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Migratory Bird Hunting

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HARVEST INFORMATION PROGRAM – H.I.P.

If you are a Delaware migratory bird hunter (ducks, geese, doves, woodcock, rails, snipe, and coots), you MUST obtain a new H.I.P number each year. What is H.I.P.? H.I.P. is the “Harvest Information Program” being implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). It was started in 1992 when California, Missouri, and South Dakota participated in the pilot program. For many years, the USFWS has collected waterfowl harvest information through a post-season survey of hunters who purchased Federal duck stamps. This survey was fine for its time, but better information is now needed. Also, the previous survey did not provide harvest data on other migratory birds like doves and woodcock. H.I.P. will fulfill these needs. Under the Harvest Information Program, migratory bird hunters need a special permit to hunt. To get the permit, hunters have to provide their name and address, and answer a few questions about their previous year’s hunting effort and success. This information is collected by the state, remains totally confidential, and goes immediately to the USFWS which randomly selects hunters to receive a survey form. This way, hunters have the forms to record harvest information during the season instead of after the fact like the old survey required. By surveying while hunting is going on, much better information should be available to the Service for evaluating bird harvests and the status of migratory bird species. If you are going to hunt migratory birds in Delaware, you MUST have a H.I.P. number. To obtain a permit visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/delhunt or call toll free 1-855-335-4868.

This permit is free.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

Youth Waterfowl Hunts,
October 19, 2019 and February 8, 2020

Open statewide on private and public lands, including state wildlife areas and the federal refuges. The lottery drawing for state blinds is 1.5 hours before legal shooting time except for the Little Creek WMA where the drawing is 2 hours before legal shooting time. Hunters should arrive prior to 2 hours before legal shooting time to sign up for the lottery.

Children 10 through 15 years old may hunt, but must be accompanied by a licensed adult 21 years of age or older. No state or federal stamps are required. Thirteen, fourteen and fifteen year old hunters must purchase a Delaware junior hunting license. Regular season limits and waterfowl hunting regulations apply.

Adult companions must be licensed to hunt in Delaware (or exempt) but may not possess a firearm during the hunt. For more information on youth hunting, see the Youth Hunting section on Youth Hunting Information. Waterfowl regulations were adopted through Federal regulations.

HUNTING FROM BOATS

During the waterfowl season, it shall be unlawful for any person to hunt from a boat of any kind that is within 1,500 feet of an established blind, unless they have permission from the blind owner, except that:

  • Any person may retrieve crippled waterfowl by the use of a boat in accordance with federal Regulations
  • Any person may use a boat for transportation to and from an established blind lawfully used by such person
  • Any person may hunt from a boat that is firmly secured and enclosed in an established blind.

During the waterfowl season, it shall be unlawful for any person to hunt from a boat, or a floating or fixed blind in the Little River in areas bounded on both sides by land administered by the Division.

During the waterfowl season, it shall be unlawful for any person to hunt within 900 feet of the shoreline (high tide line) of the Delaware River and Bay, between the Appoquinimink River and the Smyrna River, without written permission of the closest adjoining landowner(s). Furthermore, it shall be unlawful for any person to hunt within 1,500 feet of the shoreline (high tide line) of the Delaware River and Bay, between the Smyrna River and the Murderkill River, without written permission of the closest adjoining landowner(s).

It shall be unlawful for tender boats servicing gunning (layout) rigs to be further than 1,500 feet from the rig or to conduct any activity, except to pick up downed birds or service the rig.

SNOW GEESE

Hunters are reminded that Delaware and Maryland have a reciprocal agreement for hunting snow geese. Delaware hunters can hunt snow geese in Maryland with their Delaware hunting license provided they have a Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp, a Federal Duck Stamp, a Maryland H.I.P. number and are in compliance with Maryland Hunter Safety laws. Holders of a Delaware resident guide license should refer to the “Delaware Guide/Hunt License” section on Licensing & Permits for information related to reciprocity in other states. Maryland resident hunters can hunt snow geese in Delaware with their Maryland resident hunting license provided they have a Delaware Waterfowl (Duck) Stamp, a Federal Duck Stamp, a Delaware H.I.P. number and are in compliance with the Delaware Hunter Safety laws. This agreement only applies to residents of Maryland and Delaware.

Conservation Order

The snow goose Conservation Order (CO) will reopen during the winter and spring of 2019/20 after other waterfowl hunting is closed. When the CO is open, snow goose hunters can use unplugged shotguns and electronic calls. In addition, hunting hours are extended to a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset and daily bag and possession limits are removed. Participants hunting during the CO must have a valid Delaware or Maryland resident hunting license, a Delaware Waterfowl (Duck) Stamp (Federal stamp not required), a Delaware HIP number and the free CO permit issued by the Division. Holders of a Delaware resident guide license should refer to the “Delaware Guide/Hunt License” section on Licensing & Permits for information related to reciprocity in other states. This permit can be obtained by computer registration at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/delhunt. The need for the Delaware Waterfowl (Duck) Stamp follows the requirements on Licensing & Permits of this guide as related to hunter age.

WATERFOWL

  • The non-resident 3-day hunting license can now be used to hunt waterfowl provided the hunter has purchased the Federal Duck Stamp and state waterfowl (duck) stamp and has a H.I.P. number.
  • When purchasing your waterfowl (duck) stamp on the electronic systems, the stamp image is printed on your license if you purchase your hunting license at the same time. If you purchase the stamp separately you will receive the stamp image. The Division no longer mails original waterfowl (duck) stamps automatically at the end of the season (June 30th of each year). If you would like an original stamp sent to you please call (302) 739-9918 and provide your name, address and order ID number after you purchase the electronic stamp.

TUNDRA SWANS

New this year: Tundra swans may be hunted by permit only. Hunters are only eligible for one permit annually and will be limited to one tundra swan per season. Permits will be issued through an annual random lottery. Hunters that are successfully selected during the lottery will be notified in early September. The application for the lottery may be found below and all applicants must have a valid 2019/20 hunting license or valid License Exempt Number by September 20, 2019. If not, their permit will be forfeited and issued to another hunter. Each permit is valid statewide but landowner permission is required to hunt on privately-owned land and hunters should refer to the information provided with their permit for rules concerning when and where tundra swan hunting is allowed on publicly-owned lands.

A total of 84 permits will be issued during the 2019/20 tundra swan hunting season with no more than 5 permits being issued to individuals through eligible waterfowl conservation organizations and the remaining will be issued through a random lottery run by the Division. The number of permits available to non-residents will be capped and shall not exceed the percentage of non-resident hunters as determined from the most recent year for which hunting license sales were certified (16.06% were non-residents). For the 2019/20 swan season, no more than 13 tundra swan permits will be given to non-residents.

The Division will issue a non-reusable tag with each permit that the successful hunter must immediately affix to the bird at the time of kill. All hunters that successfully harvest a tundra swan must visit a designated state-operated check station or Natural Resource Police Officer within 24 hours of harvest to register their swan and to have biological data collected from the bird. Information pertaining to registration procedures will be included within the permit package that each selected hunter will receive prior to the season. Hunters will also receive a swan hunting questionnaire that must be returned to the Division at the end of the tundra swan season to assess hunter effort and success. Hunters are required to return this questionnaire even if they do not harvest a tundra swan. Hunters who fail to return the questionnaire will be ineligible for the following year’s swan lottery.

Non-Toxic Shot

Non-toxic shot, as approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is required for all waterfowl hunting within the State of Delaware. There are no exceptions. For a list of currently approved non-toxic shot types visit http://flyways.us/faq/what-type-shot-approved-non-toxic-us.

 

Caution:

Shot carries beyond the lethal range. Hunters should use extreme caution when selecting the direction they shoot in.

 

Swan Identification

Tundra Swan

  • Regulated season by permit only:
    • 1 Permit/person/season
  • Adult: large and entirely white with a long neck, with black wedge shaped bill showing a small yellow spot on the black facial skin in front of the eye
  • Juvenile: paul dusky-brown/gray with extgensive white highlights and a mostly pink bill with black tip

Mute Swan

  • Currently allowed to be harvested during any waterfowl season
  • Unlimited take
  • Non-native/exotic
  • Adult: large and entirely white with a long neck, bright orange bill, black skin around face with large black knob at the base of the upper part of the bill
  • Juvenile: pale dusky-brown/gray with extensive white highlights and a mostly pink bill with black base. Small black knob at the base of the upper part of the bill

Trumpeter Swan

  • Closed Season
  • Few records in Delaware
  • Adult: large and entirely white with a long neck, with black wedge shaped bill, black facial skin in front of the eye
  • Juvenile: pale dusky-brown/gray with extensive white highlights and a pink center to a black bill

Source: www.allaboutbirds.org