Many of California’s most popular and productive public waterfowl hunting areas will reopen the Feb. 8-9 weekend to welcome hunters 17 and younger during the Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days – a special, post-season waterfowl hunt reserved just for kids.
“We encourage folks to come out even if they don’t have a reservation or are not able to get into our lottery the night before the hunt,” said Sean Allen, area manager for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Los Banos Wildlife Area in Merced County. “We always have plenty of room in all these public areas up and down the Grasslands. All the national wildlife refuges and all the state areas here in the Grasslands will be open.”
The Los Banos Wildlife Area, in partnership with CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division, will host a youth waterfowl festival Saturday, Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for all the hunters, their families and mentors who turn out, offering food, prizes, waterfowl education and a bird cleaning station, among other activities.
There is no fee to hunt at any Type A wildlife area during the Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days as hunters 17 and younger are exempt from the Type A wildlife area passes required of adult hunters during the regular season. Accompanying adults are likewise exempt from any fees and passes.
Even the Sacramento Valley’s high-demand public waterfowl hunting destinations rarely fill to capacity during the youth waterfowl weekend, offering a high-quality hunting experience without the wait, crowds and competition typical during the regular season. Unlike prior years, the Sunday, Feb. 9 hunt day does not fall on Super Bowl Sunday. Hunter turnout the second day of the weekend is expected to improve as a result.
Those interested in hunting a state or federal waterfowl area during the youth weekend should call ahead about any changes in entry procedures or hunt areas.
At the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area in Butte and Glenn counties, for example, only the Little Dry Creek Unit will be open during the youth waterfowl weekend. Howard Slough and Llano Seco will remain closed. The lottery for Little Dry Creek will take place at 4 a.m. the morning of each hunt day – as opposed to the evening before as occurred during the regular waterfowl season.
At the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in Yolo County, no lottery will take place the evenings before the Saturday and Sunday hunt days. Once reservations have been processed in the morning, hunters will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Sutter National Wildlife Refuge in Sutter County will be open only for a one-day, post-season youth hunt on Sunday, Feb. 9.
California’s Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days are available to those 17 and younger possessing a valid Junior Hunting License and Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation. To participate in these Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days, hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. A Federal Duck Stamp or e-stamp is required of hunters 16 years of age and older. Daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2019-20 waterfowl season. The regulations are available at CDFW’s Waterfowl Hunting webpage.
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908