Category Archives: Hunting

Nonlead Ammunition Requirement Approaches

Starting July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition will be required when hunting on all California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) lands and for all Nelson bighorn sheep hunts anywhere in the state.

CDFW reminds hunters who plan to hunt bighorn sheep or at any CDFW wildlife areas or ecological reserves where hunting is allowed on or after July 1, 2015 to acquire nonlead ammunition well ahead of their hunt.  Hunters are also encouraged to practice shooting nonlead ammunition to make sure firearms are sighted-in properly and shoot accurately with nonlead ammunition. Please note nonlead ammunition for some firearm calibers may be in short supply and hunters should plan accordingly.

CDFW held 14 public meetings in 12 cities from Eureka to San Diego to gain comments from hunters on how best to implement AB 711, the legislation that requires nonlead ammunition for all hunting statewide by July 1, 2019. The department listened to feedback from hunters and proposed an implementation plan that would be least disruptive to the hunting community while adhering to the requirements of the law. The California Fish and Game Commission recently adopted the implementation plan.

Further phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting in California will occur on July 1, 2016, when hunters must use nonlead ammunition when hunting with shotguns for upland game birds (except for dove, quail and snipe), small game mammals, fur-bearing mammals, and nongame birds except for when hunting at licensed game bird clubs. Nonlead ammunition will also be required when taking wildlife for depredation purposes anywhere in the state.Starting on July 1, 2019 hunters must use nonlead ammunition when taking any animal anywhere in the state for any purpose.

Lead ammunition may still be used for all non-hunting purposes including target shooting. The implementation of AB 711 does not affect the laws regarding the existing nonlead “Condor Zone” where it remains illegal to hunt using lead ammunition.

Hunting is not allowed at all CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves. For those areas where hunting is allowed, nonlead ammunition will be required starting July 1, 2015. Hunters are reminded to be familiar with all hunting regulations before going into the field.

A list of CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves along with specific regulations for each can be found in the booklet, Hunting Regulations for Waterfowl, Upland Game and Department Lands Public Use at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=88820&inline.

Information on certified nonlead ammunition can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/lead-free/certifiedammo.html.

More information on the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting in California can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/lead-free/.

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Media Contacts:
Craig Stowers, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3553
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

Big Game Drawing Deadline Approaches

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding hunters that the deadline to apply for the 2015 Big Game Drawing is June 2, 2015. Applicants must complete the sales transaction before midnight on June 2, 2015. Applications for elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, premium deer tags and fundraising drawing tags may be submitted at any CDFW license agent, CDFW license sales office, by telephone sales or online.

The following resources are available to assist hunters in applying for the big game drawing:

  • Proposed seasons, tag drawing application instructions and drawing statistics can be found in the 2015 California Big Game Hunting Digest. The book is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/publications/digest/.
  • Final 2015 big-game tag quotas can be found on the respective species web page located under the “Hunting” tab at www.wildlife.ca.gov.
  • To find a license agent near you or to purchase items online, visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/.
  • To submit drawing applications by telephone, contact the telephone sales line at (800) 565-1458.

 Junior Hunting License Changes

Junior Hunting License applicants must now be under 18 years of age as of July 1 of the license year. Applicants with a Junior Hunting License will be eligible to apply for the apprentice hunt tags.

Harvest Reporting Now Mandatory

Beginning with the 2015 deer season, all deer hunters will be required to report their deer tags to CDFW. Any person who is issued a deer tag must submit a report for the tag after the hunt, even if they did not hunt, or if they did not harvest a deer. Imposition of the $20 non-reporting fee has been delayed by the Fish and Game Commission until the 2016 season. Failure to report 2016 results will require payment of the non-reporting fee prior to purchasing tags and tag applications in 2017.

Hunters have two methods to submit their harvest reports:

  • Online – Submit an online report for each deer tag you are issued, at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/. When you report online, you receive instant confirmation that your report has been received and accepted.
  • By Mail – Any person who does not report their deer tag online must return the report card portion of each deer tag they are issued to: CDFW – Wildlife Branch, PO Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002.

D6 Deer Tag Quota Raised

The D6 zone deer tag is classified as a premium deer tag for the 2015 hunting season. Hunters interested in the D6 zone deer tag will need to apply through the annual Big Game Drawing. The D6 zone deer tag quota has been increased to 10,000 tags for the 2015 hunting season, an increase of 4,000 tags from 2014.

Fundraising Random Drawing Opportunities

CDFW’s fundraising random drawing tags are open to any resident or nonresident 12 years of age or older as of July 1, 2015. The cost to enter the drawings is $5.97 per entry, per hunt. Applicants may apply as many times as the wish. The sales transaction must also be completed before midnight on June 2, 2015. Applicants do not need a valid hunting license to apply, but a license must be purchased prior to issuing the tag. The tag will be issued at no additional cost.

The fundraising random drawing tags consist of the open zone deer tag, the multiple zone elk tag and the northeastern California pronghorn antelope tag. This year the program will not include a bighorn sheep tag drawing.

Open Zone Deer Tag

An open zone deer tag allows the hunter to hunt during the authorized season dates of any hunt, using the specific method and meeting any special conditions of the tag for that hunt.

Multiple Zone Elk Tag

The fundraising random drawing elk tag allows the hunter to hunt in any of the following zones: Northwestern, Northeastern, Marble Mountains, Siskiyou and La Panza. Hunters may use any legal method of take. All three subspecies of elk may be hunted, although only one elk may be harvested. The hunt dates open one week prior to the earliest season in that zone and run through the end of the regular season.

Northeastern California Pronghorn Antelope Tag

The fundraising random drawing antelope tag allows the hunter to hunt in any of the northeastern antelope zones (Mount Dome, Clear Lake, Likely Tables, Lassen, Big Valley and Surprise Valley) with any legal method. The hunt dates are from Aug. 1 to Sept. 20, 2015.

Media Contacts:
Lai Saechao, CDFW Big Game Hunting Program, (916) 928-7416
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW and Partners Investigate Decline in Pheasant Population

pheasantThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently hosted a pheasant ecology workshop to examine possible causes of a decline of the state’s pheasant population over the last 25 years.

Held in cooperation with Pheasants Forever, the workshop convened more than 45 state and federal scientists, public and private land managers, and representatives from Ducks Unlimited and the California Waterfowl Association.

Participants reviewed research from scientists at the US Geological Survey and heard from pheasant experts from across the nation. Data collected showed that contributing factors to the decline include changes in agricultural practices, growth of forested habitats in historic wetland and grassland environments, climate change and predation from increasing raven populations.

“The combination of modern analysis tools and on-the-ground land management techniques helped us chart a map forward, which is especially important during the drought,” said CDFW Upland Game Program Scientist Matt Meshriy. “We look forward to collaborating with Pheasants Forever and other conservation partners interested in this species.”

The workshop, held on April 30 and May 1, included presentations by Dr. Les Flake of South Dakota State University and Senior Research Biologist Dave Musil of Idaho Fish and Game. CDFW managers from six state wildlife areas and federal partners from the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complexes also presented reports on site-specific conditions that described the breadth of habitat challenges facing pheasants and other upland nesting bird species throughout the state.

Pheasants were introduced in California in the 1890s and adapted well in the agricultural regions of the state. By the mid-1960s, about 250,000 hunters were spending about 800,000 days afield in pursuit of this game bird. Since the mid-1990s, populations have been steadily declining. In 2010, only about 30,000 pheasant hunters spent about 100,000 days afield.

Pheasants Forever is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 140,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since its creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $577 million on 475,000 habitat projects benefiting 10 million acres nationwide.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, Wildlife Branch, Upland Game Program, (916) 801-6257

Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

2015 Big Game Digest Now Available Online

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has posted the 2015 Big Game Digest to its website. The 64-page document can be downloaded online for free at www.dfg.ca.gov/publications/digest/.

2015 California Big Game Hunting DigestThe popular guide includes season, quota and harvest information for deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep, as well as tag drawing information, bear and wild pig hunting information and big game hunting regulations for the 2015-16 seasons.

Printed copies of the Big Game Digest will automatically be mailed in late April to hunters who purchased a big game tag or applied for the Big Game Drawing in California in 2014.

“As printing costs continue to rise, more funding for big game conservation will be available if the department reduces printing and mailing costs,” said Dan Yparraguirre, CDFW’s Deputy Director of Wildlife and Fisheries. “Making the Big Game Digest available online also means that hunters can access this information sooner.”

Hunting licenses, tags and drawing applications will be available on April 15. Purchases may be made through the Online License Service, at any CDFW License Sales Office or License Agent, or by telephone at (800) 565-1458. The deadline to apply for the Big Game Drawing is midnight on June 2.

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Media Contact:
Stuart Itoga, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3642
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Spring Turkey Season Opener Approaches

California’s 2015 general spring wild turkey hunting season opens statewide on March 28 and extends through May 3, with the archery season extending through May 17.Spring turkey and hunter

Hunters who have a current junior hunting license may also hunt the weekend before the opener, (March 21 and 22), and the two weeks after the general season (through May 17), using shotguns or any other legal method of take.

Please note that the season is closed to all hunters from March 23 to March 27.

Shooting hours for spring turkeys are from one-half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. 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. The bag limit is one bearded turkey per day and no more than a total of three turkeys during all seasons (general, archery and junior) combined.

The statewide population of wild turkeys is estimated at 240,000 birds. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) estimates about 36,000 hunters bag about 28,000 turkeys in 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.

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 at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/uplandgame/.

Hunters are also encouraged to check CDFW’s special hunts website for more information at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/DFGSpecialHunts/Default.aspx.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 801-6257
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Offers Basic Hunter Education Class in Bishop

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law enforcement officers from Inyo and Mono counties will be teaching a basic hunter Today's Hunter booklet and regulations bookletseducation class for people who would like to complete the requirements to purchase a first-time hunting license. The class will be held on Tuesday, March 13, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Bishop Fire Training Center, 960 Poleta Road in Bishop.

Successful completion of an online study course, available at www.huntercourse.com/usa/california/, is a prerequisite for the four-hour class. The online course can be completed at any time before March 13. Upon completion, the online program will generate a printable voucher that must be presented at the March 13 course. The online course may take up to six hours to complete, but does not need to be finished in one sitting. A fee of $24.95 will be charged only when a student successfully answers a series of multiple-choice questions and prints the voucher.

The four-hour follow-up class on March 13 will consist of two hours of review, one hour of gun-handling practice and one hour to take the final hunter education test. Those interested in taking the class in Bishop should reserve a seat by calling CDFW Warden Shane Dishion at (760) 920-7593.

A list of follow-up classes in other counties can be found on the CDFW website at www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/classes-home-study.aspx.

In a continued effort to reduce firearm accidents, the State of California requires all first-time resident hunters, regardless of age, to complete hunter education training or pass a comprehensive equivalency test before purchasing a hunting license. CDFW conducts training throughout the state. Each year approximately 30,000 students complete the required training to earn their Hunter Education Certificate.

Media Contacts:
Warden Shane Dishion, CDFW Law Enforcement, (760) 920-7593

Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

CDFW Clarifies Use of “Unplugged” Shotguns

Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988
Ducks and Geese2

CDFW Clarifies Use of “Unplugged” Shotguns

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) seeks to clear up an inadvertently included sentence in the 2014-2015 California Waterfowl Hunting Regulations that led to confusion about the use of an “unplugged” shotgun for late-season waterfowl hunts.

The language in question is included in the synopsis of current federal regulations, located at the back of this year’s California Waterfowl Hunting Regulations booklet. On Page 84, the booklet states that no person shall take migratory game birds:

“… with a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells. This restriction does not apply during dates States have selected under the Conservation Order for light geese (i.e. greater and lesser snow and Ross’s geese) or those selected for the control of resident Canada geese. (States insert appropriate dates for light goose only and Canada goose only seasons.)

Please note that the section of the regulations underlined above is incorrect and does not apply anywhere in California. The plugged shotgun requirement remains in effect for all goose hunting seasons in California.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has primary jurisdiction over management of the nation’s waterfowl, does authorize the use of unplugged shotguns and other techniques in certain parts of the country, in specific circumstances when population reductions are desired. However, federal regulations do not provide for these exceptions in California.

Almost all of California’s wintering goose populations are at the highest levels in decades, resulting in liberal harvest limits and several special late season goose-only hunts around the state. While in the field, hunters can access the regulations via smartphone at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Waterfowl . The incorrect language relative to the unplugged shotguns has been removed in the online version.

CDFW apologizes for the confusion and will remove the inapplicable reference in next year’s regulations booklet.

Spring Turkey Hunts Offered in North Central Region

Media Contacts:
Sara Holm, CDFW Wildlife Program, (530) 346-6305
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Public Contact:
North Central Region Hunter Info. Line, (916) 358-2839

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is now accepting applications for spring turkey hunts in northern California.

Several opportunities will be offered at the following locations: Daugherty Hill Wildlife Area, Spenceville Wildlife Area, Oroville Wildlife Area, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Cosumnes River Preserve, Bureau of Land Management’s Kanaka Valley and two units of the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area.

To apply, applicants must create an account and submit an application for their choice of hunts. Hunters will need to provide a name, mailing address, valid email address, phone number and 2015 hunting license GO ID. Applications and more information are available online (http://goo.gl/8Kex6n).

You may apply only once for each hunt, either as an applicant or as a guest. Submitting multiple applications will result in disqualification.

Hunters will be selected by a computerized drawing for only one hunt and only successful applicants will be notified.

Special hunts are provided in cooperation with many volunteer organizations. All upland game bird hunters, except those with junior hunting licenses, must purchase an Upland Game Bird Stamp, which supports these special hunts and other hunting programs.

CDFW to Offer Spring Turkey Hunts in Northern and Southern California

Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW SHARE Program, (916) 445-4034
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering spring turkey hunts in Yolo and Santa Barbara counties through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program.

A total of 12 SHARE Access Permits will be provided to turkey hunters through a random drawing for eight two-day hunts. Each permit is valid for two hunters.

In northern California, hunters will have an opportunity to access 4,000 acres of rolling blue oak woodlands on Bobcat Ranch located in Yolo County’s Vaca Mountain foothills.

In Southern California, Sleepy Creek and Jones ranches, both located in the West Cuyama Valley in Santa Barbara County, occupy a combined 1,000 acres of oak savannah, juniper sage woodland, chaparral and riparian habitats. Adjoining these ranches are approximately 250 acres of Bureau of Land Management property and the Los Padres National Forest, which provide additional opportunities. Separate applications need to be submitted for each location.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols/. A $10.25 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.

These opportunities are made possible by the SHARE Program, which offers incentives to private landowners who allow wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities on their property. Participating landowners receive liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land. 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 the SHARE Program, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/share/.

CDFW to Showcase Programs, Sell Licenses and Offer Education for Kids at Upcoming ISE Show in Sacramento

If you’re heading to the International Sportsmen’s Expo at the Cal Expo State Fairgrounds this coming weekend (Jan. 8-11), be sure to stop by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) booth, space 3700 in the Pavilion Building. Wardens, biologists, license agents and many other CDFW staff will be on hand throughout the event to address questions and provide information. Many items will also be available for purchase, including fishing and hunting licenses, warden stamps, permits and tags.

License sales at Sacramento ISE

For the second year, CDFW’s top leadership will participate in a panel discussion about topics of interest to California hunters and anglers. The discussion will be held Saturday, Jan. 10 from 1-2 p.m. in the California Sportsmen’s Theater in the Pavilion Building. This will be an open forum where members of the audience may ask questions of the panel.

“As public servants, it is part of our job to remain open and available for input on issues, including contentious ones,” said Charlton H. Bonham, CDFW’s Director. “It is particularly important that we listen to input from our traditional hunting and fishing constituents. This show gives us an opportunity to do just that.”

CDFW will also have other displays throughout the fairgrounds, including the Heritage Wild Trout booth, space 2218 in the Fly Fishing Building, and an invasive species booth, space 3244 in the Pavilion Building. Game warden recruitment is always a large component of CDFW’s participation in the show. Again this year, a game warden trailer with a free laser shot game will be on display outside of the Pavilion Building, and wildlife officers will be available to answer questions about employment with CDFW.

Other CDFW-sponsored highlights at the ISE include:

  • Youth fishing – Bring your child to the Youth Fair Expo Center to fish for beautiful rainbow trout. Each person who does so will go home with an official California Fishing Passport book, an official stamp and a fish identification book containing pictures and information about 150 different species of California fish!
  • Learn How to be “Bear Aware” – CDFW staff will demonstrate how to keep a campsite safe from unwanted ursine visitors.
  • 2015 Warden Stamps – At the main booth, CDFW will be offering and promoting this year’s stamp, which features a black bear. Stamps sell for $5. Proceeds support game wardens and K-9 units and help fund the purchase of necessary law enforcement equipment.
  • Outdoor California – Free copies of CDFW’s award-winning magazine will be available (as supplies last) at the main booth. Yearly subscriptions may be purchased for $15.
  • New This Year … CDFW’s First Trout Planting Truck – This beautiful 1925 Dodge truck was the first used for planting trout. The fish were transported in big milk cans. It has been completely refurbished and will be on display for the first time at this Sacramento show, near the Youth Fair Expo Center. It still runs and it looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor.

The Cal Expo State Fairgrounds are located at 1600 Exposition Blvd. in Sacramento. ISE show hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $15 for adults (door sales are cash only, although tickets may be purchased in advance online). Youth under age 16 are free. There is a $10 charge to park on the grounds.

For additional information, schedules and to purchase tickets, please visit the ISE webpage at www.sportsexpos.com/attend/2015/sacramento.