin Watershed.  Below is some information about what hunting and trapping opportunities currently exist and how sportsmen and sportswomen can participate.

​​​​​​​Quabbin Shotgun Season Deer Hunt

This hunt occurs annually during the two-week shotgun season in specific Quabbin zones (Hardwick, New Salem and Pelham). Hunters are required to apply online for a one-year DWSP Hunting permit to hunt these zones and there is no limit to the number of hunters that can receive a permit. PLEASE NOTE: these zones may rotate in-and-out of the two-day controlled deer hunt programs in future years to get hunters into difficult-to-access areas. 

2024 Shotgun Season Quabbin Hunt Zones

Hardwick, Pelham, and New Salem will be open for the entire two-week 2024 shotgun season (Dec. 2 - Dec. 14, 2024).  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 the two-week shotgun DWSP Hunting permits.  Each hunter must apply for their own hunting permit.  
  • Each hunter will be able to use the two buck tags issued with their hunting license as well as be able to purchase a Quabbin antlerless tag from MassFishHunt's instant award lottery. Every hunter that applies for this hunt by Friday, November 15, 2024 will have the ability to purchase a Quabbin Antlerless Deer Permit through the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife's MassFishHunt permit website.  Quabbin Antlerless tags will be made available to Quabbin shotgun season hunters on a date to be determined in November.  They will be available through the last day of Shotgun season (December 14, 2024).
  • Application dates for the hunting permit are from July 1 to the last day of shotgun season.  Please visit the Hunting Access Permits page for an application.

Quabbin Two-Day Controlled Deer Hunts

This is a two-day hunt that may occur in any given year in the historic Quabbin hunting zones of Hardwick, New Salem, Pelham, Petersham, and Prescott. Quabbin Park was added as a hunting zone in 2024. For two-day controlled hunts, participants are selected from an applicant pool in a special lottery. Applications for the two-day controlled hunt must be submitted online. Applications for all hunts open on July 1 and close on August 31.  Applications can be found on the Hunting Access Permit webpage.  Watching an online orientation and passing a knowledge check is required in order to receive your permit.

2024 Prescott, Petersham, and Quabbin Park Controlled Hunt

DCR DWSP will hold a two-day controlled hunt on the Prescott Peninsula, Petersham Zone, and Quabbin Park Zone during shotgun season.

  • Prescott hunt will be on Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5, 2024.
  • Quabbin Park hunt will be on Monday, December 9 and Tuesday, December 10, 2024.  The Park will be closed to the public during this hunt.
  • Petersham hunt will be on Thursday, December 12 and Friday, December 13, 2024.

These hunts will be administered the same as past Quabbin two-day controlled hunts.  Hunters can apply in groups of up to four (4) hunters and the number of permits will be capped for each Zone.  If that cap is reached, there will be a lottery.

The Prescott and Petersham hunts share an application where hunters can specify their preferred hunting zone. Additionally, there is a separate application for the Quabbin Park hunt. Hunters have the option to apply for both the Prescott/Petersham hunt and the Quabbin Park hunt.

The Lottery for the Prescott/Petersham and Quabbin Park hunts will be held on Wednesday, September 17, 2024, at 1pm at the Quabbin Visitor’s Center (see contact info below).  It will be live and open to the public.  As in the past, the selection process will issue permits based upon the last two digits of all Customer ID #’s (hunting license number) listed on the application.  If a Customer ID # is selected, all hunters on the application receive permits for that hunt zone. For Prescott and Petersham, you will get placed into your preferred zone as indicated on your application until that zone is full.  Once the hunter’s/hunting group’s preferred zone is full, they will be placed in their second choice if one of their Customer IDs get selected.

Les and Terry Campbell Quabbin Visitor Center: 485 Ware Road (Route 9 - GPS address: 100 Winsor Dam Rd), Belchertown, MA 01007; 413-323-7221.

You do not have to be at the lottery to find out if you were selected.  The winning Customer ID numbers will be emailed and posted on the DCR webpage after the lottery.

Permitted hunters for each zone will be allowed vehicle access to the Prescott Peninsula, Petersham and Quabbin Park for the two-day hunt.  Hunters will check in and out of the hunt each day.

Each hunter can use the two buck tags issued with their hunting license and may purchase up to two antlerless tags specific to Prescott, Petersham, or Quabbin Park through MassFishHunt's instant award lottery. These antlerless tags will be available for purchase in mid-November.

The 2024 lottery picks will be posted on this web page after the drawing.

Hunter Orientation

In order to be authorized to hunt controlled hunts in Petersham, Prescott, and Quabbin Park, selected hunters are REQUIRED to watch the DCR hunter orientation recording and answer knowledge check questions (link provided in email to selected hunters). This is now an annual requirement for all hunters, regardless of whether hunters have completed an orientation in the past. The link to the online orientation and knowledge check will be sent to hunters around Monday, September 30, 2024.

A few important notes:

  • Hunters who complete the knowledge check on or before November 1, 2024, will be able to purchase two Prescott, Petersham or Quabbin Park antlerless permits on the MassFishHunt website in mid-November.
  • Hunters will NOT be granted access to hunt if they fail to complete the orientation and knowledge check by November 1, 2024. 
  • ALL HUNTERS are required to take the Orientation and complete the Knowledge Check regardless of whether they plan to purchase an antlerless permit.

Note: If you have been selected for the Quabbin Controlled hunts in Petersham, Prescott, or Quabbin Park and have not received an email with the link to the Orientation and Knowledge Check, please email: quabbin.hunt@mass.gov

Scouting

Scouting is allowed year-round at Quabbin with the exception of the Prescott Zone.  There will be a special scouting weekend on Saturday, November 23 and Sunday, November 24, 2024.  Permitted hunters will be allowed to drive in Gate 17 at Prescott and Gate 40 for Petersham to scout the Zones. Hunters must check in and check out each day that they scout. Only permitted hunters for each Hunt Zone will be admitted. Hunters may scout Quabbin Park in their vehicles at any time. 

2024 Prescott and Petersham Controlled Hunt Permits

Please visit the Hunting Access Permits page for an application.

Other Quabbin Hunting or Trapping Opportunities

Male Turkey, Photo by Dale Monette, courtesy of North Quabbin Photography

Male Turkey, Photo by Dale Monette, courtesy of North Quabbin Photography

Off-Reservation Hunting at Quabbin

There are areas managed by the Division of Water Supply Protection that are outside of the traditional Quabbin Deer Hunt Zones.  These "Off-Reservation" lands are open for hunting and trapping for all game during the state hunting seasons with a DWSP permit.  You can view these other areas within the Quabbin watershed that are not part of a Controlled Deer Hunt on the DWSP Hunting Map 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. Note: A free five-year Watershed Hunting Permit is required to hunt these properties; click here to apply.

Turkey Hunting at Quabbin

Turkey hunting is permitted on Off-Reservation lands during the Spring and Fall seasons with a free five-year Watershed Hunting Permit (click here to apply).

Waterfowl Hunting at Quabbin

Waterfowl hunting is not permitted on any Quabbin watershed property due to 313 CMR 11.00, which states that bodily contact with surface waters are prohibited.  This restricts the ability of a hunter to retrieve his or her game. Waterfowl hunting is permitted in other watershed lands in designated areas. Please visit the DWSP Hunting Map for these locations.

Additional Vehicle Access on Off-Reservation Lands

There are some additional areas off-reservation in the towns of New Salem and Pelham that allow increased access through the gates with a Vehicle Access Permit (contact the Quabbin Visitor’s Center for more information).  These areas, collectively known as "Macedonia," are open for all seasons and all game, however the vehicle access permit is only good for deer hunting season.  Please visit the Hunting Map to see these areas in the northwest section of the Quabbin Watershed.  These areas allow you to rent a key that gives gate access. 

NOTE:  You do not need a Vehicle Access Permit to hunt this area.  You may access this area on foot from the gates.  However, a free five-year Watershed Hunting Permit is required.  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, go to www.mass.gov/info-details/deer-hunt-for-paraplegic-hunters.

Hunting Maps

DCR DWSP Hunt Map App

DWSP has developed a user-friendly interactive Hunting Map with information about hunting and trapping areas on DWSP property. 

This expertly detailed, interactive map shows everything you need for hunting on DWSP property.  Features include parking areas, access points, topographic contours, water bodies/wetlands, fields, recent timber harvests, hunting setbacks and road types and road names.  You can also filter DWSP property to find places where hunting/trapping is allowed, where dogs can be used, what type of permit is needed and what game you can hunt.  This map also can show you where previous deer harvests have been and what was harvested (Quabbin Deer Harvest tab).

You can use this map in two ways.  You can begin scouting from the comfort of your home on your desktop computer and identify areas you want to scout in the field.  You can then print a custom map from this webpage and bring it into the field.  Additionally, you can open the map on your smartphone’s web browser in the field and see your real-time location on the map.

NO Service, NO Problem- Take the DWSP Sportsman Map with you! 

Using the free app – ArcGIS Field Maps (iPhone or Google Play)– you can download a copy of the Hunting Map to take in the woods with you on your mobile device. This is great when you are hunting somewhere remote with no cell service.  Click here for Instructions for Using DCR Division of Water Supply Protection's Deer Hunt Interactive Maps Mobile App.

Printable Maps

DWSP has also created printable maps of the Quabbin Deer Hunting Zones.  Please note when printing that these maps are 11x17 inches.

Hardwick

New Salem

Pelham

Prescott

Petersham

Quabbin Park

Contact   for Quabbin Reservoir Watershed Hunting and Trapping

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