Deer, dove, resident Canada goose and teal seasons set to open


Delaware’s hunting seasons kicked off Tuesday, Sept. 1, with the opening of the archery and crossbow deer season and mourning dove and resident Canada goose seasons on private lands and state wildlife areas.

Hunters can start adding teal to their bag on Friday, Sept. 11, when the Special September Teal Season opens in certain areas. The daily teal bag limit is six birds, and includes both green-winged and blue-winged teal, with a possession limit of 18 birds.

September season dates and legal hunting hours are:

• Doves — Sept. 1-26 (a half-hour before sunrise to sunset) (Non-toxic shot must be used for all dove hunting on state wildlife areas during the month of September.)

• Resident Canada geese — Sept. 1-25 (a half-hour before sunrise to sunset)

• Teal — Sept. 11-29 (a half-hour before sunrise to sunset).

For later dates and other migratory game bird seasons, hunters should consult the 2015/16 Delaware Migratory Game Bird Season Summary, which will be available in printed form by early September.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife offers early-season hunting opportunities on wildlife areas throughout the state. In some locations, hunting hours may be affected by other activities taking place on the wildlife areas. Hunting opportunities, procedures and rules for migratory bird hunting on state wildlife areas in Sussex County include:

• Dove hunting will be available on the Assawoman and Nanticoke wildlife areas over oats planted in the fall and over fallow fields. At Assawoman, hunts will be on Saturdays only beginning Sept. 5. Hunting hours are 1 to 6 p.m. During the month of September, permits will be issued on a self-serve basis beginning at noon at the Assawoman Wildlife Area check station; no permits are required after September. Hunting hours after September will be a half hour before sunrise to sunset.

At the Nanticoke Wildlife Area, dove hunting will begin opening day Sept. 1 over mowed fallow fields. No permits or checkout are required and there are no limits on the number of hunters at the wildlife area.

All other wildlife areas in Sussex County are open for dove hunting from a half hour before sunrise to sunset with no permits required.

• Resident Canada geese — No resident Canada goose hunts are planned for Sussex County on state wildlife areas as no resident goose flocks are known to be present on areas accessible for hunting.

• September Teal — Prime Hook State Wildlife Area is open to teal hunting this year. Hunting days are Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. State blinds 1 through 8 will be open. Permits are free and will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis from the new tag board at the boat ramp on the Prime Hook State Wildlife Area at the end of Little Neck Road. All federal blinds are closed, and no drawings or checkout will occur. No other Sussex County state wildlife areas fall within the September teal season zones. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to sunset.

A Delaware resident annual hunting license costs $25 for those ages 16 through 64. A resident junior hunting license costs $5 for those ages 13 through 15. To hunt waterfowl in Delaware, including teal, residents ages 16 through 64 are required to purchase a state waterfowl (duck) stamp, which costs $9. Higher license prices apply to non-resident hunters, and no exemptions are made for non-residents 65 or older on purchasing a Delaware hunting license or waterfowl stamp.

Hunters who are exempt from purchasing a license must obtain an annual, free License Exempt Number (LEN). Teal, dove and goose hunters also must obtain a Federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) number. Both are available online or by calling 1-855-335-4868, toll-free.

If hunting waterfowl on a state wildlife area from a blind that was selected through a lottery, all hunters in the blind are required to carry the $20 annual blind permit, available for purchase online or where hunting licenses are sold. The permit requirement is waived for hunters participating in Division of Fish & Wildlife-designated youth hunting days.

Delaware hunting licenses, blind permits and waterfowl stamps are sold online, at the licensing office in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and by license agents statewide. To find a participating hunting license agent, to purchase a license or blind permit or to obtain a HIP or LEN number online, see Delaware Licenses & Permits at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Services/Pages/Rec-Lic.aspx. For additional information on Delaware hunting licenses, call (302) 739-9918.

A Federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp, available for purchase online, at U.S. Post Offices and at Bombay Hook and Prime Hook national wildlife refuges, is required for all waterfowl hunters 16 or older; no exemptions are made those 65 or older for purchasing federal stamps.

For general information on hunting in Delaware, hunters should consult the 2015-2016 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide along with wildlife area maps. Both are available online. Hard copies of the guide and the hunting maps are also available at the license desk in DNREC’s Dover office at 89 Kings Highway, or by calling the Wildlife Section office at (302) 739-9912.

Hunters looking to hone their skills before fall hunting seasons open are being encouraged to consider Ommelanden Hunter Education Training Center & Range in New Castle and Owens Station Shooting Sports & Hunter Education Center near Greenwood, which was dedicated last September as downstate Delaware’s first and only state-owned public shooting sports range.

Ommelanden offers wingshooters a variety of training choices, including trap, skeet and five-stand, as well as a 35-yard archery sighting-in range that is now crossbow-compatible, a 2D and 3D archery course and a 25-meter and 50-meter shotgun/rifle/pistol sighting-in range. Owens Station also offers wingshooters the opportunity to practice on trap and five-stand courses. The center also features a sporting clays course.