Deer Hunting Season in Delaware 2023

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With a growing and healthy deer population, Delaware has long hunting seasons to control the herd. In fact, the 2020-2021 season set a record for deer harvest with over 17,000 animals taken. To take advantage of these long seasons and join the ranks of successful hunters, it’s important to know the dates of the deer hunting season in Delaware, as well as important regulations regarding licensing and methods of take. 

Delaware 2023 Season Dates

Delaware seasons are pretty straightforward. One important thing to be aware of is that hunting on public land is illegal on Sundays, though it is legal on private land. Otherwise, these seasons are inclusive and statewide.

ArcherySep. 1, 2023 – Jan. 31, 2024
CrossbowSep. 1, 2023 – Jan. 31, 2024
MuzzleloaderOct. 7-16, 2023
Jan. 23-29, 2023
General Firearm (Shotgun)Nov. 11-20, 2023
Jan. 14-22, 2024
Special AntlerlessOct. 1, 2 17, 21-24, 28-31, 2023Dec. 10-18, 2023
Handgun and Straight-walled Pistol-caliber RifleJanuary 7, 9-14, 2024
Youth and Non-AmbulatoryNov. 5-6, 2023

Another important caveat to these seasons is that the “Handgun and Straight-walled Pistol-caliber Rifle” season is closed in Wildlife Management Zones 1A and 1B. However, handguns and straight-walled pistol-caliber rifles are allowed during the general firearm season. Detailed explanations of legal weapons by season are below. 

Additionally, keep in mind that it’s illegal to take antlered deer in the “Special Antlerless” season. The exceptions are archery and crossbow hunters, who can take antlered deer during the October dates, but not the December dates.

Delaware Bag Limits

Delaware has no bag limit on antlerless deer as long as you have a tag for each one. Only two antlered deer may be taken throughout the entire license year, which extends from July 1 to June 30, from all methods of take and throughout all seasons combined.

Antlered deer” are defined as those with at least one antler three inches or longer.  

Delaware Deer Hunting License Requirements and Costs

Anyone hunting deer in Delaware must purchase a hunting license for the license year, which lasts from July 1 to June 30, including the entire deer hunting season. The only exceptions are:

  • Hunters under age 13, unless they turn 13 during the season
  • Resident hunters over age 65 
  • Residents hunting on their own land, as long as they own at least 20 acres
  • Resident inpatients of a military hospital
  • Disabled veterans with at least a 60% disability rating
  • Honorably discharged veterans for their first year after discharge

For those exempt from the hunting license requirement, you must still obtain a “License Exempt Number” or LEN at no cost.

Delaware provides a convenient online portal for purchasing hunting licenses.

Tag Requirements

Additionally, you must have a “tag” for every deer you hunt, though these are now contained in a single harvest report card rather than actual physical tags that you attach to the animal. A harvest report card is included with each hunting license. 

All deer harvest report cards come with four antlerless tags, and you can add a quality buck and “hunter’s choice” tag that allows for antlerless or antlered harvest for $20. Since there’s no antlerless bag limit, you can purchase more antlerless tags for $20 each. 

Delaware License Fees

LicenseResident PriceNonresident Price
Adult Hunting License$39.50$199.50
Junior Hunting License (Age 13-15)$5.00$50.00
Guide Hunting License$159.50$475.00

Delaware Tag Fees

TagResident PriceNonresident Price
Hunter’s Choice and Quality Buck Combo$20.00N/A
Additional Antlerless Tag$20.00$20.00
Nonresident Antlered/Quality BuckN/A$50.00

What Weapons Can You Hunt With in Delaware?

Delaware has relatively strict regulations on methods of take for hunting, particularly for firearms, so make sure you’ve read through these.


Crossbows are legal for deer hunting in Delaware in addition to compound bows, recurve bows and longbows. Vertical bows have a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds and crossbows 125 pounds. Broadheads must have a cutting diameter of at least ⅞ inches.


Muzzleloaded firearms must be at least .42 caliber and have a barrel length of at least 20 inches.

Modern Firearms

Delaware is particularly restrictive when it comes to firearms, and the standard hunting rifles you would use in other states are generally illegal. Deer hunting with modern guns in Delaware primarily focuses on shotguns, but there are some specifically allowed firearms:

  • Shotguns: No smaller than 20 gauge, shooting rifle slug, pumpkin ball or buckshot. May only hold three shells in chamber and magazine combined.
  • Handguns: Revolvers and single-shot pistols with a barrel at least 5.75 inches long shooting straight-walled ammunition between .375 and .38 caliber with a cartridge case between 1.25 and 1.82 inches, or between .41 and .50 caliber with a case no longer than 1.82 inches.
  • Rifles: Only manually operated rifles chambered for straight-walled handgun ammunition following the same caliber and case length restrictions as handguns.

Legal Weapons by Season

SeasonLegal Weapons
Archery-Vertical bows
Muzzleloader-Vertical bows
-Muzzleloaded firearms
General Firearm (Shotgun)-Vertical bows
-Muzzleloaded firearms
-Straight-walled pistol-caliber rifles
Special Antlerless-Vertical bows
-Muzzleloaded firearms
Handgun and Straight-walled Pistol-caliber Rifle-Vertical bows
-Straight-walled pistol-caliber rifles
Youth and Non-ambulatory Hunt-Vertical bows
-Muzzleloaded firearms
-Straight-walled pistol-caliber rifles

Can You Hunt With an AR-15 in Delaware?

It is illegal to hunt with an AR-15 in Delaware. Since 2022 “assault weapons” have been banned in Delaware. The definitions are a bit complex, but they would prohibit the original AR-15 in addition to most production clones and imitations. Those already owning an assault weapon can keep it under certain conditions, but these do not include hunting.

It’s yet to be seen if this ban will survive legal challenges, but even then, it would be hard to adhere to Delaware’s firearm regulations for hunting with an AR-15. First of all, the original AR-15 and most of its imitators take .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO ammunition that doesn’t adhere to Delaware regulations.

Of course, a professional or amateur gunsmith could create an AR-15-style rifle chambered for cartridges such as the .357 Magnum that meet Delaware stipulations for straight-walled pistol-caliber ammunition. The .357 Magnum’s rimmed design is not ideal for a semi-automatic rifle, but it could presumably be done.

What Types of Deer Are Popular in Delaware

The whitetail deer is the only deer species present in Delaware. However, deer populations have grown quite a bit, one of the reasons Delaware has such liberal deer hunting seasons. Hunting the deer herds saves millions of dollars in crop damage each year and contributes millions to the state’s economy just like it does across the nation.

In the 2021-2022 season, Delaware hunters harvested 15,383 deer. While this is a small number compared to other states, it’s big for Delaware, representing the ninth year in a row of a harvest of over 14,000.

What Else Is Popular to Hunt in Delaware?

Aside from whitetail deer, Delaware is a famous location for snow goose hunting. Two major roosts in Delaware host over 400,000 migratory snow geese starting in the fall. There is a limited hunt carried out on February 4.

Additionally, Delaware has seasons for the following game animals:

  • Beaver (only on private land)
  • Raccoon and opossum
  • Red fox
  • Ring-necked pheasant (only males)
  • Cottontail rabbit
  • Gray squirrel
  • Coyote
  • Crow
  • Groundhog

I'm an avid hunter, archer and outdoorsman. I was born and raised in the Ozarks, my aunt taught me to hunt and I've been shooting bows since I was a kid.

1 thought on “Deer Hunting Season in Delaware 2023”

  1. you might want to check your dates for Delaware deer seasons. According to the Delaware hunting guide you have muzzle loader and general firearms starting a day late and running a day long. just a heads up.


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