Deer Management: Hunting Policies

To protect forest understories and healthy habitats, the most effective tool is to reduce the female deer population. For this reason, we grant permits to a limited number of hunters on a few SVT properties (see Properties List lower on this page).

All SVT properties remain open to the public during hunting season, and we post warnings on all trails that access the hunting areas.

See also: 

SVT Hunting Policies

  • Hunters on SVT properties must have a state hunting license.
  • Hunters on SVT properties must be granted a permit by SVT (see exception under Properties List).
  • Permits can be revoked for any reason including safety.
  • Hunter must pass a proficiency test at least once every 5 years.
  • Hunters must comply with municipal and state regulations. This includes season limits and no hunting on Sundays. 
  • No animals other than deer may be hunted under an SVT permit.
  • Hunters must hunt from a tree stand and must shoot downward. Blinds are not allowed. Stands must be temporary and not damage the tree.
  • No shooting across a trail
  • No hunting can occur within
    -- 75 feet of a trail
    -- 500 feet of a structure (unless the owner has given written permission for a setback reduction for that season)
    -- 150 feet of a road

In addition:

  • Hunters who receive permits are serving as SVT volunteers, and they must be willing and able to speak with any member of the public about SVT’s Deer Management program or direct them to SVT staff.
  • All permitted hunters are expected to put in adequate time to use all of the antlerless tags they have acquired from the state. 
  • Hunters must submit a log for each visit so we can assess the program at the end of each season.

Each hunter’s compliance with these expectations is taken into account during future permitting reviews.

Permit Overview

  • We limit the number of hunters on each property. Interested hunters must apply for a permit directly from SVT.
  • We grant a new round of permits each year, typically in late summer.
  • We give preference to hunters who have received permits in previous years and have abided by our policies, but these hunters are not guaranteed a permit.
  • To apply for a permit, a hunter must have a valid Massachusetts hunting license and must intend to apply for anterless deer tags.

Because of the limited number of permits, we have a waiting list for new hunters who are interested in an SVT permit. To learn how to apply for a permit, go to SVT Deer Management: Permit Process and Applications.

Properties List

SVT issues permits for deer hunting at the following properties. Permits allow archery hunting only:

  • Cowassock Woods (Framingham): 2 permits
  • Henry’s Hill/Wayside Forest (Framingham): 5 permits
  • Cedar Hill (Northborough): 4 permits
  • Sawink Farm (Westborough): 2 permits
  • Smith Conservation Land (Littleton): 1 permit

Exception: Hunting is also allowed at Garfield Woods (Forty Caves) in Berlin, at Brissette in Boylston, and at Cedar Swamp in Westborough but no SVT permit is required. Hunters must comply with local and state hunting regulations.

We chose these properties (except for Brissette) due to the evidence of abundant deer populations and for their ability to host hunting while maintaining visitor safety. (We allow hunting at Brissette as part of an agreement with the previous owners who helped to protect the land, and there are no trails on the property.)