CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The 2022 dear season in Massachusetts set a new annual record of harvested deer.

A total of 15,853 deer were hunted and harvested last year, which is within the expected range allowed under strict regulation set by MassWildlife. The previous record of deer harvested was set in 2020 at 14,766.

Preliminary harvest figures for the 2022 deer hunting seasons are the following:

  • Youth Deer Hunt Day: 114
  • Paraplegic Hunt Days: 7
  • Archery Season: 6,543
  • Shotgun Season: 5,823
  • Primitive Firearms Season: 3,366

“The statewide deer population has been increasing for several decades,” said MassWildlife Deer and Moose Project Leader Martin Feehan. “Hunting is a critical tool for balancing deer populations with forest health while feeding tens of thousands of families across Massachusetts every year. It really is a win-win for both people and wildlife conservation.” 

Deer harvest numbers by seasons, up to 2021. (Credit: MassWildlife)

It is estimated that there are more than 150,000 deer herded across the Commonwealth. In some parts of central and western Massachusetts, there can be 12-18 deer per square mile and 30-50 deer per square mile in parts of eastern Massachusetts.

Without population management through hunting, deer may become overabundant. This increases the risk of vehicle accidents and habitat damage. To reduce the number of deer in eastern Massachusetts, MassWildlife allowed more permits available to hunters. Deer populations in Bristol, Plymouth and Nantucket Counties are too high, according to MassWildlife.

This fall, MassWildlife will launch the Hunters Share the Harvest Program, where hunters can donate wild game meat like venison to Massachusetts residents in need.