Tag Archives: upland game

Applications for December Apprentice Hunts and Workshop Due on Nov. 18

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a number of special hunt opportunities for young hunters, women, families and mobility-impaired hunters this fall and winter. All hunt opportunities are now listed on CDFW’s website. Below are the December hunts – and one workshop – with application due dates in the latter half of November:

Due by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18:

Merced County: A total of eight pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held over the weekends of Dec. 5-6 and Dec. 12-13. Each day will have a morning and an afternoon hunt that can accommodate 25 hunters each; all afternoon hunts are junior-required.

Fresno County: Two junior-only pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held on Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Mendota Wildlife Area. Each hunt (morning and afternoon) can accommodate 25 hunters.

Kern County: Two wild quail and chukar hunts will be held the weekend of Dec. 5-6 at the Canebrake Ecological Reserve. The Saturday hunt is a junior-required hunt, while the Sunday hunt is a general apprentice hunt. Each can accommodate 10 hunters.

Ventura County: An upland game workshop for apprentice hunters will be held on Saturday, Dec. 12 at the Boy Scouts of America Camp Three Falls in Frazier Park. Participants will learn about shotgun safety and range, shotgun cleaning, proper game care cleaning and transportation methods and how to hunt with dogs. This workshop will accommodate 12 hunters.

Los Angeles County: Two family pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held at Peace Valley on Saturday, Dec. 5 (early morning and late morning), and one junior-only hunt will be held on Sunday, Dec. 6. The Saturday family hunts can accommodate 18 hunters each and the Sunday junior hunt can accommodate 12 hunters.

Riverside County: One junior-required pen-raised pheasant hunt will be held over the weekend of Dec. 5-6 at Robinson Farms. This hunt allows junior hunters to hunt on consecutive days (alone on the first day and with up to three guests on the second day). Applications will be drawn to fill the hunt quota of 100 totals for Sunday; junior hunters who are drawn will also be allowed to participate in the Saturday hunt.

Riverside County: One pen-raised pheasant hunt will be held on Sunday, Dec. 13 at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area. This hunt can accommodate 65 hunters.

Imperial County: One family pen-raised pheasant hunt will be held on Saturday, Dec. 12 at the Imperial Wildlife Area. This hunt can accommodate 35 hunters.

Please note that many of these opportunities will be held on  state wildlife areas or ecological reserves. As of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on these properties. For more information please see CDFW’s nonlead ammunition page.

CDFW’s Upland Game Bird Special Hunts are intended for beginning hunters or those with limited experience. Apprentice applicants must have successfully completed a hunter education course and possess a valid 2015-2016 California junior hunting license. Adult hunters (18 or older) must also have an upland game bird validation. A non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older is required to accompany all junior hunt participants.

Proper clothing and safety gear, including blaze orange, is required for department-sponsored hunts. All hunts include gun safety review, easy-to-hunt topography, a high ratio of volunteers to hunters, experienced dog handlers and clay shooting for practice.

Hunters can find more information and apply for any of these hunts online at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/DFGSpecialHunts/Default.aspx. There is no charge to apply. Please note that additional hunts in January and February are listed on the website and are also open for registration.

New hunters can use their Hunter Education Certificate number for priority registration for apprentice hunts. Applicants with priority will be automatically placed in a hunt before the random drawing takes place.

The full upland game bird hunting regulations and a summary for 2015-2016 can be found on CDFW’s website.

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Media Contacts:
Linda Sandoval, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 445-3452
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

General Pheasant Hunting Opener Nears

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 have been reduced on some wildlife areas, opportunities are still available on state-managed lands.

The 2015 general pheasant season will open Saturday, Nov. 14 and extend through Sunday, Dec. 27. For 2015, 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 limit.

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 1990’s. Total pheasant harvest on public areas in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys declined from a high of 4,828 roosters in 1998 to 1,120 last year.

“Wild pheasant populations have declined in the Central Valley due to a number of factors – changing agricultural practices and loss of upland habitats combined with increased use of insecticides and predation,” said Scott Gardner, Upland Game Bird Coordinator for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “There are still enough pheasants to sustain a rooster-only hunting season, but the numbers look nothing like they used to.”

In response to the continued decline, CDFW is entering the third year of working with Pheasants Forever and the United States Geological Survey to implement pheasant population assessments and identify factors limiting their populations to develop potential management actions. Initial findings were presented at a pheasant workshop earlier this year and information on the workshop and ongoing research can be found 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 (Little Dry Creek, Llano Seco and Howard Slough Units) and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays, and only the first Monday (Nov. 16) during the pheasant season. 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) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only during the pheasant season. Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge, Freitas Unit will be open for pheasant hunting on the first Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the pheasant season (Nov. 14-16). The Kesterson blind area will be open for pheasant hunting on the first Monday of the pheasant season (Nov. 16).
  • 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-serve 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.

Upland game hunters are reminded that as of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on all CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves. 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 2015-2016 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).

For more information on specific hunting opportunities, hunters should contact the CDFW office in their region and check the CDFW website.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 445-5545
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Lands Program, (916) 445-1829
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Applications for Upcoming Game Bird Apprentice Hunts Due in October

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a number of special hunt opportunities for young hunters, women, families and mobility-impaired hunters this fall and winter. All hunt opportunities are now listed on CDFW’s website. Below are the hunts with October application due dates:

Wednesday, Oct. 14:

  • Lassen County: A women’s pen-raised pheasant hunt will be held Saturday, Nov. 7 at the Ash Creek Wildlife Area. This is an afternoon hunt that can accommodate 30 hunters, with a maximum hunting party size of two.
  • Sutter County: Four pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held on Oct. 31, Nov. 1, Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 (one hunt each morning) at the Nelson Slough Unit of the Feather River Wildlife Area. These are combined women’s and junior’s apprentice opportunities. Each hunt can accommodate 25 hunters. (Note: The deadline for juniors to apply for the Nov. 7-8 hunts is Oct. 21.)

Wednesday, Oct. 21:

  • Shasta County: Four junior pheasant pen-raised hunts will be held the weekend of Nov. 7-8 (one morning and afternoon hunt each day) at the Mouth of Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area. Each hunt can accommodate 15 hunters.
  • Lassen County: Two junior pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held Saturday, Nov. 7 and Sunday, Nov. 8 at the Ash Creek Wildlife Area. Each is a morning hunt that can accommodate 25 hunters, with a maximum hunting party size of two.
  • Plumas County: Two junior pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7 in the Sierra Valley at the Green Gulch Ranch. Each hunt (morning and afternoon) can accommodate 20 hunters. Dogs will be provided.
  • Fresno County: Two junior pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held on Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Mendota Wildlife Area. Each hunt (morning and afternoon) can accommodate 25 hunters, with a maximum hunting party size of two.
  • Riverside County: One junior pen-raised pheasant hunt will be held Sunday, Nov. 15 at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area. This is a morning hunt that can accommodate 65 hunters.
  • Imperial County: One junior pen-raised pheasant hunt will be held Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Imperial Wildlife Area. This is a morning hunt that can accommodate 25 hunters. Dogs will be provided, or hunters may bring their own.

Wednesday, Oct. 28:

  • Tehama County: Two junior pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Sacramento River Bend, south of Redding. This land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Each hunt (morning and afternoon) can accommodate 30 hunters.
  • Butte County: A family pheasant hunt will be held Sunday, Nov. 15 at the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, Little Dry Creek Unit. This is a morning wild bird hunt that can accommodate 30 hunters.
  • Madera County: Several pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21 and Sunday, Nov. 22 near Chowchilla. The Saturday hunt is open to mobility-impaired hunters and two hunts on Sunday (morning and afternoon) are open to families. These hunts can accommodate a total of 75 hunters.
  • Kern County: Two family pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held Saturday, Nov. 14, and two women’s/juniors’ pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held Sunday, Nov. 15 on private land near the city of Bakersfield. The Saturday family hunts (morning and afternoon) can accommodate 100 hunters total, and the Sunday women’s/junior hunts (morning and afternoon) can accommodate 50 hunters total. Please note that successful adult applicants will be charged an $18 fee the day of the hunt (there is no fee for juniors).
  • Los Angeles County: Two family pen-raised pheasant hunts will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21 at Peace Valley. Each hunt (early morning and mid-morning) can accommodate 18 hunters, with a maximum party size of four. Hunting dogs will be provided, or hunters may bring their own.

Please note that many of these opportunities will be held on state wildlife areas or ecological reserves. As of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting upland game birds on these properties. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

CDFW’s Upland Game Bird Special Hunts are intended for beginning hunters or those with limited experience. All hunts include gun safety review, easy-to-hunt topography, a high ratio of volunteers to hunters, experienced dog handlers and clay shooting for practice.

Hunters can find more information and apply for any of these hunts online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting. There is no charge to apply. Please note that additional hunts in November, December and January are listed on the website and are also open for registration. Only the hunts with applications due in October are listed above.

New hunters can use their Hunter Education Certificate number for priority registration for apprentice hunts. Applicants with priority will be automatically placed in a hunt before the random drawing takes place.

Hunters must carry a current California hunting license. Adult hunters (18 or older) must also have an upland game bird validation. Proper clothing and safety gear, including blaze orange, is required for department-sponsored hunts.

The full upland game bird hunting regulations and a summary for 2015-2016 can be found on CDFW’s website.

October Brings More Openers for Upland Game Birds Throughout the State

While some upland game bird hunting opportunities started in September, the fall hunting season gains momentum in the coming weeks, with the early pheasant archery season opening on Oct. 10 and quail, chukar and snipe opening statewide on Oct. 17.

“The hot summers of California’s mediterranean climate finally give way to fall temperatures in October, which is a welcome relief for hunters,” said Levi Souza, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Upland Game Program. “It’s shaping up to be a pretty good season for most species.”

The early archery-only pheasant season will be open from Oct. 10 to Nov. 1 (the late season will run from Dec. 28 to Jan. 24). The daily bag limit is two pheasants for the first two days of the season and three pheasants per day afterward. A hunter’s daily archery bag limit may not include more than one female pheasant. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit.

Oct. 17 marks the much-anticipated opening of the general quail statewide. All zones will remain open until Jan. 31, 2016. The daily bag limit for quail is 10 and the possession limit is triple the daily bag.

Souza noted that quail hunters in particular may find the fall hunting season to be a good one. “While the ongoing drought has likely impacted some quail populations, our regional quail surveys showed decent reproduction this year. Anecdotally, spring and summer rains were particularly good for mountain quail reproduction at higher elevations. So despite the dry conditions, the quail hunting season should be a good one in most places this year,” he said.

Also opening on Oct. 17 are the general statewide seasons for chukar and snipe. For chukar, the daily bag limit is six and for snipe the daily bag limit is eight. The possession limit is triple the daily bag for both species.

More information on hunting quail, chukar and snipe can be found on CDFW’s website.

Upland game bird hunters must carry a current California hunting license and, if the hunter is 18 years or older, an upland game bird validation.

Please note that as of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting upland game birds on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition webpage.

Snipe Season Opener Approaches: It’s Not Just a Practical Joke

If you always thought snipe hunting was just a rite-of-passage prank for adolescents around the campfire, you may be surprised to learn that there is a real hunting season coming up for this tasty game bird. The general hunting season for snipe will be open statewide from Oct. 17, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2016. The daily bag limit is eight and the possession limit is triple the bag limit.

“Snipe hunting is a great pastime for hunters who are up for a challenge,” said Karen Fothergill, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Upland Game Program. “They are easily the state’s most overlooked game bird, in part because they’re extremely difficult to hunt. Being successful requires knowledge of their habitat and quick identification followed up with a fast and accurate shot.”

In fact, the word “sniper” originally meant a hunter that was skilled at shooting the notoriously wily bird.

Wilson’s snipe is a plump brown-and-buff migratory shorebird with short, stocky legs and a long bill. They can be found throughout the state, but are elusive and hard to spot when on the ground (thus the likely origin of the campfire game). Snipe are ground-foraging birds, frequently found probing muddy grounds for earthworms and invertebrates. They fly in a fast zig-zag pattern and in the spring they make a distinctive whistling sound (called “winnowing”) with their tails.

Snipe are most frequently found along the muddy edges of ponds, damp fields and other wet, open habitats. Areas with low vegetation provide adequate camouflage and cover for snipe, but they can often be spotted by glassing the water’s edge with binoculars.

Because of their habitat, waterfowl hunters are most likely to encounter snipe in the field and may find the bird to be a nice addition to their daily take.

In marshy bogs or wet meadows, hunters can use a pointing dog to stalk snipe, or can use the walk-up or pass shooting methods. A light upland gun with an open choke is recommended, with #7 shot. Snipe tend to flush into the wind, so hunters may have more luck if they walk with the wind at their back. Though they are flocking birds, snipe tend to flush as singles or pairs. They almost never fly in a straight line, making excellent hand-eye coordination a must for a successful hunt.

“One thing that’s especially important to realize is that snipe keep company with many other shorebird species that are not legal game,” Fothergill noted. “Be able to quickly identify your target to ensure you’re not firing on a plover or other non-game species.”

While snipe have a wide wingspan, they are smaller than quail and it may take several to make a single meal. They are often roasted whole or breasted out and cooked with butter or bacon. Hunters who enjoy eating dove or duck will likely love the taste of snipe.

Although finding a snipe hunting guide at summer camp is easy, it might be tough for a new hunter to find one during the season without getting served a side dish of puns and jokes.

Please note that as of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting upland game birds on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

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