Delaware Harvest Information Program (H.I.P.) Requirements for Migratory Bird Hunters

Migratory bird hunters in Delaware, targeting species such as ducks, geese, swans, doves, woodcock, rails, snipe, and coots, must have a valid H.I.P. number, which must be renewed annually. These numbers are valid from July 1st through June 30th of the following year. It's important to note that hunters exclusively pursuing crows do not need a H.I.P. number.

The H.I.P., mandated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is a necessary permit for hunting migratory birds. Since a H.I.P. number is state-specific, hunters need a unique number for each state where they hunt migratory birds. To obtain this permit, hunters must provide personal details and answer questions regarding their hunting activities and success from the previous year. This confidential information assists the USFWS in selecting hunters for follow-up surveys.

To hunt migratory birds legally in Delaware, acquiring a H.I.P. number is compulsory. This permit is free and obtainable either by visiting https://de.gov/DigitalDNREC or by calling toll-free 1-855-335-4868. Hunters must record their 6-digit H.I.P. number on their hunting license. If a hunter acquires their H.I.P. number alongside their hunting license or opts to reprint their license after obtaining the number, it will be automatically printed on the hunting license.

Non-Resident 3-Day Hunting License in Delaware

Non-residents can opt for a 3-day hunting license in Delaware, which is valid for waterfowl hunting given that the hunter has purchased both the Federal Duck Stamp and the Delaware state waterfowl (duck) stamp, and has obtained a Harvest Information Program (H.I.P.) number.

When buying a state waterfowl (duck) stamp through electronic systems, the image of the stamp will be printed directly on the hunting license if the stamp and the hunting license are purchased simultaneously. If the waterfowl stamp is bought separately, the hunter will receive the stamp image electronically. It is important to note that the Division of Fish and Wildlife no longer sends out physical waterfowl stamps by default at the end of the hunting season (June 30th each year).

Hunters who desire to receive the original physical waterfowl stamp must explicitly request it either at the time of the electronic purchase by answering "yes" to the prompt or by contacting the Division at 302-739-9918 afterward. When making the request, be prepared to provide relevant details such as your name, address, and the order ID number associated with your electronic stamp purchase.

Delaware Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

Designated Dates The Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days in Delaware are scheduled for October 21, 2023, and February 3, 2024.

Locations and Lottery The hunts are open across the state, including private land, state wildlife areas, and federal refuges. For state blinds, a lottery draw occurs 1.5 hours before the legal start of shooting, except for at Little Creek Wildlife Area where the drawing is 2 hours prior. Participants are encouraged to arrive around 2 hours before legal shooting time to register for the lottery.

Eligibility and Supervision Youth aged 10 to 15 can actively hunt, but they must be directly supervised by an adult aged 21 or older with a valid hunting license. Stamps from the state or federal government are not required for youths to participate. However, youth hunters aged 13 to 15 are required to purchase a Delaware junior hunting license. All regular season bag limits and waterfowl hunting rules are in effect during these dates.

Adult Participation The supervising adults must have a valid Delaware hunting license or proof of exemption but are not permitted to carry firearms during these youth hunting events. Additional details on regulations and guidance for young hunters can be found in the Youth Hunting section found in Youth Hunting Information.

Note that many waterfowl hunting regulations are set through federal guidelines and need to be followed accordingly.

Delaware Regulations for Hunting Waterfowl from Boats

Proximity to Established Blinds During waterfowl season, hunting from any boat within 1,500 feet of an established blind is prohibited without the blind owner's permission. However, there are some exceptions:

  • Retrieving crippled waterfowl using a boat is allowed if it complies with federal regulations.
  • Using a boat for direct transportation to or from a legally occupied blind is permissible.
  • Hunting is permitted from a boat securely fastened within an enclosed established blind.

Hunting Restrictions in Little River Hunting from either a boat or floating/fixed blind is not allowed in the Little River within areas flanked by Division-administered land during the waterfowl season.

Shoreline Hunting Restrictions Specific distance-based restrictions apply along the Delaware River and Bay shoreline:

  • Within the section from the Appoquinimink River to the Smyrna River, hunting must not occur within 900 feet of the shoreline without permission from the adjacent landowners.
  • Between the Smyrna River and the Murderkill River, the restricted distance increases to 1,500 feet from the shoreline, again requiring permission from neighboring landowners.

Regulations for Tender Boats Tender boats serving gunning (layout) rigs must remain within 1,500 feet of the rig. Their activities are strictly limited to retrieving downed birds or providing service to the rig, and any other activities are prohibited.

Delaware-Maryland Snow Goose Hunting Reciprocity and Conservation Order Details

Reciprocal Agreement for Snow Goose Hunting Delaware and Maryland have a reciprocal agreement for hunting snow geese.

  • For Delaware Hunters in Maryland:

    • They can use their Delaware hunting license to hunt snow geese in Maryland.
    • Required: Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp, Federal Duck Stamp, Maryland H.I.P. number.
    • Comply with Maryland Hunter Safety laws.
    • Delaware guide license holders should check the "Delaware Guide/Hunt License" section for additional reciprocity information.
  • For Maryland Hunters in Delaware:

    • They can use their Maryland resident hunting license to hunt snow geese in Delaware.
    • Required: Obtain a Delaware License Exempt Number (LEN) specifically for snow geese, Delaware Waterfowl Stamp, Federal Duck Stamp, Delaware H.I.P. number.
    • Comply with Delaware Hunter Safety laws.
    • Maryland DNR ID number needed to obtain the LEN.
  • Residents of both states must refer to the respective Licensing and permit resources for specific reciprocity conditions. This reciprocity only extends to Delaware and Maryland residents.

Snow Goose Conservation Order The Conservation Order allows additional measures to control snow goose populations once regular waterfowl hunting seasons close:

  • Adjustments During Conservation Order:

    • Use of unplugged shotguns and electronic calls is permitted.
    • Hunting hours extend from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset.
    • There are no daily bag or possession limits.
  • Requirements:

    • A Delaware hunting license or a valid Delaware LEN for those exempt from carrying a license.
    • Delaware Waterfowl Stamp for all licensed hunters aged 16 and over unless they are exempt from buying a Delaware hunting license.
    • Maryland residents with legal hunting rights in Maryland need a LEN specific to hunting snow geese, but no Delaware license, provided they comply with Delaware stamp requirements.
    • Non-residents need a Delaware non-resident hunting license or a valid Delaware LEN, plus the Waterfowl Stamp if over 16 years old.
    • A federal migratory bird (duck) stamp and Delaware H.I.P. number are not needed for participation in the Conservation Order.
    • Guide license holders should refer to the "Delaware Guide/Hunt License" section for reciprocity during the Conservation Order.
  • Permit Registration:

    • Obtain a free permit number before hunting by visiting Digital DNREC or calling 1-855-DEL-HUNT (1-855-335-4868).
    • The 6-digit Snow Goose CO number should be recorded on the hunting license.
    • The CO number is automatically printed on the license if obtained at the same time as the license, or when reprinting the license after acquiring the number.
  • Hunting Effort Log and Reporting:

    • Hunters are given a log to record their hunting activities during the Conservation Order.
    • They must report their hunting efforts by April 30, 2024, through the Digital DNREC portal or by calling 302-735-3600.

Delaware Tundra Swan Hunting by Permit

Permit and Harvest Limits Tundra swans in Delaware can be hunted exclusively through a permit system. Each eligible hunter can receive only one permit per year and is limited to one tundra swan per season.

Lottery and Notification Process Permits are allocated annually via a random lottery. Successful applicants will be notified in early September. The lottery application and details can be found below, with a deadline to possess a valid hunting license or License Exempt Number (LEN) by September 15, 2023. Failure to meet this deadline results in forfeiture of the permit, which will then be reassigned.

Permit Validity and Landowner Permission Each permit is valid statewide. Hunting on private land necessitates landowner permission. Permit holders should refer to their permit documentation for specific regulations regarding hunting tundra swans on public lands.

Permit Allocation Cap for Non-Residents For the 2023/24 season, up to 347 tundra swan permits will be issued, with a fixed number allocated to non-residents based on historical hunter percentages (17.0% for non-residents, equating to no more than 58 permits). Should any permits remain after all resident applicants have been accommodated, the non-resident cap may be lifted to distribute the excess.

Tagging and Reporting Requirements Hunters are given a non-reusable tag which must be attached to the swan immediately after harvesting. Hunters no longer need in-person registration of their tundra swans. Instead, they must use the provided Delaware Tundra Swan Survey and return envelope to report their harvest.

End-of-Season Survey Return Obligation All permit recipients must submit the completed survey to the Division after the season concludes, regardless of hunting activity or success. Failure to return the survey will lead to ineligibility for future tundra swan hunting lotteries.

Delaware Requirement for Non-Toxic Shot in Waterfowl Hunting

All waterfowl hunters in the State of Delaware are required to use non-toxic shots during hunting activities. This mandate is in strict adherence to the rules set forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In Delaware's waterfowl hunting practices, there are no exceptions permitted regarding the use of non-toxic shots.

For hunters looking to confirm which shot types are considered non-toxic and approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an updated and comprehensive list can be accessed at http://de.gov/migbirdhuntref. All hunters must review and utilize the appropriate ammunition to comply with these regulations.

Swan Identification Guide

Delaware Migratory Bird Hunting Laws and Regulations

Tundra Swan Identification

  • Regulated Season by Permit Only

    • One permit per person per season required
  • Adult Tundra Swan Features

    • Size: Large, entirely white body
    • Neck: Long
    • Bill: Black and wedge-shaped with a distinctive small yellow spot in front of the eye
  • Juvenile Tundra Swan Features

    • Color: Pale dusky-brown/gray, with white highlights
    • Bill: Mostly pink with a black tip

Delaware Migratory Bird Hunting Laws and Regulations

Mute Swan Identification

  • Harvesting Regulations

    • Harvesting is allowed during any waterfowl season
    • No limit on harvest number
  • Status

    • Classified as a non-native/exotic species
  • Adult Mute Swan Features

    • Size: Large, entirely white body
    • Neck: Long
    • Bill: Bright orange, black around the face with a pronounced black knob at the base
  • Juvenile Mute Swan Features

    • Color: Pale dusky-brown/gray, with white highlights
    • Bill: Mostly pink with a black base and a small black knob

Delaware Migratory Bird Hunting Laws and Regulations

Trumpeter Swan Identification

  • Regulatory Status

    • Harvesting is not permitted (closed season)
    • Rare occurrence in Delaware
  • Adult Trumpeter Swan Features

    • Size: Large, entirely white body
    • Neck: Long
    • Bill: Black, wedge-shaped, and unmarked by the eye
  • Juvenile Trumpeter Swan Features

    • Color: Pale dusky-brown/gray, with white highlights
    • Bill: Black with a pink center

Wood Duck Box Program in Delaware: Affordable Nesting Solutions

Delaware Migratory Bird Hunting Laws and Regulations

Delaware property owners can enhance local wildlife habitats by purchasing Plastic Bellrose wood duck nest boxes at a subsidized cost through the Division of Fish and Wildlife. These high-quality nest boxes, typically retailing at $60, are made more accessible to the public thanks to the State Waterfowl Stamp funds, allowing them to be obtained for just $30—a 50% reduction in price. To take part in this program and provide a safe nesting option for wood ducks, interested individuals should reach out directly to their respective regional wildlife offices.

For additional details or to secure a nest box, contact the following Division of Fish and Wildlife regional managers according to your county:

  • New Castle County: Call at 302-834-8433 for assistance.
  • Kent County: Get in touch by dialing 302-284-4795.
  • Sussex County: Inquiries can be made through 302-539-3160.

2023 Delaware Waterfowl Stamp Initiative

2023 Delaware Waterfowl Stamp Initiative Since 1980, the Division of Fish and Wildlife has been in collaboration with Delaware Ducks Unlimited to run the waterfowl stamp and print program. This initiative was conceived to gather financial resources dedicated to the conservation of waterfowl, which includes obtaining and enhancing wetlands—crucial habitats for the survival of migratory waterfowl. The proceeds from this program not only optimize waterfowl habitats within Delaware but also extend to conservation efforts in Canada. The goal is a flourishing waterfowl population that can be appreciated for years to come. The specific artistic criterion for the 2023 Delaware Waterfowl (Duck) Stamp was the illustration of a wood duck amidst the bottomland swamp habitat characteristic of Delaware. The art that met these conditions will be featured in the 2023 collection of prints and stamps, which will be obtainable starting on July 1, 2023. Additionally, both the 2021 and 2022 prints and stamps are available. Prints and stamps from 2020 will be systematically destroyed after June 30, 2024, in adherence to the program's policies. Those interested in the Delaware Waterfowl Stamp Program or in reserving and purchasing these prints and stamps can obtain more information by calling the Division at 302-739-9918 or by accessing the website at http://de.gov/waterfowlstamp.

Since 1980, the Division of Fish and Wildlife has been in collaboration with Delaware Ducks Unlimited to run the waterfowl stamp and print program. This initiative was conceived to gather financial resources dedicated to the conservation of waterfowl, which includes obtaining and enhancing wetlands—crucial habitats for the survival of migratory waterfowl. The proceeds from this program not only optimize waterfowl habitats within Delaware but also extend to conservation efforts in Canada. The goal is a flourishing waterfowl population that can be appreciated for years to come.

The specific artistic criterion for the 2023 Delaware Waterfowl (Duck) Stamp was the illustration of a wood duck amidst the bottomland swamp habitat characteristic of Delaware. The art that met these conditions will be featured in the 2023 collection of prints and stamps, which will be obtainable starting on July 1, 2023. Additionally, both the 2021 and 2022 prints and stamps are available. Prints and stamps from 2020 will be systematically destroyed after June 30, 2024, in adherence to the program's policies. Those interested in the Delaware Waterfowl Stamp Program or in reserving and purchasing these prints and stamps can obtain more information by calling the Division at 302-739-9918 or by accessing the website at http://de.gov/waterfowlstamp.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.