The Massachusetts two-week deer shotgun season begins one-half hour before sunrise Monday, Nov. 26 and ends one-half hour after sunset on Saturday, Dec. 8.
While risk to non-hunters is minimal, public safety officials advise people entering wooded areas to exercise caution and wear bright colors, preferably blaze orange, particularly at dawn and dusk, when deer and hunters are most active. Environmental police advise walkers and hikers to be aware that it is hunting season and dress appropriately.
Hunting is prohibited within 500 feet of any occupied dwelling or building, without the authorization of the occupant or owner, and 150 feet from hard-surfaced roadways. Hunters must wear a minimum of 500 square inches of blaze orange on the back, chest, and head.
The six-week archery season ends on Saturday. Hunters are having some success.
At Larry’s Tackle on Upper Main Street in Edgartown, an official deer check station, owner Steve Purcell said that as of Monday morning he had checked in 107 deer. That figure is off the pace of the 2011 record season, when a lack of acorns had deer on the move for food. Hunters took an Island record 214 deer, a 20 percent increase over the 2010 archery season.
Fair weather and plenty of deer helped push the 2011 shotgun season to a record total of 454, a 41 percent increase over 2010.
The muzzle-loader season accounted for a record 124 deer, a 73 percent increase over the 2010 season.
In total, Island hunters took 792 deer, a 39 percent increase over 2010 and a new Island record.
Since deer population growth rates can exceed 30 percent annually, hunters provide a unique service in helping state wildlife managers achieve their population density goals, according to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Increasingly, nonhunters and property owners have taken an interest in deer management. Deer densities are linked to an increase in tick-borne diseases and deer-vehicle collisions.
All deer taken during the Vineyard shotgun season must be appropriately tagged and brought to an official deer-checking station in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, the Wampanoag tribal headquarters building in Aquinnah, or Larry’s Tackle.
The primitive firearms deer season begins Monday, Dec. 10, and ends Monday, Dec. 31.