Small Game Hunting Seasons, Limits, and Regulations

Current Regulations Reminder

To remain up-to-date on small game seasons and bag limits, hunters should refer to the online guide at eRegulations Delaware Hunting or contact the Division at 302-739-9912 as seasons and limits are subject to change.

Season Dates and Daily Bag Limits

  • Gray Squirrel: September 15 - February 3 (Closed during November General Firearm Deer Season) | Daily Limit: 6 | Possession Limit: 12
  • Cottontail Rabbit: November 20 - February 29 | Daily Limit: 4 | Possession Limit: 8
  • Groundhogs: July 1 - June 30 | No limit (no hunting license required)
  • Ring-necked Pheasant (Male Only): November 20 - February 3 | Daily Limit: 2 | Possession Limit: 4
  • Bobwhite Quail: November 20 - January 6 | Daily Limit: 6 | Possession Limit: 12

Additional Hunting Details

  • Gray Squirrel:
    • Statewide hunting with shotguns.
    • .17 through .22 cal. rimfire, .17 cal. pellet guns, and muzzleloading rifles up to .36 cal. permitted south of the C&D Canal.
    • Only shotguns are authorized north of the C&D Canal.
    • Hunter orange required during overlapping deer firearms seasons.
  • Cottontail Rabbit:
    • Hunted with shotguns, compound, recurve, and longbows.
    • Hunter orange required during deer firearms seasons.
  • Groundhogs:
    • Unprotected species, hunted with various firearms and bows.
  • Ring-necked Pheasant:
    • Hunted with shotguns and longbows.
    • Hunter orange required during deer firearms seasons.
  • Bobwhite Quail:
    • Hunted with shotguns and longbows.
    • Hunter orange required during deer firearms seasons.

Possession Limit Note

A hunter shall not possess more than twice the daily bag limit when it is lawful, except game stored at a permanent residence for consumption.

Hunting Hours and State Wildlife Area Requirements

  • Upland Game: 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset, except raccoons, opossums, and frogs which may be hunted at night.
  • Private Shooting Preserves: Season runs from October 15 – March 31, and hunting is allowed on Sundays.
  • Hunter Orange: A minimum of 400 square inches is mandatory on State Wildlife Areas when hunting small game.

Bullfrog and Turtle Harvest Regulations

Bullfrog Season and Limits

  • Season Dates: May 1 - September 30
  • Daily Bag Limit: 24
  • Possession Limit: 48
  • Licensing Requirements: Must have a valid hunting or fishing license to harvest.

Snapping Turtle Regulations and Requirements

  • Season Dates: June 15 - May 15
  • Daily Bag Limit: No limit, but size restrictions apply.
  • Size Requirement: Minimum length is 11 inches measured on the curvature of the top shell (carapace).
  • Trap Tagging: Must be tagged with the trapper's name and address or the number from their current year's trapping license.
  • Bait Restrictions: The use of baited fish hooks is unlawful.
  • Permits: Mandatory to obtain a free snapping turtle permit number at trapping license purchase. For trapping on Division of Fish and Wildlife lands and state-owned ponds, a separate permit is necessary.

Diamondback Terrapin Regulations

  • Season Dates: September 1 - November 15
  • Daily Bag Limit: 4
  • Possession Limit: No limit on lawfully taken terrapins of lawful size during open season.

General Bag and Possession Restrictions

  • No individual should have more than twice the daily bag limit in their possession when lawful.
  • Game that is processed and stored at a person's permanent residence for consumption does not count toward possession limits.

Turtle Sale Prohibition and Additional Notes

  • Prohibition: No turtle species, other than snapping turtles, can be sold.
  • Snapping Turtle Permit Information: All snapping turtle trappers must have a free Snapping Turtle Permit Number, requested on the trapping application. Additional permits are required for State Wildlife Areas and state-owned ponds, available from the regional office in the trapping county. The Conservation Access Pass is necessary for trapping snapping turtles on State Wildlife Areas.

Identification and Conservation of Squirrels in Sussex County, Delaware

Species Overview

Sussex County is home to two diurnal (active during the day) tree squirrel species:

  • Gray Squirrels: Common and legally huntable with a Delaware hunting license.
  • Delmarva Fox Squirrels (DFS): State Endangered Species, not to be hunted.

Distinctive Traits and Behavior

Gray Squirrel

  • Fur: Generally darker gray with reddish-brown highlights.
  • Ears: Pointy and longer.
  • Belly: White.
  • Size: Smaller and with a less bushy tail.

Delmarva Fox Squirrel

  • Fur: Silver-gray with a belly, ears, and muzzle ranging from creamy to white, predominantly without brown fur.
  • Ears: Shorter and wider compared to gray squirrels.
  • Belly: Creamy white.
  • Size: Approximately 1.5 times larger than gray squirrels, with a fuller tail.

Behavior

Delmarva fox squirrels are more ground-oriented and less likely to jump from tree to tree, unlike the arboreal gray squirrels.

Habitat Restoration Efforts

Efforts to reintroduce DFS populations have taken place in Assawoman Wildlife Area, Redden State Forest, and Trap Pond State Park. The species has naturally extended its presence into adjacent woodlands, necessitating cautious hunting, particularly around these areas. Close attention is required near Trap Pond's Raccoon Pond Tract, where sightings are frequent.

Reporting Sightings

If a Delmarva fox squirrel is spotted, hunters and wildlife enthusiasts are encouraged to contact the Species Conservation and Research office at 302-735-3600. Photographic documentation is highly beneficial and welcome.

Reminder for Hunters

It is essential for hunters to carefully identify the squirrel species in their sights before making the decision to shoot, due to the protected status of the Delmarva fox squirrel. Observations by hunters can greatly contribute to conservation efforts and understanding of these squirrel populations.

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Disclaimer:

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.