The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding hunters that nonlead ammunition is now required statewide when hunting wild turkeys with a shotgun. The upcoming 2017 spring wild turkey season will be the first hunting season with significant participation for which nonlead shot will be required statewide.
These regulations apply both to public and private lands (except for licensed game bird clubs), including all national forests, Bureau of Land Management properties and CDFW lands. Private landowners or anyone authorized to hunt on private land must also comply with these regulations.
California’s 2017 general spring wild turkey season opens statewide on March 25 and extends through April 30. The archery-only season will follow immediately afterward, running from May 1-14. Hunters who have a current junior hunting license may also hunt the weekend before the opener (March 18 and 19), and the two weeks following the general season (May 1-14), using shotguns or any other legal method of take.
Hunters are encouraged to practice shooting with nonlead shot in order to ensure their shotguns are patterned appropriately before heading into the field.
Nearly 1,000 young hunters took to the fields on Feb. 4-5 this year, as Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days opened to clearing skies and the ducks and geese were plentiful. These special two days of waterfowl hunting were open only to junior license holders age 17 or younger, and their non-hunting adult mentors.
Various hunts were conducted on 21 wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges where the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) operates waterfowl hunting programs. Private waterfowl clubs and conservation organizations, including the California Waterfowl Association and individual chapters of Ducks Unlimited, hosted twice this number of young hunters statewide.
The main objective of Youth Waterfowl Days is to provide young hunters with a special opportunity to learn more about waterfowl hunting and provide a mentored experience.
“This year CDFW staff worked at opening previously flooded areas like the Little Dry Creek Wildlife Unit, since Grizzly Island and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Areas were closed due to flooding,” said Craig Stowers, an environmental program manager with CDFW’s Wildlife Branch Game Management Program. “Not only did the young hunters have some great experiences, but they also did very well, averaging nearly three birds each on Saturday.”
One of the top-producing areas was Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, where young hunters averaged 5.4 birds on Saturday. On many of the other state-managed properties, such as Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, youths averaged approximately three birds each. Numerous private duck clubs and organizations with waterfowl properties throughout the state opened their doors to young hunters as well. Some, like the Cameron Duck Club in East Nicolaus, provided guided hunts for youths.
Eleven-year-old Colby Fritter of Chico completed his Hunter Education Course on Saturday. He secured his license at 3 p.m., just in time to go to a private duck blind for an afternoon shoot. On his first hunt, with his first shot, he took a Canada goose with his Youth Model Remington 870 20-gauge.
“He lit up like a Christmas tree,” said his father, Scott Fritter. “He worked and studied hard to pass the hunter education course and exam and it really paid off. It was an experience and opportunity of a lifetime.”
At the Little Dry Creek Unit in the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, staff cleaned up flood debris to prepare for the 63 youth hunters who hunted the first day. Each of the young hunters was directed to a blind or free-roam area deemed safe to hunt. Upon completing their hunt, they were invited to dine on hot dogs, chips and bottled water. It was the first time the unit was open since Jan. 7, and provided exceptional opportunities for the young hunters.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering pig hunting opportunities in March and April at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Solano County.
CDFW will be holding the limited-entry, permit-only hunts to control a small population of wild pigs on the Joice Island Unit of the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area. Joice Island is a 2,150-acre wetland area consisting of thick cattails, tules, some brush and standing water.
Three hunters will be drawn for eight consecutive weekends, for a total of 24 hunters. The first weekend, March 4-5, will be reserved for apprentice hunters (ages 12-17 with Junior License) only. The following seven weekends (March 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26, and April 1-2, 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23) are open to both adults and apprentice hunters.
This is the first year that applications must be submitted online. Applications can be found at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/dfgspecialhunts/default.aspx. Applications must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The drawing will be held the morning of Feb. 15.
Permits with maps and additional information will be emailed to successful applicants.
Permit holders may bring one non-hunting partner. Hunters may only use shotguns with nonlead slugs or archery equipment. Dogs and bicycles will not be allowed.
CDFW reserves the right to cancel this hunt and close the area to the public without prior notification, in the event of unforeseen circumstances or emergencies.
For more information, please contact CDFW at (707) 425-3828.
Youth hunters have a special opportunity coming up the weekend of Feb. 4-5. Youth Waterfowl Days will provide young licensed hunters an extra weekend to hunt after the regular season ends. Each year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) opens many of their wildlife areas for these special hunt days, as allowed under federal regulations.
Last year an estimated 2,000 youth hunters took to the field to try their luck waterfowl hunting on state, federal and private lands.
Federal regulations require that hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. All hunters must have a valid license and stamps as required by state and federal law. The daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2016-17 waterfowl season. The regulations can be found online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.
This year, some state and federal areas normally open for the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days may be closed due to flooding. The main portion of Grizzly Island Wildlife Area is closed, though the Island Slough and Gold Hills units remain open. Some refuges may limit the number of young hunters being admitted for each day of hunting. Many private clubs normally hosting youths on this hunt also face water problems. For updated information on state and federal land closures, please see www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.
“This is a great opportunity for young hunters to have the fields and marshes to themselves, learn skills and techniques from their mentors and share a wonderful experience,” said Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program biologist.
This is only one of the special Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days and Junior Waterfowl Hunts held during the 2016-17 season. The Northeastern Zone Federal Youth Waterfowl Hunt days were held Sept. 24-25, and Sacramento and Delevan National Wildlife Refuges have held special junior hunts where all blinds were reserved for junior hunters. Private organizations like the California Waterfowl Association, chapters of Ducks Unlimited and private clubs provide special youth hunting opportunities throughout the season.
“Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days are something California Waterfowl really looks forward to as a chance to pass on the tradition of waterfowl hunting to another generation,” said the California Waterfowl Association’s Vice President of Conservation Jake Messerli.
In the Central Valley, Delevan, Colusa and Sacramento National Wildlife Refuges are scheduled to be open for the youth hunt days while Sutter National Wildlife Refuge will remain closed. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area will be completely open. Little Dry Creek will have a limited quota if no new flooding occurs. Each of these hunt areas are part of the CDFW reservation system and may fill for the opening Saturday. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is not expected to fill by reservation and will offer walk-on opportunities. Last year at Gray Lodge, 55 young hunters averaged four ducks each.
Media Contacts: Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717 Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Wildlife Officer Foundation have announced the winner of the annual “Passing on the Tradition” Hunting Heritage essay contest. Tyler Benedetti, a 17-year-old youth hunter from Morgan Hill, was awarded the top prize, a lifetime hunting license donated by the Wildlife Officer Foundation. Tyler won second place in the 2015 essay contest.
Junior hunting license holders or youths under 16 who earned a hunter education certificate in 2016 were eligible to participate in the contest. Entrants were asked to describe their favorite hunting memory in 500 words or less.
Tyler’s winning essay described his introduction to turkey hunting, first tagging along with his father at age five, and his eventual transition to becoming a hunter himself. In recent years, he wrote, his father would bring a camera, rather than a gun, when they ventured into the field together.
“In hindsight, he was always toting a camera, decoys, blinds and pockets of calls. Every trip he planned was for the kids,” Tyler wrote. “I’ll always be grateful for the unselfish giving of his time, foregoing his own ability to hunt, so that I could develop skills and memories that will last me a lifetime.”
The essays were reviewed and scored by CDFW wildlife officers and other CDFW representatives.
“Tyler’s essay stood out because it tells the story of not only his own development as a hunter, but his father’s as well,” said CDFW Lt. John Nores. “The simple act of trading his own gun for a camera says so much about what’s most important to him. That’s what hunting heritage is all about — passing on the tradition and the love of the sport to the next generation.”
Eleven-year-old twins Dan Elliott and David Elliott of Rancho Cordova tied for second place this year. The third place winner is 14-year-old Blake Iverson of King City. All will receive plaques and other prizes donated by the Wildlife Officers Foundation.
AWARD CEREMONY: The grand prize will be awarded to Tyler during a special ceremony at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) show in Sacramento on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 1:30 p.m. in Cal Expo’s Adventure Theater.