August 7, 2023

Potential Archery Season Expansion to be Heard in Massachusetts

Article Contact: Fred Bird,

Why it Matters: A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, August 15, 2023, at 1 p.m. on proposed regulatory amendments to 321 CMR 3.02 Hunting of Particular Game in Massachusetts. The proposed regulations would extend the dates of the deer archery hunting season in Wildlife Management Zones 1–9 by two weeks. For those unfamiliar with the state, that area mass is the entirety of central Massachusetts and the western part of the state to the MA/ NY border as well as the entire southern border the length of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. The archery deer season would begin statewide in all zones on the eighth Monday prior to Thanksgiving, and end on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. Given that the Commonwealth has a prohibition on Sunday hunting per Statute, two additional weeks of access and opportunities for MA’s archery hunters would be a great and welcome change for licensed hunters as well as wildlife managers. Zones 1-9 lie west of the Interstate 495 belt with more open land access, increasing opportunity and promoting additional harvest to bring population targets more in line with management objectives.

Highlights:

  • A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, August 15, 2023, at 1 p.m. on proposed regulatory amendments to 321 CMR 3.02 Hunting of Particular Game in Massachusetts.
  • If approved, the archery deer season would begin statewide in all zones on the eighth Monday prior to Thanksgiving, and end on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving.
  • Written comments will be accepted for 2 weeks after the hearing until Tuesday August 29, 2023, at 5 p.m. To submit written comments, please email sacco@mass.gov
  • The public can attend the hearing and provide oral comments either in-person at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough) or via a Zoom video webinar. Click here to join the webinar (Meeting ID: 872 1636 1535; Passcode: 3giq1H) or join by phone (Dial 646-931-3860; Meeting ID: 872 1636 1535; Passcode: 049312).

On August 15, 2023, MassWildlife will hold a public hearing on extending the current archery season in Zones 1-9 (west of I-495) by adding two additional weeks on the front end of the archery season, bringing central and western zones inline with the more populated regions of the Bay State lying east of I-495 and the Cape. This is a great opportunity to increase access for the 95,000 archery hunters in Massachusetts who accounted for 41% of the deer harvest last year. With a Statutory prohibition on Sunday hunting in the Commonwealth, two additional weeks of archery hunting is a great win for licensed hunters as well as wildlife managers.

In areas where hunting methods are restricted by town by-laws prohibiting the discharge of firearms and in areas where hunting access is severely limited through discharge setbacks, land closures, or town by-laws requiring written permission, not enough deer are removed to bring deer numbers in line with population objectives. An ideal range of about 12–18 deer per square mile in most of central and western Massachusetts is the population objective. Additional archery opportunities will allow for hunters to gain access to areas closed to firearms and directly contribute to game manager’s objectives. Additionally,  with 12 more days of access, Massachusetts archers will also have the chance to provide valuable biological information to wildlife managers from their harvest. This extended season proposal is also 12 days of additional revenue, by way of hunter’s dollars, spent within the state.

The public can attend the hearing and provide oral comments either in-person at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough) or via a Zoom video webinar. Click here to join the webinar (Meeting ID: 872 1636 1535; Passcode: 3giq1H) or join by phone (Dial 646-931-3860; Meeting ID: 872 1636 1535; Passcode: 049312).

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