Learning the correct hunting season in Delaware is one of the most important steps to take before you get out in the field for a hunt. The seasons vary based on many different factors such as the species you are taking as well as your age and the type of license you have. In addition to learning the seasons you can hunt in, it is important to understand how many birds or mammals you can take per season as well as the species you are allowed to hunt with your license.
Delaware hunting regulations are set by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). Many hunting laws stay the same from year to year, but DNREC can add new regulations at any time. For that reason, new and experienced hunters alike should check the regulations before each hunt to ensure that their trip is safe and legal. Below, outdoors can learn all of the hunting information they need to know before getting out in the field for a hunting trip.
Many regulations for hunting relate to the seasons in which you are allowed to hunt. Taking birds or mammals outside of a designated season is illegal and you can face stiff penalties for doing so. There are different seasons for all types of wildlife, such as deer, turkey, waterfowl, furbearers and small game species. While the season for particular a wildlife species generally stays the same from one year to the next, you should always check ahead of time rather than making an assumption. Furthermore, it is important to note that hunting seasons, even those for a particular species, can vary based on:
Note that some Delaware hunting seasons, such as those for gray squirrels, raccoons and opossum, may overlap with deer hunting seasons. In many cases, seasons such as these may be suspended during the shotgun and muzzleloader portion of the deer season to ensure everyone’s safety. Hunter’s education courses can teach you more about shotgun and muzzleloading during deer season.
Regardless of the season you are hunting in, you will almost always be required to hunt during daylight hours. As an exception, you can usually hunt nocturnal animals such as raccoons and opossums at night, provided that you follow all of the rules. While the exact hunting regulations can vary for certain species, the laws usually specify that you can only hunt starting one half hour before sunrise and ending one half hour after sunset.
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Several hunting laws in Delaware have been enacted to keep young hunters safe in the field. Learning the junior hunting and trapping regulations is important if you are a parent of a young hunter. Keep these rules in mind when your child is ready to get out in the field:
Even when you get a hunting license and follow the hunting season laws, keep in mind that you are not allowed to take any type of wildlife you want. There are strict regulations in place that dictate what types of animals and birds you can take as well as the number you can take per day or season. In some cases, you will need special permits to take wildlife on top of your annual hunting license. The following tags, permits or stamps may need to be purchased in addition to a regular hunting license:
Note that there can be different Delaware hunting regulations you need to follow based on whether or not you are a resident of the state. For example, you are required to purchase a state migratory bird stamp if you are a non-resident who is older than 16 years of age. However, residents only need to purchase these stamps when they are between 16 and 64 years of age. Because many rules are specific to certain types of licenses, it is always a good idea to check which laws for hunting relate to your age, residency and the type of wildlife you want to take.
It is important that you always check for new hunting rules in Delaware no matter your age or experience level. DNREC frequently adds new rules and makes changes to the existing regulations, meaning that the only way to be sure of your rights and obligations as a hunter is to check for updates on a regular basis. For example, fees for licenses and permits are frequently adjusted to provide additional revenue for state wildlife programs.
By checking the regulations each season, you will also learn about new permits and passes that may be required. For example, Delaware hunting regulations now require you to purchase a Conservation Access Pass for your vehicle if you plan on driving into a state wildlife area to hunt. Furthermore, some DE hunting restrictions have been lifted for deer hunting, allowing you to hunt on specific Sundays on privately owned land if you meet the requirements.