Wild Turkey Harvest Announced for Delaware’s 2022 Spring Hunting Season

Hunters in Delaware harvested 567 wild turkeys during the state’s spring season which ran from April to May, with the biggest gobbler taken weighing 25 lbs., 14 oz./USFWS photo

 

Hunters reported harvesting 567 wild turkeys during Delaware’s month-long spring turkey season, which is 7.4% lower than the 2021 hunting season, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today. While the 2022 harvest was slightly lower, it was generally consistent with and in the range of annual turkey harvests over the past decade – during which time the wild turkey came into focus as one of the state’s greatest conservation management stories after a restoration effort in the mid-1980s returned this iconic native gamebird to Delaware for the first time since the late 1800s.

Harvest during each week of the month-long season was similar to previous years, with 268 turkeys (47.3%) harvested during the first week, 104 (18.3%) during the second week, 73 (12.9%) during the third week and 94 (16.6%) during the last week of the season, with 28 (4.9%) harvested during the special one-day hunting opportunity provided to youth and non-ambulatory adult hunters on the Saturday prior to the turkey hunting season.

Delaware’s bag limit is one turkey per hunter per year and only the harvest of turkeys with beards – almost always males – during the state’s spring-only turkey hunting season. Despite their rarity, four turkey hens with beards were harvested by Delaware hunters in 2022. Other season highlights included the harvest of 52 “non-typical” turkeys, consisting of gobblers with more than one beard. Of the birds with multiple beards, 38 had two beards, six had three beards and eight had four beards. The longest recorded beard was 13 inches, and the longest spurs on a harvested bird were 1.75” on the right leg and 1.875” on the left leg. The heaviest turkey harvested was 25 lbs. 14 oz, taken on private property located in Wildlife Management Zone 6 in Kent County.

Turkeys were harvested in 17 of 18 Delaware wildlife management zones. A wild turkey harvest “hot spot” occurred along a corridor of nine management zones, consisting of and stretching from zones 4, 6, 7 and 8 in western Kent County through zones 9, 11, 12, 14 and 16 in Sussex County, which accounted for 73.4% of the total harvest in the state. Zone 1A, which is in New Castle County north of Interstate-95/I-295, was the only zone where turkeys were not harvested.

This year, 468 turkeys were harvested on privately-owned lands and 98 on public lands (harvest location of one turkey is unknown). Quality hunting opportunities on public land were widely available statewide and was rewarding for numerous hunters as evidenced by turkeys being harvested from 19 different public land areas.

For hunters planning ahead, the 2023 wild turkey hunting season will open Saturday, April 8 and run through Saturday, May 6, with the special day for youth and non-ambulatory hunters set for Saturday, April 1. Hunters planning to hunt public lands should submit a public lands turkey lottery application, with information available in the 2022/2023 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide. Hunters are required to successfully complete a turkey hunter education class before hunting wild turkeys in Delaware and before applying for a permit to hunt on public lands, with additional information available at Delaware Hunter Education Courses.

Hunting season and state wildlife area information is available in the 2022/2023 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide or by calling the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912. Information on hunting licenses and the Conservation Access Pass is available at de.gov/huntinglicense or by calling the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife Recreational Licensing office at 302-739-9918.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 68,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Delaware Wild Turkey Hunting Season to Open

Delaware hunter Matthew Lawson bagged his first wild turkey in the First State last year. Delaware’s season starts next month. /Submitted photo

 

One-Day Youth and Non-Ambulatory Hunter Turkey Hunt April 2, Followed by Regular Hunting Season Opening on April 9

Wild turkey hunting in Delaware begins Saturday, April 2 with a one-day turkey hunt for youth ages 10 through 15 and for non-ambulatory hunters, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today – with the regular turkey hunting season opening Saturday, April 9 and running through Saturday, May 7. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with no Sunday hunting allowed. Only bearded turkeys may be harvested, and the bag limit is one bearded turkey per hunter each year, regardless of where and when harvested.

Youth participating in the one-day April 2 hunt must be 10 to 15 years of age and must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older who has completed a Delaware-approved turkey hunter safety class and who possesses a Delaware hunting license or License Exempt Number (LEN). Accompanying adults may not hunt during the youth-day hunt. Regular-season turkey hunters under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult of 21 years of age or older who has completed a Delaware-approved turkey hunter safety class and who possesses a Delaware hunting license or LEN. Non-ambulatory hunters who participate in the one-day hunt on April 2 must need a wheelchair for mobility.

Hunting regulations require that all harvested birds must be checked at an authorized turkey check station by 2:30 p.m. on the day the bird was harvested. A list of turkey check stations is available at dnrec.delaware.gov and in the 2021/2022 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide. Check station hours may vary, so hunters are advised to call the station to confirm hours of operation. Hunters who want their bird scored and entered into National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) records are reminded to have their turkey’s weight recorded on a certified scale. For more information, see the NWTF website.

Hunting on state wildlife areas and in state forests during the spring regular turkey hunting season requires carrying a public land permit that was issued via preseason lottery, with the permit specifying the public lands and season segment/dates that can be hunted. Hunters participating in the special turkey hunt for youth and non-ambulatory hunters on April 2 may hunt without a public land permit on those state wildlife areas and state forests open to turkey hunting during the regular turkey hunting season as indicated on pages 43 and 45 of the Hunting & Trapping Guide.

Turkey hunters are reminded of the following hunter education requirements:

  •  All turkey hunters 13 years of age and older must have completed a Delaware-approved turkey hunter safety course, including youth ages 13 through 15 hunting on the special youth turkey hunt on April 2.
  • Hunters completing the turkey hunting course for the first time and who possessed a current hunting license or LEN prior to completing the course are reminded that they will need to reprint their license or LEN so that it will indicate successful completion of the course. Likewise, hunters who previously completed the turkey hunting course should ensure that their hunting license displays their turkey hunting course number. Hunters who have successfully completed the course no longer need to carry a course card as proof of completion if their hunting license or LEN indicates they have passed the course.
  • Prospective hunters who are unable to attend an in-person turkey hunter safety course offered by the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife may complete an approved online course offered by an outside vendor for a fee. More hunter education information can be found at dnrec.delaware.gov. Upon completion, hunters will need to submit a copy of their course completion certificate to huntereducation@delaware.gov. Please include a phone number that the hunter education office can call regarding any questions about your certificate.

The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife offers turkey hunting opportunities on those state wildlife areas that are open to turkey hunting, with details available at de.gov/wamaps.

Registered motor vehicles used to access designated wildlife areas owned or managed by the Division of Fish and Wildlife are required to 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.
Delaware hunting licenses and CAPs can be purchased online at de.gov/huntinglicense or from hunting license agents statewide. Hunters obtaining a License Exempt Number (LEN) are reminded that they should create a profile using the DNREC ePermitting portal or obtain a LEN at a hunting license agent if they have not already done so.

Additional information on hunting seasons and state wildlife areas is available in the Hunting & Trapping Guide or by calling the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912. Information on hunting licenses and the Conservation Access Pass is available at de.gov/huntinglicense or by calling the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife Recreational Licensing office at 302-739-9918.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 68,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov; Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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Delaware Turkey Hunting Season to Open in April

Self-serve Required Turkey Harvest Registration
Provided at Check Stations

Delaware’s statewide one-day turkey hunt for youth ages 10 to 15 and for non-ambulatory disabled hunters requiring a wheelchair will be held Saturday, April 3, followed by the four-week spring turkey hunting season from Saturday, April 10 through Saturday, May 8. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control reminds turkey hunters that hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with no Sunday hunting.

Youth hunters on the one-day turkey hunt must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older who has completed a Delaware-approved turkey hunter safety course and has a Delaware hunting license or a License Exempt Number (LEN). The accompanying adult may not hunt on the special one-day turkey youth hunt.

Only bearded turkeys may be harvested, and the bag limit is one bearded turkey per hunter each year, regardless of where and when a bird is harvested.

All harvested turkeys must be registered at an authorized turkey check station by 2:30 p.m. on the day the bird was harvested. A list of available check stations is available at 2021 Turkey Check Stations and on page 31 of the 2020/2021 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide. Turkey harvest data collected by the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife are used to manage Delaware’s wild turkey population.Turkey check station box

Due to the ongoing coronavirus period, hunters will be required to use a self-registration process to register harvested turkeys. Easily identifiable, residential-style mailboxes with self-registration forms are located at each check station. To complete registration of a harvested turkey, hunters are required to fill out the form as completely as possible and sign and date the form. After completing the form, hunters should remove and retain the small bottom portion as a receipt, before folding and placing the top portion in the slot in the back of the mailbox. If multiple hunters are using or waiting to use a self-check station, hunters should remain the required six feet (or further) apart from one another, or fill out the registration form in their vehicle. Check stations will not be weighing wild turkeys harvested by hunters this season.

Hunters who want their bird scored and entered into National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) records are reminded to have their turkey’s weight recorded on a certified scale. For more information, visit NWTF Wild Turkey Records or contact your local NWTF representative.

Hunters on state wildlife areas and state forests during the spring turkey hunting season are required to carry their public land permit that was issued through a preseason lottery. The permit specifies the public land and season segment/dates that can be hunted. Hunters participating in the April 3 special turkey hunt for youth and non-ambulatory disabled hunters may hunt without a public land permit on state wildlife areas and state forests open to turkey hunting during the regular turkey hunting season.

Registered motor vehicles used to access designated wildlife areas owned or managed by the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife are required to 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.

All turkey hunters 13 years of age and older must have completed a Delaware-approved turkey hunter safety course. Turkey hunters under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older who has completed a Delaware-approved turkey hunter safety course and who has a Delaware hunting license or a License Exempt Number (LEN).

Due to cancelation of in-person turkey hunter safety courses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Hunter Education Program is offering a free online turkey course to until May 14, 2021.

To complete the online course, participants may go to Delaware turkey hunting course on the DNREC website to view the video, take the 20-question test, and either create an account or sign into an existing account in the DNREC ePermitting system to review and/or print their hunting license.

Participants must earn a score of 80% or higher on the test to successfully pass the turkey hunting course. Tests will be reviewed within 24 hours of completion. Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a confirmation email and the course will be added to their profile in the DNREC hunter education database.

Hunters who completed a Delaware-accepted turkey course online must send a copy of the certificate of completion to the hunter education office at HunterEducation@delaware.gov or by calling 302-735-3600 x1.

Hunters completing the turkey hunting course for the first time who have a current hunting license are reminded to reprint their license to indicate successful completion of the course. Hunters who previously completed the turkey hunting course also should check to ensure that their hunting license displays their turkey hunting course number. Additionally, hunters who have successfully completed the course no longer need to carry a course card as proof of completion when their hunting license indicates they have passed the course.

A Delaware hunting license or License Exempt Number (LEN) is required to hunt. Delaware hunting licenses and Conservation Access Passes can be obtained online at Delaware Licenses or from hunting license agents statewide. Hunters can obtain a free LEN through the DNREC ePermitting system or from a licensing agent where hunting licenses are sold, where hunters must create a profile to obtain their LEN.

For more information on turkey hunting, visit the 2020/2021 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide and Wildlife Area Hunting Maps or call DNREC’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912. More information on hunting licenses and the Conservation Access Pass is available at de.gov/hunting or by calling DNREC’s Recreational Licensing office at 302-739-9918.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Delaware Forest Service announces new turkey permit for state forests

Redden Forest sign
Redden State Forest in Georgetown is one of the three state forests where hunters can apply for a turkey permit for the 2019 spring season.

DOVER – For the first time, the Delaware Forest Service (DFS) will issue turkey hunting permits through a separate lottery for the 2019 spring season. Previously, statewide permits were available only through DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. The 2019 Delaware turkey hunting season runs for four consecutive weeks from Saturday, April 13 to Saturday, May 11, with a special youth and non-ambulatory disabled hunter day scheduled for Saturday, April 6.  State forest turkey permits will be issued for one of four season segments: A (4/13-4/19), B (4/20-4/26), C (4/27-5/3), or D (5/4-5/11).

The new Delaware State Forest Turkey Hunting Permit Application is now available online.

Turkey hunters will be able to request a permit for Blackbird State Forest, Taber State Forest, and Redden State Forest. Hunters may also indicate their request for preferred weeks and locations. The change will now provide hunters with up to two weeks of permitted turkey hunting: either at a DNREC Wildlife Area or a Delaware State Forest. State forest hunting is still free to the public and requires no separate usage fees. The DFS receives no funding from income generated by hunting license and registration fees. Despite the change, all previous turkey hunting license and registration requirements will remain in effect: harvested wild turkeys must still be registered through the state turkey hunting check stations. Hunters are also required to complete a turkey hunting safety education course.

“The Delaware Forest Service’s goal is to enhance the quality of turkey hunting opportunities on state forest lands. We currently do not have access to site-specific data on turkey populations and harvests that can help us better manage this important natural resource. By issuing our own permits, we can gather more information about each forest tract and gain feedback from hunters on actual ground conditions so we can improve their overall experience,” said Kyle Hoyd, assistant state forester.

“We are also exploring ways to implement forest management techniques, such as small selected clear-cuts, that can foster better turkey habitat.”

In addition, the DFS will use a system that allows hunters to call in if they no longer need their permit so it can be reassigned to another individual on the waiting list. This was developed in response to a lack of hunters during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The DFS will also provide hunters with a survey card they will need to fill out to apply the following year that includes questions on how many turkeys they saw, days hunted, what tracts they hunted, etc.

“We want to base our turkey management strategy on information we receive from both our professional forestry staff as well as the general public. By incorporating field surveys of turkey populations, habitat, and ground conditions at state forests, we hope to ensure the health of our wild turkey population long into the future” said Hoyd.