Hiking safely during hunting season
Hunting is very popular in Delaware. Deer, turkeys, waterfowl and small game each have their own hunting seasons.
From September to February, and even in the other months of the year, you could encounter hunters on your favorite hiking trails. Hunting is permitted in many Delaware State Parks, including Brandywine Creek State Park, Delaware Seashore State Park, Fenwick Island State Park, Fresh Pond State Park, Fort DuPont State Park, Fort Delaware State Park, Holts Landing State Park, Lums Pond State Park, Trap Pond State Park, and White Clay Creek State Park.
Hike safely during hunting season:
- Know the hunting seasons: check the Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide to find out when hunting is occurring, and check with your local State Park to find out if hunting is occurring in your area.
- Respect closed trails: heed posted signs. If the trail is closed for hunting, find another trail.
- Wear bright orange: be visible to hunters by wearing "blaze orange" (hat, vest), especially on your head. Your dog should wear orange too (vest, collar, bandana). Blaze orange is the most visible color, which is why hunters are required to wear it. Avoid wearing white during hunting season, because a flash of white in the forest could look like a white-tailed deer.
- Stay on the trail: hunters know where the trails are, and where to expect hikers. Stick to established trails.
- Make your presence known: make noise to alert hunters that you are nearby, especially if you hear shots being fired.
- Hike on Sunday: Delaware does not allow hunting on Sunday (except to chase red fox in season), so hike on Sundays if you prefer not to encounter hunters.
- Find a new trail: explore city, county or state park trails that do not allow hunting.
As hikers, we share our state parks with a variety of trail users, including horses, bicycles, and hunters. Always be courteous to other outdoor enthusiasts.
The Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide reports that 13,000 deer are harvested each year during recent hunting seasons.
Sid demonstrates his blaze orange vest. He is visible to hunters and other trail users (useful for being seen by bikes), and is often the envy of the park.