Shotgun season for deer starts Nov. 28

State wildlife officials rely on the shotgun deer hunting season to keep deer numbers in check. moving vehicles. — File photo by Tim Johnson

The Massachusetts two-week shotgun season for deer begins a half-hour before sunrise on Monday, Nov. 28, and ends a half-hour after sunset on Saturday, Dec. 10. Hunting is prohibited on Sundays.

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.

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 2016 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.

On Martha’s Vineyard hunters took a total of 607 deer in 2015, a slight increase over the 594 animals hunters reported in 2014, but not close to the 792 animals taken in 2011. Only the shotgun season saw a dip in harvest numbers.

By season, Island hunters took 207 deer during the six-week archery season (versus 198 in 2014), 316 deer in the two-week shotgun season (versus 337 in 2014), and 84 deer (versus 59) over the two-week muzzleloader season.

The six-week archery season ends this Saturday. The primitive-firearms deer season begins Monday, Dec. 12, and ends Saturday, Dec. 31.

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