Delaware – From a Deer Hunter’s POV

Posted: 08/08/2012 in Archery, Hunting, Legal, News, Regulations
Tags: , , ,

This is an ongoing series looking at each state from the point of view of a nonresident hunter trying to find information about deer hunting, the basic explanation is HERE.

Delaware

Is the information easy to find?

The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife website was at the top of the search results.

Grade: A

Website: is it easy to use and understand?

The very first thing I noticed was that the main page had an image and link to a scanned, PDF format version of the current hunting regulations. It might be the MacBook Pro I’m using to write this, however the ‘end’ and ‘top’ keyboard functions do not work, which means I have to manually scroll through the entire book to find something unless I use the keyboard shortcut for search (which not everyone knows – on Windows it’s CTRL+F, Mac it’s Command+F), there is no search box or toolbar, like the states using eRegulations service.  In addition to the big PDF version with clickable advertisements (which are both annoying and useful if you see something you like) on the RIGHT side of the page is a link to ‘Wildlife,’  which wouldn’t have led me to believe hunting information was there except for the paragraph below it.

Information for hunters – licenses, seasons, guides, maps and more. Conservation and education – Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, the Delaware Shorebird Monitoring Project, Duck Stamp Program/Contest and more.

This section is a little better, though there are a lot of click-through links, like the link to ‘Seasons/Guides‘ which leads to another list of links, and then, finally, in the middle of a list is a link to the ‘2011-’12 Hunting and trapping seasons’  information.  Which is another PDF, though this one is only slightly longer than three pages of information.  At this level the information is easy to read and laid out well, it’s too bad you have to play ‘scavenger hunt’ to find it on the website.

Grade: C-

Does the state hold a lottery system for non-residents or are over the counter licenses available?

Over the counter licenses are available, there is a lottery system, however it seems to be for low-hunter-turnout or limited hunting availability areas only. Licenses may be purchased over the internet, and while at first it seems like an odd system, you must first print a sample license, which makes sense when you consider that you may have computer issues preventing you from printing the purchased license, therefore it’s better to find out BEFORE going through the rest of the process. Finding the correct links that led to the online license system was a bit of a round about challenge though, and I have no idea why following the ‘Hunting Licenses‘ link leads to a page that also contains (well before the hunting information) text and a link about Head Boat and Charter Boat Licenses.

Grade: C

How much does it cost to hunt, and is there a short term license available?

Resident license fees in Delaware are $25 for a hunting permit, nonresident fees are reciprocal to the state they reside in, which I like quite a bit, because that says to other states ‘if you gouge our hunters, your hunters will get gouged coming here.’  These licenses include tags for 4 deer, with additional deer tags purchasable for $25 (Quality and Antlered deer) and $10 (antlerless deer, and you may purchase an unlimited quantity of these tags.)  There is a short term license available, however the tag is a three day tag for $50, which is a good price, especially if you are coming from a high-reciprocal cost state, however three days is an awful short time to hunt a new place.

Grade: B

Are the hunting seasons easy to find and laid out in a logical manner?

While the seasons aren’t terribly difficult to find, you do have to click through several links and almost use a magnifying glass to read the page that contains the link.  Once you find the link to Delaware’s hunting seasons, it’s easy to read, roughly three pages long.  The seasons are laid out in blocks, with Deer Seasons at the top, other seasons in the middle, and trapping seasons at the end, which is logically the way a nonresident hunter would most likely need the information.

Grade: B

Is public hunting available, if so, are the rules different? If the rules are different, are they easy to understand?

Yes, public hunting areas are readily available in Delaware, and the Wildlife Management Area maps page is interesting and useful to a nonresident. Each area has a link to a map WITH any additional regulations, so if you want to hunt Augustine Wildlife Area, click the link and you can print an easy to read map as well as additional regulations, which makes laminating and packing the rules with you quite easy.

Grade: A

Are there major issues in hunting this state as a non-resident?

The only issue I can see caught me by surprise. While looking for the license costs and seasons, I noticed this at the very bottom of the page:

What are the licensing requirements and exemptions for residents and non-residents for hunting and fishing?Title 7, Chapter 5, Delaware Code, defines the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s authority.

If you just felt a shiver run down your spine, your sixth sense is working just fine, that link leads to thousands of words in bureaucrat-speak, with link after link to other ordinances.  I’m fairly certain nothing in this code contradicts the large PDF file of Delaware’s hunting regulations, but including it makes me think that the state employees that run the web site aren’t certain of that.

Except for that little unpleasantness, nothing seems to be amiss in Delaware.

Grade: B

 

Summary: Final Grade B-

Delaware’s website is neither intuitive nor easy to use, but it’s not an exercise in misery either.  The information could be laid out in a logical, easy to use, easy to read manner with minimal work, however from the start it seems almost like the information is meant to be understated, as though somebody is embarrassed that the hunting information is available online.  The rules, costs, and public land options and information available are all quite nice though, and depending on your reasons for choosing Delaware, proximity, curiosity, a friend claims he found Deer’Zilla, whatever, you could navigate this site and get both the information and licensing you need taken care of in an evening.

Previous states:  AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColorado, Connecticut

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