State’s spring turkey hunting season set to open April 9

DOVER — Delaware’s spring turkey hunting season opens April 9 and runs through May 7, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife has announced.

Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Only bearded birds may be taken, and all harvested birds must be checked at an authorized turkey check station by 2:30 p.m. on the day of the hunt. Bag limit is one bearded bird per turkey hunter per year.

Hunters must successfully have completed a mandatory turkey education class before they can legally hunt wild turkeys in Delaware. Hunters also are required to carry their certification card.

Hunting on public lands, including state forest lands, is by preseason lottery permit only. Hunters must carry their public lands permit while hunting and may only hunt the designated area and season segment/dates specified in the permit.

DNREC hunter education coordinator Mark Ostroski offered some tips for a safe and successful hunt.

“A successful turkey hunt depends on many factors, including skill, careful preparation and attention to safety details,” he said. “Hunters should be sure to pattern their gun, because knowing where and how your gun shoots can be the difference between failure and success at bagging that big gobbler.”

Mr. Ostroski also emphasized safety. His recommendations:

• Take time to identify your target and what lies beyond;

• It is illegal and unsafe to wear clothing that includes the colors red, blue, black or white while turkey hunting;

• Never stalk a wild turkey; and

• Do not imitate the male gobbling call while trying to attract another gobbler.

The wild turkey remains one of Delaware’s top wildlife restoration successes after being on the verge of extinction by the early 20th century. In the early 1980s, the Division of Fish & Wildlife partnered with the Delaware chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Delaware Wild Lands to reestablish a wild turkey population in the state. By 1991, the population had grown large enough to permit opening a wild turkey hunting season, and the big birds continue to thrive and multiply.

Last year, 633 birds were harvested, the second highest record to date compared to 2014’s record harvest of 687.

“Over the past four seasons, hunters have harvested more than 600 turkeys each season, which can be attributed to the growing popularity of spring turkey hunting and a healthy turkey population,” said wildlife biologist Joe Rogerson.

Check stations

Authorized turkey check stations for 2016 will be available at the following locations:

New Castle County:

• Ommelanden Hunter Education and Training Center, 1205 River Road, New Castle. (302) 323-5333

Kent County:

• McKay Wildlife and Hunter Education Field Office, 6180 Hay Point Landing Road, Smyrna (intersection of Del. 9 and Shorts Landing Road). (302) 735-3600

• Little Creek Wildlife Area Check Station, Del. 9 and Bayside Drive͕, Little Creek (south of the town of Little Creek). (302) 739-4610

• Williamsville Store, 3544 Williamsville Road, Houston (intersection of Deep Grass Lane and Williamsville Road). (302) 424-2277

• First State Sporting Goods, 825 Halltown Road, Marydel. (302) 343-9696

• Miller’s Butcher Shop, 577 Morgans Choice Road, Wyoming. (302) 697-8278

• LP Sports Center, 1 East St., Spartan Plaza, Harrington. (302) 398-6373

• Delmarva Speed & Sport, 689 Warner Road, Milford. (302) 424-1179

Sussex County:

• Wildlife Recreations, 9641 Tharp Road, Seaford. (302) 629-4524

• Hook ‘Em & Cook ‘Em, 3444 Coastal Highway, Unit 3, Bethany Beach. (302) 539-6243

• That Place, 30618 Millsboro Highway, Millsboro. (302) 934-9260

• Bucks and Ducks Sports Center, 14882 Hardscrabble Road, Seaford. (302) 875-5600

• Kelly’s Outdoors, 29920 John J. Williams Highway, Millsboro. (302) 934-7517

For more information on hunting in Delaware, including the application for the public land permit lottery and information about turkey season segments, visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov.

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

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