Delaware’s spring wild turkey hunting season will run from April 11, 2020 – May 9, 2020. A special one-day hunt for youth and non-ambulatory disabled hunters will occur on April 4, 2020. No Sunday hunting. Public land permits can only be used on the property and season segment for which they are issued. Applications must be received by January 10, 2020 to be processed for the lottery drawing.
Segment dates (A-D) for Public Land
(A) April 11 – April 17
(B) April 18 – April 24
(C) April 25 – May 1
(D) May 2 – May 9
Turkey Hunting Hours
1/2 hour before sunrise until 1:00 p.m. All turkeys must be checked at an authorized turkey check station by 2:30 p.m. on the day the bird is killed.
TURKEY CHECK STATIONS
Locations and hours will be posted on the Division’s website www.de.gov/fw. just prior to the season. Information can also be obtained by calling 735-3600 or 739-9912. See Turkey Hunting Check Stations for the list of tentative Turkey Checking Stations.
Legal Birds and Bag Limit
Bearded birds only. Bag limit is one turkey
All non-electric calls will be legal. For safety reasons, hunters should not imitate the male gobbling call.
- Shotguns – 20, 16, 12, 10 gauge – legal shot sizes: #4, #5, #6. Ammunition containing 7 or 7 ½ shot may be used if it is part of a duplex or triplex load containing 4, 5, or 6 shot.
- Muzzleloaders – smoothbore muzzleloading shotguns only; #4, #5, #6 shot only.
- Longbow/compound/crossbow – Minimum broadhead width of 7/8 inches.
- Crossbows may be used for turkey hunting. Crossbows must meet the same standards as for deer hunting.
For safety reasons, it will be illegal to wear any visible garment having the colors red, white or blue.
Temporary blinds of vegetation or camouflage material are legal. Artificial turkey decoys are legal. Decoys may have no parts from a formerly live turkey.
Dogs or bait may not be used. Hunters may not drive turkeys or shoot them while they are at roost.
Mandatory Turkey Safety Course
Before hunting turkeys in Delaware for the first time, all hunters must complete a mandatory turkey education course. Upon successful completion of this course, hunters will receive a card as proof of completion. This card must be in your possession while hunting. In addition, public land hunters must have an annual permit from the Division.
A permit is needed to hunt turkey on public lands.
Youth/Non-Ambulatory Disabled Turkey Hunt, April 4, 2020
Open statewide. Any youth from 10 years through 15 years and individuals that are non-ambulatory disabled may hunt. Young hunters must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older. Hunters 13-15 years old must have a valid Delaware junior hunting license and must have taken a Basic Hunter Safety course as well as a Delaware approved turkey hunter safety course.
The normal bag limits and regulations apply.
Adult companions must be licensed to hunt in Delaware (or exempt) and must have taken a Delaware approved turkey hunter safety class. Adult companions may not possess a firearm during the hunt. Young hunters must be of sufficient size and physical strength to safely handle a firearm.
- All turkeys taken must be registered.
- All state wildlife areas and state forests open for turkey hunting will be open for the Youth/Non-Ambulatory Disabled Turkey Hunt. Hunters may go to any areas they choose. If overcrowding occurs, the Division may add this hunt to its pre-season lottery system in future seasons.
For more information on youth hunting, see the Youth Hunting section on Youth Hunting Information.
WILD TURKEY RESEARCH
HARVESTING LEG BANDED TURKEYS
Over the next several years, the University of Delaware in collaboration with the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, will be capturing and banding turkeys in Delaware. All turkeys will receive numbered leg bands, and some will receive radio transmitters, both of which allow us to collect data on turkey ecology and hunter harvests. Hunters should treat turkeys with transmitters and leg bands as they would an unmarked turkey. So that we can accurately evaluate turkey survival, hunters should not target marked birds or refrain from harvesting marked birds if they can tell they are banded prior to harvest as this will influence our research results. If a marked turkey is legal for harvest, then it may be harvested. If a hunter harvests a marked turkey, they are asked to call the phone number listed on the metal leg band (302-735-3600) so information concerning the harvested turkey can be collected. Furthermore, hunters must still register their turkey in the same manner described within this Guide.
First Time Turkey Hunters
All first time Delaware turkey hunters must successfully complete a Division approved Turkey Hunting Safety Course. This includes both public and private hunters. Public land hunters must have completed the Turkey Hunting Safety Course before they can apply for a public land turkey permit.
To register for a classroom Turkey Hunting Safety Course, call the Hunter Education Office at (302) 735-3600.
Delaware also accepts an online Turkey Hunting Safety Course. The online course can be found at www.wildturkeyhuntingcourse.com. Upon completion of the online course, contact the Hunter Education Office.