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Deer Hunting

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Deer Seasons & Limits



Sept. 1 – Jan. 31


Hunters may use archery equipment during the muzzleloader, shotgun and handgun seasons provided they wear at least 400 square inches of hunter orange material displayed on the head chest, and back.



Sept. 1 – Jan. 31


Hunters may use crossbow equipment during the muzzleloader, shotgun and handgun seasons provided they wear at least 400 square inches of hunter orange material displayed on the head, chest, and back



Oct. 7 – Oct. 15

Jan. 23 – Jan. 28


Muzzleloaders may be equipped
with scopes.



Nov. 11 – Nov. 19

Jan. 14 – Jan. 21

Muzzleloaders may be used during the shotgun season, and may be equipped with scopes.

Special Antlerless


Oct. 1

Oct. 17

Oct. 21 – 22

Oct. 24

Oct. 28 – 29

Oct. 31

Dec. 10 – 17


This season is “any method,” to include archery, muzzleloader, and shotgun. You may only take antlerless deer, or deer with both antlers less than 3 inches in length. Archery (including crossbow) hunters may take antlered bucks in October but NOT during the December antlerless season.


Jan. 7 – Jan. 14


The handgun must be carried openly in a sling or in a holster and not concealed. See to the right for more details.

Youth Hunt

Nov. 5



All successful deer hunters must register their deer within 24 hours of harvest. Hunters can register their deer by calling the toll free number 1-855-DEL-HUNT (1-855-335-4868) or by going to, hunters may officially register their deer. Hunters will answer a series of questions by using the telephone or computer keypad. At the end of the questions, hunters will be given a deer harvest registration number. This number will serve as proof the animal was checked and should be kept for your records and written in ink on the deer tag utilized on the animal harvested. If you have problems with this system call (302) 735-3600. Hunters that take their deer to a butcher shop or taxidermist will need to supply their registration number to the shop owner as proof the deer was registered.

Deer Tags

Resident Licensed Hunters

Delaware hunting licenses come with 2 antlerless tags and 2 doe tags. Hunter’s Choice Tags are available for $10 and come with a Quality Buck Tag attached to it at no extra charge. The Hunter’s Choice Tag can be used on an antlerless or antlered deer. The Quality Buck Tag can only be used on an antlered deer with a minimum outside spread of 15”. Hunters will only be allowed to harvest a maximum of 2 antlered bucks (all seasons combined) by using the Hunter’s Choice Tag and the Quality Buck Tag. All other deer taken must be antlerless. Additional antlerless deer tags are available for $10 each.

This deer tag system has been implemented to encourage hunters to harvest antlerless deer and to promote Quality Deer Management. Revenue will be used to fund the phone-in deer registration system and to further improve Delaware’s deer management program.

Licensed Exempt Hunters

License exempt hunters will be allowed 2 antlerless deer, 2 does and 1 Hunter’s Choice deer at no charge. For a Quality Buck Tag, license exempt hunters will have to purchase the combination Hunter’s Choice/Quality Buck Tag. For license exempt hunters, the Hunter’s Choice Tag will be invalid when the Quality Buck Tag is purchased.

Persons not required to purchase a hunting license in Delaware, should make their own paper “license” and deer tags and carry them along with identification while hunting. Exempt hunters can also obtain a free permanent license with deer tags by contacting the Division’s Licensing Section.

Non-Resident Deer Tags

Non-resident hunting licenses will come with 2 Antlerless Tags and 2 doe tags. The cost of an Antlered Deer Tag and a Quality Buck Tag will be $25 each for non-resident hunters. Hunters may purchase only one of each tag.

Method of Take

Handgun Hunting

Legal handguns are limited to revolvers and single shot pistols with a minimum barrel length of 5.75 inches and a maximum length of 12.5 inches and chambered for and using straightwall handgun ammunition in .357 magnum, .41 caliber, .41 magnum, .44 caliber, .44 magnum, .45 caliber, .454 caliber, .480 caliber or .50 caliber and using open sights, metallic/mechanical, optical or telescopic sights. Since the .460 casull is a .45 caliber, it is legal under the existing handgun legislation.

The handgun must be carried openly on a sling or in a holster and not concealed. The handguns described above may be used for the pursuit, taking and attempted taking (hunting) of deer on privately owned lands situated south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and on many state-owned wildlife areas. Consult area maps for more details.

It is now legal to hunt deer with a handgun during any shotgun deer season. The handgun must be carried in place of a shotgun. You cannot carry both in the field at the same time.

Sharps Rifle

Hunters may use a single shot antique or authentic reproduction black powder Sharps rifle of 45 to 60 caliber using paper patched bullets for hunting deer during any shotgun deer season.


Crossbows used must have a minimum pull weight of 125 pounds, be manufactured after 1980, and have a mechanical safety, and may be equipped with a scope. Crossbows shall not be transported in or on a vehicle while in the cocked position.

Vertical Bows

No person shall use a compound, recurve, or longbow with a pull weight less than 35 pounds.


It is lawful to distribute and hunt over bait while hunting deer on privately owned lands only.

Hunter Orange

During a time when it is lawful to take a deer with a firearm, any person hunting any wildlife except migratory game birds in this state shall display on that person’s head, chest, and back a total of not less than 400 square inches of hunter orange material. If a hunter utilizes a ground blind to hunt deer during a time when it is lawful to take deer with a firearm and the hunter is completely concealed within a blind, then 400 square inches of hunter orange material shall be placed within 10 feet outside of the blind and at least 3 feet off of the ground.

Quality Deer Management on Public Lands

The Cedar Swamp and Woodland Beach State Wildlife Areas are Quality Deer Management Areas. All deer hunters (except hunters under 17 years of age and non-ambulatory hunters) hunting these areas shall not take an antlered deer with a minimum outside antler spread of less than 15 inches at any time, i.e., only bucks that qualify for the existing Quality Buck Tag are now legal. Antlerless deer can still be legally harvested. Quality Deer Management (QDM) is a management philosophy/practice that typically involves the protection of young bucks (yearlings and some 2.5 year-olds) combined with an adequate harvest of female deer to maintain a healthy population in balance with the existing habitat conditions. This level of deer management involves the production of quality deer (bucks, does, and fawns), quality habitat, and quality hunting experiences. When judging size in the field, remember the guideline that you can’t shoot a buck in a QDM area unless it has an outside antler spread that is wider than its ears (at least 15 inches). If the outside spread doesn’t extend beyond its ears, let it walk. Hunters under 17 years of age and non-ambulatory hunters are exempt from the 15-inch minimum outside spread but must abide by all other area and statewide regulations.

Deer Drives

Nonresident hunters may not participate in deer drives on state owned or managed lands. Residents may conduct deer drives with a limit of 6 hunters.

Delaware Sportsman Against Hunger Program – Venison Donation Program

The Division of Fish and Wildlife maintains walk-in coolers where hunters can drop off deer for donation to the Sportsman Against Hunger Program. These locations include in Sussex County: the Assawoman Wildlife Area near Bethany Beach, the Mosquito Control Office in Milford, the headquarters office at Redden State Forest near Georgetown, the Gumboro Community Center in Millsboro and Trap Pond State Park near Laurel; In Kent County: the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area Aquatic Resources Education Center near Smyrna and the Main office on the Norman G. Wilder Wildlife Area near Viola; and in New Castle County: the Augustine Wildlife Area, in Port Penn.

Selling Deer Parts Or Deer Meat

Title 7 § 787 (d) of the Delaware Code states that “ No person shall purchase, sell or expose for sale, or transport, ship or possess with the intent to sell, any deer or any part of such deer, except for the hides of lawfully killed deer, at any time.”

Therefore, taxidermists and deer butchers may only charge for a service and may only charge those to whom they are providing the service. It is illegal to sell deer taxidermy items and deer meat in Delaware. This includes the “recouping” of processing fees for items or meat not picked up by the legal owner.

State Deer Records

The Division maintains records of the top hunter taken deer based on net Boone & Crockett scores on its website at Any whitetails meeting Pope & Young minimums for bow kills (125 typical, 155 non-typical), Longhunter Society minimums for muzzleloader kills (130 typical, 160 non-typicals) or shotgun kills of 140 typical and better and 160 non-typical and better are eligible for entry. The division is interested in Delaware whitetails taken in any year. Bill Jones, Division biologist and official measurer for Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young and the Longhunter Society, can be contacted at 302-284-4795 for more information.

Youth/Non-Ambulatory Disabled Deer Hunt, November 5, 2011:

Any youth from 10 years to 15 years and non-ambulatory disabled individuals may hunt. Young hunters must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older. Hunters 13-15 years of age must have completed a Hunter Education Course and possess a certification card and must also purchase a Delaware junior hunting license.

The normal bag limits and regulations apply.

Adult companions must be licensed to hunt in Delaware (or exempt) but may not possess a firearm during the hunt.

Young hunters must be of sufficient size and physical strength to safely handle a firearm.

All deer taken must be registered

Open statewide on private and public lands. On State Wildlife Areas that require a stand allocation drawing, the lottery drawing will be held 1.5 hours before legal shooting time. Hunters should arrive at least 1.5 hours before legal shooting time to sign up.

Special Youth Hunt deer stands will be drawn by a pre-season lottery at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge for Bombay Hook, Woodland Beach and Cedar Swamp. Applications available at Bombay Hook and the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. A lottery for unfilled stands (including pre-season lottery no-shows) will be held at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge 1 1/2 hours before legal shooting time. Hunters should arrive prior to 2 hours before legal shooting time to sign up for the lottery.

Sika Deer

Where are they found?

Sika deer inhabit marshes, swamps, and associated woodlands and agricultural fields. Sika Deer are a small elk introduced from Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan) by private citizens into Maryland in 1916. Recently, their range has expanded and some individuals have been found in Delaware. As a result, the Division will allow Delaware hunters to harvest sika deer while hunting for white-tailed deer. The sika deer population in Delaware is still very small and the Division would like to keep it that way. Sika deer are not native to the State, so going along with the Division’s goal of not promoting nonnative species they may be harvested.

What do they look like?

They are 2 1/2 feet high at the shoulder, weigh 50-100 pounds and the sika deer coat is dark brown to black. Some even have faint white parallel spots on their back. They also have a white rump. Males (stags) are larger than females (hinds) and have antlers. Males also have a dark shaggy mane running down their neck.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will sika deer compete with white-tailed deer?

A: Research conducted in Maryland indicates that white-tailed deer and sika deer can coexist and it does not appear that they directly compete with each other. However, more research is needed to confirm this relationship.

Q: Will sika deer breed with white-tailed deer?

A: No, sika deer will not breed with a white-tailed deer. The breeding season for sika deer occurs in mid to late October, while the breeding season for white-tailed deer it occurs in mid-November.

Q: Are sika deer related to white-tailed deer?

A: Sort of, both sika deer and white-tailed deer are members of the deer family (Cervidae), but are of a different genus Cevrus (sika deer) and Odocoileus (white-tailed deer). Sika deer are actually more closely related to Rocky Mountain elk than they are to white-tailed deer.

What to do if you harvest one?

Tag the deer with the appropriate tag from you license as you would if you harvested a white-tailed deer. However, instead of registering the deer via the phone/internet registration system please call the Division of Fish and Wildlife at (302) 735-3600.


Statewide Deer and Turkey Zone Map.jpg
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