|The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is accepting applications for 31 elk hunting opportunities offered through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program.
The hunts will occur at various times between Aug. 15 and Dec. 24, 2017 on 28 select properties in Colusa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino and Siskiyou counties. Specific details for all 31 elk hunts can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE#elk. CDFW will be accepting applications through Monday, July 24.
The SHARE program was created to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California by offering incentives to private landowners. Participating landowners receive liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities.
“CDFW has been working to increase private lands access for California hunters. In the last year, we’ve enrolled two new elk hunting properties — one in Colusa County, the other in Siskiyou County,” said Victoria Barr, CDFW’s SHARE program coordinator. “We’re now up to 31 different elk hunts, which demonstrates great progress for the program.”
All elk tags will be distributed through a random draw process. While hunters may take only one elk per year in California, these hunts offer additional opportunities beyond those issued through the general Big Game Drawing. SHARE hunt applications can be purchased by anyone with a valid 2017 California big game hunting license from any CDFW license office or online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales.
An $11.37 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt application. Applicants may look up their draw results and download their hunt packets on July 28 by entering their customer information on CDFW’s website at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales.
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.
For more information on nonlead ammunition regulations and the implementation process, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824
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.
Upland game hunters statewide are gearing up for the opportunity to bag their Thanksgiving dinner, as California’s 2016 general fall wild turkey hunting season opens statewide on Saturday, Nov. 12. The season extends through Sunday, Dec. 11, with a bag limit of one turkey (either sex) per day and no more than two per season.
“Turkey populations are doing very well in many areas of the state despite recent drought years,” said Scott Gardner, manager of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Upland Game Program. “Not only are they plentiful, but they’re also a very healthy alternative to store-bought turkey. Wild turkey meat is low in fat and has no additives. You can’t get much healthier than that.”
Wild turkeys are found in most counties in California, with the top five for fall harvest being Placer, El Dorado, Shasta, Sonoma and Tehama. 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.
Rio Grande turkeys are the most widespread wild turkey subspecies 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 can be found in habitats dominated by pines in northeastern California. The eastern subspecies can be found in isolated pockets along the northern coast and eastern/Rio Grande hybrids from the Midwest inhabit areas along the south coast.
Today, California’s wild turkey population is estimated at about 250,000 birds. CDFW estimates that about 10,000 turkeys are harvested by about 20,000 hunters in the fall.
As of July 1, 2016, nonlead shot is required for wild turkeys statewide, unless taken on the grounds of a licensed game bird club. For more information, please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.
Many populations range on private land, but turkeys can 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.
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Scott Gardner, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 801-6257
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988
The second weekend of November brings a popular tradition for many families in California – the opening of pheasant season. Although the overall wild pheasant population has been decreasing in recent years and the number of shoot days has been reduced on some wildlife areas, opportunities are still available on state-managed lands.
The 2016 general pheasant season will open Saturday, Nov. 12 and extend through Sunday, Dec. 25. The daily bag limit is two males per day for the first two days of the season, and three males per day thereafter. The possession limit is triple the daily bag. Shooting hours are from 8 a.m. to sunset.
Native to Asia, the ring-necked pheasant was introduced to California as a game bird species in the late 1800s. Though they flourished in California for decades, numbers have been dropping since the most recent high in the late 1990s. Total pheasant harvest on public areas in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys declined from a high of 4,828 roosters in 1998 to 629 last year.
In an effort to address the continued decline, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) continues efforts to restore and enhance upland habitat on public areas. This is in addition to the ongoing collaborative research with Pheasants Forever and the United States Geological Survey to improve our understanding of factors limiting their populations. A recent article about declines in the Central Valley and more information about ongoing research is available on CDFW’s website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/pheasant.
In 2010, CDFW reduced the number of days that certain wildlife areas will be open for pheasant hunting due to a decline in the number of hunters targeting pheasant and the cost to operate check stations during the first week of the season. For the upcoming season, hunters should be aware of the following restrictions on wildlife areas:
- Type A wildlife areas in the Sacramento Valley (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area and Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area’s Little Dry Creek, Llano Seco and Howard Slough Units) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and only the first Monday (Nov. 14) during the pheasant season. Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will also be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only during the pheasant season.
- Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley (Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area and San Luis National Wildlife Refuge free roam area) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only during the pheasant season. The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Kesterson Unit blind area will be open the first Monday (Nov. 14) and a special zone of the Freitas Unit will be open only on the first Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Nov. 12-14) of the pheasant season.
- In the event some units experience closures for waterfowl hunting as a result of the drought, the goal will be to open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the general pheasant season. Permits for entry will be issued at the check station through a morning lottery. Specific information will be available from affected wildlife area offices. Additional entry will be available through first-come, first-served lists at the check station.
- The Wister Unit of Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County and San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County will continue to be closed to pheasant hunting this year.
- Type C wildlife areas will remain open as normal.
Nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting pheasants anywhere in the state, except Licensed Game Bird Clubs. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.
All hunters must carry a current California hunting license in their possession. Adult hunters (18 or older) must also have an upland game bird validation. The full upland game bird hunting regulations and a summary as well as the lands regulations for 2016-2017 can be found on CDFW’s website.
The modifications of the shoot days on Type A wildlife areas are pursuant to the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 550(i)(1).