Delaware's hunting seasons start Sept. 1 throughout state
Delaware hunters will start their 2017/18 hunting season on Friday, Sept. 1 with the statewide opening of archery and crossbow deer season, and mourning dove and resident Canada goose seasons on private lands and state wildlife areas. Hunters can start adding teal to their bag on Friday, Sept. 8 when the Special September Teal Season opens. Gray squirrel season opens Friday, Sept. 15.
Seasons opening in September, with dates and hunting hours listed, are:
• Doves: Sept. 1-30 (½ hour before sunrise to sunset)
• Resident Canada geese: Sept. 1-25 (½ hour before sunrise to sunset)
• Teal: Sept. 8-26 (½ hour before sunrise to sunset).
• Archery and Crossbow Deer: Sept. 1-Jan. 31, 2018
• Gray squirrel: Sept. 15-Feb. 3, 2018
Reminder: Non-toxic shot must be used for dove hunting on state wildlife areas during the month of September.
DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife offers many early-season hunting opportunities on state wildlife areas, with details and rules for hunting on them found by county as below:
New Castle County
Sunflower fields have been planted at the Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area on the Daniels and Rocks tracts. Hunting at the Daniels and Rocks Tracts will be run through a lottery held at noon at the Cedar Swamp lottery station located on Collins Beach Road. Hunting days will be Opening Day, Labor Day and all Saturdays in September. Hunting hours are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. All other areas of Cedar Swamp outside of zones 2 and 3 are open daily to dove hunting in accordance with all state and federal regulations from ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.
Augustine Wildlife Area does not have any sunflower fields this year; however the area is open throughout dove season with no special permits required
Dove hunting is also permitted on the C&D Canal Conservation Area and Eagles Nest Wildlife Area throughout the September season with no special permits required. Hunting at the Augustine and Eagles Nest Wildlife Areas and the C&D Conservation Area is permitted from ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.
Resident Canada Geese
Resident Canada goose hunting will be available on the C&D Canal Conservation Area, on and around Reedy Island in the Delaware River and on the Eagles Nest Wildlife Area. No special permits are required. Hunting hours are ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.
Blinds will be available on the Port Penn and Ashton Tracts of the Augustine Wildlife Area for the early teal season. These blinds are available by permit only through lottery drawings held at the Augustine lottery station at the end of North Congress Street in Port Penn. Lotteries are held on opening day, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, with drawings taking place 1½ hours before legal shooting time throughout the season.
Sunflowers have been planted in fields on the Davey Crockett Tract of the Little Creek Wildlife Area, the Logan Lane and BuckalooTracts of the Ted Harvey Conservation Area and the Penuel Tract of the Milford Neck Wildlife Area. Permits to hunt these fields are issued through a noon lottery at the Little Creek check station on Route 9/Bayside Drive just south of the town of Little Creek. These areas will be open to hunting on Opening Day, Labor Day, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in September only. Hunting hours are from 1-5 p.m. Dove hunting is restricted to these fields only on these 4 tracts. A sunflower field has also been established on the McKay Tract of the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area which will be open to permit only dove hunting with a lottery being held at the Cedar Swamp check station at noon on opening day, Labor day, and all Saturdays of the early dove season. Sunflower fields that are open without a lottery have been planted on the Smith Tract of the Blackiston Wildlife Area and the Haines Tract of the Norman G. Wilder Wildlife Area and these fields are open all season according to state law.
Resident Canada Geese
Resident goose hunting will be available on the Blackiston, Tappahanna, Norman G. Wilder, Little Creek-Davey Crockett Tract, Ted Harvey-Morris and Buckaloo Tracts and Milford Neck-Penuel, Coverdale, Main and Rawley’s Island Tracts with no special permits required. Hours are ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.
Select blinds will be open at the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area and will be available through a lottery at the Woodland Beach check station on Route 9 which is held 1 ½ hours before legal shooting time on a daily basis. Ted Harvey Conservation Area river blinds and Roberts and Island Farm Tract blinds will be issued through the Little Creek lottery station beginning 2 hours before legal shooting time daily. Blind status regarding grassing will be posted at the lottery stations. The Little Creek-Davey Crockett Tract and Milford Neck-Penuel, Main, Rawley’s Island and Cedar Creek Tracts are open without special permits.
A sunflower field has been planted on the Nanticoke Wildlife Area. No permits or check out are required and there are no limits on the number of hunters permitted. Hunting hours are from ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.
At the Assawoman Wildlife Area the sunflower field failed this year so dove hunting will be permitted on the entire area. During the month of September, permits will be issued on a self-serve basis at the Assawoman Wildlife Area check station; no permits are required after September. Hunting hours are from ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.
All other wildlife areas in Sussex County are open for dove hunting with no permits required from ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.
Resident Canada Geese
No resident goose hunts are planned for Sussex County on state wildlife areas, as no resident goose flocks are present on areas accessible for hunting.
Prime Hook State Wildlife Area is open to teal hunting this year. Hunting days are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. State blinds 1-5 and 8-9 will be open. Permits are free and will be issued on a first come-first served basis from the lottery station located on the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. All federal blinds are closed, and no drawings or check out will occur. No other Sussex County state wildlife areas fall within the September teal season zones. Hunting hours are ½ hour before sunrise to sunset. Hunters should plan to use the Ford’s Landing boat ramp within the federal refuge to access the state waterfowl blinds as the new water levels have made the state boat ramp inaccessible at most times.
Later 2017/18 hunting seasons
For later waterfowl and dove hunting season dates, hunters should consult the 2017-2018 Delaware Migratory Game Bird Season Summary, which is found in the 2017/2018 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide online now at www.de.gov/fw. Information about other hunting seasons, including deer season, can also be found in the guide.
A Delaware hunting license is required to participate in the migratory game bird season. A resident annual hunting license costs $25 for ages 16 through 64. A resident junior hunting license costs $5 for ages 13 through 15. To hunt waterfowl in Delaware, including teal, residents age 16 through 64 are required to purchase a state waterfowl (duck) stamp, which costs $9. Higher license prices apply to non-resident hunters, and no exemptions are made for non-residents age 65 and older on purchasing a hunting license or waterfowl stamp. Hunters who are exempt from purchasing a license must obtain an annual, free License Exempt Number (LEN) by calling 1-855-335-4868.
Delaware hunting licenses and waterfowl stamps can be purchased online, at the license desk in DNREC’s Dover office at 89 Kings Highway, or from hunting license dealers statewide. For hunters age 16 and older, a federal migratory bird hunting stamp is required to hunt teal and geese; federal stamps are available at U.S. Post Offices.
If hunting waterfowl on a state wildlife area from a blind that was selected through a lottery, all hunters in the blind are required to posess the $20 annual blind permit which can be purchased where hunting licenses are sold. This permit is waived for hunters participating in Division of Fish and Wildlife-designated youth hunting days.
Teal, dove and goose hunters also will need a Federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) number. To register for a HIP number, hunters can call toll free 1-855-335-4868 or go to Delaware Hunter and Trapper Registration (HTR) website: www.dnrec.delaware.gov/delhunt.
For more information, hunters should consult the 2017-2018 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide along with wildlife area maps. The guide is available online at 2017 Hunting Guide. Newly updated wildlife area hunting maps are available online and in-print soon.
Hard copies of the Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide and the wildlife area hunting maps are also available at the license desk in DNREC’s Dover office at 89 Kings Highway, or by calling the Wildlife Section office at 302-739-9912.
NOTE: As of July 1, 2017 a Conservation Access Pass is required for any registered motor vehicle used to access designated public lands owned or managed by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. Hunters can obtain a free Conservation Access Pass with the purchase of a hunting license. Information on the Conservation Access Pass and how to obtain the access pass can be found online at www.de.gov/fw or by calling the Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912.