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Migratory Bird Hunting

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If you are a Delaware migratory bird hunter (ducks, geese, doves, woodcock, rails, snipe, and coots); LISTEN UP – You will have to have a H.I.P number in 2011.

What is H.I.P.? H.I.P. is the “Harvest Information Program” being implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Actually, 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 an after the season survey of hunters who purchased Federal duck stamps. This survey was fine for its time, but better information is now needed. Also, the existing survey has not provided 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 who 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 requires. By surveying while hunting is going on, much better information should be available to the Service for evaluating bird harvest and the status of migratory bird species. If you are going to hunt migratory birds in Delaware during the 2011-2012 season, you MUST have a H.I.P. permit.

Call toll free 1-855-335-4868 to obtain your permit number or

This permit is free.


Youth Waterfowl Hunt, October 15, 2011*

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 10-15 years old may hunt, but must be accompanied by an 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.

• The normal limits and duck hunting regulations apply. Snow geese may be taken. Two Canada geese may be taken. Adults may not hunt ducks or Canada geese, but may hunt snow geese. Adults may not hunt ducks, Canada geese or snow geese at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

* Pending federal approval – See 2011 Waterfowl Season Summary Pamphlet for approved date.

Waterfowl regulations were adopted through Federal regulations.

Waterfowl Hunters and Boats

Each year more hunters die from drowning and the effects of hypothermia than from gunshot wounds. Most of the accident reports from waterborne hunting fatalities are not dramatic stories. The hunter didn’t succumb in an “Outdoor Life and Death” struggle. Rather the accident reports usually read: “Fell out of boat reaching for a decoy and never resurfaced” or capsized boat due to overloading or uneven distribution of decoys, dog, and other hunters. Many hunters do not regard themselves as a“boater” and as a consequence do not consider the special conditions and challenges of the marine environment. Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s) are essential and should be worn at all times. Statistics show that the great majority of capsizing and falls overboard occur with boats less than 20 feet in length. Special type III (wearable) vests for hunting are available and are comfortable and warm for the coldest, nastiest duck and goose hunting days. They can be purchased in camo colors. Hunters use smaller, more easily transportable craft like john boats, bass boats or canoes. Some boat designs are not as stable as others. These types, because of their flat bottoms or narrow beams, are more prone to swamping or capsizing. How can you avoid an unplanned fall into the water?

  • Wear your life jacket. Camouflage float coats are available at most marine dealers.
  • Never cross large bodies of water during rough weather in a boat that can’t take the conditions due to size and/or overloading.
  • Stay with your boat if you capsize and can’t get to shore. Try to climb on it.
  • Avoid standing up or moving around in the boat as little as possible.
  • Never move about your boat with a loaded gun or rifle.
  • Don’t overload, read the capacity plate attached to the inside hull as a guide.
  • Distribute you gear eventually.
  • Don’t drink alcohol , it lowers your body core temperature and encourages one to take chances they wouldn’t normally take.

Every sensible hunter knows that guns, alcohol and drugs don’t mix. Hunting under the influence of alcohol is a Federal hunting violation not excluding loss of state hunting license if convicted. Those persons born on or after January 1, 1978 must take an approved boating certification course before operating a boat. Contact the Office of Boating Education for more information on taking a boating education course at 302-739-9915 or take an on line course at


Most drownings could have been prevented. What causes them? Drownings occur because the victim made the wrong decision, did not realize the dangers of boating in rough, cold water, was not properly prepared, had the wrong equipment, or failed to wear a life-jacket (PFD). Small boats, by their very nature, are extremely unstable crafts. Often the victim of a small boat accident did not realize just how unstable his craft was. Add to this, cold, rough water, and the chances for survival for the sportsman fallen overboard are very slim. COLD WATER KILLS—even those in excellent condition who know how to swim.

The Five Primary Causes of Water Deaths are:

  1. Hypothermia – The rapid loss of body heat in cold water.
  2. “Dry” Drowning – Constriction of the throat, and the resulting suffocation, due to a sudden inrush of cold water.
  3. “Wet” Drowning – The displacement of air in the lungs by water.
  4. Massive Heart Attacks in older, out-of-shape, non-swimmers in cold water.
  5. Being run over by own boat, especially when starting in gear.


Aggressive CPR (rescue breathing and heart massage) can save your life. What do you and your fishing, hunting, and canoeing friends know about it?


Cold water not only kills, but in some instances, it preserves. Warming drowning victims from the inside out by CPR or warm, moist inhalation may bring them back to life!


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 duck stamp, a Federal Duck Stamp, a Maryland H.I.P. number and are in compliance with Maryland Hunter Safety laws. Maryland hunters can hunt snow geese in Delaware with their Maryland hunting license provided they have a Delaware 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.


  • The non-resident 3-day hunting license can now be used to hunt waterfowl provided the hunter has purchased the federal and state waterfowl stamps and has a H.I.P. permit.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) Frequently Asked Questions

How concerned should Delaware bird hunters be about Avian Influenza H5N1?

Hunters should be aware of and educated about highly pathogenic (HP) Avian Influenza (A1) H5N1, but not overly concerned about it at present. Cases of human infections of HP H5N1 from wild birds are extremely rare and no occurrences have occurred from hunter-harvested birds. Additionally at present, HP H5N1 has not been found in any birds in Delaware, the Atlantic Flyway or North America. Also, it is not clear how persistent this virus is in wild bird populations or whether wild birds pose a long-distance, long-term means of spreading this disease. Hunters should take common-sense precautions and use good hygiene while hunting, cleaning birds and preparing game for the table.

Can humans catch avian influenza from wild birds?

Cases of human infections of HP H5N1 from wild birds are extremely rare and, to date, are associated only with handling birds found dead, but additional direct transmission from wild birds to humans cannot be excluded. Normally, avian flu viruses are primarily a “bird disease” passed between various species of wild birds, with some highly pathogenic forms affecting domestic poultry. Almost all of the relatively small number of human cases of AI H5N1 have occurred in people who have been heavily exposed to infected poultry or involved in poultry processing.

How can I protect myself from avian influenza (H5N1) and other diseases while hunting?

Since it is possible that AI HP H5N1 as well as other diseases may be acquired from hunter contact with infected birds, hunters should take these common-sense precautions:

  • Do not handle birds that are obviously sick or birds found dead.
  • Keep your game birds cool, clean, and dry.
  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke while cleaning your birds.
  • Use rubber gloves when cleaning game.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol wipes after dressing birds.
  • Clean all tools and surfaces immediately afterward; use hot soapy water, then disinfect with a 10% chlorine bleach solution.
  • Cook game meat thoroughly (165ºF internal temperature) to kill disease organisms and parasites.

What about hunting dogs? Are they at risk?

Dogs used for hunting are not considered to be at risk. Dog owners should consult with their veterinarians for more information about avian influenza in pets.


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