The Massachusetts two-week shotgun season for deer begins a half-hour before sunrise Nov. 30, and ends a half-hour after sunset on Saturday, Dec. 12.
While risk to nonhunters 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.
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.
Environmental Police Sgt. Matt Bass said that while walkers and hikers are not required to wear orange, they should be aware that it is hunting season and dress appropriately. He said blaze orange is “a good idea.”
With the exception of shotgun season, hunters may check in deer online. The one exception is to allow the division to collect biological data about the health of the herd, according to state wildlife officials.
All deer taken during the Vineyard shotgun season must be appropriately tagged and brought to one of three official deer-checking stations on the Island: at the headquarters building in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, Larry’s Tackle Shop in Edgartown, or the Wampanoag tribal administration building in Aquinnah (9 am to 5 pm, and 3 to 5 pm Saturday).
For Martha’s Vineyard hunters, the start of the 2015 deer shotgun season brings the prospect of fresh venison in the freezer. Public health officials also welcome the season as an effective tool in the effort to control the Island’s deer population, seen as a major factor in the high incidence of tick-borne diseases.
State wildlife officials say there is no shortage of deer for Island hunters. Actual harvest numbers this season will be determined by weather, hunter effort, and access to land where deer seek shelter.
In 2014, Island hunters reported they shot 594 deer, 132 fewer than in 2013; the majority were taken with shotguns. A dip is not that unusual, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Deer and Moose project leader David Stainbrook said.
By season, in 2014 Island hunters took 198 deer during the six-week archery season; 337 deer during the two-week shotgun season; and 59 deer during the approximately 16-day primitive firearms season.
The six-week archery season ends this Saturday. The primitive firearms deer season begins Monday, Dec. 14, and ends Thursday, Dec. 31.
The Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club on Third Street in Edgartown will host a shotgun fall shoot competition from 10 am to 2:30 pm this Sunday. Events include bull’s-eye, and standing deer target competition. The public is invited.