Tag Archives: hunting

General Hunting Seasons for Bear, Elk and Bighorn Opening Soon

Big game hunters throughout California are eagerly anticipating the 2018 general hunting seasons. While deer are by far the most frequently hunted big game species in California, many hunters also enjoy fair chase of bear, elk and bighorn. Some of the seasons for these species are already underway, but the majority will open over the next month. The upcoming general season opening and closing dates vary by zone and can be found by following the links below.

Hunting for wild pigs is growing in popularity and can be done year-round. Most seasons for pronghorn, another California big game species, concluded in August.

Californians enjoy some of the widest ranges of habitat and hunting conditions in the nation. While California has its fair share of privately owned land, there are vast swaths of national forest, timber lands, state wildlife areas and other lands accessible to the public that provide excellent hunting opportunities. CDFW administers public hunts on private lands through its SHARE Program. Other opportunities for access to private lands are available through the Private Lands Management Program.

A valid California hunting license and appropriate tag(s) for each zone and/or species pursued must be obtained before entering the field. There are still many deer tags available for purchase. Hunting license and tags can be purchased online or through a CDFW office or license sales agent.

California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course, pass a comprehensive equivalency test, or provide a valid hunter’s safety certificate before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Each year approximately 30,000 students complete the state’s hunter education course.

Hunters always have the responsibility to be familiar with state game laws before entering the field. All regulations can be found online.

Given the exceptionally dry conditions this year, it is even more important that everyone does their part to prevent wildfires. One less spark means one less wildfire. Learn more here.

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Media Contacts:
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-1829
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

General Deer Seasons Set to Open; Hunters Advised to Check Wildfire-Related Closures

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wants to remind deer hunters to check for wildfire-related closures before heading to their favorite hunting spots for the general deer season, which is set to open in many parts of the state Saturday, Sept. 15.

Deer season is already underway in California’s A and B4 zones along the coast and many coastal deer hunters have had to improvise and find new spots this season as a result of wildfire-related closures that upended hunting plans.

Please visit CDFW’s forest fire related closure page for information and resources.

The majority of California’s general deer hunting zones – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, D6 and D7 – open Saturday, Sept. 15, along with premium hunting zones X9a and X9b in Mono and Inyo counties along the eastern Sierra. Several other general deer hunting zones – D3, D4, D5, D8, D9 and D10 open the following week, on Saturday, Sept. 22, as does premium hunting zone X8 in Alpine County.

“California has experienced several very large wildfires this summer, many of which are in popular deer hunting zones,” said David Casady, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Deer Program. “Hunting will be challenging this year – particularly in the B zones and the northern parts of the A zone – but the range should respond positively and hunting should be productive in the next three to five years.”

California’s deer population is generally stable with small year-to-year fluctuations. Current estimates put the population at approximately 533,000 deer statewide. California hunters harvested 29,394 deer in 2017 with an overall hunter success rate of 16 percent.

Hunters are reminded that deer tag reporting is now mandatory – even for hunters who are unsuccessful or those who did not have a chance to hunt at all. CDFW has produced a video on how to properly complete, attach and report your deer tag.

California is phasing-in the use of nonlead ammunition for hunting which will be required for all wildlife harvest beginning July 1, 2019. While nonlead ammunition is currently not required for hunting deer in California in 2018 outside of the California condor range, if you will be hunting on a CDFW wildlife area or ecological reserve, nonlead ammunition is required. For more information, please see CDFW’s nonlead ammunition page.

Additional deer hunting information, including hunt zone descriptions, maps and special hunts, is available at CDFWs deer hunting page.

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Media Contacts:
David Casady, CDFW Deer Program, (916) 445-3705
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

Registration Now Open for Waterfowl Hunting Clinic in Merced County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education Program is offering a Waterfowl Hunting Clinic on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in Los Banos. The clinic hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and there is no cost to attend.

Hunters of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, will take something away from this clinic. Topics that will be covered include hunter safety, duck calling, decoy placement, blind design, ballistics, game care, regulations, and hunting opportunities available at state and federal waterfowl management areas.

The clinic’s lead instructor will be Lt. Shawn Olague of CDFW’s Hunter Education Program. Olague is a veteran wildlife officer and lifelong waterfowl hunter with years of experience hunting in the grasslands area around Los Banos.

Participants can register for the clinic online or contact Lt. Alan Gregory at alan.gregory@wildlife.ca.gov for more information.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Alan Gregory
, CDFW Law Enforcement, (209) 274-9923

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

California’s General Tree Squirrel Season to Open Sept. 8

The 2018-2019 general tree squirrel season will be open from Saturday, Sept. 8 through Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. Tree squirrels may be taken only in the open zone during the open season, from between one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. A map of the state’s tree squirrel hunt zones can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website, along with the full tree squirrel regulations.

Four types of tree squirrels are game species and can be hunted in California. The Western gray squirrel and the Douglas squirrel are both native to California while the Eastern fox squirrel and the Eastern gray squirrel are introduced and not native to the state. These tree squirrels can be hunted in the open zone during the open season under authority of a hunting license in California. No other validations are required.

A fifth species of tree squirrel, the Northern Flying Squirrel, is not a game species and may not be taken. Flying squirrels are small, native tree squirrels that are seldom encountered due to their nocturnal nature and preference for mature forest habitats with complex canopy structure.

Tree squirrel population levels fluctuate from year to year based on prevailing weather conditions and the annual production of nuts, acorns and seeds for forage.

“Given favorable mast (acorn) production years in 2016 and 2017, we anticipate that population levels and opportunities for hunting should be good in 2018,” said Matt Meshriy, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Upland Game Program. “We continue to see numbers of invasive Eastern fox squirrels and Eastern gray squirrels increasing as these species have expanded their range in and adjacent to urban centers. The native Western gray squirrels and Douglas squirrels are often displaced where they overlap with invasive eastern species, but the native squirrels are better adapted to California’s forest and woodland habitats.”

In recent years, approximately 10,000 to 15,000 hunters have reported hunting tree squirrels annually and their combined statewide bag has ranged from 50,000 to 75,000.

National forests provide some of the best opportunity to hunt tree squirrels in California. Bureau of Land Management lands and CDFW wildlife areas may also provide opportunity for squirrel hunting. Please note that nonlead shot is required when taking tree squirrels and all resident small game mammals anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information, please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 322-6709
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

A Saturday First Dove Season Opener Will Generate Big Numbers

The 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 Saturday, Sept. 1 through Saturday, Sept. 15 statewide, followed by a second hunt period, Saturday, Nov. 10 through Monday, Dec. 24.

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 California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) lands. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the 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.

Following two years of increased precipitation in northern California, abundant forage and water availability has provided mourning doves with the basics for a productive nesting season. Early banding data show high numbers of hatch year birds reported around the state. Mourning doves are generally short-lived and can respond with high reproductive success given ideal habitat conditions. This, paired with a Saturday opening day, should draw many hopeful dove hunters to the fields.

Dove hunting is 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 upland game bird stamp (junior license holders are not required to have an upland game bird stamp) 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 or when hunting in desert areas.

Many dove hunters like to position themselves in a known flyway for doves. Flyways can run to and from roost sites, water, food sources or gravel. Doves are usually taken by pass shooting along 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 be aware of include the following:

  • Shoot time for doves is one half hour before sunrise to sunset.
  • All hunters, including junior hunting license holders,  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 the responsibility of every hunter to know and follow all laws, including identifying game species.

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.

Full 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