DOVER – Delaware’s spring turkey hunting season opens Saturday, April 14, and runs through Saturday, May 12, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today, with hunters aiming to capitalize on the month-long season by bagging a gobbler afield from among the state’s thriving wild turkey population. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Also, a special statewide one-day hunt for youth ages 10-15 and for disabled hunters using a wheelchair for mobility will be held Saturday, April 7. Young hunters must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older who has completed a Delaware-approved turkey hunter safety class, and who has a Delaware hunting license or is license-exempt. The accompanying adult may not hunt.
Hunters are reminded that only bearded birds may be taken, and that all harvested birds must be checked at an authorized turkey check station by 2:30 p.m. on the day of the hunt. Bag limit is one bearded turkey per hunter each year.
All hunters that are 13 years of age or older must have a junior or adult hunting license or License Exempt Number (LEN) and successfully completed a mandatory turkey education class before they can legally hunt wild turkeys in Delaware. Turkey hunters also are required to carry their Hunter Education/Turkey Education card certifying successful completion of the mandatory turkey course. Hunters under the age of 13 must have a LEN.
Except during the special hunt for youth and disabled hunters, hunting on State Wildlife Areas and State Forests is by preseason lottery permit only. Hunters must carry their public land permit while hunting and may only hunt the designated area and season segment/dates specified on their permit. Hunters participating during the special hunt for youth and disabled hunters on April 7 may hunt on private land with permission or state wildlife areas and state forests that are open to turkey hunting during the regular season.
To hunt wild turkeys on public land in Delaware, hunters must have entered a lottery from which public land permits were drawn. Delaware’s wild turkey season is broken down into four week-long segments, this year spanning April 14 thru May 12. Turkey hunters were drawn via the lottery system and issued a permit in January. Applications for the 2019 Public Land Turkey Hunt can be found in the upcoming 2018/2019 Hunting and Trapping Guide. The public land hunt permit allows a hunter to hunt a designated public land area during a specified one-week segment.
For a list of check stations, click on 2018 Turkey Check Stations. Check station hours may vary, so hunters are advised to call the station where they are likely to check a bird to confirm the hours of operation. Hunters who want to have their bird scored and entered into the National Wild Turkey Federation records are reminded to have their bird’s live weight recorded on a certified scale. If the check station does not have a certified scale, hunters will be directed to another station to have the turkey re-weighed.
The Division of Fish & Wildlife reminds hunters that, new this year, registered motor vehicles used to access designated public lands owned or managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife are required to display a Delaware Conservation Access Pass (CAP). Hunters can opt to receive one free annual vehicle pass with the purchase of any Delaware hunting license. To obtain a free CAP, or to purchase an additional pass, hunters will need to have the registration card for the vehicle to which the pass will be assigned.
Hunting licenses and conservation access passes are sold online, at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and by license agents statewide. To find a participating agent, or to purchase a license online, visit Delaware Licenses. For additional information on Delaware hunting licenses, call 302-739-9918.
For more information on hunting in Delaware, click on 2017/2018 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide. The guide also is available in printed form at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk, and from license agents throughout the state. For more information about public lands that allow turkey hunting, click Wildlife Area Hunting Maps or State Forest Maps.