Delaware’s 2015-2016 firearm deer hunting season will reopen Saturday, January 16, with shotgun deer season running through Saturday, January 23, followed by the resumption of muzzleloader season from Monday, January 25 through Saturday, January 30. The state’s continuing archery and crossbow seasons also conclude Saturday, January 30.
In order to hunt, Delaware residents age 16 through 64 are required to purchase a Delaware hunting license; a Delaware junior license is required for ages 13 through 15. Some license requirements differ for non-resident hunters. Delaware hunting licenses are sold online, at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and by license agents statewide. To find the participating agent, or to purchase a license online, click Delaware Licenses. For more information on Delaware hunting licenses, call 302-739-9918.
Deer must be tagged immediately after harvest, and tags must remain attached until the deer is processed. Delaware hunting licenses come with four antlerless deer tags, but additional antlerless deer tags may be purchased online or from license agents for $10. Resident hunters may purchase a combination resident hunter’s choice/quality buck tag for $10, with the resident hunter’s choice tag usable on both antlered and antlerless deer and the resident quality buck tag only usable on an antlered deer with a minimum outside antler spread of 15 inches. Non-residents may purchase separately one antlered deer tag valid for any deer and/or one quality buck tag for deer with a minimum outside antler spread of 15 inches for $25 each. Hunters are permitted to harvest a maximum of two antlered bucks for all seasons combined. All other deer taken must be antlerless.
Hunters are reminded that they must register their deer within 24 hours of harvest. A registration number is required before taking any deer to a butcher or taxidermist. Likewise, hunters who butcher their own deer must register the deer within 24 hours of harvest or before processing.
Hunters may register deer by visiting the Hunter and Trapper Registration (HTR) system online at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/delhunt using their smartphone, tablet or computer. Those who prefer to register their deer through a live customer service representative have the option to call 855-DEL-HUNT (855-335-4868). However, using the website instead of the live customer service phone number is a cost-savings measure that helps the Division of Fish & Wildlife direct more funding to on-the-ground habitat conservation and management, and to public hunting areas.
Successful hunters who harvest a deer and already have enough venison for themselves are encouraged to donate their deer to the Delaware Sportsmen Against Hunger Program. All donated deer will be processed free of charge to the hunter, and the meat will be distributed to participating charitable groups.
The Division of Fish & Wildlife maintains walk-in coolers where hunters may donate field-dressed, tagged deer at the following locations:
Assawoman Wildlife Area, Frankford
Gumboro Community Center, Millsboro
Redden State Forest Headquarters, Georgetown
Trap Pond State Park, Laurel
Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, Smyrna
Norman G. Wilder Wildlife Area, Viola
Mosquito Control Office, Milford
These coolers are checked periodically, and donated deer are taken to the Sussex Correctional Institution’s deer butchering program, or to participating private butcher shops, where they are processed. If a hunter donates a deer, the Division of Fish & Wildlife requests that the hunter please call the phone number posted on the cooler, so that the deer is transported for processing in a timely manner. Any deer dropped off at a cooler must be field-dressed and registered, with the registration number written on the field tag attached to the animal. Successful hunters may also donate their deer at any of the Sportsmen Against Hunger participating private butcher shops found throughout the state.
For more information on hunting in Delaware, individuals can view the 2015-2016 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide at http://www.eregulations.com/delaware/hunting/pageFlip/. The guide also is available in printed form at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk in the Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and from license agents throughout the state. State wildlife area hunting maps are available in hard copy at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk and online at Delaware Hunting Maps. For more information, individuals can call the recreational license desk at 302-739-9918 or the Wildlife Section office at 302-739-9912.