PEPPERELL -- Permits for the annual archery deer hunt at the town-owned Heald Street Orchard are now available.

This year's dates are from Oct. 21 through Dec. 31. Twelve local permits, awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, for bow hunting in the orchard are awarded each year.

Besides the Conservation Commission's regulations, all state laws regarding hunting will apply. For example, no hunting is allowed on Sundays in the commonwealth.

Deer populations in this region are slightly above the desirable level, according to MassWildlife, and the commission views hunting, where appropriate, as a management tool to prevent overpopulation.

To be qualified for a permit, a hunter must have no major fish and wildlife convictions and must have taken a bow hunter safety course.

To get a permit, a hunter may stop by the commission office in Town Hall, or phone 978-433-0325. At press time, permits are still available.

The commission welcomes input from hunters and members of the public who participate in or observe this program. Written comments may be sent to the Conservation Commission Office at One Main St., Pepperell, MA 01463 or via email at