Hunters have a lot to look forward to this fall when the California waterfowl season opens. The season opens Saturday, Oct. 7 in the Northeastern California Zone and on Saturday, Oct. 21 in most other zones.
“Habitat conditions look good in most areas and the majority of waterfowl populations continue to be at all-time highs,” said Melanie Weaver, Waterfowl Program Leader with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
Opening and closing dates vary by zone. These dates, along with detailed information about daily bag and possession limits, can be found in the 2017-2018 Waterfowl Regulations booklet. Most season dates and bag limits remain similar to last year with the exception of pintail, which has been reduced to one bird per day.
Quality public hunting access can be found on more than two dozen national wildlife refuges and wildlife areas and ecological reserves managed by CDFW. Please note that nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition webpage.
It is common for waterfowl hunting areas to close periodically throughout the season due to safety concerns caused by flooding. Areas that most commonly experience flood closures include Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Little Dry Creek and Howard Slough. Waterfowl hunters should keep informed about current reservation and quota numbers, which can fluctuate. Reservations for state-operated wildlife areas that are closed due to flooding will not be accepted at other hunting areas, and refunds will not be issued for applications submitted to areas that are closed or if reservations are not available. Hunters can follow the Twitter tag #cawildlifeareaclosures for updates on state-operated wildlife area closures.
A valid California hunting license, HIP registration, appropriate validations and a signed federal waterfowl conservation stamp must be obtained before entering the field. In addition, a wildlife area pass is required to hunt on many state-operated wildlife areas. Licenses, validations and passes are not sold at wildlife areas, so hunters must purchase these items in advance.
California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Approximately 30,000 students complete this requirement annually.
Photo of Edward Lee and his pudelpointer, Elee, courtesy of Edward Lee.