Delaware is a paradise for hunters, offering incredible options for small and large game. Managed by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), you can hunt deer, turkey, waterfowl, upland birds, and furbearers in this state. Hunting seasons vary based on species and location.
Most of the land in Delaware is owned privately so it’s essential to gain permission from landowners before hunting there; however public lands such as parks, wildlife areas, and forests are available with certain permits or season passes issued by DNREC.
In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about hunting in Delaware. Whether you want to know what to hunt, where to hunt, hunting season, or license information, we’ve got it all. So, let’s get started.
What Can You Hunt in Delaware?
Deer and turkey hunting are two of the most popular outdoor activities in Delaware. You can find white-tailed deer all across the state, with both archery and firearms seasons open to hunters.
Meanwhile, spring season offers wild turkeys while fall is prime time for Eastern Wild Turkeys – so make sure you check DNREC regulations before embarking on your hunt.
Small Game like squirrels, rabbits, pheasants, quail, and more also present themselves during their respective seasons if you’re up for a challenge.
Waterfowl such as ducks and geese may be hunted from October through January/February too! And don’t forget about furbearers: raccoons to opossums; skunks to foxes; coyotes to bobcats – trapping’s allowed too.
White-tailed deer are a crucial wildlife species in Delaware, treasured by hunters, photographers, and nature enthusiasts alike. The economic impact of their presence is immense – millions of dollars from visitors drawn to the state seeking out these majestic creatures, although damage caused to crops and vehicles can be costly too.
Deer hunting dominates as the premier game sport in Delaware; surveys demonstrate that more people hunt for deer than any other animal combined. Hunting them provides an exciting challenge with plenty of delicious venison at stake too.
When European settlers first landed in Delaware, white-tailed deer were abundant. However, by the mid-1800s, hunting, and destruction of their habitats had caused a drastic decline in population. This prompted the state to ban all deer harvesting in 1841.
It took more than a century for the herd’s numbers to recover enough for it to be considered safe again – finally allowing regulated hunting of either sex from 1954 onwards. The first season saw 505 bucks taken and has remained that way ever since as an ‘either sex’ policy remains firmly enforced; ensuring that its population continues to remain high today.
Deer Season in Delaware
|Archery||Sep 01 – Jan 31||Statewide|
|Muzzleloader||Oct 06 – Oct 15, Jan 22 – Jan 28||Statewide|
|Crossbow||Sep 01 – Jan 31||Statewide|
|General Firearm||Nov 10 – Nov 19, Jan 13 – Jan 21||Statewide|
|Special Antlerless Season||Oct 01 – Oct 23, Oct 16 – Oct 30||Statewide|
|Special Antlerless Season||Oct 20 – Dec 17, Oct 27 – Dec 17, Oct 30 – Dec 17||Statewide|
|Handgun and Pistol||Jan 08 – Jan 12||Statewide|
|Handgun and Pistol||Jan 06 – Jan 12||All zones except Zone 1A & 1B|
|Youth Season||Nov 04 – Nov 05||Statewide|
Delaware is home to three wild turkey species – Eastern, Rio Grande, and Merriam’s. The most common of these in the state are Eastern Wild Turkeys which can be spied everywhere from wooded areas to suburban neighborhoods.
Thanks to conservation efforts by Delaware’s government and private organizations, the population has seen a steady climb over recent decades and now numbers more than 20,000 birds.
Wild turkeys play an important role in Delaware’s ecology – they help keep insect populations under control while spreading seeds from plants as part of their diet. They also offer recreational opportunities for hunters who come far and wide during the spring season for a chance at bagging one.
Delaware is an ideal spot for turkey hunting. With plentiful public land to choose from, hunters can find a wealth of wild turkeys throughout the state. DNREC maintains more than 400,000 acres of untouched terrain in the form of forests, wildlife management areas, and state parks – the perfect habitat for these birds to thrive.
April 15th-May 15th is prime time for gobblers; they’re especially vocal at dawn or dusk making them easier to locate. Once you’ve got one in your sights, set up a blind or decoy station and wait it out.
The fall season can also be very productive if you do some scouting beforehand; turkeys are constantly on the move searching for food sources and potential mates so keep an eye out.
Turkey Season Delaware
|Wild Turkey Season||Apr 13 – May 11|
|Public Land Permit (A)||Apr 13 – Apr 19|
|Public Land Permit (B)||Apr 20 – Apr 26|
|Public Land Permit (C)||Apr 27 – May 03|
|Public Land Permit (D)||May 04 – May 11|
|No Sunday Hunting||No Sunday Hunting|
Coyote Hunting in Delaware can be a rewarding experience, but it requires the right preparation and strategy to have success. Before you set out on your hunt, make sure you’ve familiarized yourself with local regulations – as coyote hunting is allowed year-round in the state, though there are restrictions on when and where one may do so.
For optimal results while tracking down these elusive predators of the wilds, consider timing your hunt for winter months or late evening/early morning hours; this ensures that food sources are scarce which forces them to travel greater distances looking for sustenance – thus making sightings more likely.
When scouting potential areas look for thick vegetation or open fields that provide adequate cover; also take note of tracks and scat which indicate recent activity.
Don’t forget to bring essential equipment such as camouflage clothing, a rifle/shotgun with suitable ammunition & calls/decoys if desired along with binoculars & night vision goggles.
Also, remember safety comes first: wear blaze orange clothing at all times during your hunt and follow other protocols accordingly.
|Coyote||Sep 01 – Feb 01||No Limit|
Home to two species of rabbit, Eastern, and Appalachian cottontail, they’re found all across Delaware but are more concentrated in its southern and eastern parts. Rabbit hunting season runs from late October through early February with a limit of five per day – check local regulations before heading out as there may be additional restrictions or closures.
Gear up appropriately when you set out: binoculars help spot rabbits from afar while shotguns or rifles provide necessary firepower; move slowly and stay downwind so that you don’t spook them away.
Rabbits prefer areas such as brush piles or thickets so pay attention to these spots when scouting potential targets. Once located, take your time aiming carefully before shooting – if you miss, then wait a few minutes before trying again otherwise any remaining rabbits will surely scatter away.
Rabbit Season Delaware
|Cottontail||Nov 21 – Feb 04||No Limit|
Hunting squirrels in Delaware is a great way to spend an afternoon. You can use firearms or archery equipment, and the regulations are fairly straightforward: there’s no closed season for either species of squirrel, and each hunter has a daily bag limit of six with a possession limit of twelve.
The best tactic for hunting squirrels? Still-hunting! This involves slowly walking through the woods while keeping an eye out for signs of activity like movement or sound; once you spot one, take aim at your target with a firearm or bow and arrow – don’t forget hearing protection if using the former.
If still-hunting isn’t your style, try baiting traps or setting snares instead. Baiting traps require placing bait such as corn inside them to lure animals in safely; snares involve wire loops around areas where squirrels travel that trap them when they pass through them.
Squirrel Season in Delaware
|Gray Squirrel||Sep 23 – Feb 23||6|
|Gray Squirrel||Closed during Nov Deer Season||——-|
|Groundhog||Jul 01 – 30 Jun||No Limit|
|Bobwhite Quail||Nov 21 – Feb 06||6|
|Ring-necked Pheasant||Nov 21 – Feb 03||2|
|Duck||Oct 27 – Nov 04, Nov 20 – Nov 25, Dec 09 – Jan 31||6|
|Snow Duck||Oct 27 – Nov 04, Nov 20 – Nov 25, Dec 09 – Jan 31||6|
|Teal||Sep 13 – Sep 30||6|
|Coots||Oct 27 – Nov 04, Nov 20 – Nov 25, Dec 09 – Jan 31||15|
|Merganser||Oct 07 – Nov 04, Nov 20 – Nov 25, Dec 09 – Jan 31||5|
|Canada Goose||Sep 01 – Sep 25||15|
|Canada Goose||Nov 20 – Nov 25||2|
|Snow Goose||Oct 02 – Jan 31||25|
|Snow Goose Conservation Order||Feb 01 – Feb 02, Feb 05 – Apr 12||No Limit|
|Tundra Swan||11 Nov – 31 Jan||1 per season|
|Trumpeter Swan||Closed Season||——-|
|Mute Swan||Open waterfowl season||No Limit|
|Brant||Dec 23 – 09 Jan, Jan 11 – Jan 27||1|
|Mourning Dove||Sep 01 – Oct 21||15|
|Mourning Dove||Nov 20 – Jan 31||1|
|Sora and Virginia Rails||Sep 02 – Nov 22||3|
|King and Clapper Rails||Sep 02 – Nov 22||2|
|Snipe||Sep 29 – Jan 31||8|
|Crow||Jul 01 – Mar 30, Jun 28 – Jun 29||No Limit|
|Hunting Season||Nov 01 – Feb 29||No Limit|
|Chase Only Season||Oct 01 – Apr 30||No Limit|
|Hunting Season||Nov 01 – Feb 29||No Limit|
|Chase Only Season||Mar 01 – Mar 31||No Limit|
|Mink||Dec 01 – Mar 10||No Limit|
|Otter||Dec 01 – Mar 10||No Limit|
|Bullfrog||May 01 – Sep 30||24|
|Beaver||Dec 01 – Mar 20||No Limit|
|Woodcock||Nov 20 – Nov 25, Dec 16 – Jan 30||3|
No Elk Season this year in The First State. The Elk population is quite small in Delaware.
Delaware won’t have a black bear hunting season this year. However, due to recent sightings of bears in the state, DNREC may consider opening up a limited number of licenses and specific areas for hunters next year.
To partake in this potential season, one must obtain both a Delaware hunting license and a bear permit – available online or at licensing agents near you. It’s best to stay alert as more information becomes available.
Delaware Hunting License Information
Hunting in Delaware requires a valid license, no matter your age or home state. To get one, you must first complete a hunter safety course and demonstrate skill with firearms.
These classes can be taken online or in-person at an approved center; then submit the application form along with proof of completion and payment for applicable fees.
The cost of the license varies based on whether you’re a resident or not – residents qualify for discounted rates while nonresidents may purchase special licenses to hunt certain species without additional permits/tags.
In addition to the license, hunters must also buy hunting permits (available at sporting goods stores & online) plus any tags/stamps required for that particular animal species they plan to pursue. It’s critical that all laws and regulations are followed when out in the field – this ensures both safety and fun.
Where Can You Hunt in Delaware?
Delaware is a prime destination for hunters, boasting an array of game to hunt across public and private land. Whether it’s deer you’re after with either archery or firearms season, or turkey in spring or fall, there are plenty of spots to find them. There are also numerous wildlife management areas throughout the state offering year-round hunting opportunities for all species. Here you can take advantage of special regulations designed not only to ensure a great experience but also protect local wildlife populations at the same time.
Public Places to Hunt in Delaware
Blackbird State Forest
For the avid deer hunter, Blackbird State Forest promises a wealth of opportunities. Rolling hills and wetlands offer perfect cover for white-tailed deer, which are abundant in the area. Whether it’s with guns or bows, hunters can pursue their quarry during regular season or special late-season hunts.
Turkey lovers will also find something to love here – wild turkeys abound and can be hunted with firearms/bows during springtime. Scouting trips beforehand are recommended to ensure greater success when heading out into the field.
Small game enthusiasts won’t be left disappointed either; squirrels, rabbits, and grouse all roam these woods year-round – just remember your safety protocols when hunting.
Taber State Forest
Taber State Forest is a dream hunting destination for novice and seasoned hunters. Its abundant wildlife includes white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, woodcock, rabbit, squirrels, foxes, and even black bear – offering endless opportunities to bag game.
The Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife has taken great pains to create ideal conditions with prescribed burning and thinning projects which attract large numbers of animals searching for food such as acorns during the fall months.
But that’s not all: hikers can explore miles of trails; fishers have plenty of spots to cast their lines; campers will discover areas suitable year-round.
Redden State Forest
Redden State Forest is a great place for hunting in Delaware. This 8,000-acre forest offers plenty of chances to take down deer, turkey, and other small game. With its diverse terrain of hardwood forests, open fields, and wetlands, the wildlife here is abundant.
Managed by the DNREC (Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control), hunting in Redden State Forest follows designated areas during established seasons – so be sure to check their website for regulations before you go!
But that’s not all this amazing place has to offer; camping, hiking, biking, and fishing are also activities available here. With various trails throughout the park offering stunning views as they meander through nature’s beauty – there will never be a dull moment while visiting Redden State Forest.
For those looking to spend some time overnight at Redden State Forest can do so conveniently with campsites featuring amenities such as fire rings & picnic tables or opt-in for a more rustic experience with primitive sites peppered around the area.
Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area
Hunting in Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area of Delaware is a great experience. Situated in Sussex County, this place offers a wealth of wildlife and excellent hunting opportunities.
With thousands of acres encompassing wetlands, forests, and meadows, hunters have the chance to pursue various game like deer, turkey, and small game such as rabbits or squirrels – providing perfect avenues for novices – along with waterfowl and upland birds.
Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area provides ample chances for archery and firearm hunting throughout the year; however, during the fall season, it’s notably popular amongst those seeking whitetail deer while springtime brings forth turkeys galore.
Waterfowlers can also take advantage by locating ducks & geese during certain times when woodcock & snipe arrive on their migrations.
Augustine Wildlife Area
Augustine Wildlife Area is a paradise for hunters of all levels. Situated along the banks of the Delaware River, this wildlife area offers a wealth of game species to hunt, including deer, turkey, waterfowl, and small game.
Managed by the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, Augustine provides an abundance of hunting opportunities year-round; from archery or firearms seasons for white-tailed deer in autumn to spring/fall turkey hunts and duck/goose shooting on marshy areas near the river. Smaller critters like squirrels, rabbits, and grouse are also plentiful here.
Accessing your desired spot is made easy with several boat launches along the river plus numerous parking lots scattered across its landscape – perfect for stalking upland quarries such as deer or turkeys.
Private Places to Hunt in Delaware
Hunting on private land in Delaware is an exciting way to explore the outdoors and take advantage of some of the state’s prime hunting areas. With a wealth of wildlife, including deer, turkey, waterfowl, and small game available year-round, all hunters can find something that suits their fancy.
Whether it’s public or privately owned land, there are plenty of spots to hunt in Delaware. Before entering onto someone else’s property though – written permission from the owner needs to be obtained first.
It’s also necessary for hunters to abide by all relevant laws concerning hunting on private lands as well as observing any safety regulations put into place by landowners. These could include restrictions when using certain firearms and where safe shooting zones are located so make sure you know before you go out hunting in Delaware.