Category Archives: big game

General Hunting Seasons for Bear, Elk and Bighorn Opening Soon

Big game hunters throughout California are eagerly anticipating the 2018 general hunting seasons. While deer are by far the most frequently hunted big game species in California, many hunters also enjoy fair chase of bear, elk and bighorn. Some of the seasons for these species are already underway, but the majority will open over the next month. The upcoming general season opening and closing dates vary by zone and can be found by following the links below.

Hunting for wild pigs is growing in popularity and can be done year-round. Most seasons for pronghorn, another California big game species, concluded in August.

Californians enjoy some of the widest ranges of habitat and hunting conditions in the nation. While California has its fair share of privately owned land, there are vast swaths of national forest, timber lands, state wildlife areas and other lands accessible to the public that provide excellent hunting opportunities. CDFW administers public hunts on private lands through its SHARE Program. Other opportunities for access to private lands are available through the Private Lands Management Program.

A valid California hunting license and appropriate tag(s) for each zone and/or species pursued must be obtained before entering the field. There are still many deer tags available for purchase. Hunting license and tags can be purchased online or through a CDFW office or license sales agent.

California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course, pass a comprehensive equivalency test, or provide a valid hunter’s safety certificate before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Each year approximately 30,000 students complete the state’s hunter education course.

Hunters always have the responsibility to be familiar with state game laws before entering the field. All regulations can be found online.

Given the exceptionally dry conditions this year, it is even more important that everyone does their part to prevent wildfires. One less spark means one less wildfire. Learn more here.

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Media Contacts:
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-1829
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

General Deer Seasons Set to Open; Hunters Advised to Check Wildfire-Related Closures

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wants to remind deer hunters to check for wildfire-related closures before heading to their favorite hunting spots for the general deer season, which is set to open in many parts of the state Saturday, Sept. 15.

Deer season is already underway in California’s A and B4 zones along the coast and many coastal deer hunters have had to improvise and find new spots this season as a result of wildfire-related closures that upended hunting plans.

Please visit CDFW’s forest fire related closure page for information and resources.

The majority of California’s general deer hunting zones – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, D6 and D7 – open Saturday, Sept. 15, along with premium hunting zones X9a and X9b in Mono and Inyo counties along the eastern Sierra. Several other general deer hunting zones – D3, D4, D5, D8, D9 and D10 open the following week, on Saturday, Sept. 22, as does premium hunting zone X8 in Alpine County.

“California has experienced several very large wildfires this summer, many of which are in popular deer hunting zones,” said David Casady, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Deer Program. “Hunting will be challenging this year – particularly in the B zones and the northern parts of the A zone – but the range should respond positively and hunting should be productive in the next three to five years.”

California’s deer population is generally stable with small year-to-year fluctuations. Current estimates put the population at approximately 533,000 deer statewide. California hunters harvested 29,394 deer in 2017 with an overall hunter success rate of 16 percent.

Hunters are reminded that deer tag reporting is now mandatory – even for hunters who are unsuccessful or those who did not have a chance to hunt at all. CDFW has produced a video on how to properly complete, attach and report your deer tag.

California is phasing-in the use of nonlead ammunition for hunting which will be required for all wildlife harvest beginning July 1, 2019. While nonlead ammunition is currently not required for hunting deer in California in 2018 outside of the California condor range, if you will be hunting on a CDFW wildlife area or ecological reserve, nonlead ammunition is required. For more information, please see CDFW’s nonlead ammunition page.

Additional deer hunting information, including hunt zone descriptions, maps and special hunts, is available at CDFWs deer hunting page.

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Media Contacts:
David Casady, CDFW Deer Program, (916) 445-3705
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

Applications Now Available for Fall Apprentice Deer Hunt in San Luis Obispo County for Junior License Holders

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a drawing for an apprentice deer hunt for junior license holders on the Chimineas Unit of the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve.

The two-day buck hunt, which is being offered in cooperation with the Avenales Sportsmen’s Club (ASC) and the Chimineas Ranch Foundation (CRF), will be held on Sept. 15 and 16 on the 30,000-acre reserve in San Luis Obispo County. Mandatory hunter orientation will take place in the evening on Friday, Sept. 14. Overnight lodging will be available at the main ranch house on the ecological reserve on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Three apprentice junior hunters will be chosen by lottery. Selected junior license holders must possess an A zone deer tag and must be accompanied by an adult. Participants will receive classroom, range and field training in gun handling techniques and safety, deer hunting and game care. Hunts will be led by ASC volunteers. ASC and CRF will provide breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday, as well as breakfast and lunch on Sunday.

Junior hunter applicants may apply online using their GO ID number through the Automated License Data System (ALDS) at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales. The hunt will be entitled Carrizo Plain ER – Chimineas Unit Apprentice Deer Hunt.  Please note that this hunt option can only be viewed using a junior hunter’s GO ID.

The application deadline is Monday, Aug. 20. Successful applicants will be notified by phone and will receive additional information, including maps and special regulations, prior to the hunt.

Media Contacts:
Robert Stafford, CDFW Central Region, (805) 528-8670
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

CDFW photo by Stuart Itoga.

CDFW’s SHARE Program Offering 31 Additional Elk Hunts

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is accepting applications for 31 elk hunting opportunities offered through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program.

The hunts will occur at various times between Aug. 15 and Dec. 24, 2018, on 28 select properties in Colusa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino and Siskiyou counties. Specific details for all 31 elk hunts can be found at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE. CDFW will be accepting applications through Monday, July 24.

The SHARE program was created to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California by offering incentives to private landowners. Participating landowners receive liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities.

All elk tags will be distributed through a random draw process. While hunters may take only one elk per year in California, these hunts offer additional opportunities beyond those issued through the general Big Game Drawing. SHARE hunt applications can be purchased by anyone with a valid 2018 California annual hunting license from any CDFW license office or online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales.

An $11.62 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt application. Applicants may look up their draw results and download their hunt packets on July 28 by entering their customer information on CDFW’s website at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales.

Media Contacts:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034

CDFW Accepting Applications for Deer and Pig Hunting in Western Merced County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for a limited number of deer and pig hunt access permits on opening weekend, Aug. 11-12, 2018 in Zone A for the general season.

The locations for this hunt include Upper and Lower Cottonwood Creek and the San Luis Reservoir wildlife areas. Reservations are required to access the wildlife areas and only 30 permits will be issued for each day. Interested hunters can apply online at wildlife.ca.gov/lands/wa/region4/cottonwoodcreek.html or request an access permit application by calling the CDFW Los Banos office at (209) 826-0463 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Applications may be submitted via e-mail to Sean.Allen@wildlife.ca.gov or mailed to CDFW’s Los Banos office at 18110 W. Henry Miller Avenue, Los Banos, CA 93635.

Only official applications will be accepted and must be received before 4:30 p.m. on July 3. Reservations will be selected by a computerized drawing at 11 a.m. on July 5. The drawing will be open to the public. Successful applicants will be notified by mail within five working days of the drawing.

Up to three people may apply as one party by including all the required information on the 2018 Zone A application form. Junior license holders may also apply if accompanied by an adult hunter.

Applicants may apply for a one-day hunt on one area only. An individual’s name may appear in the drawing only once and additional or duplicate applications will be disqualified from the drawing.

Media Contacts:
Sean Allen, CDFW Los Banos Wildlife Area, (209) 826-0463, ext.13
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

CDFW Photo by Stuart Itoga