Statewide firearm deer season reopens with shotgun season running Jan. 16-23, followed by muzzleloader season Jan. 25-30

DOVER – Delaware’s 2015/16 firearm deer hunting season reopens Saturday, Jan. 16, with shotgun deer season running through Saturday, Jan. 23, followed by the resumption of muzzleloader season from Monday, Jan. 25 through Saturday, Jan. 30. The state’s continuing archery and crossbow seasons also conclude Saturday, Jan. 30.

In order to hunt, Delaware residents age 16 through 64 are required to purchase a Delaware hunting license; a Delaware junior license is required for ages 13 through 15. Some license requirements differ for non-resident hunters. Delaware hunting licenses are sold online, at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and by license agents statewide. To find the participating agent, or to purchase a license online, click Delaware Licenses. For more information on Delaware hunting licenses, call 302-739-9918.

Deer must be tagged immediately after harvest, and tags must remain attached until the deer is processed. Delaware hunting licenses come with four antlerless deer tags, but additional antlerless deer tags may be purchased online or from license agents for $10. Resident hunters may purchase a combination resident hunter’s choice/quality buck tag for $10, with the resident hunter’s choice tag usable on both antlered and antlerless deer and the resident quality buck tag only usable on an antlered deer with a minimum outside antler spread of 15 inches. Non-residents may purchase separately one antlered deer tag valid for any deer and/or one quality buck tag for deer with a minimum outside antler spread of 15 inches for $25 each. Hunters are permitted to harvest a maximum of two antlered bucks for all seasons combined. All other deer taken must be antlerless.

Hunters are reminded that they must register their deer within 24 hours of harvest. A registration number is required before taking any deer to a butcher or taxidermist. Likewise, hunters who butcher their own deer must register the deer within 24 hours of harvest or before processing.

Hunters may register deer by visiting the Hunter and Trapper Registration (HTR) system online at using their smartphone, tablet or computer. Those who prefer to register their deer through a live customer service representative have the option to call 855-DEL-HUNT (855-335-4868). However, using the website instead of the live customer service phone number is a cost-savings measure that helps the Division of Fish & Wildlife direct more funding to on-the-ground habitat conservation and management, and to public hunting areas.

Successful hunters who harvest a deer and already have enough venison for themselves are encouraged to donate their deer to the Delaware Sportsmen Against Hunger Program. All donated deer will be processed free of charge to the hunter, and the meat will be distributed to participating charitable groups.

The Division of Fish & Wildlife maintains walk-in coolers where hunters may donate field-dressed, tagged deer at the following locations:

  • Sussex County
    Assawoman Wildlife Area, Frankford
    Gumboro Community Center, Millsboro
    Redden State Forest Headquarters, Georgetown
    Trap Pond State Park, Laurel
  • Kent County
    Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, Smyrna
    Norman G. Wilder Wildlife Area, Viola
    Mosquito Control Office, Milford
  • New Castle County
    Augustine Wildlife Area, Port Penn

These coolers are checked periodically, and donated deer are taken to the Sussex Correctional Institution’s deer butchering program, or to participating private butcher shops, where they are processed. If a hunter donates a deer, the Division of Fish & Wildlife requests that the hunter please call the phone number posted on the cooler, so that the deer is transported for processing in a timely manner. Any deer dropped off at a cooler must be field-dressed and registered, with the registration number written on the field tag attached to the animal.

Successful hunters may also donate their deer at any of the Sportsmen Against Hunger participating private butcher shops found throughout the state:

  • Sussex County
    Dave’s Cut ‘Em Up
    6854 Delmar Road
    Delmar, DE 19940

    Ole McDonald’s Farm Fresh Meats & Produce
    8977 DuPont Boulevard
    Lincoln, DE 19960

  • Kent County
    Miller’s Butcher Shop
    577 Morgans Choice Road
    Wyoming, DE 19934

    D&J Custom Cutting
    89 Myers Drive
    Hartly, DE 19953

  • New Castle County
    Townsend Deer Butchering
    1300 Dexter Corner Road
    Townsend, DE 19734

    Cedar Hill Custom Deer Cutting
    738 Paddock Road
    Smyrna, DE 19977

    Marks Butcher Shop
    7296 Grantham Lane
    (River Road Ind. Park)
    New Castle, DE 19720

For more information on hunting in Delaware, click on 2015-2016 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide. The guide also is available in printed form at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk in the Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and from license agents throughout the state. State wildlife area hunting maps are available in hard copy at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk and online at Delaware Hunting Maps. For more information, call the recreational license desk at 302-739-9918 or the Wildlife Section office at 302-739-9912.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 8

Division of Fish & Wildlife to hold workshops Jan. 12-14 on wildlife services, related hunting and trapping license fees

Annual Conservation Access Pass for state wildlife areas also under consideration

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife will hold a series of public workshops this week about wildlife conservation management and wildlife area user services and related hunting and trapping license fees. To continue providing these important services, the Division of Fish & Wildlife is considering possible fee increases for hunting and trapping licenses, along with establishing an annual Conservation Access Pass to be required for anyone using state wildlife areas for wildlife-associated recreation.

One workshop is scheduled in each county as listed below:

  • Sussex County – 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12 at Delaware Technical Community College, Jack F. Owens Campus, William A. Carter Partnership Center Lecture Hall, 21179 College Drive, Georgetown, DE 19947
  • Kent County – 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13 at Kent County Administrative Complex, 555 South Bay Road, Room 220, Dover, DE 19901
  • New Castle County – 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 at Ommelanden Hunter Education Training Center, 1205 River Road, New Castle, DE 19720

“Hunting and trapping license fee revenues have decreased in the past decade while our wildlife program operating costs have increased, resulting in having to reduce various program operations and services to operate within our budget,” said Division of Fish & Wildlife Director David Saveikis. “The potential fee increases would allow us to avoid further service reductions and to restore and enhance our services while providing added value to the public.”

Increased fee revenues would help ensure comprehensive wildlife program operations and services, which are important for statewide management of wildlife species and for managing wildlife habitat and “providing hunter and other wildlife-associated public access on state wildlife areas,” Director Saveikis said. Value-added options being considered include extended statewide hunting seasons for certain species and increased hunting, trapping and wildlife-viewing access and enhanced habitat management on public wildlife areas.

Delaware’s last hunting license fee increase came in 2007. Each dollar of state hunting license revenue brings in an additional $3 of federal funds to the state to support a variety of wildlife management and hunter access services.

The Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish will consider the potential increases at its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. at DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building Auditorium, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901. Any proposed fee increases by the Division of Fish & Wildlife require approval of the Delaware General Assembly before becoming effective.

Background information on wildlife program services and the potential fee increases to fund wildlife conservation and wildlife area management, public access and hunting opportunities can be found in a fact sheet available on the Division of Fish & Wildlife website. For additional information on the workshops, please contact the Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 6

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: Dec. 28-Jan. 3

Reminder for the week: Take note of winter hunting, fishing seasons and prep for weather

DE F&W Natural Resources Police logoDOVER – To achieve public compliance through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between Dec. 28-Jan. 3 made 786 contacts with anglers, boaters, hunters and the general public, including 62 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Officers responded to 36 complaints and issued seven citations, one of which was related to the C&D Canal Conservation Area and associated recreational trail, where there remains an increased Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence.

Citations issued this week by offense category included the following, with the number of charges in parentheses:

Wildlife Conservation: Not hunting from designated blind (2).

Boating and Boating Safety: Operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets (2), and operating an unregistered motor vessel (1).

Public Safety: Driving without a valid license (1), and driving with a suspended or revoked license (1).

* One citation was issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area: operating a vessel with an insufficient number of life jackets.

Are you AWARE?
DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind hunters and anglers of upcoming and ongoing hunting and fishing season dates:

  • Striped bass – Recreational season open all year in tidal waters within three miles of shore; catch-and-release only in Nanticoke and Delaware rivers and the C&D Canal and their tributaries from April 1-May 31 during spawning season. The taking, possession, and targeting of striped bass in federal waters, which begin three miles offshore, are prohibited.
  • Handgun deer season – closes Saturday, Jan. 9, south of the C&D Canal on private lands and many state wildlife areas; consult state wildlife area maps for area-specific rules and regulations
  • Shotgun deer season – Saturday, Jan. 16-Saturday, Jan. 23
  • Muzzleloader deer season – Monday, Jan. 25-Saturday, Jan. 30
  • Archery/crossbow deer season – open through Saturday, Jan. 30
  • Migratory Canada goose, snow goose and duck seasons – open through Saturday, Jan. 30
  • Small game hunting seasons – gray squirrel and pheasant (open through Saturday, Feb. 6), and rabbit (open through Monday, Feb. 29)*

*NOTE: Small game hunters are required to wear hunter orange during all firearms deer seasons; archery hunters also are required to wear hunter orange, including those afield north of the C&D Canal during handgun deer season.

Hunters and anglers also are reminded to be well-prepared for winter weather, which of late has included extreme fluctuations in temperature. “With this winter’s hard-to-predict weather, it’s especially important for hunters and anglers to make sure they leave a plan of where they will be and anticipated time of return with a responsible friend or family member,” said Sgt. John McDerby of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police.

Other tips include:

  • Check the latest weather forecast before heading out and dress appropriately in layers.
  • Anticipate changes such as rain, snow or temperature drop, and pack extra weatherproof and/or dry clothing as needed.
  • Pack and carry a small survival kit that includes a fully charged cell phone, flashlight with fresh batteries, compass, water, snacks and an emergency blanket.
  • When accessing hunting and fishing areas, park your vehicle in a designated parking area adjoining a roadway, if available, and preferably on high, firm ground.

For more information on hunting and fishing in Delaware, click on 2015-2016 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide or 2015 Delaware Fishing Guide. Both guides also are available in printed form at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and from license agents statewide. State wildlife area hunting maps are available in hard copy at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk and online at Delaware Hunting Maps.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish, wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at

Media Contacts: Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 3

Division of Fish & Wildlife announces amended tilefish regulation to take effect Jan. 11

DOVER – An amended Delaware tilefish regulation that reduces recreational and commercial harvest of the blueline and golden tilefish, species that have grown in fishing popularity in recent years, will take effect Jan. 11, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today. Blueline and golden tilefish in combination will carry a recreational limit of seven fish per person per day aboard a vessel, with a commercial harvest combination limit of 300 pounds of tilefish per day.

A recent stock assessment indicated that blueline tilefish are overfished and that overfishing is continuing. In response, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) requested member states to consider adopting incidental commercial trip limits and recreational bag limits for blueline tilefish similar to current Virginia and Maryland state regulations. Consistent with this request and with further input from Delaware’s Advisory Council on Tidal Finfisheries, Delaware adopted an amended regulation to conserve two species of tilefish – blueline and golden – that are most commonly landed in Delaware waters.

In addition, a federal emergency action requires commercial and party/charter vessels going out for blueline and golden tilefish hold a valid open access golden tilefish permit to land either species of tilefish.

“Blueline and golden tilefish are ocean-dwelling, deep-water species susceptible to exploitation due to their long-lived, sedentary nature,” said Fisheries Administrator John Clark. “To prevent an unmanaged expansion of Delaware’s tilefish fishery before more detailed data becomes available, we are joining our neighboring states in adopting these limits to conserve these species.”

The Secretary’s Order on the amended regulation for tilefish can be found on DNREC’s website. For more information on Delaware’s fishing regulations, call the Fisheries Section at 302-739-9914 or visit

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 4

New state record 24.8-pound bluefish bests previous high Delaware catch by almost 3 pounds

State record bluefish
Dr. Luis Mispireta of Stevensville, Md., with state-record 28.4-pound bluefish caught over the Del-Jersey-Land Artificial Reef/Photo:Joe Morris

LEWES – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife has confirmed a new state record in the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament: a 43-inch, 24.8-pound bluefish caught Monday over the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Reef, the largest artificial reef on the Atlantic Coast whose centerpiece is the ex-destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford, sunk by DNREC in 2010. Also known as Delaware Reef Site 13, the Del-Jersey-Land Reef is one of numerous artificial reef sites established by the Division of Fish & Wildlife that have become “hot spot” destinations for salt water anglers from throughout the region.

Dr. Luis Mispireta of Stevensville, Md., caught the huge bluefish while aboard the charter vessel Katydid with Capt. Brent Wiest and Mate Chris Vann over Delaware Reef Site 13, some 26 nautical miles from Lewes. Dr. Mispireta was reeling in a black sea bass he had hooked fishing over the reef when the bluefish grabbed the sea bass and hooked itself as well. The bluefish was landed after a fight befitting its record size.

The record catch was initially confirmed by Joe Morris of Lewes Harbour Marina and later verified by Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Officer Joel Brosius. This new record bluefish is almost 3 pounds larger than the previous state record 21.9-pound bluefish, which was caught in 1980 by Bill Thoroughgood of Rehoboth Beach.

For more information on the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament, click on 2015 Delaware Fishing Guide. The guide also is available in printed form at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk in the Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901 and from license agents throughout the state.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 45, No. 395