Delaware’s spring wild turkey hunting season will run from April 8, 2023 - May 6, 2023. A special one-day hunt for youth and non-ambulatory hunters will occur on April 1, 2023. 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 6, 2023 to be processed for the lottery drawing.
Segment dates (A-D) for Public Land
(A) April 8 - April 14
(B) April 15 - April 21
(C) April 22 - April 28
(D) April 29 - May 6
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 https://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.
Legal Firearms, Bows, and Shot Sizes
- Shotguns, including smoothbore muzzleloading shotguns – 20, 16, 12, 10 gauge – legal shot sizes: #4, #5, #6. Loads 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.
- 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 age 13 and older must complete a mandatory turkey education course. For more information, please see inset located in bottom right corner of this page. Upon successful completion of this course, hunters will need to reprint their hunting license (if they already have a license) as completion of the course will be indicated on the license. Hunters that have already successfully completed the course will no longer need to carry a card as proof of completion as long as their hunting license indicates they have completed the course. In addition, public land hunters must have an annual permit from the Division if hunting on a State Wildlife Area or from the Delaware Department of Agriculture if hunting on a State Forest.
Youth under the age of 13 are not required to complete a mandatory turkey education course but they must have a License Exempt Number and be accompanied by an adult while hunting. See Youth Hunting Information for information related to the requirements for an accompanying adult.
Public Land turkey Permits
A permit is needed to hunt turkey on public lands. See Turkey Hunt Application for the permit application form to hunt on State Wildlife Areas. See Public Lands Hunting & Trapping for information on how to hunt on State Forest Lands. Hunters will no longer be eligible to receive a permit to hunt on both State Forests and State Wildlife Areas in the same season. The State Forest Lottery will be held after the State Wildlife Area Lottery. Hunters that successfully receive a State Wildlife Area permit, and applied for a State Forest permit, will have their State Forest application removed before the lottery takes place and they will not be eligible for the State Forest lottery. This change is being made to maximize the number of individual hunters that have an opportunity to hunt on publicly-owned land each season.
Youth and Non-Ambulatory Turkey Hunt, April 1, 2023
Open statewide. Any youth from 10 years through 15 years and individuals that are non-ambulatory, and use a wheelchair for mobility, 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.
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.
The normal bag limits and regulations apply and all turkeys taken must be registered.
All state wildlife areas and state forests open for turkey hunting will be open for the Youth and Non-Ambulatory 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
The University of Delaware in collaboration with the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, has been 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, 302-831-4621, or the Division at 302-735-3600 so that information concerning the harvested turkey can be collected. Furthermore, hunters must still register their turkey in the same manner described within this Guide.
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 x 1.
Delaware also accepts two online turkey courses:
(Certification fee $39.95)
(Certification Fee $29.99)
Note: Upon completion of the online course, students must contact the Hunter Education office at [email protected] or 302-735-3600 x 1)to update their account to reflect course completion. Students will be required to submit a copy of their course completion certificate. Please include a phone number where the Hunter Education Office may call, in case there are any questions.
Wild Turkey Sighting Survey
During the months of July and August, the Division asks hunters and the general public to submit their observations of turkeys as part of an annual survey of the population. Survey forms may be found in June on the Division’s website at https://de.gov/fw or it may be obtained by calling 302-735-3600.