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Hunting in California

Exploring California’s wilderness is an unforgettable experience. With vast landscapes ranging from the snow-topped Sequoia National Forest to Shasta-Trinity National Forest’s evergreen woods, there are plenty of opportunities for hunters seeking a diverse range of game animals. Whether you’re looking to bag deer, elk, wild pigs, rabbits, bears, or ducks – California has something perfect for everyone.

Make sure to check local regulations before heading out as season dates will vary depending on species and county. You’ll also need a valid hunting license plus any additional permits that may be required if you plan on harvesting your catch.

Anyone under 18 years old must take one of many safety courses available throughout the state – along with those born after July 1st, 1973 who have never held a valid hunting permit in the past.

Hunting in California

What Can You Hunt in California?

California is home to a plethora of game animals that make for an awesome hunting experience. Big game like deer, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, and wild pigs are all abundant in certain areas.

Smaller critters such as rabbits, squirrels, and various birds including ducks, geese, quail, and doves can also be found across the state. It’s important to check up on local laws beforehand since some species may require special permits or tags before being harvested legally. Hunting in California has never been easier. Let’s take a detailed look at the animals you can hunt in The Golden State.


At California’s hunting grounds, there are various types of deer that you can hunt – black-tailed deer, mule deer, and Roosevelt elk. To have a successful hunt, it is crucially important to be well prepared with all the necessary supplies such as camouflage clothing, rifles or bows and arrows for shooting, and ammunition or arrows for extra shots if needed.

Plus navigational tools like maps and compasses in order to find games in remote areas. Once ready to go out into the field looking for prey, make sure you move slowly so as not to scare them away but also keep watchful eyes alert at signs of recent activity such as tracks or droppings which will help guide your way.

When a suitable animal has been found, take aim carefully ensuring no risk of accidentally hitting other animals or people. Then fire accordingly when confident with your position. After successfully taking down an animal from the hunt, make sure it is dressed and cared for according to state laws & regulations by removing edible parts such as meat & organs while reserving its hide.

Deer Season in California

General Deer Season

Zones Dates
C1, B6 16 Sep – 15 Oct
C2, C3, B1, B2, B3, B5 16 Sep – 22 Oct
C4 16 Sep – 01 Oct
D6, D7 16 Sep – 29 Oct
D9, D8, D10 23 Sep – 22 Oct
D12 04 Nov – 26 Nov
D14, D11, D13, D15 14 Oct – 22 Nov
D16 28 Oct – 26 Nov
D17 14 Oct – 05 Nov
A 12 Aug – 24 Sep
B4 26 Aug – 01 Oct
D3, D4, D5 23 Sep – 29 Oct
X8 23 Sep – 08 Oct
X1, X2, X3A, X3B, X4, X5A, X5B 07 Oct – 22 Oct
X6A, X6B, X7A, X7B 07 Oct – 22 Oct
X9A, X9B, X12 16 Sep – 09 Oct
X9C 21 Oct – 12 Nov
X10 30 Sep – 15 Oct
G1 28 Oct – 05 Nov
G3 02 Dec – 17 Dec
G6 02 Dec – 10 Dec
G8 Cancelled
G12 16 Sep – 24 Sep
G13 28 Oct – 19 Nov
G19 23 Sep – 31 Dec
G21 11 Nov – 30 Dec
G37 25 Nov – 03 Dec
G38 21 Oct – 05 Nov
G39 28 Oct – 12 Nov

Archery Deer Season

Zone Dates
D6, D9, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, D3, D4, D5, D7, D8, D10 19 Aug – 10 Sep
C-2, C-3, C-4 19 Aug – 10 Sep
X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, X7, X8, X9, X12 19 Aug – 10 Sep (Buck)
D12 07 Oct – 29 Oct
D14, D16, D17, D11, D13, D15, D19 02 Sep – 24 Sep
A 08 Jul – 30 Jul
B4 22 Jul – 13 Aug
C-1, C-4, X10 19 Aug – 03 Sep
San Diego 02 Sep – 15 Oct, 18 Nov – 31 Dec


Elk hunting in California is a thrilling pursuit for hunters, offering over 1 million acres of public land ripe with opportunities to take home an impressive trophy. Bulls are most vocal and visible during the rutting season, from September to December; but even after this prime time passes, elk hunters can still find success within the state’s mountain ranges and forests.

California offers both archery and rifle hunting seasons for elk, so hunters need to make sure they have the appropriate license before heading out. Archery season typically occurs between late August and late October while rifle season usually runs from midNovember through late December.

Hunters should also familiarize themselves with local regulations before heading out, as many areas may have restrictions on the types of weapons or ammunition that can be used when hunting elk.

To increase your odds of scoring a big bull, it is important to do some scouting beforehand. Look for areas where there are signs of feeding activity such as fresh rubs or droppings, or check with local biologists who can provide data on recent sightings or migration patterns.

Once youve identified an area with good potential, set up camp and start glassing keep an eye out for bulls bugling or moving throughout their home range as they search for food or mates during the rutting season.

When you spot one you like, plan your approach carefully; these animals are large and powerful so its important to take your time when stalking them in order not to spook them away.

Elk Season in California

Elk Type Dates Season
Rocky Mountian 30 Aug – 10 Sep Archery
Rocky Mountian 07 Oct – 15 Oct Apprentice
Rocky Mountain 02 Sep – 01 Oct General
Rocky Mountain 13 Sep – 24 Sep General
Rocky Mountain 13 Nov – 24 Nov General
Tule 14 Oct – 22 Oct General
Tule 14 Oct – 29 Oct General
Tule 21 Oct – 05 Nov General
Tule 07 Oct – 05 Dec General
Tule 02 Sep – 28 Sep General
Tule 22 Nov – 30 Nov General
Tule 19 Dec – 31 Dec General
Tule 11 Nov – 03 Dec General
Tule 21 Oct – 29 Oct General
Tule 26 Sep – 29 Sep General
Tule 07 Oct – 15 Oct General
Tule 09 Sep – 24 Sep General
Tule 06 Sep – 15 Sep General
Tule 14 Oct – 05 Nov General
Tule 04 Nov -12 Nov, 29 Jul – 06 Aug Archery
Tule 06 Sep – 17 Sep, 14 Oct – 29 Oct Apprentice
Tule 19 Dec – 31 Dec, 15 Aug – 18 Aug Apprentice
Tule 17 Aug – 20 Aug, 14 Oct – 05 Nov Apprentice
Tule 09 Sep – 24 Sep, 12 Aug – 20 Aug Archery
Tule 09 Sep – 24 Sep Muzzleloader
Roosevelt 06 Sep – 17 Sep General
Roosevelt 11 Oct – 22 Oct General
Roosevelt 06 Sep – 28 Sep General
Roosevelt 20 Sep – 01 Oct General
Roosevelt 13 Sep – 24 Sep Apprentice
Roosevelt 09 Sep – 24 Sep Archery
Roosevelt 09 Sep – 24 Sep Muzzleloader


California is a prime location for small game hunters, offering some of the best rabbit hunting in the US. The Central Valley stands out as an ideal spot – boasting large tracts of agricultural land and mild weather all year round. To hunt cottontail rabbits or jackrabbits legally here, make sure you’ve got your state-issued license and appropriate gear like decoys, calls, camouflaged clothing (and firearms).

When out hunting early morning or late evening when these critters are most active – safety first! Put on bright colors to be seen by other hunters and always obey firearm regulations. Plus keep alert so you don’t startle animals away while searching for those bunnies.

With enough preparation and patience, you can have yourself a successful rabbit hunt in California.

Rabbit Season California

Season Dates Bag Limit
General 01 Jul – 28 Jan 5
Archery/Falconry 29 Jan – 17 Mar 5
Jackrabbit 01 Jan – 31 Dec No Limit


Squirrel hunting is a popular pastime in California, home to several species of furry critters. In order to legally hunt squirrels, you’ll need a valid license and must follow all applicable laws and regulations.

The most sought-after type of squirrel in California is the western gray variety – found throughout much of the state. Other species include American reds, Douglas, and golden-mantled ground squirrels.

When it comes to hunting restrictions, rules vary depending on your location; generally speaking, firearms or any other kind of weapon are prohibited within city limits or 150 yards from dwellings without written permission from landowners first.

For small game like squirrels, however, some areas may forbid shotguns or .22 rifles so please check with your local wildlife management area before heading out on a squirrel hunt.

When it comes to hunting strategies, stillhunting (moving very slowly through an area while searching for signs of game) is one of the most successful methods for finding and harvesting squirrels in California. Scouting ahead and locating areas with plentiful food sources can also help increase your chances of success when pursuing these wily critters.

Hunting Squirrels in California

Squirrel Season

Season Dates Bag Limit
General 09 Sep – 28 Jan 4
Archery/Falconry 05 Aug – 08 Sep 4


Turkey hunting in California has become increasingly popular in recent years, as the state offers some of the best terrain and conditions for successful hunts. The most popular season for turkey hunting begins in April and runs through May, with the peak of the season being in mid-April when toms are actively seeking out hens.

The best areas for turkey hunting are typically found within rolling hills, oak woodlands, and grassland habitats. These areas offer plenty of cover from predators and provide an abundance of food sources for turkeys including acorns, seeds, insects, berries, and other vegetation.

Hunters should also look for open areas that have been recently burned or cleared as these make great roosting sites and may increase opportunities to spot a wild turkey.

When it comes to equipment, you should bring a high-quality shotgun loaded with size 4 or 6 shot shells. Turkey decoys can be used to help lure birds into range while camouflage clothing will help keep hunters hidden from view. It’s also important to remember that California requires all hunters to wear fluorescent orange during the spring season in order to remain safe on public lands.

Turkey Season California

Season Dates Bag Limit
General 11 Nov -10 Dec 1 (Either sex)
General 30 Mar – 05 May 1 (bearded)
Archery 30 Mar – 19 May 1 (bearded)
Additional Junior 23 Mar – 24 Mar 1 (bearded)
Additional Junior 06 May – 19 May 1 (bearded)


Hunting pronghorns in California is a thrilling experience that requires some preparation. To get started, you’ll need to obtain a valid hunting license and tags for the species you plan on hunting from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Also, it’s important to stay up-to-date with all local laws and regulations during your hunt.

Pronghorn season typically takes place between October through December each year throughout California, so this is when hunters are allowed to pursue both bucks (males) and doe (females). Depending on where you’re seeking out these majestic animals, however, special drawing permits may be required beforehand – so make sure to double-check if needed.

When it comes down to actually tracking them down once they’re in season though; still-hunting has proven itself as an effective way due to its ability for stealthy movement over long distances. If spot-and-stalk techniques are more your style though; scout out herds of antelope from afar before attempting to sneak closer for optimal shooting conditions!

Either way – just remember: Be prepared – these fast-moving animals can reach speeds up to 60 mph & jump obstacles 8 feet high.

Pronghorn Season

Zones Dates Notes
Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3 (Period 1), Zone 4 (Period 1), Zone 5, Zone 6 19 Aug -27 Aug General Season
Zone 3 (Period 2), Zone 4 (Period 2) 02 Sep – 10 Sep General Season
Zones 02, 03, 04, 05, 06 05 Aug -13 Aug Archery
Zone 3 (Period 1), Zone 4 (Period 1), Zone 5, Zone 6 19 Aug – 27 Aug Apprentice


Black bears, the only species of bear found in California, roam its mountain and woodland areas. To hunt them down requires a valid hunting license and tag as well as knowledge of how to track and locate the animals. Archers must be able to get close enough for an accurate shot while rifle hunters should keep wind direction in mind when shooting from farther away.

These creatures are most commonly spotted amongst the Sierra Nevada Mountains but can also be seen elsewhere throughout the state. It’s important to remember that they have excellent camouflage skills allowing them to blend into their natural habitats making it difficult for hunters to spot them at times. Successful bear hunters need familiarity with their environment combined with a sharp eye if they want any chance of success.

Hunting Bears in California

Bear Hunting Season California

Zones Dates Bag Limit
A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10, X12 30 Aug – 31 Dec 1 (Adult)
X1, X2, X3a, X4, X6a, X6b, X7a, X7b 14 Oct – 31 Dec 1 (Adult)
All Zones 19 Aug – 10 Sep 1 (Adult)

Bighorn Sheep

The beauty and size of bighorn sheep make them a prized game animal for hunters in California. To hunt this majestic creature, you must first get your permit tag from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). They offer several tags per year with different regulations such as season dates, bag limits, weapon types, locations, etc. You can apply for these tags online or at local DFW offices.

Once you have your license to hunt bighorns, it’s time to start preparing. Research maps and scout areas where they are likely to be found – binoculars or a spotting scope will help immensely with that task. It is also important to remember safety comes first when hunting wild animals; wear camouflage clothing so the bighorns don’t detect your presence and take an unhurried approach while stalking them before taking any shots if possible.

Bighorn sheep hunting isn’t easy due to their excellent vision and hearing which makes it difficult to come close without being noticed; however, following proper protocols will set you up for success on one of nature’s most exhilarating hunts.

Bighorn Sheep Season

Zone Dates
Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 8, Zone 9, Zone 10 02 Dec – 04 Fec
Zone 7 19 Aug – 24 Sep
Zone 5, Zone 6 N/A


Dove hunting is a thrilling sport that California has to offer. With its diverse terrain and habitats, it’s no surprise the Golden State holds some of the best dove hunts in America. From mid-August to mid-December, migratory doves flock into the state creating an abundance of birds for hunters to pursue.

Hunters can take their pick between shotguns, bows, or crossbows; however, they must always be aware of which weapons are allowed in each zone they intend on visiting – not forgetting bag limits and other regulations along with it.

When looking for a spot with good dove sightings, there are many great options around like coastal areas as coastal winds often drive migrating birds inland over ocean waters; also inland valleys work well due to plenty of cover alongside grasslands and brushy habitats giving them enough protection from predators.

Dove Season

Zone Dates Bag Limit
Statewide 01 Sep – 15 Sep 15 (Mourning Dove)
Statewide 11 Nov – 25 Dec 15 (Mourning Dove)
Statewide 01 Sep – 15 Sep No Limit (Spotted Dove)
Statewide 11 Nov – 25 Dec No Limit (Spotted Dove)
Statewide 01 Jan – 31 Dec No Limit (Eurasian Collared Dove)


California is a paradise for quail hunters, with abundant Gambel’s quail, mountain quail and valley quail populations that are ready to challenge the most experienced of hunters. Taking on these birds demands patience, skill, and an in-depth knowledge of their environment – something California’s diverse landscape provides in abundance.

From its deep forests and open fields to rolling hillsides or wetlands, there is no shortage of places where one can find the ideal habitat for these game birds.

The season begins from late September through mid-February when hunters are able to observe quail feeding on various grains, grasses, insects seeds berries as well as other small food items found within this environment.

Quail hunting plays an important role not only in providing hunters with exciting opportunities but also serves as a vital source of food for wildlife such as foxes, coyotes, and hawks ensuring a healthy population remains available each year without compromising sustainability.

Hunting Quails in California

Quail Season

Zone Dates Notes
Zone Q1 09 Sep -20 Oct Mountain Quail only (10 Bag Limit)
Zone Q1 21 Oct – 28 Jan All Quail (10 Bag Limit)
Zone Q2 30 Sep – 28 Jan All Quail (10 Bag Limit)
Zone Q3 21 Oct – 28 Jan All Quail (10 Bag Limit)
Mojave National Preserve 07 Oct – 28 Oct 10 Bag Limit

Pheasant Season

Hunt Method Dates Bag Limit
General 11 Nov – 24 Nov 2 males on first 2 days, after 2 days, 3 males each day
General 25 Dec – 21 Jan 2 males on first 2 days, after 2 days, 3 males each day
Archery 14 Oct – 05 Nov 2 males on first 2 days, after 2 days, 3 males each day
Falconry 19 Aug – 29 Feb 2 pheasants on first 2 days, after 2 days, 3 pheasants each day

Grouse Season

Species Dates Bag Limit
Ruffed Grouse 09 Sep – 09 Oct 2
Ruffed Grouse 19 Aug – 08 Sep 2 (Archery only)
Ruffed Grouse 19 Aug – 20 Sep 2 (Falconry)
Greater-sage Grouse Closed ——-

Pigeon Season

Zone Dates Bag Limit
North 16 Sep – 24 Sep 2 per day
South 16 Dec – 24 Dec 2 per day

Chukar Season

Hunting Chukars in California

Zone Dates Bag Limit
Statewide 21 Oct – 28 Jan 6 per day (General)
Statewide 19 Aug – 08 Sep 6 per day (Archery)
Statewide 19 Aug – 29 Feb 6 per day (Falconry)

Snipe Season

Zone Dates Bag Limit
Statewide 21 Oct – 04 Feb 2 per day

Waterfowl Season (Duck, Coots, Scaup & Geese)

Species Dates Season
Duck 07 Oct – 17 Jan Northeastern
Duck Oct 21 – Jan 31 Southern California
Duck Oct 21 – Jan 31 Balance of State
Duck Oct 21 – Jan 31 Southern San Joaquin Valley
Coots and Moorhens 07 Oct – 17 Jan Northeastern
Coots and Moorhens Oct 21 – Jan 31 Southern California
Coots and Moorhens Oct 21 – Jan 31 Balance of State
Coots and Moorhens Oct 21 – Jan 31 Southern San Joaquin Valley
Scaup 07 Oct – 03 Dec, 21 Dec – 17 Jan Statewide
Scaup 07 Nov – 31 Jan Southern San Joaquin Valley
Scaup  07 Nov – 31 Jan Balance of State
Scaup  07 Nov – 31 Jan Colorado River
Scaup  07 Nov – 31 Jan Southern California
Canada Geese 07 Oct – 14 Jan Northeastern Zone
 White-fronted Geese 07 Oct – 03 Dec, 04 Jan – 17 Jan Northeastern Zone
Geese 21 Oct – 31 Jan Southern California Zone
Geese 21 Oct – 31 Jan Southern San Joaquin Valley Zone
Geese 23 Oct – 31 Jan Colorado River
Canada Geese 07 Oct – 14 Jan Klamath Basin
White-fronted Geese Open until 21 Dec Sacramento Valley
White-fronted Geese 07 Oct – 19 Jan Klamath Basin
White Geese 04 Nov – 31 Jan, 01 Feb – 02 Feb, 05 Feb – 09 Feb, 12 Feb – 20 Feb Imperial County

Special Management Areas (Waterfowl)

Species Dates Location
All Canada Geese 07 Oct – 22 Dec North Coast zone
All Canada Geese 12 Feb – 10 Mar North Coast zone
Canada Geese 07 Oct – 14 Jan Klamath Basin
White-fronted Geese 07 Oct – 19 Jan Klamath Basin
White Geese 04 Nov – 31 Jan, 01 Feb – 02 Feb, 05 Feb – 09 Feb, 12 Feb – 20 Feb Imperial County
Black Brant 18 Nov – 14 Dec Northern Brant
Black Brant 19 Nov – 15 Dec Northern Brant

California Hunting License Information

If you’re looking to hunt in California, you’ll need a valid hunting license – and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) is the place to get it. There’s a range of options available based on what type of game you plan to pursue: most folks will be grabbing the General Hunting License for small animals such as rabbits, squirrels, and ducks. If deer or other more specialized prey are your target species, then an additional tag or permit may be required.

A basic license costs $58.58 for anyone over 16 years old; younger hunters will pay just $15.38. You can either purchase online from CDFW’s website or at any store that sells hunting supplies around the state.

In California, hunting licenses are valid from July 1 to June 30 of the next year. If you’re a resident, you can get a lifetime license.

Where Can You Hunt in California?

Hunting in California is allowed on public lands like national forests or state parks. You can also hunt on private land if you get permission from the landowner. Make sure to check the hunting regulations for the area you plan to hunt in before going out. Let’s check out some of the best public places for hunting in California.

Public Hunting Places in California

Imperial Valley

If you’re searching for a thrilling hunting adventure, let us tell you about Imperial Valley. Hidden in the southernmost corner of California, this place is an absolute haven for hunters like yourself.

Imperial Valley offers diverse possibilities that will get your blood pumping – from waterfowl to upland game and more. The abundance of wetlands and agricultural fields make it irresistible to ducks, geese, and other birds during migratory season.

The local hunting community here is awesome too – they’re always welcoming newcomers with open arms so don’t worry if you’ve just started out.

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

Lower Klamath is a paradise for hunters situated right on the California-Oregon border. It’s packed with wetlands, lakes, and prairies that provide excellent habitats to all sorts of game. Ducks, geese, swans – you name it!

All migrate here during the hunting season so you can take your best shot at bagging some prime prey. Not only that but deer are plentiful in the lush forests and meadows while elk sightings aren’t unheard of either!

If you plan on taking part in this exciting outdoor adventure though, make sure to follow all rules & regulations set by nature and its creatures alike; respect ’em, or don’t expect nothing more than an empty freezer come wintertime.

North Cow Mountain

North Cow Mountain in California is a hunter’s paradise. It’s got everything you need – hills, forests, and open areas for tracking your prey. Deer are the star attraction here; both black-tailed and mule deer can be found if you’re patient enough. But don’t forget to also keep an eye out for wild pigs or turkeys as they roam around these parts too! Just make sure to follow all the rules when hunting them though.

San Bernardino National Forest

San Bernardino National Forest is a great spot for hunters seeking to bag some game. From deer and wild pigs to even the occasional bear, it’s a hunter’s paradise!. Obtaining a permit from the forest office allows access to certain areas with specific regulations in place – no exceptions! When out hunting in California, always wear bright orange clothing for visibility; as well as adhering to restricted weapon laws.

Sierra National Forest

Heading out for a hunt in California? Look no further than the stunning Sierra National Forest! On its northwest border, it meets Yosemite National Park and Kings Canyon National Park to the south. From majestic mountainscapes to crystal-clear lakes, this area has plenty of natural beauty – not to mention great hunting opportunities.

Here you can find quails, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, deer or bears – just remember that if you’re planning on camping with an open fire then make sure you’ve got your campfire permit ready!

Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Forest is a stunningly beautiful place, stretching from the Ventura coast to Monterey. The Jacinto Reyes byway passes through its Ojai Ranger district and Mt. Pinos, providing an unforgettable experience for hunters looking to explore California’s Central Coast region.

Hunting is allowed in certain areas of the forest but hunters must possess proper licensing and follow US Forest Service regulations; deer, wild pigs, turkeys, quail, bear and other small game animals are all fair game here! With that said though – always remember safety comes first when hunting so stay aware of your surroundings at all times!

Salton Sea

Nestled in California’s southeast corner, the Salton Sea is a desirable destination for waterfowl hunters. The area boasts an abundance of duck and goose species, while its temperate climate and sunny weather make it ideal for hunting year-round.

The Wister Unit offers 12k acres of wetland suitable for aquatic fowling – one of the largest such areas in CA. You’ll find mallards, pintails and teal just waiting to be bagged – making it an attractive option if these are your target species.

Private Hunting Places in California

Hunting on private land in California is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and connect with nature, but it’s important to remember that permission from the owner is essential. You must abide by all state and local regulations, and carry a valid hunting license and tags as well as any additional permits. Staying mindful of safety rules set by the property holder should also be taken into consideration for both you and the wildlife inhabiting the area. Taking part in this activity can prove rewarding if done responsibly – so always keep these things in mind when venturing out!