Duck hunting season to open Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

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Volunteers turn out to help prepare public blinds for season opening; ducks abundant in Little Creek impoundments

Delaware Ducks

Delaware Ducks

DOVER (Oct. 22, 2014) – With Delaware’s regular duck season opening Friday, Oct. 24, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife reminds migratory game bird hunters of the rules and dates for this year’s waterfowl season segments and of public wildlife area hunting opportunities. The Division also acknowledges the volunteer actions of public-minded hunters in helping prepare wildlife areas for the season opening.

This year’s season segment dates for hunting migratory ducks are:

  • Friday, Oct. 24-Tuesday, Nov. 11
  • Monday, Nov. 24-Saturday, Nov. 29
  • Friday, Dec. 12-Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015

The daily limit of six ducks (excluding mergansers and coots) may include, in any combination, up to: four mallards, with no more than two hen mallards; one black duck; two pintail; one canvasback, three wood ducks; two redheads; two scaup, six teal; six shovelers; six gadwall; six wigeon; six goldeneye; six ring-necked ducks; six bufflehead; six ruddy ducks; one mottled duck; one fulvous whistling-duck; four scoters; six eiders; six long-tailed ducks. The possession limit is three times the daily limit. The season on harlequin ducks remains closed.

Season dates for coots and mergansers are the same as for ducks, with a daily bag limit of 15 and possession limit of 45 for coots, and a daily bag limit of five and a possession limit of 15 for mergansers. Daily bag limit may include no more than two hooded mergansers (six in possession).

Goose, brant and snow goose seasons* are as follows:

  • Canada Geese including white-fronted geese: season segments Monday, Nov. 24-Saturday, Nov. 29, and Friday, Dec. 12-Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015; daily bag limit two; possession limit six;
  • Brant: Monday, Dec. 22-Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015, and Monday, Jan. 12-Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015; daily bag limit two; possession limit six;
  • Snow geese: Wednesday, Oct. 1-Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015; daily bag limit 25, no possession limit; including Ross’ geese

*Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is open for snow goose hunting Monday, Wednesday and Friday with permission of refuge manager.

Most state wildlife areas hold a lottery drawing for waterfowl blinds 1.5 hours before legal shooting time, except for Little Creek Wildlife Area which holds its drawing two hours before legal shooting time. Hunters should plan to arrive in time to sign up for the drawing. Additional information about duck blind lotteries and availability at individual wildlife areas as well as rules specific to each wildlife area can be found online at Delaware Hunting Maps.Hard copies of these wildlife area maps are also available at DNREC’s Dover license desk, or by calling the Wildlife Section office at 302-739-9912.

Division of Fish & Wildlife biologists flew aerial surveys across the state on Oct. 20 to assess waterfowl populations, with promising results. “Duck numbers appear to be favorable going into the season, possibly attributable to the cold front that moved through this past weekend,” said Waterfowl Biologist Matt DiBona. “Good numbers of teal, pintail and widgeon were widespread across the state, with two of the best areas being the Port Mahon and Little Creek State impoundments, each having at least 1,000 birds.”

Wildlife area staff has been busy this week completing preparations for opening day on Friday. This past Sunday, volunteers joined Fish & Wildlife staff to grass duck blinds at the Little Creek Wildlife Area near Dover. Volunteer assistance also helped grass blinds at Augustine Wildlife Area near Delaware City last month.

“The Division thanks the volunteers who assisted with grassing waterfowl blinds,” said Division of Fish & Wildlife Director David Saveikis. “With nearly 200 blinds throughout the state’s wildlife areas and the recent constraints on our budget and staffing, we are especially appreciative of our volunteers and the time they spent working with us to help make this a great waterfowl season for hunters using our public wildlife areas. Their volunteer actions demonstrate the true spirit of hunting and conservation by giving back to the sport and resource.”

How to get your hunting license, HIP/LEN numbers and required stamps:

In order to hunt, Delaware residents age 16 or older and under the age of 65 and non-residents age 16 or older must purchase a hunting license to hunt in Delaware. A junior hunting license is required for youths age 13 through 15. Delaware hunting licenses are sold online, at the licensing office in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and by license agents statewide. To find the participating agent nearest you, or to purchase a license online, visit Delaware Licenses. For additional information on Delaware hunting licenses, call 302-739-9918.

Hunters age 16 and older who hunt migratory waterfowl – including resident Canada geese – are required to purchase a Delaware Waterfowl Stamp, available for purchase online, at DNREC’s Dover licensing office, or from Delaware license agents. Delaware resident hunters 65 and older are not required to purchase a Delaware Waterfowl Stamp. A Federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp, available for purchase online and at U.S. Post Offices, is required for all waterfowl hunters age 16 and older; no exemptions are made for persons 65 years or older for purchasing federal stamps.

Hunters who are exempt from purchasing a license must obtain an annual, free License Exempt Number (LEN). Hunters who plan to pursue migratory game birds such as ducks, geese and doves, also must obtain a HIP number as required under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Harvest Information Program. LEN and HIP numbers can be obtained through the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Hunter and Trapper Registration System (HTR). This free, easy-to-use system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offers a choice between using the mobile-friendly website or a phone system.

To encourage hunters to use the convenient online HTR system, the Division of Fish & Wildlife has partnered with Cabela’s to enter hunters who use the HTR system via the website into a drawing for one of 20 donated $50 gift cards for the 2014-2015 season. Using the website instead of the live customer service phone number to access the HTR system is a cost-savings measure that helps the Division direct more funding to on-the-ground habitat conservation and management, and to public hunting areas.

To use the new HTR system, please visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/delhunt. Gift card drawings will be conducted periodically during the hunting season, but only hunters and trappers who use the website to obtain their HIP and LEN permits, or to register their deer will be eligible. If you prefer to talk to a live customer service representative, please call 855-DELHUNT (855-335-4868), but note that you will not be eligible for the Cabela’s gift card drawing.

For more information on waterfowl hunting in Delaware, click on 2014-2015 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide and the 2014-2015 Migratory Game Bird Seasons. The guide and the migratory bird season summary also are available in printed form at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk, and from license agents statewide.