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Deer Hunting

Hunting Regulations Icon Massachusetts Hunting & Fishing

Deer Hunting

Open season
(All Dates Inclusive)

Daily BAG limit

possession limit

season limit


Youth Deer Hunt

Sept. 30

See “Deer,” below.

1 antlered deer OR
1 antlerless deer in Zone
specified in permit during season

Paraplegic Hunt

Nov. 2 – Nov. 4

See “Deer,” below.

2 antlered deer +
antlerless deer by permit


Oct. 16 – Nov. 25


Nov. 27 – Dec. 9

Primitive Firearms

Dec. 11 – Dec. 30

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

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 without 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.

ANTLERLESS DEER PERMIT: 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, page 24). The application is submitted through the MassFishHunt system by any license vendor, or online. 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 in the zone to which they applied. 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) 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 purchasing an additional antlerless deer permit for an undersubscribed zone, such as Zone 14). Antlerless deer permits are nontransferable.

Tagging and checking requirements: Upon killing a deer 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, 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 (deer may be field-dressed, but not butchered, skinned, or taken to a taxidermist for mounting).

SHOTGUN DEER SEASON: During shotgun deer season hunters may use shotguns no 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.

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 (youth deer hunt included) except that the use of dogs is lawful for hunting waterfowl on coastal waters.

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

8YOUTH DEER HUNT: The Youth Deer Hunt date is Sept. 30, 2017. Youth aged 12–17 may participate; permit required, see Minors on page 12 for licensing requirements. Youth Deer Hunt Permits are free and available only at MassWildlife offices and sporting license vendors; permits not available online. Permits are available beginning August 1. The Youth Deer Hunt Permit with its accompanying tag is valid only for the day of the Youth Deer Hunt and cannot be used during any other deer hunting seasons. Shotgun, muzzleloader, or bow and arrow may be used. When a minor is accompanied by an adult, only one hunting implement between them is permitted. Accompanying adults may not use any hunting implements. Bag Limit: One antlered deer statewide OR one antlerless deer in the Wildlife Management Zone (s) specified on the Permit. All youth hunters and any accompanying adults must wear at least 500 square inches of blaze orange on the chest, back, and head. All harvest reporting requirements apply.

PARAPLEGIC SPORTSMEN’S HUNT: There is a special deer hunt for paraplegic sportsmen Nov. 2–4, 2017. Contact MassWildlife Field Headquarters (508) 389-6300 or visit for more information.

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.

Primitive Firearms 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 deer hunters must wear at least 500 square inches of hunter orange on head, back, and chest during the primitive firearms season.

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.

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 first day of archery deer season. Bait includes any natural or artificial substance which may be ingested that is used to entice deer.

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.

Controlled Deer Hunt: Visit the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s website at for application details on their controlled hunts (Quabbin and Blue Hills Reservation: typically updated by early August).


  • Quabbin and Blue Hills Controlled Deer Hunts
  • Paraplegic Sportsmen’s Deer Hunt, Nov. 2 – Nov. 4, 2017
  • Youth Pheasant Hunt
  • Youth Turkey Hunt
  • Youth Deer Hunt Date
  • Youth Waterfowl Hunting Dates, see Migratory Game Bird
    Hunting Seasons and Dates
  • Special Upland Game Bird Hunt