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Delaware turkey hunting season to open April 9

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Delaware's spring turkey hunting season opens Saturday, April 9, and runs through Saturday, May 7. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Hunters are reminded that only bearded birds may be taken, and that all harvested birds must be checked at an authorized turkey check station by 230 p.m. on the day of the hunt. Bag limit is one bearded bird per turkey hunter per year.

Hunters must have successfully completed a mandatory turkey education class before they can legally hunt wild turkeys in Delaware. Turkey hunters also are required to carry their Hunter Education/Turkey Education card certifying successful completion of the mandatory turkey course.

Hunting on public lands, including state forest lands, is by preseason lottery permit only. Hunters must carry their public lands permit while hunting and may only hunt the designated area and season segment/dates specified in the permit.

The wild turkey remains one of Delaware's top wildlife restoration successes after being on the verge of extinction by the early 20th century. In the early 1980s, the Division of Fish & Wildlife partnered with the Delaware chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Delaware Wild Lands 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.

Last year, 633 birds were harvested, the second-highest record to date compared to 2014's harvest of 687 and only 54 fewer turkeys than the previous season's harvest of 687.

"Over the past four seasons, hunters have harvested more than 600 turkeys each season, which can be attributed to the growing popularity of spring turkey hunting and a healthy turkey population," said wildlife biologist Joe Rogerson.

Authorized turkey check stations for 2016 will be available at the following locations in Sussex County:

Wildlife Recreations, 9641 Tharp Road, Seaford, 302-629-4524

Hook 'Em & Cook 'Em, 3444 Coastal Highway, Unit 3, Bethany Beach, 302-539-6243

That Place, 30618 Millsboro Highway, Millsboro, 302-934-9260

Bucks and Ducks Sports Center, 14882 Hardscrabble Road, Seaford, 302-875-5600 Kelly's Outdoors, 29920 John J. Williams Highway, Millsboro, 302-934-7517.

The list of check stations is subject to change without notice. Go to after April 1 for any changes before the season begins. Station hours may vary, so hunters are advised to call the station where they are likely to check a bird to confirm the hours of operation. Hunters who want to have their bird scored and entered into the National Wild Turkey Federation records are reminded to have their bird's live weight recorded on a certified scale. If the check station does not have a certified scale, hunters will be directed to another station to have the turkey re-weighed.

Copyright 2016 Cape Gazette, Lewes, Delaware. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: April 1, 2016

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