Hunting Wachusett Reservoir Watershed Lands
There are two types of DCR Watershed permits based on the location of the property:
- A five-year access permit for hunting/trapping on DCR watershed properties both west and east of Interstate 190 - excluding the "Reservoir Zone." These properties are open for all hunting/trapping seasons and for all legal game.
Click here for DCR hunting access permit on Wachusett Reservoir watershed management lands
♦ If you have an existing permit for hunting west of I-190 it is still valid until its expiration date and is valid for use in the expanded hunting zone east of I-190.
♦ No person under the age of 12 may hunt. By law, all minors ages 12-14 are not required to have a MA hunting license but must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult while hunting. During the Commonwealth’s special Youth Deer Hunt Day, minors ages 12-14 do not need a Wachusett Watershed 5-year permit to be able to participate in this hunt of DCR-DWSP lands. However, the accompanying adult must possess the 5-year permit to legally hunt the Wachusett Watershed properties. Minor hunters ages 15-17 years old are required to have an active hunting license and the accompanying Wachusett Watershed 5-year permit.
- An annual permit for hunting on property immediately adjacent to Wachusett Reservoir, designated by DCR as the "Reservoir Zone", which encompasses lands within Routes 110, 12, 40, and 70. Hunting in this area is only for white tailed deer. The area will be open for archery season from October 19 - November 28, shotgun season from December 1 - December 12, and primitive firearms season from December 14 - December 31. This permit is selected by lottery.
All DCR Wachusett Reservoir watershed hunting permits are free.
The DCR Permit is in addition to a valid Massachusetts Hunting License and a Hunter Safety Certificate, if required, by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
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.
- 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, including areas in the Wachusett Reservoir watershed. Click on any location to find additional information about rules, regulations, and contact information.
- Wachusett Reservoir Zone Controlled Hunt
View huntable areas within the Wachusett Reservoir Controlled Hunt Zone.
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.
Wachusett "Reservoir Zone" Controlled Deer Hunt
DWSP has designated a "Reservoir Zone" hunting area as the 2,800 acres around the Wachusett Reservoir within the boundary set by Routes 110, 12, 140, and 70.
The Wachusett Controlled Deer hunt will take place from October 19 to December 31 for the following types of hunting:
- Archery Season (Zone 9): Oct. 19 - Nov. 28
- Shotgun Season: Dec 1 - Dec. 12
- Primitive Firearms Season: Dec. 14 - Dec. 31
The Reservoir Zone is open for white-tailed deer hunting ONLY.
Hunters must apply for a permit. Permits will be a randomly selected based on a specific hunter density. Selected hunters will be given a special access permit to hunt within the Reservoir Zone.
Hunters will be required to walk into this zone from one of the existing gate locations.
Permit application instructions:
- Application available from July 1 until August 31.
CLICK HERE FOR THE WACHUSETT "RESEVOIR ZONE" HUNT APPLICATION.
- Fill out all the required information for each hunter. If you do not include all the information DCR needs, you may be disqualified. Include Area Code with phone number.
- You must possess a valid 2020 Massachusetts Hunting or Sporting License BEFORE you apply. Use your MassFishHunt Customer ID Number on the application. This number will be used in the lottery selection process to draw permits. ALL Customer ID numbers are eligible for the drawing.
Maps, Instructions, and Regulations:
- Click here to view an interactive map of the Reservoir Zone Hunting Area.
This map is for the hunters that won the Reservoir Zone deer hunt lottery for both the Shotgun and Primitive seasons.
Note: Location information on this map is for reference purposes only. This map is 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.
- Instructions for Purchasing Wachusett Reservoir "Reservoir Zone" Controlled Deer Hunt Antlerless Permits
The forests in the Wachusett Reservoir watershed ensure the reliable protection of the drinking water supply for 3 million people. DCR's Division of Water Supply Protection (DWSP) strives to maintain an actively growing, diverse, multi-age forest in order to regulate stream flow, maintain water quality, and prevent erosion.
Deer hunting was prohibited on Wachusett Reservoir watershed lands since its construction at the beginning of the 20th century. DCR's land ownership at Wachusett Reservoir for most of the 1900s was just the property around the reservoir itself. Significant acreage, often collections of small parcels scattered around the watershed, have been acquired since 1985 to the preserved the source drinking water for 3 million people. A successful pilot hunting program began in 1996 on DWSP lands west of Interstate 190, although nearly 7,000 acres east of the highway remained closed to hunting.
DCR Foresters have identified significant impacts on forest regeneration in the un-hunted lands closer to reservoir itself. Deer densities above a certain threshold have an impact on tree regeneration and growth. DWSP staff estimated deer populations, documented forest regeneration impacts, and concluded that additional deer hunting is necessary to maintain the Wachusett Reservoir watershed forest.
The management of deer in the Wachusett Reservoir watershed is outlined in DWSP's 2017 Land Management Plan. The plan discusses the issue of utilizing hunting as a means to reduce the deer density to acceptable levels to minimize impacts to the water supply protection. Following a public meeting and comment period in June 2018, DCR established a hunting program for its Wachusett Reservoir watershed properties.