The 2012 Delaware spring turkey hunting season opens Saturday, April 14, and runs through Saturday, May 12, the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife announced today. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m. Hunters are reminded that all birds taken must be checked at an authorized turkey check station by 2:30 p.m. on the day of the hunt.
Something new for hunters this spring is the opportunity to use a crossbow for turkey hunting. “This regulatory change just became official on April 11, making it a last minute bonus for Delaware hunters,” said Program Manager Ken Reynolds.
Delaware hunters are reminded that they must have successfully completed a mandatory one-day turkey hunter education class before they can legally hunt wild turkeys in Delaware. Turkey hunters also are required to carry their Hunter Education Card certifying successful completion of the course.
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. Hunters should be sure to pattern their gun, because knowing where and how your gun shoots can make all the difference between failure and success at bagging that big gobbler,” he said.
Ostroski added that hunters also should remember these important safety practices:
- Take time to identify your target and what lies beyond;
- Avoid wearing clothing that includes the colors red, blue, black and white; and
- Remember to never stalk a wild turkey.
- Do not imitate the male gobbling call trying to attract another gobbler.
The wild turkey remains one of Delaware’s top restoration successes after being hunted nearly to extinction by the early 20th century. In the early 1980s, the Division partnered with the Delaware chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation to re-establish 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.
“We are looking forward to another excellent season. Bird numbers appear to be high, with good reports coming from every corner of the state,” said Wildlife Section Administrator Greg Moore.
“Record harvests have occurred over the last several years, and this could be the year we reach the 500-bird mark for the first time,” added Biologist Matt DiBona.