Few whitetail addicts who live outside Massachusetts think of it as a good place to pursue Pope & Young bucks. But it is. Especially by the standards of the New England region, the Bay State has an enviable record of putting deer into archery hunting’s most prestigious record book.
With only 14 counties totaling a meager 5 million acres, Massachusetts is the 40th-largest state in the U.S. So this isn’t an expansive place. Still, there’s a lot of bowhunting available, and not all of it is in the rugged Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. Although all of the counties with the highest P&Y numbers lie inland, such bucks have been taken in every part of the state. Even such vacation hotspots as Martha’s Vineyard have turned out some impressive deer over the years.
As our map illustrates, most entries have come from inland counties. Worcester (49) leads the way, with Berkshire and Middlesex (35 each) tying for second place. They’re barely ahead of Hampden (32) and Hampshire (30) in rounding out the state’s top five trophy producers.
Since 2010, though, there’s been a bit of a shift. Berkshire still leads the way in entries during that span, with 16 qualifying deer. But other counties have been more productive, relative to their historic norms. For instance, Norfolk has produced 11 of its 16 all-time entries during this time, while Bristol has yielded 8 of its 17 and Plymouth 11 of its 22. Whether there’s been a shift toward bigger bucks in the eastern part of the state is hard to say, but entries have clearly shifted in that direction.
Like many other states bordering the Atlantic, Massachusetts features higher, more rugged landforms in its western reaches. Elevations in the Berkshire Mountains range up to 3,489 atop Mount Greylock. The scenic Connecticut River Valley is the other major geographic feature of that part of the state. Central Massachusetts is more rolling woodlands, while the counties bordering the ocean are low and sandy.
For more details on bowhunting in Massachusetts, visit: mass.gov. Information about P&Y’s record book listings for all native North American big game can be accessed here.