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Deer Hunting

Sunday Deer Hunting Opportunities

Sunday deer hunting for established deer seasons is legal on private land at the discretion of the landowner and on designated publicly-owned lands. Deer seasons to include all statewide Sunday deer hunting dates are indicated within the table above. More information on statewide Sunday deer hunting dates and public lands open to Sunday deer hunting is available at the Sunday deer hunting website: or by calling the Wildlife Section office 302-739-9912.

Deer Harvest Report Cards and "Tags"

Resident Licensed Hunters

Delaware hunting licenses come with a Deer Harvest Report Card that contains 4 antlerless deer tags. Quality Buck Tags are available for $20 and come with a free Hunter’s Choice Tag and will be included on a hunter’s Deer Harvest Report Card if purchased. 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 inches. 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 $20 each.

This deer tag system has been implemented to encourage hunters to harvest antlerless deer and to promote quality bucks.

Non-Resident Deer Tags

Non-resident hunting licenses will come with a Deer Harvest Report Card that contains 4 antlerless deer tags. The cost of an Antlered Deer Tag and a Quality Buck Tag will be $50 each for non-resident hunters. Hunters may purchase only one of each tag. If purchased, these “tags” will be added to the hunter’s Deer Harvest Report Card. An antlered deer tag may only be used on a deer with one or more antlers measuring 3 inches or more.

Licensed Exempt Hunters

Persons not required to purchase a hunting license in Delaware must obtain a License Exempt Number (LEN) and associated Deer Harvest Report Card. For more information about LENs, please refer to Licensing & Permits.

License exempt hunters will receive a Deer Harvest Report Card that contains 4 antlerless deer “tags” and 1 Hunter’s Choice deer “tag” for residents and 1 Antlered Deer “tag” for non-residents at no charge. License exempt hunters may purchase a Quality Buck Tag using their annual mandatory License Exempt Number (LEN). The cost of a Quality Buck Tag is $20 for resident or $50 for non-resident license exempt hunters. If purchased, this tag will automatically be added to their Deer Harvest Report Card.

License exempt hunters are only allowed two antlered bucks during any license year by all methods and seasons combined. One free Hunter’s Choice Tag and one purchased Quality Buck Tag.

Quality Buck Tags

Quality Buck Tag antler measurement. Outside spread must be at least 15 inches.

Quality Buck Tags may only be used on an antlered deer with an outside antler spread of at least 15 inches. The distance between the tips of a deer’s ears when both ears are held straight out from the head in the “alert” position is approximately 15 inches so a deer in which this tag would be applicable would generally need to have antlers that are at least as wide as the space between his ear tips.

Method of Take

Handgun Hunting

Handguns legal for deer hunting are limited to revolvers and single shot pistols with a barrel length of at least 5.75 inches and no longer than 12.5 inches that use straight-wall handgun ammunition in .357 to .38 caliber with a cartridge case length of no less than 1.25 inches and a maximum case length of 1.82 inches, or in .41 caliber to a maximum of .50 caliber and a maximum case length of 1.82 inches. When hunting with a handgun, youth under the age of 18 must be under direct supervision by a person 21 years of age or older.

The handgun must be carried openly on a sling or in a holster and not concealed. Handgun hunting for deer is only permissible on privately owned lands situated south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and on many state-owned lands. Consult area maps for more details.

In addition to the January Handgun and Straight-walled Pistol Caliber Rifle Deer Season, it is legal to hunt deer with a handgun during the November and January General Firearm Deer Seasons and October and December Special Antlerless Deer Seasons. Hunting deer with a handgun is not legal on Sunday, January 5, 2025, based on state law.

Straight-Walled Pistol-Caliber Rifle

Only straight-wall cartridges usable in handguns may be used that are of .357 to 38 caliber with a case length no less than 1.25 inches and a maximum case length of 1.82 inches, or .41 caliber to maximum of .50 caliber and a maximum case length of 1.82 inches. Case length excludes the bullet portion of the cartridge. These rifles cannot be loaded with more than three cartridges in the chamber and magazine combined when hunting deer. Open, metallic/mechanical, optical and telescopic sights may be used. These rifles cannot be used for deer hunting north of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Furthermore, these rifles are not a legal method of take for any other species (except groundhogs), including red fox and coyotes.

Sharps Rifle

Hunters may use a single shot falling block, breech-loading antique or authentic reproduction black powder Sharps rifle of .45 to .60 caliber using paper patched cartridges for hunting deer during any general firearm deer seasons.


Crossbows used must have a minimum pull weight of 125 pounds 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 30 pounds.


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

White-tailed Deer Research

Harvesting Tagged Deer

Over the past few years, the University of Delaware in collaboration with the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, captured and tagged deer in Delaware. All deer received numbered ear tags, and some received radio transmitter collars. Both of which allowed us to collect data on deer ecology and hunter harvests. Hunters should treat deer with collars and ear tags as any other deer. If a marked deer is legal for harvest, then it may be harvested. If a hunter harvests a marked deer, they are asked to call the phone number listed on the metal ear tag (302-831-4621), so information concerning the harvested deer can be collected. Someone will contact them for further information as soon as possible. Since many of these deer are reported during the hectic firearms season, please feel free to contact us again if you have not been contacted within a few days of previously calling.

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 hunter orange on that person’s head, chest, and back totaling no less than 400 square inches combined. Furthermore, hunters pursuing small game (squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, quail, or pheasants) on a State Wildlife Area must abide by the same hunter orange requirements at all times. 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.

State Deer Records

The Division maintains records of the top hunter taken deer based on net Boone and Crockett scores on its website at Any whitetails meeting Pope and Young minimums for bow kills (125 typical, 155 non-typical), Longhunter Society minimums for muzzleloader kills (130 typical, 160 non-typical), handgun (130 typical, 160 non-typical) and shotgun and straight-walled pistol-caliber rifles harvests 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; however, antlers cannot be scored until at least 60 days have passed since the deer was harvested. To have your deer scored by the Division, please call 302-735-3600 to schedule an appointment or if a hunter has their deer scored by an official measurer of one of the previously mentioned organizations, and it surpasses our minimum score requirements, a copy of the score sheet can be submitted to the Division and your entry will be added to Delaware’s records book. For more information, please call 302-735-3600.

Delaware Hunters Against Hunger Program

In addition to the contracted private deer processors, the Division of Fish and Wildlife maintains walk-in coolers where hunters can drop off deer for donation to the Delaware Hunters Against Hunger Program (DHAH), formerly known as the Sportsmen Against Hunger Program (SAH). Only deer legally harvested in Delaware are eligible to be donated through this program. Deer harvested out of state will not be accepted. 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 Little Creek Wildlife Area main tract, east of Dover 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. For more information about walk-in cooler locations and participating deer processors, visit the DHAH website If you own and operate a private deer processing facility and would like more information about potentially becoming involved with the DHAH program, please contact the Division at 302-739-9912.

Youth and Non-Ambulatory Deer Hunt, September 28-29 and November 2-3, 2024

Any youth from 10 years through 15 years and individuals that are non-ambulatory, and use a wheelchair for mobility, may hunt. Youth hunters must be under direct supervision by a person 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. The youth hunt at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge will be conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis at Steamboat Landing and Fischer Tract. Contact the refuge for information on how to sign up.

For more information on youth hunting, see the Youth Hunting section on Youth Hunting Information.

Deer Hunting Hours

1/2 hour before sunrise until 1/2 hour after sunset.

Deer Hunting on Public Lands

For information on deer hunting on public lands, see Public Lands Hunting & Trapping.

Selling Deer Parts Or Deer Meat

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.

Sika Deer

What To Do If You Harvest One

Follow the same steps as you would if you harvested a white-tailed deer and register the deer as described on Deer & Turkey Harvest Reporting. During the registration process you will be asked if the deer you harvested was a white-tailed deer or sika deer. Please select sika deer. To aid in the management of sika deer, hunters that register a sika may receive a follow-up phone call, so that biologists can collect additional information surrounding the harvest.

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 following the Division’s goal of not promoting nonnative species they may be harvested.

What Do They Look Like?

They are 2.5 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 but recent surveys have shown that in some areas sika deer are more plentiful than white-tailed deer which suggests that sika deer may exclude and push white-tailed deer away from established territories. 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 as they are a separate species. Additionally, the breeding season for sika deer occurs in mid to late October, while the breeding season for white-tailed deer 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 Cervus (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.