Yo, Bambi and friends: Firearm hunting season opens in January

Betsy Price Culture, Headlines

a deer standing in the grass

A white-tailed doe. Photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Firearm deer hunting states in January, and the state is encouraging hunters to target does to help manage the size and quality of Delawareā€™s deer population, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced Wednesday.

Deer hunting is allowed on all Sundays through January 2022, using only those hunting methods legal for the respective established deer hunting seasons, with additional information available at de.gov/sundayhunt.

The state also is encouraging successful hunters who wish to donate venison to those in need to participate in Delawareā€™s Sportsmen Against Hunger Program. Field-dressed deer may be donated at participating butchers or at 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 21,000 pounds of venison that provided over 84,000 meals to Delawareans in need.

Firearm hunting season dates opening in January:

  • January handgun deer: Jan. 1, Jan. 3 through 8, excluding Sunday, Jan. 2 ā€” when hunters may only use archery equipment, including crossbows, to hunt ā€” south of the C&D Canal
  • January general firearm deer (also known as the January shotgun season): Jan. 15 through 23, including Sundays
  • January muzzleloader deer: Jan. 24 through 30, including Sundays

Straight-walled pistol-caliber rifles are allowed during the January handgun and general firearm deer seasons south of the C&D Canal.

Continuing hunting seasons include:

  • Bobwhite quail: through Jan. 1, 2022
  • Woodcock and common snipe: through Jan. 17, 2022
  • Canada goose (migratory season): through Jan. 22, 2022
  • Ducks, coots and mergansers: through Jan. 31, 2022
  • Sea ducks in the Special Sea Duck Area: through Jan. 31, 2022
  • Brant: through Jan. 31, 2022
  • Tundra swanĀ (by special permit ONLY): through Jan. 31, 2022
  • Snow goose: through Jan. 31, 2022 and Feb. 5, 2022
  • Mourning dove: through Jan. 31, 2022
  • Archery and crossbow deer: through Jan. 31, 2022, including all Sundays
  • Gray squirrel: through Feb. 5, 2022
  • Ring-necked pheasantĀ (male only): through Feb. 5, 2022
  • Cottontail rabbit: through Feb. 28, 2022
  • Coyote (hunt): through Feb. 28, 2022
  • Red fox (hunt): through Feb. 28, 2022
  • Raccoon and opossum (hunt): through Feb. 28, 2022***
  • Beaver (hunt): through March 19, 2022, private land only
  • Crows: through March 26, 2022,Ā June 23 through 25, 2022 and June 30, 2022Ā (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only)
  • Groundhog (hunt): through June 30, 2022

Special raccoon and opossum hunting hours during the January handgun, January general firearm and January muzzleloader deer seasons are 7 p.m. until midnight (reference theĀ 2021/2022 Delaware Hunting & Trapping GuideĀ for these deer season dates).

Continuing trapping seasons include:

  • Muskrat, mink, otter, raccoon, opossum and nutria in New Castle County: through March 10, 2022 and on March 20 on embanked meadows; and in Kent and Sussex counties through March 15, 2022
  • Red fox and coyote: through March 10, 2022
  • Beaver: through March 20, 2022, private land only
  • Groundhog: through June 30, 2022

The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife offers many hunting opportunities on state wildlife areas, with detailsĀ available atĀ de.gov/wamaps.Ā Information specific to Sunday deer hunting on state wildlife areas isĀ available atĀ de.gov/sundayhunt.

A Delaware hunting license or License Exempt Number (LEN) is required to hunt, and most waterfowl hunters are required to purchase a Delaware waterfowl (duck) stamp and a Federal Duck Stamp.

Migratory bird hunters, except crow hunters, also need a Federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, which can be obtained through theĀ DNREC ePermitting systemĀ or by calling toll free 1-855-DEL-HUNT (1-855-335-4868). If using the DNREC ePermitting system, hunters can either create a profile or use the ā€œQuick Hunting Registrationā€ 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 atĀ de.gov/huntinglicenseĀ or from hunting license agents statewide. Hunters obtaining a LEN are reminded that they should create a profile using theĀ DNREC ePermitting systemĀ portal or obtain a LEN at a hunting license agent if they have not already done so. Federal DuckĀ Stamps are available for purchase at U.S. Post Offices, Bombay Hook and Prime Hook national wildlife refuges and online atĀ 2021/2022 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.

AdditionalĀ information on hunting seasons and state wildlife areas is available in theĀ 2021/2022 Delaware Hunting & Trapping GuideĀ or by calling the Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912. Information on hunting licenses, the state waterfowl stamp and the Conservation Access Pass is available atĀ de.gov/huntinglicenseĀ or by calling the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife Recreational Licensing office at 302-739-9918.

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