To promote and provide additional hunting opportunities for youth hunters, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife has designated Saturday, Feb. 10 as the second of two special youth waterfowl hunting days for ages 10 to 15 to be held on both public and private lands.
Youth hunters must be of sufficient physical size and strength to safely handle a firearm, and must be accompanied by a licensed or license-exempt adult hunter age 21 or older who cannot possess a firearm during the youth hunt. Youth hunters age 13 through 15 must have completed a hunter education course, obtained a Hunter Ed certification card, and purchased a Delaware junior hunting license. Youth hunters age 10 through 12 must possess a license-exempt number (LEN) and may have taken hunter education but are not required at these younger ages. No state or federal waterfowl stamps are required for youth hunters. Normal daily waterfowl bag limits and hunting regulations apply and youth hunters also are permitted to harvest snow geese and two Canada geese during the special waterfowl hunting day.
On state wildlife areas, a lottery drawing for waterfowl blinds will be held 1.5 hours before legal shooting time at Augustine, Cedar Swamp, Woodland Beach, Ted Harvey and Assawoman, and two hours before legal shooting time at Little Creek Wildlife Area. Hunters should plan to arrive in time to sign up for the drawing. All other state wildlife areas that do not have lotteries but that allow waterfowl hunting are also open on the youth day. Hunters and those who will accompany them also should check each wildlife area’s rules before hunting.
Following the youth waterfowl hunt, the Division of Fish & Wildlife is again implementing an annual Snow Goose Conservation Order, which began in 2009 as part of an Atlantic Flyway-wide effort to reduce the population of greater snow geese. Snow goose numbers have reached levels that are causing extensive damage to their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, as well as, defoliation and degradation to wetlands and agricultural areas where the birds overwinter in the Mid-Atlantic region, which includes Delaware. The state’s 2018 Conservation Order to harvest snow geese will open Monday, Feb. 12 and run through Friday, April 13.
The Conservation Order is a separate season open only for snow geese and occurs after Delaware’s regular waterfowl hunting seasons close. It was created with the intent of using hunting as a game management tool to reduce and stabilize the greater snow goose population. Last year, an estimated 6,454 snow geese were harvested by more than 863 hunters who participated in the Conservation Order in Delaware.
During the Conservation Order, hunters may pursue snow geese every day except Sunday. Use of unplugged shotguns and electronic calls are allowed, with legal shooting hours starting a half-hour before sunrise and extended to a half-hour after sunset; there are no daily bag and possession limits. All other federal and state hunting regulations apply.
To participate in the Conservation Order, hunters must obtain a free Snow Goose Conservation Order permit number by registering at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/delhunt. Individuals needing assistance in obtaining the permit number should call 302-735-3600 during business hours Monday through Friday. Participants are also required to have a valid Delaware hunting license or a Maryland resident hunting license, a 2017/18 Delaware waterfowl stamp, and a Delaware Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, with the HIP available at the website above. A federal waterfowl stamp is not required.
Once registered for the Snow Goose Conservation Order permit, hunters are required to keep this permit number in their possession while hunting and to report their hunting activity and harvest success to the Division of Fish & Wildlife by Tuesday, May 1 via website at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/delhunt; hunters may also report by phone at 302-735-3600 during business hours Monday through Friday.