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January presents Delaware deer hunters with a variety

DOVER – Deer hunters going afield in the home stretch of Delaware’s 2016/17 hunting season have a variety of hunting opportunities and options this month.

· Handgun deer hunting season is open Saturday, Jan. 7 thru Saturday, Jan. 14.

· January shotgun deer hunting season is open Saturday, Jan. 14 thru Saturday, Jan. 21, including Sunday, Jan. 15.

· January muzzleloader deer hunting season is open Monday, Jan. 23 thru Saturday, Jan. 28.

· The continuing archery and crossbow deer hunting seasons conclude Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Jan. 15 is the last of five Sundays open for deer hunting this season. As with all deer seasons, Sunday deer hunting is open one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset. Deer can be hunted on private lands with landowner permission and on Division of Fish & Wildlife public wildlife areas open to Sunday deer hunting. All Division of Fish & Wildlife public wildlife areas are open for Sunday deer hunting with portions of some wildlife areas closed to Sunday deer hunting (see maps on the Sunday deer hunting webpage). All DNREC’s Delaware State Parks lands are CLOSED to Sunday deer hunting.

For more information on Sunday deer hunting, or to request printed copies of wildlife area maps showing areas open and closed to Sunday deer hunting, please call the Wildlife Section office at 302-739-9912 or visit the Sunday deer hunting webpage.

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.

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 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 less costly to the Division of Fish & Wildlife, with the savings better used to fund wildlife and habitat conservation programs and management of public wildlife 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:

Sussex County

Assawoman Wildlife Area, near Frankford

Gumboro Community Center, Gumboro

Redden State Forest Headquarters, near Georgetown

Trap Pond State Park, near Laurel

Kent County

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.