Tag Archives: hunting

Wildfire Awareness Still Necessary as Additional Deer Seasons Open Sept. 24

California’s 2016 deer season continues with the opening of the D3-D5, D8-D10, X8 and X10 Zones on Sept. 24. Drought and dangerous fire conditions persist in many areas of the state, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) urges hunters to be mindful of wildfires and forest closures that could affect the area where they plan to hunt. CDFW does not refund tag fees due to wildfire closures.

CDFW does not close or open areas due to fires, but leaves that authority to incident commanders with CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service.

Current information on forest closures can be found at the following links:

Hunters are encouraged to check these links frequently in order to obtain the most up-to-date information.

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Media Contacts:
Stuart Itoga, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3652
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days Approach for the 2016-2017 Season

As in years past, California’s young hunters will have one weekend to hunt in the Northeastern Zone before the general waterfowl seasons open around the state. The Youth Waterfowl Days in the Northeastern Zone for the 2016-2017 season fall on Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25.

Beginning with the 2016-2017 waterfowl season, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raised the age to participate in Youth Waterfowl Days to include licensed youth hunters who are 17 years of age or younger at the time of the hunt. All youth hunters must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult who is 18 years of age or older.

In the Southern San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, Colorado River and Balance of the State zones, Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days will be Feb. 4 and Feb. 5, 2017.

Youth Waterfowl Days are allowed on state wildlife areas, federal refuges and private lands. Federal refuges and state wildlife areas in the Northeastern Zone (with the exception of Willow Creek) will be open for youth hunting on those days. Hunters and chaperones should contact specific areas for details on hunt opportunities.

Youth Waterfowl Days are held in addition to the regular waterfowl seasons and must be held outside any regular duck season, regardless of location. Federal regulations require any waterfowl hunter that is 16 years of age or older to possess a federal duck stamp.

The complete regulations can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

General Deer Seasons to Open in California on Sept. 17

California’s 2016 general deer season will open in zones B1-B3, B5, B6, C1-C4, D6, D7, X9A, X9B and X12 on Saturday, Sept. 17. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds hunters to pay close attention to the occurrence of wild fires in their favorite hunting spots. Current information on forest closures can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.

In addition to monitoring forest closures, CDFW recommends hunters scout potential hunting areas prior to the day of the hunt. Deer can sometimes be difficult to locate, and pre-existing knowledge of deer feeding and bedding areas will provide valuable insight and help maximize chances of success.

Hunters are reminded that as of July 1, 2015 nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. Lead ammunition may still be used to hunt deer on Bureau of Land Management (BLM), national forest and private lands until July 1, 2019.

Deer tags are still available for many of the state’s most popular zones. Hunting licenses and tags can be purchased online, at one of CDFW’s license sales offices or through a license sales agent. For more information on deer hunting zones and seasons, see the 2016 Big Game Hunting Digest. Specific zone maps and information are also available online.

Every purchaser of a deer tag must report their harvest, even if they were unsuccessful. For successful hunters, the report must be made within 30 days of harvesting a deer or by Jan. 31, whichever date is first. Unsuccessful hunters, and those who purchased a tag but did not hunt, must report by Jan. 31. Harvest reports may be submitted online or by U.S. mail to CDFW Wildlife Branch, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002.

Hunter harvest numbers are an important component of CDFW’s annual population analysis, and are key to ensuring sustainable deer populations and hunting opportunities for future generations. Studies have shown that the most accurate harvest estimates are obtained from hunter-generated reports. Yet historically, only 30 percent of hunters have submitted mandatory harvest reports.

In order to improve hunter reporting rates and collect better hunter harvest data, non-reporting fees were instituted in 2016. Tag holders who fail to report will be charged a non-reporting fee of $21.60, which will be added to license purchases beginning with the 2017-2018 season.

The sale of hunting licenses and tags provides approximately $25 million every year to CDFW to fund research and management of California’s wildlife, including the enforcement of fish and wildlife laws, crucial habitat conservation, post-wildfire forest restoration and wildlife migration and population studies.

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Media Contacts:
Stuart Itoga, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3652
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Quail, Grouse, Ptarmigan and Band-tailed Pigeon General Seasons to Open Soon

The 2016-17 general upland game bird hunting season will open in mid-September for several species in specific zones around the state, providing hunters with many opportunities to bring home some delicious table fare for the upcoming holiday season.

September openers include quail (Zone Q1 opens for mountain quail from Sept. 10 through Oct. 14, and Zone Q2 will be open for all quail from Sept. 24 through Jan. 29); sooty and ruffed grouse (general season will be open in various northern and eastern counties from Sept. 10 through Oct. 10); white-tailed ptarmigan (general and archery seasons will be open from Sept. 10-18); and band-tailed pigeon (the northern hunt zone only will be open from Sept. 17-25).

Please note that nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting on California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves. As of July 1, 2016, the nonlead shot requirement is extended to include the take game birds with a shotgun elsewhere in California, with the exceptions of dove, quail and snipe, or any game bird taken on a licensed game bird club. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

Specific information about each game bird species, including zone maps and information about daily bag limits and possession limits for each species can be found on the CDFW Upland Game Bird Hunting webpage. Additional information about each species can be found below.

Quail

Quail are some of the state’s most popular native game birds. There are three species of quail found in California: California quail, mountain quail and Gambel’s quail. California quail (the state bird) are common and widespread throughout the state in low to mid-elevation brushy habitats with good cover and abundant food. Mountain quail are also widespread in higher elevation habitats. Gambel’s quail are California’s most desert-adapted species and can be found in the very arid lands of southeastern California.

The early mountain quail season starts on Sept. 10 and continues through Oct. 14 and covers much of the mountainous region of northern and eastern California (the Q1 zone map can be found on the CDFW website). On Sept. 24, the early general quail season opens in Zone Q2 for several coastal counties between Marin and Mendocino counties. The remainder of the state will open to quail hunting on Oct. 15. Finally, an additional two-day early hunt season will be open on Oct. 1-2 in Mojave National Preserve for young hunters with junior hunting licenses.

For all quail species, the daily bag limit is 10 and the possession limit is triple the daily bag. Hunters can still use lead shot for quail until 2019 unless hunting on CDFW Wildlife Areas or Ecological Reserves. Quail currently are exempted from the new nonlead requirement because lighter shot sizes used on these smaller birds is not as widely available as larger shot that has been used for many years on waterfowl.

All three native species of quail are characterized by high reproductive potential that can only be realized through adequate and well-timed winter and early spring precipitation. Despite the ongoing drought, conditions were good for in 2015-16 for quail, resulting in good hatches in most part of the state.

Quail are most active in the early morning and later afternoon and move in large coveys throughout the day. Quail have distinctive calls that can provide clues to the birds’ location. Hunting dogs can be useful for both locating and retrieving birds in the field.

Quail can be successfully hunted with 20, 16 or 12 gauge shotguns. A modified or improved cylinder choke is recommended to avoid damage to the bird. Because of the dense brush habitats where they are usually hunted, downed quail can be hard to find. Despite this challenge, CDFW reminds hunters that wasting game is both unethical and illegal.

CDFW estimates that in the 2014-15 season, approximately 470,000 quail were bagged across all three species by 69,000 hunters over the course of 550,000 hunter-days. Not surprisingly, California quail is the most frequently bagged of the three species. (Data is not yet available for the 2015-16 season.)

Grouse

California has two species of native forest-dwelling grouse: the sooty (or blue) grouse and the ruffed grouse. Sooty grouse occur in the Sierra Nevada, Cascade and northern Coast ranges while the ruffed grouse is restricted to the northwestern part of the state. The general hunting season for both species extends from Sept. 10 to Oct. 10 this year. For sooty and ruffed grouse, the daily bag limit is two (all of one species or mixed) and possession limit is triple the daily bag. A third species, the greater sage-grouse, can be hunted by permit only.

Although they are fairly large birds, grouse camouflage themselves very well and will flush quickly when frightened, flying in a zigzag pattern away from the hunter. Dogs are useful companions to help hunters find and retrieve bagged grouse. A light gun is helpful because a fast swing is often necessary. Nonlead shot is required for all grouse statewide.

Ptarmigan

The white-tailed ptarmigan is a non-native grouse that was introduced by CDFW to the Sierra Nevada in the early 1970s. This is the smallest species of ptarmigan and the only one found in California. They live in high elevation alpine habitats at low densities from the area around Sonora Pass in Tuolumne County to the area surrounding Kings Canyon National Park.

Hunting these birds can be challenging because of the high elevation, steep terrain. Hunting is permitted from Sept. 10-18. The daily bag limit is two per day and the possession limit is two per season. Many hunters prefer using a 20-gauge shotgun and a hunting dog to pursue ptarmigan. Nonlead shot is required for ptarmigan.

Band-tailed Pigeon

The band-tailed pigeon is California’s only native pigeon and is a close relative of the extinct passenger pigeon. They look similar to domestic (feral) pigeons that are common in urban areas. Band-tailed pigeons are found in mountainous terrain throughout the state, using coniferous forests as well as oak woodlands.

The band-tailed pigeon is locally abundant at times but populations are migratory and movements can be unpredictable. The federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) estimates that in 2014, 10,700 pigeons were harvested in California, comprising nearly 90 percent of the total Pacific Flyway harvest.

The northern California hunt zone season runs from Sept 17-25. The daily bag limit is two and the possession limit is triple the daily bag. The southern hunt zone does not open until December.

Nonlead shot is required for band-tailed pigeons statewide.

CDFW reminds hunters that an upland game bird stamp is required for licensed adult hunters (18 years and older) but not hunters with a valid junior hunting license. A HIP validation is also required to hunt band-tailed pigeons.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 445-5545

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Applications Opening Soon for Quail Hunts in San Diego County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for two quail hunts in San Diego County.

The first hunt opportunity is slated for Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, from 6 a.m. to noon. The second will be Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017.

These hunts will be at the Oakgrove sub-unit of San Felipe Wildlife Area, a CDFW property located off Highway 79, 1.5 miles south of the Cleveland National Forest Oak Grove Campground. Each hunt will accommodate up to 20 hunters.

The deadline to apply for the Oct. 15 hunt is Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. The deadline to apply for the Jan. 7 hunt is Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 4 p.m.

Applications must be submitted online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds (select “Special Hunts,” then “Special Hunts and Online Application”). There is no cost to apply. Applicants may include up to four hunters on each application.

Dogs are allowed on these hunts but they must remain in the immediate control of the hunters at all times. No dogs will be provided for this event.

For more information about these hunt opportunities or logistics, please call the CDFW South Coast Region’s Upland Game Bird Special Hunt Program at (562) 254-8969. For questions or more information about the application process, please call (916) 445-3452.

Media Contact:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958