Deer Hunting Begins in the Blue Hills

For the first time since 1893, hunters will have legal access to the Milton reserve.

If you’re planning to hike the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton this afternoon, don’t be surprised if you see dudes in orange vests with shotguns slung over their shoulders, because today marks the first time since 1893 that people can legally hunt deer there.

Over 80 hunters turned up for the first of a four-day state sanctioned dawn-to-dusk hunt that was floated in September as part of an effort to control the area’s deer population. The density of deer in the Blue Hills Reservation is estimated to be approximately 85 per square mile, well above the state recommended level of 6-18 per square mile.

In 2013, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation found that the huge deer population drastically increases the risk of lyme disease and ticks, and even damages the 7,000 acre reserve. DCR officials weighed numerous options like contraception and sterilization for dealing with the population, but chose the hunt because it was the most cost-effective solution.

Per the Boston Herald, DCR Deputy Commisioner Matthew Sisk said the hunt is “not a trophy hunt, and these folks are not going in there for sport. They’re going in to do a job.”

Deer hunters are limited to shotguns with slugs—no buckshot is allowed on this hunt or anywhere on the Blue Hills Reservation. Hunters can take home a maximum of six deer at the conclusion of the day’s hunt.

Animal rights activists and some residents have organized under the banner “Friends of the Blue Hills Deer” to protest the hunt, describing it as a “massacre.”

Protesters are scheduled to gather at 2 p.m. in a parking lot near Houghton’s Pond inside the reservation. Some even gathered during the Thanksgiving Weekend before the hunt began to make their voices heard, according to the Boston Globe.

“This is our oasis from city life. This is a sanctuary,” said Jill Hallisey, 60, of Jamaica Plain.

Some of the protesters played taps on a bugle.

The first round of the hunt ends tomorrow at 5 p.m. The second round of the deer hunt will take place next Monday and Tuesday from dawn-to-dusk.