Massachusetts is known as a smaller state hunting area producing large game species such as white-tailed deer. The state has 32 000 acres of public hunting lands and an estimated white-tailed deer population of 100 000, with archery hunting being the most prized season.
Suppose you plan on heading into the wooded hills and open plains in Massachusetts to harvest your seasonal white-tailed deer. In that case, We’ve done our homework and compiled a list below of everything you need to know about hunting deer in Massachusetts.
Season Dates 2023-2024
Massachusetts is divided into fifteen (15) Wildlife Management Zones (WMZ), and each zone is managed by their own regulations. The WMZ were established to implement seasons and limitations based on the populations of deer in the area.
There are three (3) different deer hunting seasons in Massachusetts; Archery, Shotgun, and Primitive Firearms. With two (2) additional seasons allocated for Youth and Disabled hunters. Let’s look further into the different deer hunting season dates for Massachusetts.
|Archery- Zones 1 – 9||October 16th – November 25th|
|Archery- Zones 10 – 14||October 2nd – November 25th|
|Paraplegic||November 2nd – November 4th|
|Youth Deer Hunt Day||September 30th|
|Shotgun||Nov. 27 – Dec. 9, 2023|
|Primitive Firearms||Dec. 11 – Dec. 30, 2023|
Youth Hunt Day occurs on the fourth (4th) Saturday following Labor Day and is reserved for hunters between the ages of twelve (12) to seventeen (17). Hunters between the ages of twelve (12) to fourteen (14) must be accompanied by an adult that is 18 years or older.
Paraplegic hunting season in Massachusetts is a three-day (3) hunting season reserved for disabled hunters. Paraplegic hunting season was established in 1972 and permitted volunteers or staff from MassWildlife to assist disabled hunters in retrieving and field-dressing deer.
Any hunter over the age of fifteen (15) must legally purchase a hunting license to hunt deer in Massachusetts. In addition to a hunting license, hunters must purchase permits and stamps depending on the season they wish to hunt. No stamp is required for shotgun season.
Hunters are required to complete a Basic Hunters Education certificate before they are permitted to purchase a hunting license in Massachusetts.
|Minor Hunting License (Age 15 – 17)||$6.50||–|
|Hunting License (Age 65 – 69)||$14.75||$101.50|
|Resident Hunting License (Age 69 or older)||Free||N/A|
|Resident Sporting License||$54.00||N/A|
|Resident Sporting License(Age 65–69)||$27.00||N/A|
|Paraplegic Hunting License||Free||Free|
|Paraplegic Sporting License||Free||Free|
|Antlerless Deer Permit||$10.00||$15.00|
|Archery Deer Season Stamp||$10.00||$15.00|
|Primitive Firearms Deer Season Stamp||$10.00||$15.00|
|Commercial Shooting Preserve (1-day)||$7.00||$11.00|
Non-resident hunters must purchase a Big Game Hunting license to hunt deer in Massachusetts. Every hunting license includes two (2) antlered deer tags valid across Massachusetts.
Hunters that wish to harvest antlerless deer must have an antlerless deer permit. There are a limited number of antlerless deer permits allocated for each WMZ. These permits are awarded by an application and drawing system. Each permit comes with one antlerless deer tag.
Hunters can legally harvest two (2) antlered deer with at least one antler three (3) inches or longer. In addition, hunters are permitted to harvest as many antlerless deer as long as they have valid deer permits. Antlerless deer are any deer without antlers or antlers less than three (3) inches in length.
Youth Deer Hunt Day permits junior hunters between the ages of twelve (12) to seventeen (17) to harvest one (1) deer (antlered or antlerless). Hunting hours begin ½ hour before sunrise and end ½ hour after sunset.
|Archery||Two (2) antlered deer|
|Primitive Weapons||Two (2) antlered deer|
|Shotgun||Two (2) antlered deer|
|Youth Hunt Day||One (1) antlered or antlerless deer|
What Weapons can you Hunt Deer with in Massachusetts?
- Archery- Bow & Arrow
- Muzzleloading rifles
|Gauge||Must be 10 gauge or less.|
|Projectile||Single or rifled barrels are permitted.|
|Ammunition||Single lead or alloy projectile, including rifled slugs or sabot rounds.|
|Prohibited ammunition||Buckshot is prohibited at all times.|
Bow and Arrow:
|Arrows||Only broadhead-tipped arrows with metal cutting edges are permitted.|
|Broadheads||Must be well-sharpened steel broadhead blades not less than 7/8 inches in width. Expanding broadheads and mechanical releases are permitted.|
|Bow characteristics||Must have a minimum draw weight of at least 40 lbs at 28 inches or peak draw.|
|Prohibited||Poisoned arrows, explosive tips, airbows and bows drawn by mechanical means are prohibited.|
|Crossbow draw weight||No minimum or maximum draw weight required for your crossbow.|
|Arrows/ bolts||No size limitations for either the crossbow itself or the arrow shaft.|
|Broadheads||Broadheads must be seven-eighths of one inch (7/8”) or greater at the widest point.|
|Legal Prohibition||Crossbows may only be used by Paraplegic hunters.|
|Powder||black powder or black powder substitute only.|
|Caliber||Single barrel of.45 to .775 caliber|
|Legal projectile||Barrel length must be 18 inches or more, with only one barrel operational.|
|Ignition||Inline ignition systems are permitted, providing the firearm loads from the muzzle.|
|Ammunition||Sabot rounds and 209 primers are permitted.|
What Types of Deer are Popular to Hunt in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is home to the common white-tailed deer. The species is spread across the entire state, with the eastern regions hosting the highest concentration of deer. Many mature white-tailed bucks are seasonally harvested in Massachusetts.
White-tailed will occasionally stomp their feet to communicate with each other and grow their antlers on a seasonal basis and can be harvested in Massachusetts with or without antlers.
What else is Popular to Hunt in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is certainly the state to visit for seasonal large and big game hunters. The state is visited by over 40 000 pheasants per year and offers a wide variety of sort after trophy animals, including:
- Black Bear
- Wild Boar
- Wild Turkey
- Water Fowl