A doe or female deer in a Delaware field DNREC photo

Several hunting seasons opening, continuing in December

Staff WriterCulture, Headlines

hunting Delaware DNREC december

(DNREC photo)

Several Delaware hunting and trapping seasons will open in December, including a special antlerless deer season.

The antlerless deer season will open Dec. 10 and extend through Dec. 18, and multiple furbearer trapper seasons will open Dec. 1. 

Duck, Canada goose, woodcock, snipe, and other hunting seasons also open during the month.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control reminded archery and crossbow hunters in a news release Monday that they are not allowed to harvest antlered deer during the special December antlerless deer season. 

Deer hunting is allowed on all Sundays through Jan. 31, 2023, using only those hunting methods legal for the respective established deer hunting seasons. More information can be found here.

Donate your venison

All deer harvested by hunters must be registered online within 24 hours at de.gov/digitaldnrec or by calling 855-DEL-HUNT (855-335-4868).

Hunters who wish to donate venison to the hungry are encouraged to participate in DNREC’s Delaware Hunters Against Hunger Program. 

Field-dressed deer may be donated at participating butchers or self-serve, walk-in coolers maintained by the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife, with additional information and participating butcher and cooler locations found online here

All donated deer will be processed free of charge to the hunter, and the meat will be distributed to participating charitable organizations. Last year, hunters donated over 24,000 pounds of processed venison that provided more than 97,000 meals to Delawareans in need.

December opening hunting seasons

 Hunting season dates for seasons opening in December:

  • Beaver (private lands only): Dec. 1 through Mar. 19, 2023
  • Woodcock and common snipe (second season split): Dec. 2 through Jan. 16, 2023
  • Ducks (including sea ducks*), coots and mergansers (third season split): Dec. 9 through Jan. 31, 2023
  • Deer (Special Antlerless): Dec. 10 through 18, 2022, including Sundays
  • Brant (second season split): Dec. 12 through Jan. 31, 2023
  • Canada goose (second season split): Dec. 24 through Jan. 23, 2023

* Sea duck hunters are advised that there is no longer a special sea duck zone with its own separate season dates or daily bag and possession limits. Season dates for sea ducks are now the same as the regular duck season and the daily bag and possession limits for sea ducks are now included as part of the regular daily bag and possession limits for all ducks. Refer to Page 34 of the 2022/2023 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide found at de.gov/hunting for additional information about hunting sea ducks. 

December trapping seasons

Trapping season dates for seasons opening in December:

  • Red fox and coyote: Dec. 1 through March 10, 2023
  • Beaver: Dec. 1 through Mar. 20, 2023
  • Muskrat, mink, otter, raccoon, opossum and nutria (New Castle County Only): Dec. 1 through March 10, 2023 (through March 20, 2023 on embanked meadows)
  • Muskrat, mink, otter, raccoon, opossum and nutria (Kent and Sussex counties): Dec. 15 through March 15, 2023

Continuing hunting seasons

Continuing Delaware hunting seasons include:

  • Bobwhite quail: through Jan. 7, 2023
  • Mourning dove (second season split): through Jan. 31, 2023
  • Deer archery and crossbow: through Jan. 31, 2023, including all Sundays
  • Tundra swan (by special permit ONLY): through Jan. 31, 2023
  • Snow goose: through Jan. 31, 2023 and Feb. 4, 2023
  • Ring-necked pheasant (male only): through Feb. 4, 2023
  • Gray squirrel: through Feb. 4, 2023
  • Red fox (hunt only): through Feb. 28, 2023
  • Coyote (hunting): through Feb. 28, 2023
  • Cottontail rabbit: through Feb. 28, 2023
  • Raccoon and opossum (hunt only): through Feb. 28, 2023
  • Crows: through March 25, 2023, June 22 through 24, 2023 and June 29 through 30, 2023 (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only)
  • Groundhog: through June 30, 2023

Important information

Wildlife area maps and rules are available here, with information specific to Sunday deer hunting on state wildlife areas available here. 

A Delaware hunting license or License Exempt Number (LEN) is required to hunt, and most waterfowl hunters are required to purchase a Delaware duck stamp and a Federal Duck Stamp. 

Dove, goose and duck hunters also need a Federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, which can be obtained online at de.gov/digitaldnrec or by calling toll free 1-855-DEL-HUNT (1-855-335-4868). When using the online DNREC permitting system, hunters should either create a profile or use the “Quick Hunting Registration” option.

Registered motor vehicles used to access designated wildlife areas owned or managed by the Division of Fish and Wildlife are required to have and display a Conservation Access Pass (CAP). Hunters can opt to receive one free annual CAP with the purchase of any Delaware hunting license. To obtain a CAP, hunters will need the registration card for the vehicle to which the pass will be assigned, except for the Resident Senior Lifetime Conservation Access Pass available to Delaware residents aged 65 or older.

Delaware hunting licenses, Delaware waterfowl stamps and Conservation Access Passes can be purchased online at de.gov/digitaldnrec, at the license desk in DNREC’s Dover office at 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901 or from hunting license agents statewide. Hunters obtaining a LEN are reminded that they should create a profile using the de.gov/digitaldnrec portal or obtain a LEN at a hunting license agent if they have not already done so. Federal Duck Stamps are available for purchase at U.S. Post Offices, Bombay Hook and Prime Hook national wildlife refuges and online at 2022/2023 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.

More information on hunting seasons and wildlife areas is available in the 2022/2023 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide at de.gov/hunting. More information on hunting licenses, the state waterfowl stamp and the Conservation Access Pass is available at de.gov/huntinglicense.

RELATED: Multiple hunting seasons to open in November 

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