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  Massachusetts Deer Hunting

State DNR Office   - Hunting Regs -  Federal Information

Deer Manageme
nt Overview

Population: 85,000 to 95,000 statewide. Densities range from about 10 per square mile in northwestern Massachusetts to 50 to 60 per square mile on Nantucket Island.

Management Framework: Population is managed in 15 wildlife management zones (WMZs). Goal densities are set as policy by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board. Hunting seasons, bag limits, and antlerless deer permit numbers are set to achieve goal densities.

Hunting: Three major seasons; Archery, Shotgun, Muzzleloader. Deer hunting with rifles in Massachusetts is prohibited. There is no hunting on Sundays.

Season dates for 2005

Bag Limits: 2 antlered deer per year and as many antlerless deer as the hunter has valid antlerless deer permits. Antlerless deer permit application must be postmarked by July 16th. Additional antlerless deer permits may be available for $5.00 each at MassWildlife outlets prior to the start of archery season.

Management Strategy:

White-tailed deer are managed in Massachusetts as a valuable natural resource. As such, MassWildlife sets deer density goals below human tolerance limits. If deer densities exceed human tolerance, people tend to label deer as pests. This attitude is contrary to MassWildlife's mission of wildlife conservation. Our experience has demonstrated that it is possible to maintain a healthy deer population that can be enjoyed by all citizens of the Commonwealth. MassWildlife manages the population using regulated hunting during three distinct hunting seasons. Since deer population growth rates can exceed 30% annually, hunters provide a unique service in helping us achieve our population density goals. By proactively limiting deer densities, we avoid the consequences of over-population. While MassWildlife maintains deer densities between 10 and 30 per square mile, we know of cases where deer populations in other states exceed 100 per square mile. This causes excessive property damage, road collisions and Lyme disease. It is more effective to maintain optimal deer densities, than to reduce over-populated deer populations.

Deer management goals can be maintained statewide, even in high developed, suburban areas. Where firearms are prohibited by local ordinances, hunters can effectively manage deer with archery equipment. MassWildlife recently increased the archery season to 36 days for this reason. Additionally, hunters can continue to use archery equipment throughout the muzzleloader season.

It is important that landowners and hunters cooperate to safely and effectively manage the Commonwealth's deer resource within desired population density goals. If done correctly, we can all enjoy the benefits of a healthy statewide deer population.


Massachusetts deer hunting information and state regulations. Outfitters, deer hunting, deer hunting supplies, deer hunts, deer hunting stats, deerhunting, deer, and more.