Category Archives: Hunting

Spring Turkey Season Opener Approaches

California’s 2016 general spring wild turkey hunting season will open statewide on March 26 and extend through May 1, with an extended archery season May 2 through May 15.

Hunters who have a current junior hunting license may also hunt the weekend before the opener, March 19-20, and after the general season, May 2 through May 15, using shotguns or any other legal method of take.

Shooting hours for wild turkeys are from 30 minutes before sunrise to 5 p.m. Both a hunting license and upland game bird validation are required, although a validation is not required for hunters with junior licenses. The bag limit is one bearded turkey per day and no more than a total of three turkeys during all seasons combined (general, archery and junior).

Hunters strive to be stealthy and frequently wear head-to-toe camouflage due to the keen eyesight and good hearing possessed by wild turkeys. In the springtime, the birds exhibit mating behavior and are more active than in the fall hunting season, making them susceptible to a strategic call made by a hunter.

“Spring is the most popular season for wild turkeys in California, in part because of the opportunity to call in a strutting gobbler,” said Scott Gardner, coordinator of CDFW’s Upland Game Program. “Hunters use calls and decoys, imitating female wild turkeys to call in the males.”

The statewide wild turkey population is estimated at 240,000. CDFW estimates that approximately 36,000 hunters bag about 28,000 turkeys during the spring season each year statewide. Wild turkeys are found in most counties in California, with the top 10 for spring harvest being Shasta, Butte, Placer, El Dorado, Tehama, Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada and Lake counties.

Rio Grande turkeys are the most widespread subspecies of wild turkey 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 are found in habitats dominated by pines in northeastern California, but are also found in the Transverse Range in Kern County. The eastern subspecies can be found in isolated pockets along the northern coast and eastern/Rio Grande hybrids inhabit areas along the south coast.

Many populations range on private land, but turkeys can also 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. Upland game hunters are reminded that as of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on these properties. For more information please visit CDFW’s nonlead ammunition page.

For more general information, hunters can visit the Upland Game Bird Hunting webpage.

Scott Gardner, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 801-6257
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Hunter Education Certification Course to be Offered in Bishop

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a hunter education certification class on Saturday, March 26 in Bishop. Outdoor enthusiasts wishing to obtain a hunting license for the 2016-2017 season may take an online course, followed by this certification class. This will be the only certification class offered by CDFW Law Enforcement staff in Inyo County this spring.

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Before taking the certification class, students must have already taken a basic hunter education course online. The online study portion of the course can be completed at their own pace. After completing the online course and receiving a passing test score, a fee may be charged for a completion voucher. Applicants will need to bring this voucher in order to take this follow-up class. To register and take the online portion of the course, please go to for acceptable class options.

Once the online course has been completed, students must take a four-hour follow-up cl ass with a certified hunter education instructor. This follow-up class consists of two hours of review, one hour of gun handling and one hour for the final hunter education test. Students must pre-register for the follow up class prior to March 19. You may do so for this class at   Please call Warden Shane Dishion at (760) 920-7593 for more information.

The March 26 class will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bishop Fire Training Center, 960 Poleta Road, Bishop (93514).

CDFW’s basic hunter education classes are offered throughout the state by more than 1,000 certified volunteer instructors, all dedicated to keeping hunting safe, ethical and available to all Californians. A complete list of hunter education classes statewide may be found at

Media Contact:
Shane Dishion, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (760) 920-7593
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days Render Special Moments for Young Hunters

 Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Young waterfowl hunters enjoyed great success and created lasting memories throughout California over the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days on Feb. 6-7. Every year, several thousand youths statewide participate in this opportunity.

Youth hunters learn to set out decoys and work with hunting dogs during Youth Hunting Days
Youth hunters learn to set out decoys and work with hunting dogs during Youth Hunting Days.

In accordance with federal regulations, the two hunting days are held outside of the general waterfowl season for licensed hunters 15 years of age and younger. Youth hunters may be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, providing great opportunities for novices to learn and experience waterfowl hunting with a mentor.

Ben Bateman harvested a Ross’s Goose banded in the eastern artic territory of Nunavut Canada.
Ben Bateman harvested a Ross’s Goose banded in the eastern arctic territory of Nunavut Canada.

Overall, young hunters averaged nearly three birds each on Saturday. Most of the ducks taken were either green-winged teal or northern pintail.

Rocklin resident Jeff Leonard took his 9- and 12-year-old nephews to Twitchell Island on their first duck hunt. He chose to put in for a reservation at Twitchell because the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offers sunken blinds at this site.

“It was an adventure all of us will always remember,” said Leonard. “We only got one duck but the boys missed a bunch and had a great time.”

Thirteen-year-old Ben Bateman of Sacramento drew the number one reservation at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge on Feb. 7. Mentored by his uncle Ken Boquist, Ben harvested a limit of snow geese and a limit of ducks including two banded birds — a snow goose and a gadwall duck.

“This was the best hunt ever,” said Ben. “We put out over 200 decoys and the ducks and geese came right in.”

All of the CDFW lands managed for waterfowl hunting were open for Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days. These areas range from massive, managed marshlands like Gray Lodge Wildlife Area (9,200 acres) and Mendota Wildlife Area (11,000 acres) to smaller areas like Twitchell Island.

There were plenty of outstanding opportunities for the young hunters. On Saturday, 55 junior hunters at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area harvested184 ducks and 31 geese; at Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, 50 junior hunters harvested 170 ducks and 67 geese; at Sacramento Wildlife Refuge, 69 junior hunters harvested 200 ducks and 173 geese; and at Mendota Wildlife Area, 42 junior hunters harvested 140 ducks and 16 geese.

State wildlife areas and federal refuges play a critical role in conserving waterfowl and their habitats while benefiting a wide range of native plants and wildlife.

All of the young hunters successfully completed a hunter education course to obtain a Junior Hunting License to participate in the hunt.

Spring Turkey Hunts Offered in Central Coast, Northern California Counties

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for several turkey hunt opportunities in Santa Barbara and Yolo counties this spring. The two-day hunts will be offered through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program, which offers incentives to private landowners who allow wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities on their property.

The hunts will be held in March and April. They include the following:

Yolo County – Four hunts at the Bobcat Ranch, located in the Vaca Mountain foothills west of Winters. Hunters will have access to approximately 4,000 acres of the ranch’s rolling blue oak woodland. Two permits will be issued for each of the four hunts and each permit is good for up to two people.

Santa Barbara County – One hunt at Sleepy Creek Ranch and two hunts at Jones Ranch. These remote ranches in West Cuyama Valley (northern Santa Barbara County) encompass 1,000 acres between them. The terrain offers miles of trails through oak savannahs, riparian habitat, juniper-sage woodlands and chaparral. Approximately 250 acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management adjoin these ranches, and the Los Padres National Forest backs up to both properties, providing extra hunting access if needed. One permit, which is good for up to two people, will be issued for each hunt.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply at A $10.50 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Successful applicants for each property will be allowed to bring a hunting partner or a non-hunting partner.

As participants in the SHARE Program, landowners receive liability protection as well as compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. The goal of the SHARE Program is to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California.

For more information about SHARE opportunities please see

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Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Federal, State Rules Differ for Junior Hunters

California junior hunters have enjoyed a new benefit that took effect at the beginning of the 2015-16 hunting season. AB 1709, signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown in 2014, amended Fish and Game Code, section 3031, by extending the eligibility period for a junior hunting license by two years. Under the recent change in law, any person who is under 18 years of age on July 1 of the license year qualifies for a junior hunting license, regardless of whether that person applies before or after July 1 of that year. The change allowed for an extension of hunting benefits for junior hunters including reduced fees, exemption from some endorsement requirements and access to special junior hunt opportunities. However, there remain special circumstances and exceptions to the new rule, which are particularly important to understand during waterfowl season.

The change to the age definition affected only California state law, and did not change the federal regulation definition of a youth hunter. Because waterfowl are migratory, the waterfowl hunting regulations fall primarily under the jurisdiction of the federal government. For this reason, waterfowl hunters 16 years of age and older must possess a federal waterfowl endorsement stamp.

In addition, the federal age definition of a youth hunter remains the standard for some special hunt opportunities, particularly those hosted, held or sponsored by federal agencies or on federal lands, and all youth-only waterfowl hunting days. For the upcoming post-season youth hunt weekend and future youth-only waterfowl hunting days, participants must be 15 years of age or younger and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older.

CDFW is pleased by the new opportunities created for junior hunters with the change to the California state regulations, but reminds the public to be aware of and follow the federal regulations as well.

To read the complete language of AB 1709 and Fish and Game Code, section 3031, please see


Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988