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October 24, 2007

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100 Best Public-Land Hunts: Massachusetts

Phillipston Wildlife Management Area
Location
: central Massachusetts
Size: 3,383 acres
ZIP: 01005

Worcester County has produced more Boone & Crockett bucks than any county in Massachusetts: its most recent trophy, a 172 1/8 typical shot with a recurve bow last October, is the new Massachusetts archery record. Phillipston, in north-central Worcester, ranks among the county’s best public lands because its lowland bogs and upland hardwood forests interspersed with apple trees get relatively light hunting pressure due to minimal road access. Michael Morelly, a wildlife technician for the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game who’s spent three years at Phillipston, says most hunters mount small drives to flush deer out of the area’s thick cover. “But if you do your homework and spend a few weekends patterning deer,” Morelly says, ”stand hunting is your best bet.”

Moran Wildlife Management Area
Location
: west Massachusetts
Size: 1,147 acres
ZIP: 01270

More than 25 percent of Massachusetts bucks are 3 1/2 years or older, according to Tom O’Shea, assistant director of wildlife for the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. “We’ve got the kind of age structure the Quality Deer Management Association sets as a goal,” O’Shea says, “and our deer densities, while not as high as mid-Atlantic states, are still better than a lot of our New England neighbors.” Big bucks can be found statewide, but the Berkshire Mountains offer some of the most extensive public land acres. Moran is a good place to start: Located on a plateau at 1,700 feet, the WMA’s northern hardwood, spruce, fir, aspen and birch habitat provides lots of security, which means hunters need to mount a drive (a reasonable undertaking on Moran’s relatively gentle terrain) to get deer up and moving.

Nantucket Conservation Foundation lands
Location
: east Massachusetts
Size: 8,800 acres
ZIP: 02554

Nantucket Island boasts the state’s highest deer densities and best hunter success rates. “You may not find the biggest bucks there,” O’Shea says, “but you’ll see lots of deer in a really unique hunting environment.” Thirty miles off the Massachusetts coast, Nantucket combines easy terrain with difficult cover: Sandy flats are smothered with gnarly scrub oak and broken pitch-pine canopies. Deer will sit tight until driven out. An island hunt takes some planning to arrange ferry transportation and lodging, but high deer numbers make permits easy to come by over the counter.

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Comments

adam

I'd like to hunt in Worsester county. Sounds like theres some big bucks there.

bob z

can you rifle hunt whitetail deer in mass

No rifles allowed in mass

Big bucks are all over the state. most of them are in small wood lots right behind peoples homes.
if you have a woodlot behind your house 50-100 yards wide, check it out, bet there is quite a bit of sign back there

jv

You can hunt with a rifle in western Mass, no in the because it's to densely populated

MassMarc

Shotgun only through-out MA. No rifle hunting allowed within the state.




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100 Top Public Lands
Field & Stream reporter Steven Hill spent two months interviewing state game agency officials, deer biologists, and whitetail experts to identify the absolute best public whitetail hunting grounds in the nation.

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