Firearm deer hunting seasons opening in January and continuing archery deer seasons provide the last chance for hunters to harvest deer during the 2020/21 hunting season. Deer hunting is allowed on all Sundays, using only those hunting methods legal for the respective deer hunting season, with more information available from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control at de.gov/sundayhunt. Hunters are encouraged to harvest does (female deer) to help manage the size and quality of the deer population.
Successful deer hunters who wish to donate venison to those in need are encouraged to participate in Delaware’s Sportsmen Against Hunger Program. Field-dressed deer may be donated at participating butchers or self-serve, walk-in coolers maintained by the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife, with additional information and participating butcher and cooler locations found at de.gov/sah. All donated deer will be processed free of charge to the hunter, and the meat will be distributed to participating charitable organizations serving those in need. Last year, hunters donated 25,406 pounds of venison that provided over 100,000 meals to Delawareans in need.
Deer hunting seasons opening in January include:
● January handgun season*: Jan. 2, Jan. 4 to 9, which excludes Sunday, Jan. 3**
● January shotgun season*: Jan. 16 to 24, including Sundays
● January muzzleloader season: Jan. 25 to Jan. 31, including Sundays
*Straight-walled, pistol-caliber rifles are allowed during the January handgun and shotgun deer seasons.
**Hunters may only use archery equipment, including crossbows, to hunt on Sunday, Jan. 3.
Continuing hunting seasons include:
● Bobwhite quail: through Jan. 2, 2021
● Canada goose (migratory): through Jan. 18, 2021
● Woodcock and common snipe: through Jan. 19, 2021
● Ducks, coots and mergansers: through Jan. 30, 2021
● Sea ducks in the Special Sea Duck Area: through Jan. 30, 2021
● Brant: through Jan. 30, 2021
● Tundra swan (by special permit ONLY): through Jan. 30, 2021
● Snow goose: through Jan. 30, 2021, and Feb. 6, 2021
● Mourning dove: through Jan. 30, 2021
● Archery and crossbow deer: through Jan. 31, 2021, including all Sundays
● Gray squirrel: through Feb. 6, 2021
● Ring-necked pheasant (male only): through Feb. 6, 2021
● Cottontail rabbit: through Feb. 27, 2021
● Coyote (hunt): through Feb. 27, 2021
● Red fox (hunt): through Feb. 27, 2021
● Raccoon and opossum (hunt): through Feb. 27, 2021***
● Beaver: through March 20, 2021, private land only
● Crows: through March 27, 2021, and June 24 to 26, 2021 (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only)
● Groundhog: through June 30, 2021
***Special hunting hours for raccoon and opossum during the January handgun, January shotgun and January muzzleloader deer seasons are 7 p.m. until midnight (reference the hunting and trapping guide for these deer season dates).
Continuing trapping seasons include:
● Muskrat, mink, otter, raccoon, opossum and nutria:
○ New Castle County: through March 10, 2021 (March 20 on embanked meadows)
○ Kent and Sussex counties: through March 15, 2021
● Red fox and coyote: through March 10, 2021
● Beaver: through March 20, 2021, private land only
The Division of Fish and Wildlife offers many hunting opportunities on state wildlife areas. For more information, including wildlife area maps and rules, visit de.gov/hunting. Sunday deer hunting information specific to individual wildlife areas is available at de.gov/sundayhunt.
A Delaware hunting license or License Exempt Number (LEN) is required to hunt, and most waterfowl hunters require a Delaware waterfowl (duck) stamp and a federal migratory bird (duck) stamp. All migratory game bird hunters except crow hunters, including duck, goose and dove hunters, also need a free Federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, which can be obtained through the DNREC ePermitting system or by calling toll free 1-855-DEL-HUNT (1-855-335-4868). If using the ePermitting system, hunters should either create a profile or use the “Quick Hunting Registration” option.
Registered motor vehicles used to access designated wildlife areas owned or managed by the Division of Fish and Wildlife are required to display a Conservation Access Pass (CAP). Hunters can opt to receive one free annual CAP with the purchase of any Delaware hunting license. To obtain a CAP, hunters will need the registration card for the vehicle to which the pass will be assigned.
Delaware hunting licenses, Delaware waterfowl stamps and Conservation Access Passes can be purchased online using the DNREC ePermitting system or from hunting license agents statewide. New this year, hunters obtaining a LEN should create a profile using the ePermitting system or at a hunting license agent. Federal migratory bird (duck) stamps are available for purchase at U.S. Post Offices, Bombay Hook and Prime Hook national wildlife refuges and online.
More information on hunting seasons and wildlife areas is available in the 2020/2021 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide or by calling the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912. More information on hunting licenses, the state waterfowl stamp and the Conservation Access Pass is available at de.gov/hunting or by calling the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Recreational Licensing office at 302-739-9918.
Hunting opportunities also are available in some Delaware State Parks, with more information at destateparks.com.