Last year was a record deer season for many hunters in Delaware. Hunters in both New Castle and Kent Counties bagged the most deer ever recorded, and archery hunters statewide set an all-time record for harvested deer. In total, 13,302 whitetails were taken, and the 2013 season looks like it’s going to be another stellar year.
“Although some parts of the state were impacted by EHD [epizootic hemorrhagic disease] last year, the effects were local and not widespread,” said Joe Rogerson, deer and furbearer biologist for the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Rainfall has been abundant, and approximately 50 percent of the state is comprised of corn and soybean agriculture, so antler development is expected to be above average this year.”
Last summer deer in Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) 12 and 15 (east and central Sussex County) were hit by EHD, so Rogerson expects to hear reports from hunters that deer numbers are still down in those areas. Thankfully, Rogerson hasn’t received any reports of EHD this year.
With more than 45,000 whitetails roaming the state, hunters should have ample opportunity this deer season. Most hunters hit the woods and fields in early November, a week or so before peak breeding time.
There are no major regulation changes to report for 2013, but hunters will experience a revamped automated Hunter and Trapper Registration System that’s more mobile-friendly. Hunters who choose to access the system using a phone will no longer experience a touch-tone registration process, but will instead speak with a live operator (call 855-335-4868). All successful deer hunters must register his or her kill within 24 hours of harvest or before taking the deer to a deer processor.
The Cedar Swamp and Woodland Beach WMAs have mandatory antler point restrictions (APRs) in place this fall. A buck must have an outside antler spread of at least 15 inches in order to be harvested. This is about as wide as the distance between the tips of a buck’s ears when the deer is looking at you with its ears in an upright position.
The Redden State Forest in east-central Sussex County provides over 12,000 acres of public hunting land. Much of the forest has been under the same APRs as the Cedar Swamp and Woodland Beach WMAs, so hunters should start seeing a few more older bucks with larger racks this fall.