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Delaware Turkey Hunting Season Laws and Regulations

Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Season Dates and Permit Details

Delaware Spring Turkey Season

The designated period for Delaware's spring wild turkey hunting extends from April 13, 2024, to May 11, 2024. Additionally, there is a special one-day hunting opportunity exclusively for youth and non-ambulatory hunters scheduled for April 6, 2024. It is important to note that hunting on Sundays is not permitted.

Public Land Permit Usage

For those who want to hunt on public lands, permits must be utilized solely on the property and within the season segment for which they are specifically issued. The segments are categorized as follows:

  • Segment A: April 13 - April 19
  • Segment B: April 20 - April 26
  • Segment C: April 27 - May 3
  • Segment D: May 4 - May 11

Lottery Application Deadline

Hunters interested in obtaining a permit for public land turkey hunting must ensure that their applications are submitted and received by January 6, 2023, to be included in the lottery drawing for the spring season.

Turkey Hunting Hours, Bag Limits, and Check-in Procedures

Turkey Hunting Hours

For turkey hunting in Delaware, hunters are permitted to hunt from 1/2 hour before sunrise up until 1:00 p.m. Every harvested turkey must be presented for examination at an authorized turkey check station no later than 2:30 p.m. on the day it is harvested to comply with state regulations.

Turkey Check Stations

The specific locations and operating hours for turkey check stations will be made available on the Division's website at Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife shortly before the opening of turkey season. Hunters seeking additional details or updates about checking stations may contact the Division by phone at either 735-3600 or 739-9912. A tentative list of Turkey Checking Stations can be found under the "Turkey Hunting Check Stations" section.

Legally Harvestable Turkeys and Annual Limit

Only bearded turkeys may be legally harvested in Delaware. The annual bag limit for turkey hunting is restricted to one bird per hunter, per year, ensuring sustainable management of the turkey population and fair sporting opportunities across the hunting community.

Turkey Calling and Hunting Equipment Regulations

Turkey Calls

The use of all non-electronic turkey calls is permitted in Delaware. However, hunters are advised to exercise caution when utilizing calls that mimic a male turkey's gobble, as it may inadvertently attract other hunters to their position, which could pose safety risks.

Legal Firearms and Archery Equipment

For turkey hunting, the allowed firearms are shotguns of 20, 16, 12, or 10 gauge, with legal shot sizes being #4, #5, or #6. Additionally, duplex or triplex loads that include shot sizes 7 or 7 ½ combined with 4, 5, or 6 are also permitted. Archery hunters may use a longbow, compound bow, or crossbow, provided that broadheads have a minimum width of 7/8 inches. Crossbow standards for turkey hunting are consistent with those set for deer hunting in Delaware.

Clothing Requirements

To minimize the potential for misidentification and ensure hunter safety, no garments with visible red, white, or blue colors may be worn. These are the same colors present on a wild turkey and avoiding these colors helps reduce the chance of hunting accidents.

Blinds and Decoys

Hunters may use temporary blinds constructed from natural vegetation or camouflage material. Utilization of artificial turkey decoys is also legal, but these decoys cannot incorporate any parts derived from formerly live turkeys.

Hunting Restrictions

The use of dogs or bait in turkey hunting is strictly prohibited. Additionally, it is illegal to "drive" (flush) turkeys or to shoot them while they are in their roost. These practices are not considered ethical or fair chase and are not allowed during turkey hunting in Delaware.

Requirements for Turkey Hunting Education and Permits

Mandatory Turkey Education Course

All Delaware turkey hunters aged 13 and above, who are hunting for the first time, must complete a mandatory turkey safety education course. After successfully finishing the course, these individuals must reprint their hunting license to show proof of completion, as this information will be indicated on the updated license. Hunters who have already completed this course in the past are exempt from carrying separate proof of completion if their license reflects the course completion.

More details regarding the turkey education course can be found by referring to the inset located in the bottom right corner of the relevant page.

Public Land Turkey Hunting

For hunting turkeys on public lands, such as State Wildlife Areas or State Forests, an annual permit issued by the Division of Fish and Wildlife (for wildlife areas) or by the Delaware Department of Agriculture (for state forests) is necessary.

Regulations for Young Hunters

Youth under the age of 13 are not obligated to take the mandatory turkey education course; however, they are required to have a License Exempt Number (LEN) and must be actively supervised by an adult aged 21 or over while engaged in hunting activities. Further specifications regarding the obligations of the supervising adult are available under Youth Hunting Information.

Special Youth and Non-Ambulatory Turkey Hunt Details

Date and Eligibility

On April 6, 2024, Delaware offers a special hunting day dedicated to youth between the ages of 10 and 15, as well as non-ambulatory individuals relying on a wheelchair for mobility. The event is statewide, allowing eligible participants to hunt in various locations.

Supervision and Licensing Requirements

Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old who directly supervises their activities. Hunters aged 13 to 15 are specifically required to hold a Delaware junior hunting license and must have completed both a Basic Hunter Safety course and a Delaware-approved turkey hunter safety course. Adults who accompany youth hunters are not permitted to carry firearms during the hunt and must also be licensed to hunt in Delaware (or meet exemption criteria) and have taken a Delaware-approved turkey hunter safety course.

Size and Strength Consideration

Young hunters must possess the necessary physical strength and stature to handle a firearm safely.

Bag Limits, Registration, and Area Access

Standard bag limits and hunting regulations are in effect for this special hunt, and all harvested turkeys must be checked following the prescribed registration process. This hunt includes access to all state wildlife areas and forests that are designated as open for turkey hunting, offering hunters the freedom to select their preferred locations.

Crowding and Future Lottery Considerations

Should overcrowding arise during the youth and non-ambulatory hunt, there is a possibility that the Division of Fish and Wildlife will consider incorporating this hunting opportunity into its pre-season lottery system in subsequent seasons to manage hunter numbers.

Additional Youth Hunting Information

For further details specific to youth hunting regulations and opportunities, interested parties should consult the Youth Hunting section under the Youth Hunting Information portion of the relevant Delaware hunting resource.

Guidelines for Hunters Regarding Leg Banded Turkeys

Research Purpose for Banding

The University of Delaware and the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife have been working jointly on capturing and banding turkeys to gather information on turkey ecology and the rate of hunter harvests. Through the use of numbered leg bands and radio transmitters, researchers can track and collect valuable data.

Treatment of Marked Turkeys

Hunters are expected to treat turkeys fitted with transmitters and leg bands the same as they would any unmarked turkey. To ensure the integrity of the study, hunters are urged not to intentionally target or specifically avoid these marked birds prior to their harvest. Such actions could bias research outcomes related to turkey survival rates.

Harvesting and Reporting

If a hunter legally harvests a turkey with a leg band, they should report the harvest by contacting the number printed on the band, 302-831-4621, or by calling the Division at 302-735-3600. This allows for the collection of comprehensive data associated with the marked turkey.

Mandatory Registration

Regardless of whether a turkey is marked or not, all harvested turkeys must be registered following the standard process outlined in the Delaware hunting guide. It is crucial for hunters to complete this step to fulfill state hunting regulations and contribute to the data collection for turkey populations.

Requirements for First-Time Turkey Hunters in Delaware

Mandatory Turkey Hunting Safety Course

Delaware mandates that all first-time turkey hunters, whether planning to hunt on public or private land, must successfully complete a Division-approved Turkey Hunting Safety Course. Additionally, for those aiming to hunt on public land, the safety course must be completed before applying for a public land turkey permit.

Registration for Safety Course

To sign up for an in-person Turkey Hunting Safety Course, prospective hunters should contact the Hunter Education Office by dialing 302-735-3600 and selecting option 1.

Acceptance of Online Course Completion

Delaware recognizes the online turkey hunting safety course available at:

todayshunter.com/turkey101/

The online course requires a certification fee of $29.99.

Confirmation of Online Course Completion

Upon finishing the online course, students are required to get in touch with the Hunter Education office via email at huntereducation@delaware.gov or by phone at 302-735-3600 (option 1) to ensure their hunter education account is updated to reflect the course completion. Participants will need to provide a copy of their completion certificate and include a phone number for any follow-up questions.

Completing these steps is crucial for meeting Delaware's turkey hunting regulations and ensuring that first-time hunters are well-versed in turkey hunting safety protocols.

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.