California Hunting

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Written by:  Devn Schumacher 

May, 10 2021

In the United States, only 2 states have more landed size areas for games and wildlife than California. The state provides various opportunities for hunters. Some residents of the state take hunting as a recreational sport to spend more time with folks. The California Game and Fish Department also encourages hunting because it helps with the conservation of the ecosystem.

California Hunting Regulation

Like other states in the USA, hunting in California is highly regulated to make sure that wildlife does not go into extinction soon. There are many laws and regulations provided in the state, and it is important that hunters stick to them. Some of these regulations include the following:

Use of Lead Projectiles to Take Wildlife

California Fish and Game commission prohibits the use of lead projectiles or any ammunition that contains such, for the taking of games and wildlife in the state.

According to this regulation:

  • A projectile is described as shots, pellets, bullets, slugs, or any other device released with force from a firearm.
  • Non-lead ammunition is any form of centerfire, muzzle loading, or shotgun ammunition that contains projectiles.
  • This regulation also states that it is a prohibition for non-lead projectiles to weigh more than a percent of lead.

Shooting Time

This regulation states that when the California Game and Fish Commission provides a shooting period for the hunting of certain games and times, it is specific to the hunter's location. This implies that sunrise and sunset references depend on the hunter’s location.

Pursuing Games and Wildlife with Vehicles

It is unlawful to chase, herd or pursue wildlife and games with any type of motor vehicle, regardless of if it is a land vehicle, motorboat, aircraft, or snowmobile. This law also prohibits hunters from using a motorized vehicle, aircraft, or similar flying devices to find or assist in the finding of games and wildlife within a duration of 48 hours prior to and after hunting a big game in an area.

Exceptions to this law are made for an airboat, sailboat, or motorboat that has been turned off and is only being propelled with a paddle or rests at anchor.

There is also an exception for the use of these vehicles by the owner of land or a tenant in a private property to pursue wildlife and games in a bid to prevent them from causing damages.

You can be exempted from making use of vehicles to hunt if you get a license from California Fish and Game Commission.

Harassment of Animals

It is unlawful to harass games or pursue wildlife and games while hunting in California. Harassment in this regulation is a deliberate act to alter the activities of games and wildlife such as eating, breeding, and housings. An exception to this regulation is made for landowners or tenants of a private property that pursues wildlife to prevent any kind of damage on the property.

Feeding Big Animals

It is a prohibition to feed big game or mammals in California, with exceptions for hunters that have permits from California Fish and Game Commission.

Possession of Big Games, Mammals, and Furbearers

It is a prohibition to possess or hold a migratory bird past the period of time provided by the game commission in the state. Also, you may not take these games beyond the hunting limit provided.

The possession of mountain lions in California must only be under the regulations of the permit issued by the commission for the taking of such a game.

This regulation also states that all big games, mammals, bird games that are captured by hunting or trapping in California and under the possession of a hunter will be immediately killed and calculated as a portion of the bag limit for that hunting season.

Possession of Bird Games

It is a prohibition for a hunter to possess a bird above the bag limit defined for the bird game. An exception to this regulation is made for storage, transportation, shipping, and cleaning services, where someone can carry and possess birds that are taken lawfully by other hunters in the state.

However, in situations like this, it is compulsory for the games to carry a tag that contains the details of the hunter.

Also, it is compulsory for all birds taken in California to have their heads and feathered wings in place. An exception to this is made for birds that have been placed in a personal abode or are being prepared for consumption. However, it is compulsory for doves to have their feathered wing attached.

For the possession of migratory birds, the limit allowed is one possession for an individual hunter in California.

Using Remote Computers to Hunt

The Game and Fish Commission in California Prohibits the use of any kind of remote computerized device to hunt in the state.

It is a prohibition to develop a computerized hunting site for the remote hunting of games and wildlife within the state. Computer remote hunting according to this regulation refers to using any type of device or computer that can be controlled remotely. This includes technology, equipment, software. It also covers hunting equipment like archeries, firearms, and other weapons that can kill games and wildlife remotely.

Taking Games and Wildlife with Baits

It is a prohibition to hunt resident game birds and mammals in the state with bait. The distance provided for this is within 400 yards of the area that is baited. According to this regulation baited area refers to any area that salts, grains, wheat, or any other type of feed have been placed, scattered, or distributed. Such area will remain a baited area until a period of 10 days when the feed has been completely removed.

Night Hunting in California

In counties such as Monterey and San Benito, it is unlawful to hunt within the periods of one and a half hours post-sunset and prior to sunrise.

Hunting with Light

The use of lights for any type of voltage is allowed to hunt fur-bearing games in the state, However, there is a prohibition for the use of light to hunt at night during general season for deer.

California Hunting License Permits and Tags

License, permits, and tags issued for hunting in California include the following:

Resident Hunting License

This license is only valid for residents of the state, and the age requirement to purchase the license is 16 years old. The license is used for the taking of mammals and bird games in the state and it costs $52.66.

Non-Residents Hunting License California

This license is valid for nonresident hunters that want to take birds and mammals in California. The age limit to apply for the permit is 16 years old and it costs $183.60.

Junior Hunting License

A junior hunting license can be purchased by both residents and non-residents of California. The age limit for this license is 16 years old, and it can be used for the taking of mammals and birds. It costs $14.04.

One Day Non-Resident Hunting License

This is a California non-resident permit that is valid for one day. Holders of this permit can take migratory game boards in California. It costs $25.10.

Two Day Non-Resident Hunting License

Just like the one-day nonresident hunting license, this license is valid for two days and can be used for the taking of migratory game birds, small game. Even though you can use this license to take certain wildlife, some of them may require tags. It costs $52.66.

Disabled Veteran Reduced Free Hunting License

This license is valid for residents and nonresidents that are honorable discharged veterans with a service-connected disability of 50%. After veterans qualify for this license for the first time, they will have access to purchase it from anywhere it is being sold in the nation. The price for this license varies. It costs $7.98 in the game commission offices and $8.38 when purchased from licensed agents.

Recovering Serviced Member Reduced Free Hunting License

This license can be purchased by recovering service members, who are members of the US armed force or national guard that are in the process of recovering from any treatment or illness acquired while in line of duty. When you qualify for this license for the first time, you can then buy it anywhere it is being purchased in the USA. It costs $7.98 in the game commission offices and $8.38 when purchased from licensed agents

Duplicate Hunting License

This is the duplicate license sold to those that lose their original license, and it costs $7.98.

Hunting Tags in California

Hunting tags available in California and their prices include the following

Bear Tags

It costs $27.82 for junior residents, $51.02 for residents, and $325.40 for nonresident

Elk Tag

It costs $22.94 for junior residents, $498.65 for resident, and $1,526.60 for nonresident

Pronghorn Antelope Tag

It costs $22.94 for junior residents, $167.66 for resident, and $513.60 nonresident

Bighorn Sheep Tag

It costs $478.95 for residents, and $1,774.90 for nonresidents.

Wild Pig Tag

It costs $25.10 for residents and $84.50 for nonresidents.

Asides from these tags, there are others that are only valid for drawing applications in California.

California Fishing License Permits and Tags

Fishing licenses, permits, and tags available in California include the following:

Resident Sport Fishing License

This fishing license can be purchased by only residents of California that are at least 16 years old. It costs $52.66.

Non Resident Sport Fishing License

This is a California out-of-state fishing license for non-residents that are 16 years old or more. It costs $142.02.

Reduced Fee Sport Fishing License for Disabled Veterans

This fishing license is for both residents and non-residents that are honorable discharged veterans with a service-connected disability of 50%. After veterans qualify for this license for the first time, they will have access to purchase it from anywhere it is being sold in the nation. The price for this license varies. It costs $7.98 in the game commission offices and $8.38 when purchased from licensed agents.

Reduced Fee Sport Fishing License for Recovering Service Member

This fishing license can be purchased by recovering service members, who are members of the US armed force or national guard that are in the process of recovering from any treatment or illness acquired while in line of duty. When you qualify for this license for the first time, you can then buy it anywhere it is being purchased in the USA. It costs $7.98 in the game commission offices and $8.38 when purchased from licensed agents.

Reduced Fee Sport Fishing License for Low-Income Earners

Residents of California that are low-income earners and at least 65 years old can purchase this permit. However, there are specific income requirements earned on a yearly basis to qualify for this fishing license. It costs $7.98.

Free Sport Fishing License for Low-Income Americans

This license is available for anyone that is a native of the USA and a resident of California who is not financially capable of purchasing the state sport fishing license. This license is free of charge.

Free Sport Fishing License for Disabled

This fishing license is valid for only those that are mobility impaired, blind, and disabled. The license is free of charge.

One-day Sport Fishing License

This license will only be valid for one day. It is available for both residents and non-residents of the state. It costs $17.02.

Two-day Sport Fishing License

This fishing license allows residents and non-residents in the state to fish for two days consecutively. It costs $26.49.

Ten-day Sport Fishing License

This license is valid for ten days consecutively, and it costs $52.66.

Lifetime Fishing Licenses

There are 2 types of Lifetime Fishing Licenses in California.

The first one is issued to residents based on age and the four age categories are:

  • Ages 0-9: $579.25
  • Ages 10-39: $946.75
  • Ages 40-61: $853.00
  • Ages 62 and above: $579.25

The second life lifetime permit is the Fishing Privilege Package that costs $391.50.

Some licenses are also issued in California based on the species of fish that is to be taken. These types of licenses are called Validation and Report Cards.

California Hunting Season 2020/2021

California offers an abundance of game and wildlife and it is quite an adventurous state for hunting in the USA. The department for fish and wildlife defines the hunting seasons in a year and the bag limits for each specie

The 2020/21 hunting season for various wildlife in California includes the following:

California Deer Hunting Season

  • General Season (10th of August to 10th of November)
  • Archery Season (11th of July to 27th of September)

California Bear Hunting Season

  • Archery Season (15th of August to 6th of September)

California Pronghorn Hunting Season

  • General Season (8th of August to 13th of September)
  • Apprentice Hunts Season (22nd of August to 30th of August)

California Elk Season

  • General Season (25th of July to 1st of November)

Elk hunting season in California is usually between August and November, but there is usually a variation in regions and zones. In some areas, Elks hunting is no longer allowed because the military makes use of the land for training.

California Desert Bighorn Hunting Season

  • General Season (15th of August to 27th of September and 5th of December to 7th of February)

Bighorn hunting season in California is usually between the months of August and February, but there is usually a variation based on regions and seasons. Some parts of the state have very high altitudes which means that hunters will have to take more precautions.

California Small Games Hunting Season

Tree Squirrel Hunting Seasons

  • Archery Season (1st of August to 11th of September)
  • General Season (12th of September to 31st of January)

Rabbits and Hares Hunting Seasons

  • General Season (1st of July to 31st of January)
  • Falconry Season (1st of February to 21st of March)
  • Jackrabbit (open season)

It is important to note that various areas in a zone can have different start and end dates to a season. Also, there can be a variation for dates in a season based on the method of taking games and wildlife.

Also, regulations and bag limits in California will vary based on hunting season and the game that is being taken.

California Wildlife Game and Fish

Wildlife and games available in California include the following:

California Mountain Lions Hunting

Mountain lions are common in California, their population is high, and they are one of the stable games in the state. They are also referred to as specially protected wildlife. Mountain lions inhabit deserts and humid forested areas of California.

California Bobcat Hunting

Bobcats are common predators found in the Northern part of America. They are different from normal household cats and are almost twice their size.

California Coyote Hunting

Coyotes are another common predator found in California. They are found in almost every part of the state except major cosmopolitans’ regions.

California Fox Hunting

The species of fox common in California is the red fox. They are well dispersed all over the state as well as other northern parts of America. Foxes are very smart games and are quite challenging games for hunters.

California Wolves Hunting

Initially, wolves have been extinct in California, but in the past few years, they have to return to the state through human dispersal from other states in the USA. Gray wolves are the most common species in the state

California Black Bears Hunting

The population of Black Bears in California today is about 40,000, and there are two species common in the state, namely the northwestern black bear and California black bear. Some national parks in California provide access for the taking of bears. Examples are the sequoia and the Yosemite National Parks.

California Deer Hunting

Mule deer is indigenous to the Northern part of America, including California. These deer get the name from its eras that resemble the mule’s ear.

California Elk Hunting

Elks are one of the largest deer species found in North America and California. They are also a great hunting choice since they are one of the largest mammals in the state.

California Bighorn Sheep Hunting

There are various populations of bighorn sheep in California and they inhabit the snowy heights and arid regions of the state. The two most occurring species of bighorn sheep in the state are desert bighorn and the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.

California Waterfowl Hunting

To hunt waterfowls in California you must obtain a permit. The issuance of such a permit is by random drawings.

California Wild Pig Hunting

Hunters need both licenses and tags to take wild pigs in the state. The California Game and Fish Department does not define any bag or possession limits for the hunting of wild pigs.

California Rabbit Hunting

Rabbits and hares are some of the most hunted small games in California. The board regulates rabbit hunting with a bag limit of 5 animals and a possession limit of 10 animals.

California National Parks

There are nine national parks in California, and this is more than any state in the USA. The national parks in California include the following:

Redwood National and State Parks.

  • Yosemite National Park.
  • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
  • Death Valley National Park.
  • Joshua Tree National Park.
  • Channel Island National Park.
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park.
  • Pinnacles National Park.

California Shooting Ranges

Some of the shooting ranges in California include the following:

  • LAX Firing Range – Inglewood
  • California Tactical Academy – Piru
  • Angeles Shooting Ranges – Terrace
  • The Los Angeles Gun Club – Los Angele
  • Los Altos Rod and Gun Club – Los Gatos
  • Sacramento Gun Club – Sacramento
  • Oak tree Gun Club – NewHall
  • Lytle Creek Firing Line – Lytle Creek
  • On-Target Indoor Shooting Range – Laguna Niguel
  • Mike Raahauge Shooting Enterprises – Corona

California Hunting Land for Sale and Lease

Hunting lands for sale in California include the following:

  • N3 Cattle Company Santa Clara County, CA 50,500 +/- Acres
  • Arnerich Ranch Santa Clara County, CA 2,928 +/- Acres
  • Vineyard Heights Santa Clara County, CA 15 +/- Acre

Hunting lands for lease in California are:

  • Javelina, bear, predators, bighorn, antelope in Alameda 2000 acres surrounded by wilderness.
  • Mule and Deer land in Shasta, 1,700 acres.
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