Category Archives: Hunting

CDFW Celebrates National Hunting and Fishing Day, Ramps Up New Hunter and Angler Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation Efforts

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, by recognizing the longstanding commitment to wildlife conservation from hunters and anglers and the abundant fishing and hunting opportunities available in the state.

Unfortunately, participation in hunting and fishing has been steadily declining in California and nationally since the 1980s. The decline in these activities poses an ever-increasing threat to conservation of our natural resources. CDFW is ramping up statewide efforts to improve recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) of hunters and anglers to curb this threat. Currently the project is in the planning stage with implementation planned for early next year. If you aren’t an active California hunting or fishing license holder, consider helping by signing up to take a hunter education course, visit the CDFW website to learn more about participating in fishing and hunting opportunities, or reach out to your local CDFW office to seek guidance on getting started.

Last year, California’s hunter and anglers generated more than $125 million to support fish and wildlife conservation efforts. By participating in hunting and fishing, Californians have the ability to help keep the American legacy of public land conservation alive and fund the ever-growing need to manage our wildlands and wildlife in the face of human encroachment and urbanization, wildlife diseases, a changing climate and other challenges.

California is the third largest state in the nation and about half of its land is publicly owned. That translates into millions of acres of excellent outdoor recreation spaces across the state. Many hunting and fishing seasons are currently open and provide opportunity to acquire wild, lean, antibiotic-free protein sources such as trout and other fish, deer, bear, dove, tree squirrel, rabbit and hare, and other upland game.

“In an era where so many competing interests exist for our time, Californians are losing their connection to the outdoors. Kids are spending less time playing outside, families aren’t hunting and fishing like they used to, and connections to public land are diminishing,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “CDFW encourages all Californians to help reverse this trend by getting outdoors on National Hunting and Fishing Day.”

For more information on hunting and fishing opportunities in the Golden State, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov. For information on Hunter’s Education, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education. For information on how to purchase a hunting or fishing license, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales. For more information on National Hunting and Fishing Day, please visit www.nhfday.org.

Media Contacts:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

California Waterfowl Hunting Seasons Opening Soon

California’s 2018-2019 waterfowl hunting season is fast approaching, with one special early opportunity for young hunters in California’s Northeastern Zone. The weekend of Sept. 22-23 is designated as Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days in this zone only. Additional youth waterfowl hunting opportunities will follow in the other zones around the state on Feb. 2-3, 2019.

The majority of hunters will take to the blinds Oct. 20 in most zones. Specific opening and closing dates vary by zone. Detailed information about daily bag and possession limits can be found on the Fish and Game Commission website.  Most season dates and bag limits remain similar to last year with the exception of pintail, which has increased to two birds per day. In addition, the Klamath Basin Special Management Area was created to maintain all goose hunting days during the general season while the Northeastern Zone has an extended late season for white and white-fronted geese.

Quality public hunting access can be found on more than two dozen national wildlife refuges and wildlife areas and ecological reserves managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Please note that nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting all species on CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves. For more information, please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition webpage.

It is also 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 Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Little Dry Creek and Howard Slough. Hunt dates and applications for Sutter National Wildlife Refuge have not yet been finalized due to uncertainty of water availability. Please call (530) 934-2801 for up-to-date information. Hunters should keep informed about current reservation and quota numbers, which are expected to fluctuate frequently. 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 where reservations are not available.

Hunters can follow the Twitter tag #cawildlifeareaclosures for updates on state-operated wildlife area closures.

A valid California hunting license, appropriate validations and a signed federal waterfowl conservation stamp or an electronic 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.

Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

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

 

Registration Now Open for Waterfowl Hunting Clinic in Merced County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education Program is offering a Waterfowl Hunting Clinic on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in Los Banos. The clinic hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and there is no cost to attend.

Hunters of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, will take something away from this clinic. Topics that will be covered include hunter safety, duck calling, decoy placement, blind design, ballistics, game care, regulations, and hunting opportunities available at state and federal waterfowl management areas.

The clinic’s lead instructor will be Lt. Shawn Olague of CDFW’s Hunter Education Program. Olague is a veteran wildlife officer and lifelong waterfowl hunter with years of experience hunting in the grasslands area around Los Banos.

Participants can register for the clinic online or contact Lt. Alan Gregory at alan.gregory@wildlife.ca.gov for more information.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Alan Gregory
, CDFW Law Enforcement, (209) 274-9923

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958