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This is the 2015 Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Guide

This guide contains regulations effective today through December 31st, 2015.  For regulations effective January 1st, 2016, please refer to the 2016 Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Guide.


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Open season
(All Dates Inclusive)

Daily BAG limit

possession limit

season limit



Oct. 19 – Nov. 28

See “Deer,” below.

2 Antlered deer + antlerless deer
by permit


Nov. 30 – Dec. 12

Primitive Firearms

Dec. 14 – Dec. 31

Hunting hours begin ½ hour before sunrise and close ½ hour after sunset except as noted in WMA Reg. #10 (General Hunting Regulations).

Antlered deer: Any deer with at least 1 antler 3 inches long measured on a straight line from the center of the front base of the antler burr to the tip.

ANTLERLESS DEER: Any deer with no antlers or both antlers less than 3 inches long measured on a straight line from the center of the front base of the antler burr to the tip. A permit is required to take antlerless deer during any deer season. To apply for an antlerless deer permit, hunters must apply online or at a license vendor by July 16. Hunters may only apply for 1 permit in a specific Wildlife Management Zone (see WMZ map, Wildlife Management Area Regulations). The application must be submitted through the MassFishHunt system by any license vendor, or online via a computer. To obtain a permit, applicants must return to the MassFishHunt system during the Instant Award period (Aug. 1 – Dec. 31) and try to draw an antlerless deer permit for the zone they applied for. Notification of whether the applicant was successful or not will be instant. Selection is random and the odds of drawing a permit remain the same throughout the Instant Award period Instant Award permit issuance is NOT first-come-first-served. The odds of drawing a permit depend on the number of antlerless deer permits issued for a given zone and the number of hunters that applied for that zone. Successful applicants will be assessed a $5.00 fee and may print the permit immediately or at a later date. Any permits for undersubscribed zones will go on sale in October with details announced in September.

NOTE: Antlerless deer permits are valid during any deer season in the specified zone only (see Zone map,Wildlife Management Area Regulations) and must be in the hunter’s possession while deer hunting. Each antlerless deer permit is valid for one antlerless deer. A hunter may possess antlerless deer permits for more than one zone (e.g., drawing a Zone 5 with Instant Award and purchased an additional antlerless deer permit for an undersubscribed zone, such as Zone 14).

Tagging and checking requirements: Successful hunters must immediately fill out and detach paper tag from permit/license and attach tag to deer prior to moving it, and then must check/report their harvest within 48 hours by EITHER 1) reporting online and writing the harvest confirmation number on the tag attached to the deer (see Massachusetts Gun Laws for details), or 2) checking the deer at an official check station. EXCEPTION: All deer harvested during the 2-week shotgun season must be brought to an official check station. Until checked/reported, the deer or part of deer must remain open to view during transport AND must remain intact or whole (may be field-dressed, but not butchered, skinned, or taken to a taxidermist for mounting).

During shotgun deer season hunters may use shotguns not larger than 10 gauge, bows and arrows, or muzzleloaders not smaller than .44 caliber, or larger than .775 caliber. Hunters may use modern muzzleloaders, hinge action muzzleloaders, muzzleloaders with telescopic sights, and sabot rounds. Rifled barrel shotguns are legal during shotgun deer season.

All hunters, including bowhunters, must wear a minimum of 500 square inches of “hunter orange” on their head, chest, and back during shotgun and muzzleloader seasons. Cap and vest will suffice.

The possession of rifles, handguns, or dogs in any woodland or field, or use of same on any game, is prohibited during the shotgun deer season except that the use of dogs is lawful for hunting waterfowl on coastal waters.

ARCHERY DEER SEASON: Archery Stamp required. Archers shall not possess firearms on their person or use dogs. Arrows must be well-sharpened steel broadhead blades no less than 7/8 inches in width. Expanding broadheads and mechanical releases are legal. All bows, except permitted crossbows, used for hunting deer (recurve, long, and compound) must have a draw weight of at least 40 lbs. at 28 inches or at peak draw. Blaze orange is not required except as noted in WMA Reg. # 11 (Wildlife Management Area Regulations). See General Hunting Regulations for more archery information.

muzzleloader deer season: Primitive Firearms Stamp required. Hunters may use only shoulder-fired muzzleloaders .44 caliber to .775 caliber; barrel length 18 inches or more with only one barrel operational. Inline ignition systems are permitted providing rifle loads from the muzzle. Single projectile only (no buckshot). Sabot rounds, 209 primers, break/hinge-action muzzleloaders, and scopes are legal. Powder limited to black powder or black powder substitutes. A muzzleloader is considered unloaded when cap or pan powder is removed. Archers may hunt during the muzzleloader firearms season but must purchase a Primitive Firearms Stamp. All hunters must wear at least 500 square inches of hunter orange on head, back, and chest.

Daily bag: The daily bag limit is determined by the number of valid tags or permits a hunter possesses and whether or not the hunter has checked/reported any deer. No hunter may have more than 2 unreported deer in possession at any time, with the exception of Zones 13 and 14, where no hunter may have more than 4 unreported deer in possession at any time. All deer must be checked/reported within 48 hours of being killed.

Season Limit: Two antlered deer, and as many antlerless deer as the hunter has valid permits. Note:

  • Hunters may purchase additional antlerless deer permits for available zones.
  • Hunters may take a maximum of 2 deer in the Quabbin Reservation. Antlerless deer taken in the Quabbin are not considered part of the statewide bag limit. Antlered deer taken in the Quabbin are considered part of the statewide bag limit.

Driving deer while hunting is lawful.

BAITING OF DEER is prohibited during any deer season and any bait made available to deer must be removed 10 days prior to the opening of the archery deer season.

Importation of deer parts from states or provinces where Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected (including NY, PA, VA, WV, and MD) is illegal. It is legal to import deboned meat, cleaned skull caps, hides without the head, or a fixed taxidermy mount. No live deer, of any species, may be brought into Massachusetts for any purpose.

Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt: Call the Department of Conservation and Recreation at (413) 323-7221 or in July for information. Must submit an application by Aug. 15.

Paraplegic Sportsmen’s Hunt: There is a special deer hunt for paraplegic sportsmen Oct. 29 – 31, 2015. Contact DFW Field Headquarters (508) 389-6300 or visit the DFW website ( for more information.



Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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