January 22, 2024

Delaware House Bill 271 Seeks to Lift Sunday Game Bird Hunting Prohibition

Article Contact: Kaleigh Leager,

Why It Matters: Currently, in Delaware, Sunday hunting for game birds is prohibited. Delaware’s definition of game bird includes waterfowl, rails, wild turkeys, pheasants, quail, chukar, and doves, amongst others. House Bill 271  (HB 271) removes game birds from the list of species prohibited from Sunday hunting within the First State. While the passage of this legislation does not solidify Sunday game bird hunting, it is a step in the right direction towards the establishment of an additional day to hunt within the confines of the regulated seasons. By lifting the current prohibition, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) will continue to have the authority to establish and regulate season dates, bag limits and enforcement for the hunting of game birds but will gain the ability to add Sundays to the existing game bird seasons.


  • In 2016, the Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus spearheaded the passage of HB 289 which permits deer hunting on both private and public lands (subject to approval of the appropriate regulatory body) on five Sundays during firearms seasons.
  • In 2018, the Caucus took further steps for access and opportunity by passing SB 198, which opened hunting every Sunday throughout the state’s archery and firearm deer seasons.
  • Currently, section 712 of Title 7 of the Delaware Code prohibits the hunting of any game birds or game animals (except deer) on Sundays. This Bill eliminates the prohibition against hunting game birds on Sundays. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control still has authority to establish and regulate season dates, bag limits and enforcement for the hunting of game birds but removes the legislative prohibition for Sunday game bird hunting that is currently in statute.
  • Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member, Representative William Carson, is the primary sponsor of HB 271, with several fellow Caucus members as co-sponsors.
  • HB 271 has a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 23rd in the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is submitting written testimony to encourage its passage.

Sunday hunting bans are one of the last remaining examples of the puritanical blue laws that were initially designed to encourage church attendance.  At the time when blue law restrictions were first put in place, other activities that were illegal on a Sunday included opening a store for business, drinking alcoholic beverages, and tilling your fields. Access is a major limiting factor hindering participation in hunting, and restrictions on Sunday hunting provide a temporal-access barrier to youth and others that work or attend school throughout the week and are often involved in extra-curricular activities on Saturdays. The access parity issue among Delaware’s outdoor community is that the Sunday prohibitions are discriminatory to Delaware’s hunters, excluding deer hunters..

Individuals and families need the ability to participate in safe and healthy recreation that provides citizens the chance to harvest fresh and healthy meat for consumption and nourishment. The hunting conservation community strongly supports measures that increase access and opportunity for sportsmen and women. While HB 271 does not establish a 7-day/week hunting season, it lifts the current standing prohibition on Sunday game bird hunting and will allow DNREC to add Sundays to season dates if they believe it falls within the best interest of conservation, wildlife management, and the sportsmen and women of the First State.

CSF looks forward to working with the Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and the Delaware State Legislature to remove the standing prohibition then working with the DNREC to ensure that Sunday game bird hunting is thoroughly considered and encouraged to be implemented within the First State.

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