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Deer Regulations

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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 anterior (front) base of the antler burr to the tip.

Antlerless deer: A permit is required to harvest antlerless deer during any season in all zones. Only one application per person. Applications must be postmarked no later than July 16th. Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted. Additional permits may be available for certain zones. Permits are accompanied by a zone-specific tag, are valid in any deer season, and must be in the hunter’s possession while hunting.

Note: Each antlerless deer permit is valid for one antlerless deer, increasing the seasonal bag limit for anyone possessing an antlerless deer permit. If you hunt during the archery, shotgun, or muzzleloader seasons, you must have a permit to take an antlerless deer. The number of deer a hunter may harvest statewide depends on the number of antlerless deer permits purchased. A hunter may possess antlerless deer permits for more than one zone. For example, if a hunter applies for a permit for Zone 5 and receives a permit, he/she may purchase additional permits for a zone that has permits available (e.g. Zone 14). Permit availability depends on permit allocation and the number of applicants. Permits for undersubscribed zones will go on sale on October 11, 2011 on a first-come-first-served basis.

Tagging requirements: Immediately upon killing a deer and prior to moving it (during any deer season), the tag portion must be separated from the license or antlerless deer permit, filled out, and attached to the deer in a conspicuous manner. Deer must be checked within 48 hours. Deer must not be possessed, transported, or under a person’s control unless the deer, or a part of the deer, is open to view. However, after the deer has been checked, the deer may be concealed.

Open Season
(All Dates Inclusive)

Daily Bag Limit

Possession Limit

Season Limit


Oct. 17 – Nov. 26

See “Deer,” below.

2 Antlered deer + antlerless deer
by permit


Nov. 28 – Dec. 10

Primitive Firearms

Dec. 12 – Dec. 31

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. This includes modern muzzleloaders, hinge action muzzleloaders, muzzleloaders with telescopic sights, and permits the use of sabot rounds. Rifled barrel shotguns are legal during shotgun deer season.

All deer 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.

Daily bag: The daily bag limit is determined by the number of valid tags a hunter possesses. However a hunter possessing 1 unchecked deer may take only 1 additional deer before checking the first deer at an official check station. No hunter may have more than 2 unsealed deer in possession at any time. All deer must be checked within 48 hours of being killed.

Annual bag: Two antlered deer, and as many antlerless deer as the hunter has valid permits for, provided that:

  • Hunters may purchase additional antlerless deer permits for available zones.
  • Hunters may take a maximum of 2 deer in the Quabbin Reservation, both of which may be antlerless, provided the hunter obtains a second antlerless deer permit after checking the first antlerless deer at a Quabbin check station. Antlerless deer taken in the Quabbin are not considered part of the statewide bag limit. Antlered deer taken in the Quabbin are part of the statewide bag limit.

During muzzleloader deer season 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. Hinge action (break open) muzzleloaders are NOT permitted. Single projectile only (no buckshot). Sabot rounds, 209 primers, and scopes are legal. Powder limited to black powder, pyrodex or other approved substitutes. Firearm is considered unloaded when cap or pan powder is removed. Primitive Firearms Stamp required. Archers may hunt during the muzzleloader firearms season but must purchase a Primitive Firearms Stamp and wear at least 500 square inches of hunter orange on head, back, and chest.

Driving deer while hunting is lawful.

Importation of deer parts from states or provinces where Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected is illegal. It is legal to import meat that is de-boned, 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 in July for information. Must submit an application by Aug. 15.

Paraplegic Sportsmen’s Hunt: There is a special deer hunt for paraplegic sportsmen Nov. 3–5, 2011. 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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