The Massachusetts two-week shotgun season for deer begins one-half hour before sunrise Monday, Nov. 27, and ends one-half hour after sunset on Saturday, Dec. 9.
All deer taken during the first week of shotgun season must be appropriately tagged and taken to official deer-checking stations in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest or the Wampanoag tribal headquarters building in Aquinnah. After that, deer can be registered online, at mass.govmassfishhunt
Hunters who bring their deer to the State Forest check-in station will be eligible to receive a certificate good for $50 toward the cost of having their deer processed at an on-Island facility by experienced cutters, as part of a new program created by the M.V. Tick-Borne Illness Prevention Program and Island Grown Initiative (IGI). Hunters will receive their venison packaged and ready for the freezer, or to be shared with friends and neighbors.
For hunters willing to take more deer than they can use or give away, the IGI will ensure that the venison gets to families in need on the Island. IGI will have a truck at the check-in station at the State Forest where hunters can leave the deer once it has been checked in and inspected by the appropriate official.
IGI is outsourcing the processing of the donated deer to the Larder in Vineyard Haven, under the supervision of Jefferson Monroe. He will hire the butchers and use his commercial kitchen space. Processing will be available this year only during the shotgun season.
MassWildlife biologists estimate that there are over 100,000 deer statewide. Estimated densities range from about 12-18 per square mile in western and central Massachusetts to over 50 deer per square mile on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
State hunters harvested 12,249 deer during the 2016 hunting season, the third highest harvest on record. There were 4,656 taken in archery season, 4,920 taken in shotgun season, and 2,535 taken in primitive firearms season.
In Dukes County in 2016, 271 adult males, 396 females, and 100 button bucks — males six months of age or younger — were taken for a total of 767 for the season, up 26 percent from the 607 taken in 2015.
During shotgun season, 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.
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.