Deer hunters invited into parts of Redden State Forest

DOVER — The state is opening specific portions of Redden State Forest’s Jester Tract immediately for the hunting of antlerless deer.

Due to severe crop damage by deer, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is partnering with the Department of Agriculture to allow expanded deer harvest through Sept. 30. Hunting will only be allowed in certain areas, as indicated at https://bit.ly/2TQKsjO.

All individuals who enter the limited areas are required to wear and display at least 400 square inches of hunter orange through Sept. 30. These areas will have signs posted, allowing members of the public to know where these expanded firearm harvest opportunities are permitted.

Antlered deer cannot currently be harvested in the specified portions of the Jester Tract outlined in red on the associated maps, although individuals using archery equipment may still harvest antlered deer in the permitted areas once the archery and crossbow deer seasons open Sept. 2.

Pursuit and harvest of all deer on Sundays remains prohibited in these areas.

“We recognize that farmers are attempting to protect their crops without using lethal measures, but the steps they are taking are not keeping deer from causing crop damage. The field inspections conducted by the Department of Agriculture are showing upwards of 85 percent crop loss,” Deputy State Forester Kyle Hoyd said in a statement.

“We have an opportunity to assist these Delaware farmers by opening these portions of Redden State Forest earlier than normal to allow the use of firearms to harvest deer, which will provide the public additional opportunities to harvest antlerless deer.”

According to a spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture, this is the first such deer hunting opportunity in a state forest.

A Delaware hunting license or License Exempt Number is required to hunt in the First State. Hunters born in 1967 or later must have a successfully completed a basic hunter education safety course to purchase a license.

Licenses can be bought online, at the license desk in DNREC’s Dover office at 89 Kings Highway or from hunting license agents statewide.

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 $20.

All harvested deer must be registered within 24 hours, and a registration number is required before butchering or taxiderming any deer. Deer can be registered by visiting the Hunter and Trapper Registration system online at https://egov.delaware.gov/htr or calling 1-855-DEL-HUNT (1-855-335-4868).

Harvested deer may be donated to the Delaware Sportsmen Against Hunger Program using the walk-in cooler at the Redden State Forest. All donated deer will be processed free of charge and the meat will be distributed to participating charitable groups.

DNREC requests anyone donating deer call the phone number posted on the cooler so the meat 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 a field tag to be attached to it.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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