Category Archives: Youth

Young Hunters, Mentors Enjoy Successful Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

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.

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Colby Fritter, 11, earned his hunter education certificate and bought his license on the first of two Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days.

“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.

Waterfowl hunting results, including results for each state-managed Youth Hunting Days hunt, are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl#877772-hunt-results.

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Media Contact:
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Youth Waterfowl Days Coming Up February 4-5

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.

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

CDFW Increases Its Booths and Educational Events at Annual Sportsmen’s Show in Sacramento

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has returned with even greater presence to the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) at Cal Expo in Sacramento, which began yesterday and runs through Sunday, Jan. 22. This is the largest hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation show of its kind in northern California and marks the 30th year of the event in Sacramento.

CDFW has increased its presence at the ISE show in Sacramento, as its fisheries and wildlife branches now have their own booths adjacent to the main CDFW booth located in the Pavilion Building (space 3700). There will also be a booth providing information on invasive species.

The main CDFW booth is selling all licenses, tags, report cards and warden stamps. This provides an enhanced opportunity for department staff to respond to angling and hunting constituents by answering their questions, and discussing programs and available fishing and hunting opportunities throughout the state. At its main booth, CDFW is selling its current warden stamp, with proceeds from the $5 stamp supporting wildlife officers and K-9 teams and helping fund the purchase of law enforcement equipment.

For the fourth year, CDFW’s leaders will hold a panel discussion about various topics of interest to California hunters and anglers. The open-forum panel is scheduled in the California Sportsmen’s Theater in the Pavilion Building on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 1 p.m.  Audience members are encouraged to ask questions of the panel.

Additional CDFW booths and highlights will include:

  • CDFW’s First Trout-Planting Truck — This 1925 Dodge pickup was the first truck used for planting trout. The fish back then were transported in big milk cans! It has been refurbished and will be on display near the Youth Fair Expo Center. The vintage truck still runs and looks as if it just rolled off the showroom floor.
  • Wildlife Officer and Recruitment Trailer with Laser Shot. CDFW’s Law Enforcement trailer will be on display outside the Pavilion Building, featuring a taxidermy display and a free, laser-shot hunting simulator game. Wildlife officers, including statewide recruiting Lieutenant Specialist Chris Stoots, will answer questions about employment opportunities. Large-equipment assets used to study, manage and protect California’s wildlife and fisheries, including boats, traps and more, will also be on display.
  • 2017 Hunting Heritage Youth Essay Contest Winner Honored — Tyler Benedetti, a 17-year-old youth hunter from Morgan Hill, recently earned the top prize, a lifetime hunting license donated by the Wildlife Officer Foundation, for winning the annual “Passing on the Tradition” essay contest. The grand prize will be awarded to Tyler during a ceremony Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Cal Expo’s Adventure Theater.
  • A Youth Fair in the Expo Center will feature information on the California Fishing Passport Program, Fishing in the City Program, Hunter Education, Bear Aware Program, the Nimbus Fish Hatchery Interpretive Services Program and feature a Youth Fishing Pond, with trout provided by CDFW.
  • Outdoor California — Free copies of CDFW’s award-winning magazine will be available (as supplies last) at the main booth. Yearly subscriptions may also be purchased for $15.
  • The Cal Expo State Fairgrounds are located at 1600 Exposition Blvd. in Sacramento.  ISE show hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $17 for adults and youths under age 16 are free. There is a $10 charge to park on the Cal Expo grounds.

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

2016 Hunting Heritage Youth Essay Contest Winner to be Honored at ISE

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.

For more information on becoming a hunter education instructor to help “Pass on the Tradition,” please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. John Nores, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (408) 591-5174
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Grand Opening of San Joaquin River Parkway Trail in Fresno County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and partners are pleased to announce the opening of a new link of the San Joaquin River Parkway Trail, part of the Friant Interactive Nature Site (FINS), and new outdoor educational facilities at the San Joaquin Fish Hatchery. The trail stretches nearly a mile from the community of Friant to Lost Lake Recreation Area in Fresno County.

FINS was constructed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources and the San Joaquin River Conservancy.

“We accomplish a lot when we all work together,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “To me, this new link of the trail signifies our connection to the outdoors. It connects the public to nature, providing environmental educational opportunities that we can all be proud of for generations to come. Thank you to the partners and volunteers for their work on this important part of the trail.”

FINS includes a new parking lot located on Friant Road to serve school buses and other visitors, an outdoor classroom, trailhead facilities, interpretive exhibits and the following:

  • Small Fry Children’s Trail and “Stormy Creek” — A play area and educational introduction to ecosystems, encouraging children to learn about the life of a trout while enjoying nature. “Stormy Creek” demonstrates a bio-swale, which is a landscaped area designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water before entering a river system like the San Joaquin River.
  • San Joaquin Hatchery— conveniently located for tourists, visitors and Friant residents, offers free visitation and public viewing of the life stages of a trout.
  • Salmon Conservation and Research Facility — Construction is slated to begin within the next year on a state-of-the-art $23.7 million fisheries facility that will produce spring-run Chinook salmon for reintroduction to the San Joaquin River.

Funding for the $3.38 million project was provided by the San Joaquin River Conservancy with approval of the California Wildlife Conservation Board, using state bond funds from the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Fund of 2006 (Proposition 84) and the Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2002 (Proposition 40).

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Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Steve Gonzalez, CDFW Communications, (916) 715-9072