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Furbearer Trapping & Hunting

Hunting Regulations Icon Delaware Hunting

Furbearer Trapping Seasons

Species

Season

Muskrat, Mink, Otter

Raccoon,* Opossum, Nutria

New Castle County** Dec. 1- Mar. 10

Kent & Sussex Counties Dec.15 – Mar. 15

Beaver

Dec. 1 – Mar. 20***

Red Fox, Coyote

Dec. 1 – Mar. 10

Groundhog

July 1 – June 30

Furbearer Hunting Seasons and Bag Limits

Species

Season

Daily Limit

Note

Raccoon and
Opossum

Sept. 1 – Oct. 5 Chase

Oct. 16 – Oct. 31 Chase

Nov. 1 – Nov. 9 Hunt

Nov. 18* – Feb. 28 Hunt

Mar. 1 – Mar. 31 Chase

No Limit

Season closed during the Nov. shotgun, Oct. muzzleloader, and Oct. antlerless deer seasons. Hunt hours during the Oct. antlerless deer seasons are closed each day of the deer season from 1/2 hour before sunrise through 1/2 hour after sunset. Hunt hours 7:00p.m. through midnight during Dec. and Jan. firearms seasons. See Deer Hunting Section for Oct. antlerless and Dec. and Jan. firearms seasons. See Raccoons section for special zone where season is open all year, except Sundays, and during deer seasons listed above.

*Season reopens one hour after sunset

Red Fox

Chase: Oct. 2 – Apr. 30*
except season closed
during deer shotgun, muzzleloader and
antlerless seasons
occuring Oct. thru Dec.

See deer season dates.

Hunt: Nov. 1 – Feb. 28

Statewide

No Limit

*From Jan.-Apr. fox hunting by chase during deer hunting season shall be permissible on private lands only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday if the owner of the private land has authorized such hunting to occur thereon.

Red fox may be hunted with a longbow, crossbow, shotgun, muzzleloading rifle, rimfire or centerfire rifle up to 25 caliber.

Coyote

Sept. 1 – Feb. 28
Statewide

No Limit

Coyotes may be hunted with longbow, crossbow, shotgun, muzzleloading rifle, rimfire, or centerfire rifle up to .25 caliber.

Beaver

Dec. 1 – Mar. 20
Private Land Only
(see pg. 33)

8 per Season

Beavers may be hunted with shotguns or longbows.

State Wildlife Areas

Each year the Division accepts sealed bids for persons to trap on its wildlife areas. Bidding information is published in early September and bids are opened in early November. Bid information can be obtained through the Office of Management and Budget Bid Solicitation website at http://bids.delaware.gov or by calling the Division at (302) 739-9912. No trapping is permitted on any Division lands without a permit.

TRAPPING PROHIBITIONS – It is unlawful to:

  • Use traps to take wildlife except muskrats, mink, otter, beaver, raccoons, opossum, groundhogs, nutria, red foxes, and coyotes. Box traps may be used by landowners to trap rabbits during the open season.
  • Use any type of trap, except for muskrats, without marking the trap with a metal tag stating the trapper’s license number and year or the trapper’s name and address.
  • Set traps on public or private land without first acquiring written permission from the landowner. For your convenience, trappers who wish to trap on private property may use the Private Land Trapping Permission Form in this guide.
  • Fail to visit traps at least once every 24 hours.
  • Set traps any time before the opening day of a season or any time after the last day of a season. (There is no provision in Delaware’s laws to set up traps the day before a season opens or to allow the removal of traps for several days after a season closes.)
  • Set foothold traps with a jaw spread in excess of 6 ½” above the waterline or 7 ¾” beneath the waterline. “Waterline” shall refer to beneath the surface of the water or below the mean high tide line in an area ordinarily subject to the rise and fall of the tide. Jaw spread is measured as the widest distance from this inside of both jaws on a line drawn perpendicular through the jaw pivot points when the trap is in the set position.
  • Set foothold traps in areas above the waterline without them having offset, laminated, or padded jaws.
  • Set foothold traps with toothed or serrated jaws.
  • Set snares, now referred to as cable restraints, without the following criteria being met: comprised of stranded steel cable with a minimum diameter of 5/64 inches. Cable restraints must be equipped with a relaxing-type lock. The cable may not exceed 7 feet in length from the anchor point to the relaxing lock and must be equipped with at least one swivel device, which allows for 360° rotation, between the loop and the anchor. The cable restraint must have stops affixed to the cable to ensure that the cable that makes up the loop may not have a circumference greater than 38 inches when fully open, or a circumference less than 6 ¼ inches when fully closed. Cable restraints with a maximum loop circumference of 12 ½ inches do not require cable stops. Cable restraints must be maintained in good condition so that all components operate properly.
  • Move, take, or damage any trap, or take, or attempt to take, wildlife from any trap without first acquiring specific advance permission.
  • Use or possess killer or conibear traps with a jaw spread in excess of 5 inches.
  • Use diving or box traps for muskrats.
  • Set traps (except box/cage traps) within 10’ of exposed meat used as bait. The use of animal fur or feathers without any attached animal tissue is not restricted.

TRAPPING FROM BOATS

An individual may use a boat to tend lawfully set traps for fur-bearing wildlife

Raccoons

Raccoons may be trapped in season statewide with foothold traps, including foot encapsulating style traps, cable restraints, or box traps operated to confine but not harm the entrapped animal. The trap opening of box/cage traps may not exceed 195 square inches. At any time of the year (except on Sundays) Raccoons may be hunted and trapped on private land in New Castle and Kent Counties east of Rte. 13 from Federal School Lane (near the Ommelanden Range in New Castle County) south to the St. Jones River in Kent County. Where Rte. 13 and Rte. 1 split in Dover, the westerly boundary follows Rte. 1 until it meets the St. Jones River with permission from the landowner. In all other areas of the state, the regular season applies.

COYOTES

Anyone that shoots or traps a coyote must report the harvest by contacting the Division of Fish & Wildlife at (302) 735-3600 by the close of business on the day following the harvest. Harvest reports are an important way for Division biologists to track coyote distribution and abundance across the state. During any deer firearms season, it will be unlawful to hunt coyotes with any firearm that is not also legal for deer hunting. Hides of coyotes legally taken may be sold.

RIVER OTTER

Otters must be tagged by an authorized representative of the Division of Fish & Wildlife in accordance with CITES requirements. Please contact the Division at (302) 735-3600 to make arrangements to have your otter tagged once the pelt has been stretched and dried but before it is sold or shipped out of state. Tags will not be distributed to trappers but instead must be affixed to otter pelts by a representative from the Division so bring your pelts with you for tagging.

BEAVER

Landowners with damage caused by beavers may take up to 8 per season without a permit from December 1 through March 20 provided they report their catch by April 1. Beavers may not be taken at any other time. More than 8 may be taken with a permit from the Division. Beaver hides and the meat of lawfully taken beaver harvested anywhere within or outside of Delaware may be sold.

RED FOX

It is permissible to kill a red fox that is being pursued by dogs. During any deer firearms season, it will be unlawful to hunt red fox with any firearm that is not also legal for deer hunting.

Gray Fox

The collateral take of gray fox shall not be unlawful south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal during the established hunting and trapping seasons for red fox. No take is permitted north of the canal. Anyone that shoots or traps a gray fox must report the take to the Division within 7 days of the harvest by calling (302) 735-3600.

NUTRIA

Anyone that traps a nutria must report the harvest by contacting the Division of Fish & Wildlife at (302) 735-3600 by the close of business on the day following the harvest. Harvest reports are an important way for Division biologists to track nutria distribution and abundance across the state. Captured nutria may not be released back into the wild alive and must be killed. Hides of nutria legally taken may be sold.

Public Hunting Areas within Each County

ZONEA

DEER

WATERFOWL

TURKEYB

SMALL GAME

NEW CASTLE

State Wildlife Areas

Augustine Wildlife Area

3

X (L)

X (L)

X

X

Eagles Nest Wildlife Area

3

X

X (PL)

X

X

C&D Canal Conservation Area

1,2,3

X

X

X

X

Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area

3

X*(L)

X (L)

X

X (L)

State Parks

Brandwine Creek State Park

1

X**

Fort Delaware State Park

1

X

X

Fort DuPont State Park

1

X

Lums Pond State Park

1

X

White Clay Creek State Park

1

X

State Forests

Blackbird State Forest

2

X*

X

X

KENT

State Wildlife Areas

Blackiston Wildlife Area

4

X

X

X

X

Little Creek Wildlife Area

5

X (PL)

X (PL)

X

X (PL)

McGinnis Pond Wildlife Area

8

X

X

Milford Neck Wildlife Area

9

X

X

X

X

Norman G. Wilder Wildlife Area

6

X

X

X

X

Ted Harvey Conservation Area

5,8

X (PL)

X (PL)

X

X (PL)

Urban/Fortney Wildlife Area

4

X

X

Woodland Beach Wildlife Area

5

X* (PL)

X (L)

X

X (PL)

State Parks

Killens Pond State Park

8

X**

State Forests

Taber State Forest

7

X

X

X

National Wildlife Refuges

Bombay Hook NWR

5

X

X

X

SUSSEX

State Wildlife Areas

Assawoman Wildlife Area

15,17

X (PL)

X (L)

X

X

Barr Complex

11

X

X

X

X

Industrial Forest Lands – Laurel

13,16

X

X

X

X

Marshy Hope Wildlife Area

10

X

X

X

Midlands Wildlife Area

14

X

X

X (L)

X

Milford Neck Wildlife Area

9

X

X

X

X

Nanticoke Wildlife Area

13

X

X

X

X

Old Furnace Wildlife Area

11

X

X

X

Prime Hook Wildlife Area

9

X

X (L)

X

X

State Parks

Cape Henlopen State Park

9

X

X

Delaware Seashore State Park

15

X

X

X

Holts Landing State Park

15

X

Trap Pond State Park

16

X

X

State Forests

Redden State Forest

8,11,12,15

X*

X

X

National Wildlife Refuges

Prime Hook NWR

9,12

X

X (L)

X

HUNTING OPPORTUNITIES ON PUBLIC LANDS

WATERFOWL

Waterfowl hunters have a variety of opportunities to hunt on public lands in Delaware including marsh blinds/blind sites, upland blinds, goose pits, and upland fields. Refer to individual area maps for specific area rules and regulations.

The following areas are by permit only issued through a daily lottery:

  • Augustine WA
  • Cedar Swamp WA
  • Woodland Beach WA
  • Kelley Island (part of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge)
  • Little Creek WA (portions of)
  • Ted Harvey CA (potions of)
  • Assawoman WA (portions of)
  • Prime Hook WA and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (lotteries run through National Wildlife Refuge lottery system)

DEER

Deer hunters have a variety of opportunities to hunt on public lands in Delaware. Refer to individual area maps for specific area rules and regulations.

The following areas have firearm deer hunting by permit only issued through a daily lottery. All other areas are available via first-come first-served basis and hunters may hunt wherever they choose except within safety zones or designated refuge areas closed to hunting.

  • White Clay Creek State Park
  • Augustine WA
  • Blackbird State Forest WA
  • Cedar Swamp WA
  • Woodland Beach WA (except the Lighthouse Island tract)
  • Little Creek WA (portions of)
  • Ted Harvey CA
  • Assawoman WA (portions of)
  • Deer hunting at Lums Pond, Trap Pond, Cape Henlopen, Fort DuPont, and Delaware Seashore State Parks is by permit only and hunters should contact the Park Office where they intend to hunt for specific site information. For more information call (302) 739-9220 or visit destateparks.com.

QUALITY BUCK MANAGEMENT AREAS

The Cedar Swamp (except the Rocks tract) and Woodland Beach State Wildlife Areas as well as the Dulany Manor tract of Blackbird State Forest and the Chesapeake, Ellendale, Headquarters, and Jester tracts of Redden State Forest are Quality Buck Areas. All hunters (except hunters under 17 years of age and non-ambulatory hunters hunting on either the Cedar Swamp or Woodland Beach State Wildlife Areas) hunting these areas shall not take an antlered deer with a minimum outside antler spread of less than 15 inches at any time. Only bucks that qualify for the existing Quality Buck Tag are legal in these areas. Antlerless deer can still be legally harvested.

SMALL GAME / TURKEY

Small game hunters have a variety of opportunities to hunt on public lands in Delaware. Refer to individual area maps for specific area rules and regulations. Turkey hunting is only available through a preseason lottery.

The following areas have rabbit hunting by permit only issued through a daily lottery:

  • Cedar Swamp WA
  • Woodland Beach WA (portions of)
  • Little Creek WA (portions of)
  • Ted Harvey CA (portions of)
  • Assawoman WA (portions of)

RULES FOR STATE WILDLIFE AREAS

Hunters are advised to check each area map for specific rules and information.

  • A Conservation Access Pass is required for all vehicles using designated State Wildlife Areas.
  • All vehicles used on wildlife areas must be licensed, used only on designated roads, not exceed 20 m.p.h., and not make excessive noise. See wildlife area maps for detailed regulations.
  • No person may trespass into areas closed by the Division.
  • Entry is limited from sunrise to sunset, except to lawfully hunt and fish.
  • No camping or swimming without special authorization of the Division.
  • No dumping or littering, no target shooting including paintball.
  • Hunting can only be done as specified on area maps available from the Division.
  • Horses may be used on wildlife areas only on established roads open to vehicular traffic. No off road vehicles registered or unregistered.
  • No firearms on Division lands from March 1 – August 31 except during legal hunting seasons or as authorized by the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
  • No rifled guns allowed on lands along the C&D Canal except muzzleloaders and shot- guns during the deer seasons when it is lawful to use such firearms.
  • Firearms may not be discharged on Sunday except in designated areas.
  • No firearms are permitted on dikes and walking on dikes is prohibited during the waterfowl season.
  • No trapping on state areas without a valid lease. Leases will be bid in October of each year.
  • Non-resident hunters may not participate in deer drives and must hunt from a stationary position only. Non-resident hunters may not walk with a loaded firearm while deer hunting as this will be considered driving deer.
  • Small game hunting closed during December and January Shotgun deer seasons. See area maps for details.
  • Baiting for deer hunting is prohibited.
  • Rabbit dogs may be trained on some areas on Sundays during September, October, and November except for the Sundays during firearm deer seasons. See specific wildlife area maps for dog training regulations.
  • No permanent non-state deer stands are permitted. Temporary portable deer stands may be used on some areas (see individual area maps). Temporary portable stands may be erected at the owners own risk after August 15th and must be removed within 48 hours of the end of the last deer season. Any stands left after this date will become property of the Division.
  • It shall be unlawful to possess, consume or be under the influence of alcoholic beverages, liquors or drugs while hunting or in the possession of firearms when on lands administered by the Division.
  • Collection and removal of any wildlife species from a State Wildlife Area is prohibited unless otherwise provided by statute, regulation or authorized by the Division Director.

AREA MAPS

Maps for all state wildlife areas may be obtained from the Division of Fish and Wildlife Office, 89 Kings Hwy., Dover, Delaware 19901. Regulations covering each area are included. Individuals can receive up to 5 maps free. Additional maps will cost $0.50 cents each. A complete booklet of maps can be obtained for $5.00 plus $1.00 for shipping. Maps are also available for free on the Division’s Web Site (www.fw.delaware.gov).

  • Hunters should note that days open for hunting some species on public lands may vary from the general hunting season. Hunters should check the regulations for each public area they plan to hunt.

DEER STAND / WATERFOWL BLIND LOTTERY PERMIT

Hunters that use a State Wildlife Area waterfowl blind or deer stand for hunting that was assigned through a daily lottery must purchase a $20 annual Wildlife Area Deer Stand/Waterfowl Blind Lottery Permit. All individuals must be in possession of this permit when using the blind or stand. These permits can be purchased where hunting licenses are sold or online at www.de.gov\fw.

RULES FOR DELAWARE FOREST SERVICE LANDS

(BLACKBIRD, REDDEN, AND TABER STATE FORESTS)

(Administered by Delaware Forest Service, Department of Agriculture)

  • For Redden State Forest information call: (302) 856-2893.
  • For Blackbird State Forest call: (302) 653-6505.
  • For Taber State Forest call: (302) 698-4549.

THE FOLLOWING RULES AND REGULATIONS APPLY TO ALL STATE FOREST LANDS:

  • State Forests are year-round multiple use areas. Hunters share the use of State Forest Lands with other public users such as hikers, campers, horseback riders, firewood cutters, and loggers.
  • No special permits are required to hunt on State Forest lands, except as specified in the DNREC, Division of Fish and Wildlife annual Hunting and Trapping Guide. Properly licensed hunters may hunt during any open season except on areas designated, such as those marked with Wildlife Sanctuary, NO HUNTING, or Safety Zone signs.
  • Hunting is only permitted as specified on State Forest maps available free-of-charge from State Forest offices and online at http:// dda.delaware.gov/forestry/maps.shtml.
  • Sunday hunting is prohibited on all State Forest property.
  • No permanent deer stands, platforms, ladders, or blinds may be constructed. No screw-in steps, tree spikes, screws, or nails are allowed. All parts of temporary (portable) deer stands must be removed on the final day of the January muzzleloader season; any stands remaining after this date will be removed and become property of the Delaware Forest Service. Stands may be placed after August 1 prior to the start of the new year’s hunting season.
  • Deer drives by any person or persons are not permitted on any State Forest land at any time.
  • For deer hunting, only the entrails (internal organs known as viscera) may be left behind on State property. All other deer parts must be removed from State property.
  • Portions of some State Forest tracts are only open to archery hunting for deer. Please contact your local State Forest office for more information.
  • Small game hunting is closed on State Forest lands during firearm deer season.
  • The Delaware Forest Service reserves the right to close to hunting specific State Forest tracts during specific hunting seasons. There-fore, it is important to consult the current hunting guide for a listing of these closures.
  • Trapping rights may be leased for State Forest lands. No other trapping is permitted on State Forest lands.
  • Target shooting is prohibited. Firearms are allowed for legal hunting only, and are otherwise prohibited on State Forest Lands.
  • Waterfowl hunting is not permitted on State Forest land or waters.
  • No dumping or littering.
  • Placing paint, ribbon, flagging, reflectors, etc., is not permitted
  • No living trees, shrubs or other vegetation may be cut, felled, uprooted, removed or otherwise injured or destroyed.
  • No off-road vehicles registered or unregistered.
  • Camping is available by permit in designated areas only.
  • It is unlawful to use bait for hunting purposes on all State Forest lands.
  • No parking in front of access gates to State Forest lands.

RESTRICTIONS APPLYING TO REDDEN STATE FOREST

  • Closed to firearm deer hunting during October and December antlerless seasons. Archery hunting is permitted during these seasons.
  • Headquarters, Jester, Ellendale and Chesapeake Tracts are Quality Buck only (doe harvest is permitted on these tracts).

RESTRICTIONS APPLYING TO BLACKBIRD STATE FOREST

Maps delineating these areas are available at Blackbird State Forest headquarters or by calling (302) 653-6505.

  • Deer hunting is limited to numbered stands on Tybout, White Road, Dulany and South Barlow Tracts.
  • Double stands can only be used by either one adult or one adult and one youth.
  • For shotgun season, stands will be chosen in a lottery. There will be a daily lottery held at Blackbird State Forest headquarters, located on the Tybout Tract on Blackbird Forest Road (Rd 471), 1.5 hours before legal hunting time.
  • For Muzzleloader season there will be a lottery held at Blackbird State Forest Head-quarters, located on the Tybout Tract on Blackbird Forest Road (Rd 471), 1.5 hours before legal hunting time.
  • All lottery deer stands are closed to firearm deer hunting during the October antlerless season. Archery hunting is permitted from lottery stands. Firearm hunting is permitted on open tracts during the October antlerless season.
  • No lottery stands will be available for the January handgun season. Handgun hunting is still permitted on all other open tracts.
  • Dulany Tract is managed for Quality Bucks only.
  • No small game hunting on Dulany Tract.
  • Please note that archery hunting is the only type of hunting allowed on the Meadows and North Barlow Tracts. The Meadows Tract contains the Blackbird State Forest Education Center, which includes an outdoor education trail, so hunters should be aware that they may encounter other individuals on this property.
  • During Archery season bow hunters must be within 50 yards of their designated stand.
  • Stands will be available during Archery season on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • No more than one hunter may hunt from a stand at any one time.
  • Squirrel hunting is not allowed with a rifle or muzzleloading rifle. Shotgun squirrel hunting is permitted.

RESTRICTIONS APPLYing TO TABER STATE FOREST.

  • All hunters must sign in at kiosks.
  • Closed to firearm deer hunting during October and December antlerless seasons.
  • Squirrel hunting is not allowed with a rifle or muzzleloading rifle. Shotgun squirrel hunting is permitted.
  • Turkey hunting is archery only in those same areas shown as deer archery only on Taber maps.

RULES FOR DELAWARE STATE PARK LANDS

(ADMINISTERED BY DIVISION OF PARKS AND RECREATION)

State Parks are year-round multiple use areas. Hunters share park lands with other recreational user groups including hikers, bikers, runners, equestrians and others.

Deer hunting is an important management tool used by natural resource managers to reduce the impact of deer on the natural communities in Delaware’s state parks. Deer hunting is permitted in nine of Delaware’s sixteen state parks. Limited recreational small game and waterfowl hunting is also permitted in a few state parks.

Sunday hunting and handgun hunting are not permitted in Delaware state parks.

A State Park Registration fee ($10) is required to hunt on State Park lands. Register at any State Park where hunting is permitted or the DNREC office at 89 Kings Highway in Dover. Your registration is good for all State Parks where hunting is permitted for the season. Include your E-mail address on the registration or send a request to be added to our hunting mailing list to DNREC_StateParks_Hunting@state.de.us to receive information about Special Hunt opportunities and other hunting program updates.

State Park Rules are generally more restrictive than on State Wildlife Areas. You can obtain the rules and maps specific for the Park you intend to hunt, at that park’s office, on the State Parks website at http:// www.destateparks.com/activities/hunting/, by email request to DNREC_StateParks_Hunting@state.de.us or by calling (302) 739-9220.

RULES FOR BOMBAY HOOK & PRIME HOOK NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES

Stretched along the eastern coastline of Delaware near Milton and Smyrna and covering 26,000 acres, the Bombay Hook & Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuges provide habitat for a diversity of wildlife.

Game species are sought after by avid hunters on both refuges. Hunting, which is identified by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 as one of the six wildlife-dependent recreational uses on refuges, is an important part of Delaware’s heritage and tradition. Public hunting opportunities are available for deer, upland game & webless migratory birds, and waterfowl on both refuges. A complete listing of hunting information and regulations can be accessed for Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge at http://bombayhook.fws.gov or (302) 653-9345 and for Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge at http://primehook.fws.gov or (302) 684-8419.