Antlerless Deer Permits

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MassWildlife Deer Project Leader Bill Woytek presented proposed antlerless deer permit allocations by Deer Management Zone (DMZ) to the Fisheries and Wildlife Board at their April meeting. Archers, shotgunners and muzzleloaders will be required to possess and use an antlerless deer permit and tag to take any antlerless deer during all seasons beginning this fall, and must apply for a permit before the July 16 deadline. Woytek's plan calls for no change in permit numbers from the 2001 allocation, with the exception of a reduction in permits for DMZ 12 (Cape Cod) to reflect the change in the zone boundary between DMZs 12 and 11. A total allocation of 41,050 permits for the combined 2002 white-tailed deer seasons was presented to and approved by the Board.

Woytek's justification for the "no change" approach is simple: "This is the first year MassWildlife is requiring an antlerless permit for the harvest of any and all antlerless deer," Woytek explains. "The only way to effectively measure the impact this major regulatory change will have on both our hunter success rates and deer density goals is to keep other aspects of our management plan constant. Any changes we see in antlerless deer harvest or hunter success rates will be attributable to the newly-adopted permit requirement. Comparing 2002 statistics with those generated in 2001, before permits for archers and muzzleloaders were mandatory, will provide the best insight into the effectiveness of the revised permit system. With this knowledge we'll be in an excellent position to adjust and refine the allocations in 2003."

Numbers of permits issued will remain conservative in Massachusetts DMZs where the deer herd is at or near population density goals, and aggressive in the eastern DMZs where deer densities remain at levels that contribute to habitat degradation and increasing conflicts with the public. Permit applications come with traditional paper licenses and are submitted through the mail. Sportsmen and women buying a 2002 hunting or sporting license online via may apply for an antlerless deer permit electronically. All selected applicants will be notified through the mail. Applicants not selected for their DMZ of choice will receive a card to obtain a permit in DMZs where allocation exceeded applications. The final option for obtaining a permit, or acquiring additional permits, will occur when remaining permits are made available for over the counter sale sometime in early October. Each antlerless deer permit will come with an antlerless deer tag, increasing the bearer's bag limit for antlerless deer by the number of permits possessed.