For thousands of Delaware deer hunters, their favorite time of year afield is squarely in sight, with projections pointing to another bountiful harvest during the state’s early shotgun deer season – which runs from Friday, Nov. 11 thru Sunday, Nov. 20, including Sunday, Nov. 13.
Of all Delaware’s deer seasons, the early shotgun season draws by far the most interest from hunters. “It’s remarkable that during Delaware’s five-month deer season, nearly 50 percent of the overall annual deer harvest will occur during these 10 days in mid-November,” said Emily Boyd, deer and furbearer biologist with the Division of Fish & Wildlife. “This year we anticipate Delaware hunters will harvest about 14,000 deer, with nearly half of them taken during the November shotgun deer season.”
This year, hunters will also have the opportunity to hunt on two Sundays during the November shotgun season in areas that are open to Sunday hunting. To find out which public areas are open for Sunday hunting, please visit Sunday deer hunting.
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, DE 19901, and by license agents statewide. To find a participating agent, or to purchase a license online, click Delaware Licenses. For more information on Delaware hunting licenses, call 302-739-9918.
Shotgun deer season resumes Saturday, Jan. 14 and runs through Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, including Sunday, Jan. 15. Other Delaware deer season dates include: Special antlerless – Saturday, Dec. 10-Saturday, Dec. 17, including Sunday, Dec. 11; Handgun – Saturday, Jan. 7-Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, no Sunday deer hunting allowed during handgun season; Muzzleloader – Monday, Jan. 23-Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017; Archery and crossbow deer season, ongoing thru Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, except for designated Sundays during certain firearms seasons, no Sunday deer hunting allowed during archery and crossbow season.
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. The resident hunter’s choice tag can be used on both antlered and antlerless deer. The resident quality buck tag can only be used on an antlered deer with a minimum outside antler spread of 15 inches. For non-residents, 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 may be purchased separately 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 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, near Frankford
Gumboro Community Center, Gumboro
Redden State Forest Headquarters, near Georgetown
Trap Pond State Park, near Laurel
Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, near Smyrna
Norman G. Wilder Wildlife Area, near Viola
Mosquito Control Office, Milford
New Castle County
Augustine Wildlife Area, Port Penn
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 take their deer to any of the Sportsmen Against Hunger participating private butcher shops found throughout the state.
For more information on hunting in Delaware, click on 2016-2017 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide. The guide also is available in printed form at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk in the Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, 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 Wildlife Area Maps. For more information, individuals can call the licensing desk at 302-739-9918 or the Wildlife Section office at 302-739-9912.