Wachusett Reservoir Watershed Deer Hunt

Learn more about hunting deer on DCR's Wachusett Reservoir Watershed lands

Hunting Wachusett Reservoir Watershed Lands

Click here to see designated property in the Wachusett Reservoir watershed that is open for public hunting with a permit from DCR's Division of Water Supply Protection Office of Watershed Management.

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.

There are two types of DCR Watershed permits based on the location of the property:

  1. A five-year permit for hunting on property both west and east of Interstate 190. This area is open for the entire hunting season and for all game.

    Click here for DCR hunting permit on Wachusett Reservoir watershed management lands

    Please note that 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 (but not the "Reservoir Zone").
  2. 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 and only from December 1 - December 31. This permit is selected by lottery.

All DCR Wachusett Reservoir watershed hunting permits are free.

Click here to view an interactive map of Wachusett Reservoir Watershed Hunting Lands.

Additional Resources for

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 December 1 to December 31, including shotgun and primitive firearm seasons. 

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:

  1. Application available until August 31. The Application period is currently closed. 
  2. 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.
  3. You must possess a valid 2018 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.

2018 Lottery Results:

Maps, Instructions, and Regulations:


The forests in the Wachusett Reservoir watershed ensure the reliable protection of the drinking water supply for 2.5 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 2.5 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.

Contact Information

If you have any questions, please contact:

Department of Conservation and Recreation
Division of Water Supply Protection
Office of Watershed Management
Wachusett/Sudbury Region
180 Beaman St.
West Boylston, MA  01583