December Seasons Set to Open for Hunting and Trapping in Delaware

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Hunting and trapping seasons will open on December 1st. That includes a special antlerless deer season which runs from December 10th through the 18th. There are multiple furbearer trapping seasons that open December 1st as well as duck, Canada goose, woodcock, snipe and other hunting seasons that are open in December. Deer hunting is allowed on Sundays through the end of January by the methods legal for the established deer hunting seasons. And remember – all deer harvested must be registered online within 24 hours.

Additional information from DNREC Press Release:
Archery and crossbow hunters are reminded that they are not allowed to harvest antlered deer during the special December antlerless deer season. All deer harvested by hunters must be registered online within 24 hours at de.gov/digitaldnrec or by calling toll free 855-DEL-HUNT (855-335-4868). Additional information on Sunday hunting at https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/fish-wildlife/hunting/sunday/

Successful deer hunters who wish to donate venison to those in need are encouraged to participate in DNREC’s Delaware Hunters 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 online at de.gov/DHAH. All donated deer will be processed free of charge to the hunter, and the meat will be distributed to participating charitable organizations. Last year, hunters donated over 24,000 pounds of processed venison that provided more than 97,000 meals to Delawareans in need.

Hunting season dates for seasons opening in December:

  • Beaver (private lands only): Dec. 1 through Mar. 19, 2023
  • Woodcock and common snipe (second season split): Dec. 2 through Jan. 16, 2023
  • Ducks (including sea ducks*), coots and mergansers (third season split): Dec. 9 through Jan. 31, 2023
  • Deer (Special Antlerless): Dec. 10 through 18, 2022, including Sundays
  • Brant (second season split): Dec. 12 through Jan. 31, 2023
  • Canada goose (second season split): Dec. 24 through Jan. 23, 2023

* Sea duck hunters are advised that there is no longer a special sea duck zone with its own separate season dates or daily bag and possession limits. Season dates for sea ducks are now the same as the regular duck season and the daily bag and possession limits for sea ducks are now included as part of the regular daily bag and possession limits for all ducks. Refer to Page 34 of the 2022/2023 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide found at de.gov/hunting for additional information about hunting sea ducks. 

Trapping season dates for seasons opening in December:

  • Red fox and coyote: Dec. 1 through March 10, 2023
  • Beaver: Dec. 1 through Mar. 20, 2023
  • Muskrat, mink, otter, raccoon, opossum and nutria (New Castle County Only): Dec. 1 through March 10, 2023 (through March 20, 2023 on embanked meadows)
  • Muskrat, mink, otter, raccoon, opossum and nutria (Kent and Sussex counties): Dec. 15 through March 15, 2023

Continuing Delaware hunting seasons include:

  • Bobwhite quail: through Jan. 7, 2023
  • Mourning dove (second season split): through Jan. 31, 2023
  • Deer archery and crossbow: through Jan. 31, 2023, including all Sundays
  • Tundra swan (by special permit ONLY): through Jan. 31, 2023
  • Snow goose: through Jan. 31, 2023 and Feb. 4, 2023
  • Ring-necked pheasant (male only): through Feb. 4, 2023
  • Gray squirrel: through Feb. 4, 2023
  • Red fox (hunt only): through Feb. 28, 2023
  • Coyote (hunting): through Feb. 28, 2023
  • Cottontail rabbit: through Feb. 28, 2023
  • Raccoon and opossum (hunt only): through Feb. 28, 2023
  • Crows: through March 25, 2023, June 22 through 24, 2023 and June 29 through 30, 2023 (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only)
  • Groundhog: through June 30, 2023

The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife offers many hunting opportunities on state wildlife areas. Wildlife area maps and rules are available at de.gov/wamaps, with information specific to Sunday deer hunting on state wildlife areas available at 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. Dove, goose and duck hunters also need a Federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, which can be obtained online at de.gov/digitaldnrec or by calling toll free 1-855-DEL-HUNT (1-855-335-4868). When using the online DNREC permitting 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 have and 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, except for the Resident Senior Lifetime Conservation Access Pass available to Delaware residents aged 65 or older.

Delaware hunting licenses, Delaware waterfowl stamps and Conservation Access Passes can be purchased online at de.gov/digitaldnrec, at the license desk in DNREC’s Dover office at 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901 or from hunting license agents statewide. Hunters obtaining a LEN are reminded that they should create a profile using the de.gov/digitaldnrec portal or obtain a LEN at a hunting license agent if they have not already done so. Federal Duck Stamps are available for purchase at U.S. Post Offices, Bombay Hook and Prime Hook national wildlife refuges and online at 2022/2023 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.

More information on hunting seasons and wildlife areas is available in the 2022/2023 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide at de.gov/hunting. More information on hunting licenses, the state waterfowl stamp and the Conservation Access Pass is available at de.gov/huntinglicense.

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