Category Archives: Hunting

Fall Turkey Season Opener Approaches

Upland game hunters statewide are gearing up for the opportunity to bag their Thanksgiving dinner, as California’s 2016 general fall wild turkey hunting season opens statewide on Saturday, Nov. 12. The season extends through Sunday, Dec. 11, with a bag limit of one turkey (either sex) per day and no more than two per season.

“Turkey populations are doing very well in many areas of the state despite recent drought years,” said Scott Gardner, manager of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Upland Game Program. “Not only are they plentiful, but they’re also a very healthy alternative to store-bought turkey. Wild turkey meat is low in fat and has no additives. You can’t get much healthier than that.”

Wild turkeys are found in most counties in California, with the top five for fall harvest being Placer, El Dorado, Shasta, Sonoma and Tehama. Both a hunting license and upland game bird stamp are required to hunt turkeys, although an upland stamp is not required for hunters with junior licenses.

Rio Grande turkeys are the most widespread wild turkey subspecies in California, occupying much of the mixed oak and pine woodlands of the coast ranges, Central Valley, Sierra Nevada and Cascade foothills. Merriam’s turkeys can be found in habitats dominated by pines in northeastern California. The eastern subspecies can be found in isolated pockets along the northern coast and eastern/Rio Grande hybrids from the Midwest inhabit areas along the south coast.

Today, California’s wild turkey population is estimated at about 250,000 birds. CDFW estimates that about 10,000 turkeys are harvested by about 20,000 hunters in the fall.

As of July 1, 2016, nonlead shot is required for wild turkeys statewide, unless taken on the grounds of a licensed game bird club. For more information, please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

Many populations range on private land, but turkeys can be found on public lands administered by CDFW, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. A list of state wildlife areas and ecological reserves can be found on the CDFW website.

For places to hunt turkeys and additional tips and information, hunters should refer to the “Guide to Hunting Wild Turkeys in California” on CDFW’s upland game hunting webpage.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 801-6257
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Hunters Reminded to Report Deer Tags or Face Fee

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds all deer tag holders they must report their hunting results, even if they did not hunt or harvest a deer.

Hunters must report within 30 days of harvesting a deer or by Jan. 31, whichever date occurs first. Hunters who did not harvest a deer (this includes hunters who received a tag but did not hunt) must report by Jan. 31.

Starting in 2017, hunters who failed to a report for the 2016 season will be charged a $21.60 non-reporting fee when applying for a 2017 deer tag.

Harvest reports are one way hunters contribute to conservation efforts. The information provided by hunters is necessary to estimate deer populations and establish tag quotas for the coming hunting seasons.

Harvest reports may be submitted online or by mailing them to:

CDFW Wildlife Branch
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94299-0002

Media Contacts:
Stuart Itoga, Deer Program Coordinator, (916)-445-3652
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities Coming Up at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve

edenlandingdfg4The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering waterfowl hunting opportunities at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve (ELER) in Hayward. The reserve includes former salt ponds now managed by CDFW as low-salinity waterfowl habitat and areas restored to full tidal action.

Access to ELER for waterfowl hunting will be open for 100 hunters on a first-come, first-served basis only on the dates listed below. There is no fee for these hunts.

2016 hunts (check-in at 5 a.m. on each of the following dates):

  • Saturday, Nov. 12
  • Tuesday, Nov. 22
  • Saturday, Dec. 3
  • Thursday, Dec. 8
  • Saturday, Dec. 17
  • Thursday, Dec. 22

2017 hunts (check-in at 5:30 a.m. on each of the following dates):

  • Saturday, Jan. 7
  • Thursday, Jan. 12
  • Saturday, Jan. 21
  • Thursday, Jan. 26

All hunters must check in with CDFW staff on the morning of the hunt with a valid California Hunting License, federal duck stamp and state duck and Harvest Information Program (HIP) validations. Hunters will also be required to check out upon leaving and allow inspection of game to evaluate hunter success and collect harvest data.

Junior hunters must be accompanied by an adult hunter or non-hunter 18 years or older. Vehicles are only allowed on the hunt dates specified above, and drivers must stay on designated levees and use approved parking areas. Hunters are advised to use caution and should be aware of soft mud, swift currents, tidal fluctuations and unmarked hazards.

There is a 25-shell limit in the field, and hunters must use nonlead ammunition. (Nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. For more information, please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.)

A small boat, canoe or other flotation device is highly recommended to access ponds and blinds, navigable sloughs and for game retrieval. Boaters are advised to consult local tide charts before launching and should be aware that extensive mud flats may be exposed and even shallow draft vessels can be subject to hidden underwater hazards during low tides. A hunting dog is also recommended for retrieval of birds. Hunters will receive additional information, including area rules and regulations and maps, upon check-in.

To access ELER from I-880, exit at Alvarado Boulevard and continue west. Turn right onto Union City Boulevard, left onto Bettencourt Road (at the sign for the Union Sanitary District), left on Whipple Road, right on Horner Street, then right on Veasy Street. Please enter at the yellow gate to check in. Hunters are responsible for avoiding closed areas.

Formal plans for public access opportunities at the reserve in addition to hunting are being developed as part of the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project (www.southbayrestoration.org).

Media Contacts:

John Krause, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (415) 454-8050

Conrad Jones, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5544

Steve Gonzalez, CDFW Communications, (916) 715-9072

2016 General Pheasant Hunting Opener Nears

The second weekend of November brings a popular tradition for many families in California – the opening of pheasant season. Although the overall wild pheasant population has been decreasing in recent years and the number of shoot days has been reduced on some wildlife areas, opportunities are still available on state-managed lands.

The 2016 general pheasant season will open Saturday, Nov. 12 and extend through Sunday, Dec. 25. The daily bag limit is two males per day for the first two days of the season, and three males per day thereafter. The possession limit is triple the daily bag. Shooting hours are from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Native to Asia, the ring-necked pheasant was introduced to California as a game bird species in the late 1800s. Though they flourished in California for decades, numbers have been dropping since the most recent high in the late 1990s. Total pheasant harvest on public areas in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys declined from a high of 4,828 roosters in 1998 to 629 last year.

In an effort to address the continued decline, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) continues efforts to restore and enhance upland habitat on public areas. This is in addition to the ongoing collaborative research with Pheasants Forever and the United States Geological Survey to improve our understanding of factors limiting their populations. A recent article about declines in the Central Valley and more information about ongoing research is available on CDFW’s website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/pheasant.

In 2010, CDFW reduced the number of days that certain wildlife areas will be open for pheasant hunting due to a decline in the number of hunters targeting pheasant and the cost to operate check stations during the first week of the season. For the upcoming season, hunters should be aware of the following restrictions on wildlife areas:

  • Type A wildlife areas in the Sacramento Valley (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area and Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area’s Little Dry Creek, Llano Seco and Howard Slough Units) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and only the first Monday (Nov. 14) during the pheasant season. Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will also be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only during the pheasant season.
  • Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley (Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area and San Luis National Wildlife Refuge free roam area) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only during the pheasant season. The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Kesterson Unit blind area will be open the first Monday (Nov. 14) and a special zone of the Freitas Unit will be open only on the first Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Nov. 12-14) of the pheasant season.
  • In the event some units experience closures for waterfowl hunting as a result of the drought, the goal will be to open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the general pheasant season. Permits for entry will be issued at the check station through a morning lottery. Specific information will be available from affected wildlife area offices. Additional entry will be available through first-come, first-served lists at the check station.
  • The Wister Unit of Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County and San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County will continue to be closed to pheasant hunting this year.
  • Type C wildlife areas will remain open as normal.

Nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting pheasants anywhere in the state, except Licensed Game Bird Clubs. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

All hunters must carry a current California hunting license in their possession. Adult hunters (18 or older) must also have an upland game bird validation. The full upland game bird hunting regulations and a summary as well as the lands regulations for 2016-2017 can be found on CDFW’s website.

The modifications of the shoot days on Type A wildlife areas are pursuant to the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 550(i)(1).

For more information on specific hunting opportunities, hunters should contact their regional CDFW office and check the CDFW website.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 445-5545
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Lands Program, (916) 445-1829
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Fall Apprentice Pheasant Hunts Announced

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for apprentice pheasant hunts in 17 counties throughout the state.

The hunts, which will be held on various dates throughout November and December, are specially designed to provide an educational and memorable experience for new hunters, youth hunters, women hunters, mobility-impaired hunters and families.

These CDFW-sponsored opportunities are available at the following locations:

  • Fresno County (Mendota Wildlife Area)
  • Imperial County (Imperial Wildlife Area)
  • Kern County (Bakersfield and Stockdale Ranch)
  • Los Angeles County (Peace Valley)
  • Madera County (Chowchilla and Hensley Lake)
  • Merced County (O’Neill Forebay Wildlife Area and Merced)
  • Napa County (Napa-Sonoma Wildlife Area)
  • Plumas County (Green Gulch Ranch)
  • Riverside County (Robinson Farms and San Jacinto Wildlife Area)
  • San Bernardino County (Camp Cady Wildlife Area)
  • San Diego County (Oak Grove)
  • San Joaquin County (White Slough Wildlife Area)
  • San Luis Obispo County (Santa Margarita and Ray Azbill)
  • Siskiyou County (Shasta Valley Wildlife Area)
  • Solano County (Grizzly Island Wildlife Area)
  • Tehama County (Sacramento River Bend Area)
  • Yolo County (Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area)

More details – including hunt dates, types of hunts offered and how many hunters each event will accommodate – can be found online at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/dfgspecialhunts/default.aspx.

These apprentice hunts are provided by CDFW’s Upland Game Bird Special Hunt Program, in cooperation with many volunteer organizations. They provide a high-quality, educational experience that builds upon the lessons taught in hunter education classes.

They also provide additional public hunting opportunities for upland game birds on both public and private lands.

Applicants are reminded that nonlead ammunition is required for hunting pheasant in California, unless the hunt is taking place at a licensed game bird club. Before venturing out to hunt, please review the new nonlead requirements at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.

For more information about the application process, please call (916) 445-3452.

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Media Contact:
Karen Fothergill, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 716-1461

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944