California Hunting

California Hunting

In the United States, few states can rival California when it comes to the vast land areas designated for games and wildlife. The state’s diverse landscapes and ecosystems provide excellent opportunities for hunters, making it a popular destination for both residents and non-residents seeking outdoor recreational adventures.

However, hunting in California is highly regulated to ensure the preservation and sustainability of the state’s wildlife. This article will delve into the various hunting regulations and licenses in California and shed light on the state’s rich game and wildlife offerings.

California Hunting Safety Course

All first-time hunting license buyers in California, regardless of age, must complete a California Hunter Education exam. This involves a minimum 6-hour class and test on firearms safety, regulations, ethics, wildlife management, and other topics.

California Hunting Regulation

Hunting in California is governed by an array of laws and regulations to protect the state’s wildlife and ecosystem. These regulations are essential to maintain the balance between hunting and conservation. Let’s explore some of the key regulations:

Use of Lead Projectiles to Take Wildlife

The California Fish and Game Commission strictly prohibits the use of lead projectiles or any ammunition containing lead for hunting games and wildlife by following the gun laws of the state. This regulation aims to prevent lead poisoning in wildlife and maintain the health of the ecosystem.

Shooting Time

The hunting seasons in California are carefully determined by the Game and Fish Commission. The shooting time specified for hunting certain games and wildlife varies depending on the hunter’s location. Hunters need to abide by these specific shooting periods to ensure the conservation of species.

Pursuing Games and Wildlife with Vehicles

Hunting wildlife and games with any type of motor vehicle, such as land vehicles, motorboats, aircraft, or snowmobiles, is strictly forbidden. Hunters are also prohibited from using motorized vehicles or aircraft within 48 hours before and after hunting big game in an area. Exceptions are made for certain vehicles used for the prevention of damages caused by wildlife on private property.

Harassment of Animals

Deliberately altering the activities of games and wildlife, such as eating, breeding, or housing, is considered harassment and is strictly unlawful. However, this regulation allows landowners or tenants of private property to pursue wildlife to prevent damages.

Feeding Big Animals

Feeding big game or mammals in California is prohibited unless hunters have obtained permits from the California Fish and Game Commission. Feeding wildlife can interfere with their natural behavior and endanger their survival.

See also  California Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW)

Possession of Games and Wildlife

Hunters are not allowed to possess migratory birds beyond the specified time provided by the Game Commission. Additionally, the possession of mountain lions is allowed only under specific permits issued by the commission.

Using Remote Computers to Hunt

Using any form of remote computerized device to hunt games and wildlife is strictly prohibited in California. This regulation aims to maintain the fair chase principle in hunting.

Taking Games and Wildlife with Baits

Hunting resident game birds and mammals with bait is not allowed within 400 yards of the baited area. This regulation helps prevent unnatural hunting practices and ensures ethical hunting.

Night Hunting in California

Night hunting is prohibited in certain counties, such as Monterey and San Benito, to protect both hunters and wildlife.

Hunting with Light

While using lights for hunting fur-bearing games is allowed, using lights to hunt deer during the general season is strictly prohibited.

California Hunting License Permits and Tags

To legally hunt in California, hunters must obtain the appropriate licenses, permits, and tags. Here are some of the essential licenses and permits available:

Resident Hunting License

This license is exclusively for California residents and allows the taking of mammals and bird games. It is available to individuals aged 16 and above and costs $52.66.

Non-Residents Hunting License California

Non-residents can apply for this license to hunt birds and mammals in California. The minimum age requirement for this permit is 16 years old, and it costs $183.60.

Junior Hunting License

Both residents and non-residents can purchase a junior hunting license, provided they are at least 16 years old. It permits the taking of mammals and birds and costs $14.04.

One-Day Non-Resident Hunting License

This one-day non-resident hunting license allows individuals to take migratory game birds in California and costs $25.10.

Two-Day Non-Resident Hunting License

This license, valid for two days, permits the taking of migratory game birds and small game. It costs $52.66.

Disabled Veteran Reduced Free Hunting License

Honorable discharged veterans with a 50% service-connected disability can obtain this license at a reduced cost of $7.98 from game commission offices or $8.38 from licensed agents.

Recovering Serviced Member Reduced Free Hunting License

Recovering service members in the process of recovering from service-related injuries or illnesses can purchase this license for $7.98 from game commission offices or $8.38 from licensed agents.

See also  California Guns Laws

Duplicate Hunting License

For those who lose their original hunting license, a duplicate license is available for $7.98.

Hunting Tags in California

Hunting tags are required for specific game species. Here are some of the hunting tags available in California:

  • Bear Tags: Junior residents pay $27.82, residents pay $51.02, and non-residents pay $325.40.
  • Elk Tag: Junior residents pay $22.94, residents pay $498.65, and non-residents pay $1,526.60.
  • Pronghorn Antelope Tag: Junior residents pay $22.94, residents pay $167.66, and non-residents pay $513.60.
  • Bighorn Sheep Tag: Residents pay $478.95, and non-residents pay $1,774.90.
  • Wild Pig Tag: Residents pay $25.10, and non-residents pay $84.50.

In addition to these tags, some tags are only available through drawing applications.

California Hunting Season 2020/2021

California offers an array of hunting seasons for different wildlife species throughout the year. Here are some of the 2020/21 hunting seasons:

  • California Deer Hunting Season: General Season (August 10 – November 10), Archery Season (July 11 – September 27).
  • California Bear Hunting Season: Archery Season (August 15 – September 6).
  • California Pronghorn Hunting Season: General Season (August 8 – September 13), Apprentice Hunts Season (August 22 – August 30).
  • California Elk Season: General Season (July 25 – November 1).
  • California Desert Bighorn Hunting Season: General Season (August 15 – September 27 and December 5 – February 7).

California Wildlife Game and Fish

California boasts a diverse array of wildlife and games available for hunting, including:

  • Mountain Lions
  • Bobcats
  • Coyotes
  • Foxes
  • Wolves
  • Black Bears
  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Bighorn Sheep
  • Waterfowl
  • Wild Pigs
  • Rabbits and Hares

California National Parks

California is home to nine national parks, offering picturesque landscapes and abundant wildlife. Some of the prominent national parks include:

  • Redwood National and State Parks
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Channel Islands National Park
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Pinnacles National Park

California Shooting Ranges

California provides various shooting ranges for enthusiasts to practice their shooting skills. Some popular shooting ranges include:

  • LAX Firing Range – Inglewood
  • California Tactical Academy – Piru
  • Angeles Shooting Ranges – Terrace
  • The Los Angeles Gun Club – Los Angeles
  • Los Altos Rod and Gun Club – Los Gatos

California Hunting Land for Sale and Lease

For those interested in owning or leasing hunting land in California, various properties are available, such as:

  • 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 +/- Acres)
See also  California Gun Permit Laws

For hunting leases, hunters can find properties suitable for specific games, such as javelina, bear, predators, bighorn, and antelope in Alameda covering 2000 acres surrounded by wilderness. Additionally, mule and deer land in Shasta covering 1,700 acres is also available.


California offers a diverse and rich hunting experience for enthusiasts from around the world. However, hunters must adhere to the state’s regulations to ensure the preservation and sustainability of its wildlife. With its vast hunting lands, abundant wildlife, and picturesque national parks, California remains a top choice for hunters seeking thrilling outdoor adventures.


Q1: Is hunting allowed in California national parks?

While California boasts nine national parks, hunting is generally not allowed within these protected areas. National parks prioritize the preservation and conservation of wildlife, making hunting activities prohibited.

Q2: Are there restrictions on the types of firearms allowed for hunting in California?

Yes, California has specific regulations regarding the types of firearms allowed for hunting. Hunters must comply with state laws and restrictions on firearm usage during hunting seasons.

Q3: Can non-residents apply for California hunting licenses?

Yes, non-residents can apply for hunting licenses in California. However, they must meet the age requirements and pay the designated fees to obtain the necessary permits.

Q4: Are there any special permits required for hunting endangered species in California?

Hunting endangered species is strictly prohibited in California. The state has stringent laws to protect these species from any harm or disruption.

Q5: How much is Hunters Ed in California?

The hunter safety course in California costs a minimum of $28.95 payable when registering online. Some third-party classes may charge additional fees. It’s a one-time requirement for lifetime hunting privileges if passed.

Q6: What is the minimum age to hunt in California?

The minimum age to hunt anywhere in California without adult supervision is 18 years old. Younger hunters aged 12-17 must be accompanied by an adult while in the field. However, hunter education can be completed starting at age 10.

Q7: Can hunters harvest more than one game during a single hunting trip?

The possession and bag limits for each game species are specified by the California Fish and Game Commission. Hunters must adhere to these limits to ensure the sustainability of wildlife populations.

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