Tag Archives: hunting

General Deer Seasons Set to Open in California

As the Sept. 19 and Sept. 26 general deer hunting season openers approach, hunters across the state are gearing up to head out in search of deer in many of the most popular hunting areas. Deer seasons are already underway for archery and in zones A and B4.mule deer

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 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) license sales offices or through one of CDFW’s many license sales agents. For more information on deer hunting zones and seasons, see the 2015 Big Game Hunting Digest. Specific zone maps and information are also available online.

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.

“We encourage hunters to have fun and be safe while exploring California’s wild places,” said CDFW Deer Program Coordinator Stuart Itoga. “We appreciate the role hunters play in conservation and management of the state’s wildlife.”

For the 2015 deer season, hunters need to be aware of two new regulations: Mandatory tag reporting and the use of nonlead ammunition on CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves.

Starting this year, all deer tag holders must report to CDFW. Hunters that take a deer must report within 30 days of harvest or by Jan. 31, whichever occurs first. Hunters that received a tag but did not harvest a deer or did not hunt must also 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. Beginning in 2017, anyone who fails to submit a report for the 2016 season will be charged a $20 non-reporting fee when applying for a 2017 deer tag.

Effective July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on state wildlife areas and ecological reserves and for all bighorn sheep hunts. Lead ammunition may still be used on Bureau of Land Management (BLM), national forest and private lands.

Statewide, estimated deer population numbers are up slightly from 443,000 last year to 512,000 this year. Last year, approximately 22 percent of the state’s deer hunters harvested a deer.

Scouting an area prior to hunting and getting off the beaten path can be keys to hunter success, especially during this time of historic drought. CDFW recommends that hunters keep current on possible public land closures in zones they plan to hunt.

“California is in the fourth year drought and large wildfires have caused some forest closures,” Itoga said. “We expect wildfires could cause additional closures of public hunting lands this year. On a positive note, some of the areas burned will provide high-quality deer browse as regeneration occurs in future years. Improved nutrition could lead to healthier deer populations and enhanced opportunities for deer hunters in future seasons.”

Regional U.S. Forest Service and BLM offices provide helpful information regarding emergency closures of public hunting areas. Please visit CDFW’s website for zone-specific information and regional contacts.

CDFW Offers Upland Game Hunting Clinic in Los Angeles County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering an upland game hunting clinic on Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) in Los Angeles County.

Participants from beginner to advanced are welcome to attend. The clinic will cover the basics of hunting with the goal of developing ethical, conservation-minded hunters.

Topics include the history of upland game hunting in California, bird habitat, food and range, maps, equipment and hunting with or without a dog. Staff will also review how to apply for special hunts offered by CDFW and public land opportunities. There will also be a demonstration with hunting dogs.

The cost for each clinic is $45. The clinic hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Space is limited to 25 people, so please register early. To register or for more information, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/advanced/ or contact Lt. Alan Gregory at (916) 653-1235.

Hungry Valley SVRA is located along Interstate 5, approximately 30 miles south of Bakersfield and 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

First Dove Season Opener Approaches

mourning doveThe first of two opening days of California’s dove hunting season is fast approaching. This year’s season for mourning dove, white-winged dove, spotted dove and ringed turtle dove will run from Tuesday, Sept. 1 through Tuesday, Sept. 15 statewide, followed by a second hunt period, Saturday, Nov. 14 through Monday, Dec. 28.

Mourning dove and white-winged dove have a daily bag limit if 15, up to 10 of which may be white-winged dove. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. There are no limits on spotted dove and ringed turtle dove. Hunting for Eurasian collared dove is legal year-round and there is no limit.

Please note that as of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting upland game birds on all CDFW lands. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) nonlead ammunition page.

A dove identification guide can be found on the CDFW website, along with a map of upland game fields in Imperial County, the state’s hub for dove hunting.

Although California is suffering a serious drought, mourning doves are dry environment birds and are capable of exploiting many food types and sources. Most of the state lands that are generally planted with forage crops for doves have not been planted this year in order to conserve water, so doves may be more dispersed and less concentrated in areas that have historically been planted. The lack of water resources has also resulted in a higher-than-normal concentration of many wildlife species together in places where there is water. Both mourning dove and band-tailed pigeon have shown symptoms of avian trichimonas and avian pox in the population this year.

While the final results of the 2015 statewide dove banding effort are not yet available, initial numbers indicate no shortage of mourning doves for the opener. Hunters who encounter a banded bird are asked to report it to the USGS Bird Banding Lab (www.reportband.gov). Banded birds are part of important biological monitoring and reporting completes the process.

“The Imperial Valley dove fields are the best they have ever been and will provide great hunting through both early and late seasons,” said Leon Lesicka of Desert Wildlife Unlimited.

Dove hunting is considered a great starting point for new hunters. There is very little equipment required and just about any place open for hunting will have mourning doves. Minimum requirements are a valid hunting license with an upland game bird stamp (if the hunter is 18 or older) and Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation, good footwear, a shotgun, shotgun shells and plenty of water. Hunters should be careful not to underestimate the amount of fluids needed, especially during the first half of the season.

Most successful dove hunters position themselves in a known flyway for doves. These can be to and from roost sites, water, food sources or gravel. Doves are usually taken by pass shooting these flyways, but hunters may also be successful jump shooting. Dove movement is most frequent in the early mornings and late evenings when they are flying from and to their roost sites (this is when the majority of hunters go into the field). Late morning to early afternoon can be better for jump shooting. Hunters should scout out dove activity in the area a few times just prior to hunting.

Important laws and regulations to consider include the following:

  • Shoot time for doves is one half hour before sunrise to sunset.
  • All hunters — including junior hunters — are required to carry their hunting license with them.
  • Hunters must have written permission from the landowner prior to hunting on private land.
  • Bag limits apply to each hunter and no one can take more than one legal limit.
  • It is illegal to shoot within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling.
  • It is illegal to shoot from or across a public roadway.
  • It is illegal to hunt within 200 yards of an artificial water source for wildlife.

It is the responsibility of every hunter to know and follow all laws.

Safety is the most important part of any hunting adventure. Although wearing hunter orange (blaze) is not required by law, it may be required in specific areas. Wearing a minimum of a hunter orange hat is recommended, especially when sitting or when hunting in deep vegetation. Safety glasses are a simple way to protect the eyes and are available in many shades for hunting in all types of lighting situations.

The weather throughout the state on Sept. 1 is expected to be hot and dry. CDFW urges hunters to drink plenty of fluids, wear sun protection and have a plan in case of an accident.

A summary of the 2015-16 dove hunting regulations can be found on CDFW’s website.

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Media Contacts:
Karen Fothergill, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 716-1461
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

SHARE Program Offers Hunts and Birdwatching this Fall

Rush Ranch, a SHARE property
Rush Ranch, a SHARE property

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program will provide public access for wild pig, waterfowl and upland game hunts, and birdwatching this fall.

SHARE will offer eight wild pig hunts from November to February at Rush Ranch, in southern Solano County. Rush Ranch is a 2,070-acre open space area bordered by the Suisun Marsh. Two permits (each good for two hunters) will be randomly drawn for each period. SHARE hunters will have access to 1,000 acres of the ranch for this two-night, two-and-a-half day hunt and will also be allowed to camp in a designated area for no extra fee.

The wildlife management area at Merced’s Wastewater Treatment Plant will offer waterfowl, dove and pheasant hunting. The property is located five miles south of the city of Merced and offers 300 acres for hunting. Tucked between sloughs and agricultural fields, the seasonal pond and wetland provide cover and forage for waterfowl, dove and pheasant.

Turkey hunters will have an opportunity to access 3,200 acres of rolling blue oak woodlands on Bobcat Ranch located in Yolo County’s Vaca Mountain foothills.

Bobcat Ranch will also offer birdwatching opportunities this fall. Successful applicants will receive a SHARE access permit valid for two people. Instructions on how to apply and a bird list for the property can be found on the SHARE webpage. Birdwatching opportunities will not require a hunting license.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales. A non-refundable application fee of $11.37 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 depending on the hunt.

These opportunities were 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 for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. The goal of the SHARE Program is to provide hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California. For more information about SHARE opportunities please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

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Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824

Waterfowl Hunting Regulations Set for 2015-2016 Season

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted the 2015-16 waterfowl hunting regulations on Aug. 5. The season length for brant in the Northern Brant and Balance of State Brant special management areas was increased to 37 days and the canvasback daily bag limit was increased to two per day.

ducks and geese at Gray Lodge
Ducks and geese at Gray Lodge. CDFW photo by Lori Deiter.

Duck Seasons

  • Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones will be open from Oct. 24, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016. Scaup season will be open from Nov. 7, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016.
  • Northeastern Zone will be open from Oct. 10, 2015 through Jan. 22, 2016. Scaup season will be open from Oct. 10, 2015 through Dec. 6, 2015, and from Dec. 26, 2015 through Jan. 22, 2016.
  • Colorado River Zone will be open from Oct. 16, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016. Scaup season will be open from Oct. 31, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016.

Bag Limits

  • Seven ducks per day, which includes no more than two hen mallards (or Mexican-like ducks in the Colorado River Zone), two pintail, two canvasback, two redheads and three scaup (which may only be taken during the 86-day scaup season).

Geese Seasons

  • Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones will be open from Oct. 24, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016.
    • Balance of State Zone will also be open for Late Season white-fronted and white geese from Feb. 13-17, 2016.
    • Balance of State Zone will also be open for Early Large Canada geese from Oct. 3-7, 2015.
  • Northeastern Zone will be open for dark geese from Oct. 10, 2015 through Jan. 17, 2016 and for white geese from Nov. 7, 2015 through Jan. 17, 2016.
    • Northeastern Zone will also be open for Late Season white geese from Feb. 7, 2016 through Mar. 10, 2016.
    • Northeastern Zone will also be open for Late Season white-fronted geese from Mar. 6-10, 2016.
  • Colorado River Zone will be open from Oct. 16, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016.

Bag Limits

  • 25 total geese per day, which may include 15 white geese.
  • 10 dark geese, including no more than two large Canada geese in the Northeastern Zone, no more than three dark geese in the Southern California Zone and no more than four dark geese in the Colorado River Zone.

The complete regulations can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Waterfowl.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717

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

Knoxville Wildlife Area Reopened

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that Knoxville Wildlife Area will reopen for public use Sunday, Aug. 9 at 5:00 a.m. Because of successful efforts by fire personnel from multiple agencies on the Rocky Fire, CDFW considers conditions to be safe for public access. The public is reminded that campfires are not allowed on the wildlife area at any time.

Because of the Rocky Fire in neighboring Lake County, Knoxville Wildlife Area was closed to all public use on Aug. 3. The general deer season opener began today, and Knoxville is a popular hunting area.

The public can monitor the status of the Rocky Fire at www.fire.ca.gov/general/firemaps.php.

Media Contacts:
Conrad Jones, Knoxville Wildlife Area, (707) 944-5544
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Putah Creek Wildlife Area Closed to All Public Access Due to Wragg Fire

The Putah Creek Wildlife Area in Solano County will be closed until further notice due to impacts from the Wragg Fire. The Wragg Fire has burned 8,051 acres in Napa, Solano and Yolo counties, including the entire Putah Creek Wildlife Area.

The closure affects all public uses including, but not limited to, hunting, fishing, hiking and nature viewing. The closure is intended to allow the landscape and wildlife to recover, minimize erosion, and ensure public safety. As a result of the fire, potential hazards such as loose rocks and falling tree branches exist in the area. CDFW will reassess the Putah Creek Wildlife Area in spring 2016 to determine if it is suitable for public access.

Putah Creek Wildlife Area is located in Solano County just east of Lake Berryessa.

For more information on the Wildlife Area, please visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/Places-to-Visit/Putah-Creek-WA.

Media Contacts:
Brian Shelton, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5538
Conrad Jones, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5544
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Knoxville Wildlife Area Closed Due to Rocky Fire

Because of the Rocky Fire in neighboring Lake County, Knoxville Wildlife Area is closed to all public use until further notice to allow safe access for emergency vehicles. The closure affects Knoxville-Berryessa Road north of Pope Canyon Road.

It is unknown when the wildlife area will be safe to reopen.

“We are hopeful that the wildlife area will reopen before the Saturday deer opener, but it’s impossible to say at this time,” said Conrad Jones, a senior environmental scientist at Knoxville. “Safety is our first priority, and we are cooperating with emergency responders who are working hard to get this fire under control.”

Interested members of the public can call (707) 944-5547 for updates on the closure. The message will be revised as more information becomes available.

The public can also monitor the status of the fire at www.fire.ca.gov/general/firemaps.php. Please note that on the webpage, Knoxville-Berryessa Road is referred to as Morgan Valley Road in the road closure section.

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Media Contacts:
Conrad Jones, Knoxville Wildlife Area, (707) 944-5544

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

CDFW Offers Upland Game Hunting and Waterfowl Clinics in Solano County

Duck hunting with dogThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education program is offering two advanced hunting clinics in Solano County in August.

“These clinics are designed to educate both new and experienced hunters in specific types of hunting and to provide the experience necessary to be an ethical and more successful hunter. You will learn about hunting techniques and how to apply them to become that successful hunter,” said Lt. Alan Gregory, CDFW Advanced Hunter Education Program Coordinator.

Upland Game Hunting Clinic: The Upland Game Hunting Clinic will be held on Saturday, Aug. 15 at the Hastings Island Hunting Preserve in Rio Vista. The clinic will include information about the history of pheasant, quail and chukar hunting in California, bird habitat, food and range, maps, equipment and hunting with or without a dog. There will be dog demonstrations with both pointers and flushers.

Waterfowl Hunting Clinic: The Waterfowl Hunting Clinic will be held on Saturday, Aug. 22 at Grizzly Island near Suisun. Topics will include hunter safety, decoy placement, blind design, ballistics, calling, duck identification and game care, as well as information about hunting on State and Federal Waterfowl Management Areas. The clinic is co-sponsored by the California Waterfowl Association and the Pacific Coast Hunter Education Association.

Registration Information: The cost for each clinic is $45. The clinic hours are: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Space is limited to 25 people, so please register early. To register or get more information, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/advanced or contact Lt. Alan Gregory at (916) 653-1235.

Although the clinics are sponsored by the Advanced Hunter Education program, participants of all skill levels (from beginner to advanced) are welcome. Clinics focus on the basics of hunting with the goal of developing ethical, conservation-minded, successful hunters.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Alan Gregory, CDFW Advanced Hunter Education, (916) 653-1235
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988
Kristi Matal, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-9811

SHARE Program Offers Big Game and Upland Game Hunts in Santa Barbara County

Jones Ranch
Jones Ranch

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program is offering hunting opportunities on two ranches in Santa Barbara County.

For the third year, Jones Ranch and Sleepy Creek Ranch will be offering fall hunts for deer, bear, turkey, quail and dove. These remote ranches in West Cuyama Valley encompass 1,000 acres between them, and will offer separate hunting opportunities. The terrain offers miles of trails through oak savannah, riparian, juniper-sage woodland, and chaparral habitats. The ranches are adjacent to both Bureau of Land Management land and the Los Padres National Forest, providing additional hunting opportunities.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply online. A $11.37 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, depending on the hunt. To apply for these hunts please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Online-Sales.

The SHARE Program 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 for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. 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 these and other SHARE hunting opportunities please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE.

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Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824