24 California Big Game Hunting Regulations Every Hunter Needs to Know

California big game hunting regulations.
California big game hunting regulations

Here, we fetch up California Big Game hunting regulations every hunter should know before hunting. We retrieve them from the Fish and Game Code, as well as Title 14 of the Code of Regulations. We also bring them for all wildlife and subcategories for mammalsgame mammals, and big game mammals. Finally, we drop them in a list with brief summaries, and include links to the text and our pages with also also related topics. For hunter-friendly summaries of these rules—without the legal mumbo jumbo—follow the links to pages, like deer, black bear, elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and wild pigs seasons.


Introduction to California Big Game Hunting Regulations

California big game hunting regulations
California big game hunting regulations for bear parts.

Our Menu of California Big Game hunting regulations relate to licensing and permits, as well as seasons, shooting hours, bag limits, and tagging procedures. They also involve hunting zones, methods, and equipment (e.g. archery, firearms, ammodogs, traps, and vehicles). In addition, we include rules for transportation and use of big game parts, skins, skulls, and heads. Finally, we have them for dispatch, imports, exports, and legal definitions. Warning shots!! While we include many California Big Game hunting regulations, always check with the Fish & Game Commission for additional and current regulations.


Menu for California Big Game Hunting Regulations

Our menu includes major California Big Game hunting regulations and broader categories, including:

    1. Any Wildlife
    2. Mammals
    3. Game Mammals
    4. Big Game Mammals

Warning shots!! There are additional hunting regulations for each species that either add to or further restrict those for big game, in general. For those, see our regulation pages for: DeerBlack Bear, ElkWild Pigs, Pronghorn Antelope, and Bighorn Sheep.

Any Wildlife

    1. 14 CCR § 354 (a) defines “bow” to include long, recurve, and compound bows; (b) defines “crossbow” and excludes it as “archery equipment” except with a Disabled Archer’s Permit, as it provides; (c) requires minimum 130-yard casting distance except arrows and crossbow bolts using flu-flu fletching, which it requires for pheasant and and generally requires migratory game birds per Sectio 507; (d) otherwise allows all arrows and crossbow bolts for migratory game birdsresident small game birdsresident small game mammalsfurbearers, and nongame mammals, and–as an exception to FGC § 2005–allows lighted nocks without directional beams of light; and (e) prohibits (1) crossbows during all archery seasons except with a Disabled Archer’s Permit, (2) possession of a firearm during (i) archery seasons and (ii) general hunting seasons using an archery-only tag, (3) broad head “type” blades smaller than 7/8 inch in diameter when hunting big game, (4) tranquilizers, (5) poison, (6) explosive heads, (7) shooting upon or across public roadways, and (8) being in or on vehicles while in the read-to-fire position.

Mammals

    1. FGC § 3960 prohibits use of dogs to pursue any mammal in an ecological reserve or game refuge where hunting is illegal.
    2. 14 CCR § 251 prohibits use of any kind of motor vehicles to take mammals (e.g. shooting from a moving truck), but includes exemptions for unpowered boats, depredation permits, and mobility-impaired hunters.
    3. 14 CCR § 251.1 prohibits mammal harassment, as it defines, and generally prohibits herding and driving.
    4. 14 CCR § 251.2 authorizes CDFW to issue depredation permits, grating privileges to qualified applicants for using of motor vehicles to prevent property damage by mammals (e.g landowner using aircraft to herd away deer).
    5. 14 CCR § 251.9 prohibits computer-assist remotes and sites, as it defines, for hunting mammals.
    6. 14 CCR § 265 prohibits use of hunting dogs, and dog training in dog control zones, as it also defines.
    7. 14 CCR § 354 authorizes Disabled Archer’s Permit, granting the privilege to use crossbow–or device that holds a string and arrow in firing position–for taking mammals with an archery tag or during an archery season, as it defines “physical disability.”
    8. 14 CCR § 700 requires hunters to carry a hunting license in his or her immediate possession while hunting.

Game Mammals

    1. FGC § 3950 defines game mammals to include big game.
    2. 14 CCR § 250 prohibits taking game mammals unless the Fish and Game Code, or Title 14 of the Code of Regulations, specially allows it for the species.
    3. 14 CCR § 251.5 requires hunters and trappers to immediately kill game mammals taken into their possession, and add it to their daily bag limits.
    4. 14 CCR § 251.8 establishes conditions for California Indians to transport game mammals from the reservation where the animals were taken.
    5. 14 CCR § 354 prohibits use of crossbows for taking game mammals during archery seasons except with a Disabled Archer’s Permit.

Big Game Mammals

    1. FGC § 3004.5 requires nonlead centerfire ammo when using pistols or rifles in the Condor Range to take big game.
    2. FGC § 3950 defines game mammals to include big game.
    3. FGC § 3960 prohibits use of dogs to (a) pursue most big game, (b) out of the big game specie’s hunting season, or (c) in an ecological reserve or game refuge where hunting is illegal.
    4. 14 CCR § 251 prohibits use of location devices–at any time–that are attached to big game mammals (e.g. tracking devices), and generally prohibits use of devices capable of flight or orbit (e.g. drones)–from between 48 hours before and after the hunting season.
    5. 14 CCR § 251.3 prohibits feeding big game mammals.
    6. 14 CCR § 350 defines big game to include certain species of bear, deer, elk, antelope, sheep, and pigs.
    7. 14 CCR § 352 establishes shooting hours for big game.
    8. 14 CCR § 353 allows hunting (a) big game with bow and arrowsrifles, and muzzleloading rifles, subject to restrictions for ammo, sights, tags, artificial lights, vehicles, the Condor RangeVisually Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permits, and Disabled Archer’s Permits, (b) specific big game with pistolsrevolvers, and shotguns, subject to restrictions for shell capacity and ammo, and crossbows during the deer regular season, and (c) crossbows during the regular deer season or with a Disabled Archer’s Permit.
    9. 14 CCR § 354, for arrows and crossbow bolts, (a) places size restriction on broad head type blades and (b) allows lighted nocks without directional beam of light, which is an exception to FGC § 2005.
    10. 14 CCR § 401 requires depredation permit to kill big game causing or about to cause property damage.
    11. 14 CCR § 702 (external link) identifies fees for (a) applications to hunt big game on private wildlife management areas, (b) reservations to hunt on wildlife areas, and (c) hunts tags and drawing.
    12. ___708’s and 3960’s

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Fish & Game Code

FGC § 3004.5 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

(a) (1) Nonlead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition, as determined by the commission, shall be required when taking big game, as defined in the department’s mammal hunting regulations (14 Cal. Code Regs. 350), with rifle or pistol, and when taking coyote, within the California condor range.

(2) For purposes of this section, “California condor range” means:

(A) The department’s deer hunting zone A South, but excluding Santa Cruz, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and San Joaquin Counties, areas west of Highway 101 within Santa Clara County, and areas between Highway 5 and Highway 99 within Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Kern Counties.

(B) Areas within deer hunting zones D7, D8, D9, D10, D11, and D13.

(3) The requirements of this subdivision shall remain in effect in the California condor range unless and until the more restrictive nonlead prohibitions required pursuant to subdivision (b) are implemented.

(b) Except as provided in subdivision (j), and as soon as is practicable as implemented by the commission pursuant to subdivision (i), but by no later than July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition, as determined by the commission, shall be required when taking all wildlife, including game mammals, game birds, nongame birds, and nongame mammals, with any firearm.

(c) (1) The commission shall maintain, by regulation, a public process to certify ammunition as nonlead ammunition, and shall define, by regulation, nonlead ammunition as including only ammunition in which there is no lead content, excluding the presence of trace amounts of lead. The commission shall establish and annually update a list of certified ammunition.

(2) The list of certified ammunition shall include, but not be limited to, any federally approved nontoxic shotgun ammunition.

(d) (1) To the extent that funding is available, the commission shall establish a process that will provide hunters with nonlead ammunition at no or reduced charge. The process shall provide that the offer for nonlead ammunition at no or reduced charge may be redeemed through a coupon sent to a permitholder with the appropriate permit tag. If available funding is not sufficient to provide nonlead ammunition at no charge, the commission shall set the value of the reduced charge coupon at the maximum value possible through available funding, up to the average cost within this state for nonlead ammunition, as determined by the commission.

(2) The nonlead ammunition coupon program described in paragraph (1) shall be implemented only to the extent that sufficient funding, as determined by the Department of Finance, is obtained from local, federal, public, or other nonstate sources in order to implement the program.

(3) If the nonlead ammunition coupon program is implemented, the commission shall issue a report on the usage and redemption rates of ammunition coupons. The report shall cover calendar years 2008, 2009, and 2012. Each report shall be issued by June of the following year.

(e) The commission shall issue a report on the levels of lead found in California condors. This report shall cover calendar years 2008, 2009, and 2012. Each report shall be issued by June of the following year.

(f) The department shall notify those hunters who may be affected by this section.

(g) A person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of five hundred dollars ($500). A second or subsequent offense shall be punishable by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more than five thousand dollars ($5,000).

(h) This section does not apply to government officials or their agents when carrying out a statutory duty required by law.

(i) The commission shall promulgate regulations by July 1, 2015, that phase in the requirements of this section. The requirements of this section shall be fully implemented statewide by no later than July 1, 2019. If any of the requirements of this section can be implemented practicably, in whole or in part, in advance of July 1, 2019, the commission shall implement those requirements. The commission shall not reduce or eliminate any existing regulatory restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in California condor range unless or until the additional requirements for use of nonlead ammunition as required by this section are implemented.

(j) (1) The prohibition in subdivision (b) shall be temporarily suspended for a specific hunting season and caliber upon a finding by the director that nonlead ammunition of a specific caliber is not commercially available from any manufacturer because of federal prohibitions relating to armor-piercing ammunition pursuant to Chapter 44 (commencing with Section 921) of Title 18 of the United States Code.

(2) Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to paragraph (1), nonlead ammunition shall be used when taking big game mammals, nongame birds, or nongame mammals in the California condor range, as defined in subdivision (a).

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FGC § 3950 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

(a) Game mammals are: deer (genus Odocoileus), elk (genus Cervus), prong-horned antelope (genus Antilocapra), wild pigs, including feral pigs and European wild boars (genus Sus), black and brown or cinnamon bears (genus Euarctos), mountain lions (genus Felis), jackrabbits and varying hares (genus Lepus), cottontails, brush rabbits, pigmy rabbits (genus Sylvilagus), and tree squirrels (genus Sciurus and Tamiasciurus).

(b) Nelson bighorn sheep (subspecies Ovis canadensis nelsoni) are game mammals only for the purposes of sport hunting described in subdivision (b) of Section 4902.

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Title 14, California Code of Regulations

14 CCR § 250 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

Except as otherwise provided in this Title 14, and in the Fish and Game Code, resident game birds, game mammals and furbearing mammals may not be taken at any time.

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14 CCR § 251 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

Prohibition on Pursuing or Shooting Birds and Mammals from Motor-Driven Air or Land Vehicles, Motorboats, Airboats, Sailboats or Snowmobiles.

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14 CCR § 251.1 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

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14 CCR § 251.2 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

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14 CCR § 251.3 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

No person shall knowingly feed big game mammals, as defined in Section 350 of these regulations.

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14 CCR § 251.5 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

(a) Migratory game birds may not be held beyond the period provided by the federal regulations and in accordance with the daily bag and possession limits prescribed by these regulations. (See Section 500.)

(b) Live mountain lions may be possessed only under terms of a permit issued by the Department pursuant to Section 2150 of the Fish and Game Code or if the owner can demonstrate that the mountain lion was in his/her possession on or before June 6, 1990 under a permit issued pursuant to Section 3200 of said code.

(c) Every game bird, game mammal, furbearer or nongame animal taken under the authority of a hunting or trapping license and reduced to possession by the hunter or trapper shall be immediately killed and become a part of the daily bag limit.

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14 CCR § 251.8 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

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14 CCR § 251.9 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

(a) It is unlawful to take or assist in the taking of any bird or mammal in or from this state, by computer-assisted remote hunting.

(b) It is unlawful to establish or operate a computer-assisted remote hunting site for the purpose of taking any bird or mammal from or within this state.

(c) For the purposes of this Section, “computer-assisted remote hunting” means the use of a computer or any other remotely controlled device, equipment, software, or technology, to remotely control the aiming or discharge of any weapon, including, but not limited to, any firearm, bow and arrow, spear, harpoon or any other weapon capable of killing or injuring any bird or mammal, for the purposes of taking any bird or mammal.

(d) For the purposes of this Section, “computer-assisted remote hunting site” means any computer, internet site or web-based device or system, or other electronically operated site or system used to assist in the remote taking of any bird or mammal.

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14 CCR § 350 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

Big Game Defined. “Big game” means the following: deer (genus Odocoileus), elk (genus Cervus), pronghorn antelope (genus Antilocarpa), wild pig (feral pigs, European wild pigs and their hybrids (genus Sus), black bear (genus Ursus) and Nelson bighorn sheep (subspecies Ovis canadensis nelsoni) in the areas described in subsection 4902(b) of the Fish and Game Code.

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14 CCR § 352 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

Hunting and shooting hours for big game, including but not limited to deer, antelope, elk, bear, and wild pig shall be from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

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14 CCR § 353 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

Methods Authorized for Taking Big Game.

(a) Except for the provisions of subsections 353(b) through (h), Title 14, CCR, big game (as defined by Section 350, Title 14, CCR) may only be taken by rifles using centerfire cartridges with softnose or expanding projectiles; bow and arrow (see Section 354, Title 14, CCR, for archery equipment regulations); or wheellock, matchlock, flintlock or percussion type, including “in-line” muzzleloading rifles using black powder or equivalent black powder substitute, including pellets, with a single projectile loaded from the muzzle and at least .40 caliber in designation. For purposes of Section 353, a “projectile” is defined as any bullet, ball, sabot, slug, buckshot or other device which is expelled from a firearm through a barrel by force.

(b) Shotguns capable of holding not more than three shells firing single slugs may be used for the taking of deer, bear and wild pigs. In areas where the discharge of rifles or shotguns with slugs is prohibited by county ordinance, shotguns capable of holding not more than three shells firing size 0 or 00 buckshot may be used for the taking of deer only.

(c) Pistols and revolvers using centerfire cartridges with softnose or expanding projectiles may be used to take deer, bear, and wild pigs.

(d) Pistols and revolvers with minimum barrel lengths of 4 inches, using centerfire cartridges with softnose or expanding projectiles may be used to take elk and bighorn sheep.

(e) Except as provided in subsection 354(j), crossbows may be used to take deer and wild pigs only during the regular seasons.

(f) Under the provisions of a muzzleloading rifle only tag, hunters may only possess muzzleloading rifles as described in subsection 353(a) equipped with open or “peep” type sights only except as described in subsection 353(k).

(g) Under the provisions of a muzzleloading rifle/archery tag, hunters may only possess muzzleloading rifles with sights as described in subsection 353(f); archery equipment as described in Section 354; or both. For purposes of this subsection, archery equipment does not include crossbows, except as provided in subsection 354(j).

(h) Methods of take within the California condor range. Except as otherwise provided, it is unlawful to use or possess projectiles containing more than one percent lead by weight while taking or attempting to take any big game (as defined in Section 350, Title 14, CCR) in those areas described in Section 3004.5, Fish and Game Code.

(1) Except as otherwise provided, it is unlawful to possess any projectile containing lead in excess of the amount permitted in subsection 353(h) and a firearm capable of firing the projectile while taking or attempting to take any big game within the area described in subsection 353(h). The possession of a projectile containing lead in excess of the amount allowed in subsection 353(h) without possessing a firearm capable of firing the projectile is not a violation of this section.

(i) Except as otherwise provided, while taking or attempting to take big game under the provisions of Section 353 or Section Section 354, Title 14, CCR, it is unlawful to use any device or devices which: 1) throw, cast or project an artificial light or electronically alter or intensify a light source for the purpose of visibly enhancing an animal; or 2) throw, cast or project an artificial light or electronically alter or intensify a light source for the purpose of providing a visible point of aim directly on a animal. Devices commonly referred to as “sniperscopes”, night vision scopes or binoculars, or those utilizing infra-red, heat sensing or other non-visible spectrum light technology used for the purpose of visibly enhancing an animal or providing a visible point of aim directly on a animal are prohibited and may not be possessed while taking or attempting to take big game. Devices commonly referred to as laser rangefinders, “red-dot” scopes with self-illuminating reticles, and fiberoptic sights with self-illuminating sight or pins which do not throw, cast or project a visible light onto an animal are permitted.

(j) Unless provided in these regulations or any other law, it is unlawful to possess a loaded muzzleloading firearm in any vehicle or conveyance or its attachments which is standing on or along or is being driven on or along any public road or highway or other way open to the public.

For the purposes of this section, a muzzleloading firearm shall be deemed to be loaded when it is capped or primed or has an electronic or other ignition device attached and has a powder charge and projectile or shot in the barrel or cylinder.

(k) Upon application to the department, the department may issue a Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit, free of any charge or fee, to any person with a physical disability, as defined in 353(l), which prevents him/her from being able to focus on the target utilizing muzzleloading rifles equipped wZith open or “peep” sights. The Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit authorizes the disabled hunter to use a 1X scope on a muzzleloading rifle, as described in subsection 353(f), with a muzzleloading rifle only tag.

(1) Applications for a Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit as specified in Section 702 shall be submitted to the department at the address specified on the application and shall include:

(A) Applicant’s name

(B) Applicant’s physical address

(C) Applicant’s date of birth

(D) Applicant’s Driver’s License or DMV Number

(E) Applicant’s telephone number

(F) Applicant’s signature

(G) Medical Physician’s or Optometrist’s name

(H) Medical Physician’s or Optometrist’s business address

(I) Medical Physician’s or Optometrist’s business telephone number

(J) Medical Physician’s State medical license number or Optometrist’s State license number

(K) A description of the visual disability requiring this permit

(L) Medical Physician’s or Optometrist’s signature

(M) Signature of the authorizing department employee and date issued

(2) The applicant must have a valid hunting license for the year for which he/she is applying.

(3) Proof of meeting eligibility requirements may be met by providing a previously issued Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit.

(4) The valid Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit shall be in the hunter’s immediate possession while hunting and shall be shown on demand to any person authorized to enforce this regulation.

(5) The Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit is valid from July 1 through June 30 of the following year or if issued after July 1 of the license year, it is valid beginning on the date issued through to the following June 30

(l) For the purposes of this section a visual disability means a permanent loss, significant limitation, or diagnosed disease or disorder, which substantially impairs the vision of a hunter, preventing the hunter from viewing and aligning the sights of a muzzleloading rifle with the target in order to hunt deer.

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14 CCR § 700 (California Big Game Hunting Regulations)

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14 CCR § 708.14 (California big game hunting laws)

(a) General Conditions

(1) Except as otherwise provided, the department shall award license tags for premium deer, bighorn sheep, elk and pronghorn antelope hunts, as described in sections 360(b) and (c), 361, 362, 364 and 363, using a Modified-Preference Point drawing system.

(2) Except as otherwise provided, the Modified-Preference Point drawing system shall award proportions of hunt tag quotas, as specified for each species, using the following drawing methods:

(A) Preference Point Drawings. Tags are awarded based on the following order of priority: an applicant’s hunt choice (first choice only for deer), accumulated point totals by species (highest to lowest), and computer-generated random number (lowest to highest).

(B) Draw-By-Choice Drawings. Tags are awarded according to an applicant’s hunt choice and computer-generated random number (lowest to highest), without consideration of accumulated points.

(3) Except as otherwise provided, applicants unsuccessful in receiving a tag for premium deer (based on first choice selection), bighorn sheep, elk or pronghorn antelope hunts shall earn one (1) preference point for use in future Big Game Drawings.

(4) To earn and accumulate a point for any species, a person shall comply with all application requirements for that species as specified in sections 708.1, 708.9, 708.10 and 708.11 including the following conditions:

(A) Applicants for premium deer license tags, pronghorn antelope license tags, or elk license tags shall be at least 12 years of age on or before July 1 of the license year for which they are applying.

(B) Applicants for Nelson big horn sheep license tags shall be at least 16 years of age on or before July 1 of the license year for which they are applying.

(C) Applicants shall possess a valid annual California hunting license valid for the hunting season requested.

(D) Applications for bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and elk hunts shall include the appropriate nonrefundable processing fees as specified in Section 702.

(E) Any applicant shall apply for a premium deer license tag, bighorn sheep license tag, pronghorn antelope license tag and elk license tag through the department’s Automated License Data System terminals at any department license agent or department license sales office by June 2 each year.

(F) Each applicant who submits a premium license tag, as noted in (E) above, through the department’s Automated License Data System terminals at department license agents and department license sales offices shall receive a “big game drawing receipt” printed from the terminal. The receipt shall contain the customer’s name and permanent identification number, proof of entry into the big game drawing for the license year, hunt choices for each species, accumulated preference points for each species, and Party Identification Number.

(G) Except for apprentice deer hunt applicants, applicants shall not submit more than one drawing application for each species during the same license year.

(b) Party Applications, Residency

(1) No more than six persons shall apply together as a party for premium deer license tags. Applicants for premium deer license tags may be residents or nonresidents.

(2) No more than two residents shall apply together as a party for elk license tags. Nonresidents shall not apply as a party for elk license tags.

(3) No more than two residents shall apply together as a party for pronghorn antelope license tags. Nonresidents shall not apply as a party for pronghorn antelope license tags.

(4) Applicants shall not apply as a party for bighorn sheep license tags.

(5) Each year upon application, each applicant shall specify if the applicant is applying as an individual, a party leader or joining an existing party.

(6) Applicants applying as an individual or as a party leader shall be assigned a Party Identification Number from the department’s Automated License Data System terminal at the time of application each year. Applicants shall be assigned a Party Identification Number for each species.

(7) To apply as a party, the party leader shall apply first and provide his/her assigned Party Identification Number to the other party members.

(8) Applicants joining an existing party shall provide the Party Identification Number of the party leader when he/she applies to join the party.

(9) Applicants joining a party shall be assigned the same tag choices in the same order of preference as the party leader.

(10) All party members shall be awarded tags according to the choices selected by the party leader.

(c) No applicant shall earn more than one (1) preference point per species, per drawing, for use in future drawings. Preference points are accumulated by species and shall not be transferred to another species or another person. Preference points are not zone or hunt specific.

(d) Except as otherwise provided, successful applicants receiving tags for their first choice premium deer, bighorn sheep, elk or pronghorn antelope hunts shall lose all preference points for that species.

(e) For party applications, the department shall use the average preference point value of all party members (total preference points for the party divided by number of party members) as the basis for consideration in the drawing for that species. Point averages shall not be rounded.

(f) Except as otherwise provided, persons who do not wish to apply for an antelope, elk, bighorn sheep or premium deer tags, may earn one (1) preference point for any or all of these species, by submitting the appropriate application(s), as specified in sections 708.1, 708.9, 708.10 and 708.11, and selecting the point code number for that species, as defined by the department, as the hunt choice (first choice only for deer) through the department’s Automated License Data System terminals at any department license agent or department license sales office. Persons applying for a preference point in this manner shall be subject to the same application requirements as regular drawing applicants as specified in subsection 708.14.

(g) The department shall maintain records of preference points earned by individual applicants based on the identification number assigned to each customer by the department’s Automated License Data System. The customer’s identification number, Get Outdoors ID (GO ID) will be printed on each drawing receipt issued by the Automated License Data System. Applicants shall notify the department’s License and Revenue Branch in Sacramento in writing, of any changes or corrections regarding name, mailing address, or date of birth.

(h) Persons not applying for premium deer, bighorn sheep, elk, or pronghorn antelope hunts through the department’s Big Game Drawings for five (5) consecutive years shall have their preference points for that species reduced to zero (0). For the purposes of this subsection, persons whose applications are disqualified from drawing shall be considered the same as persons not applying. Applying for preference points as described in (f) above, will keep an applicant’s file active.

(i) Any person may appeal incomplete, late and ineligible applications or applications submitted without the appropriate processing fee that were not included in the department’s big game drawing and the hunter did not earn a preference point. The appeal shall be in writing and describe the basis for the appeal. The appeal shall be received by the department’s License and Revenue Branch in Sacramento, or if mailed, postmarked on or before May 31 of the following year. The department, upon consideration of the appeal, may grant the appeal and award one preference point to the appellant. If the department grants the appeal for a preference point, the appellant shall pay all the applicable fees. The department shall not award a preference point unless the appellant pays all the applicable fees.

(j) Any applicant who was drawn for the applicant’s first deer tag choice in the big game drawing and can not hunt for any reason may submit a written request to retain the accumulated preference point total and earn one preference point for deer for that year. Applicants shall return the tag to the department’s License and Revenue Branch before the season starts for which the tag is valid for the department to consider the request. If the request is granted the applicant shall retain the preference point total the applicant accumulated prior to the big game drawing and earn one preference point for deer. The department shall not refund the fees paid for a resident deer tag application. The department may refund the difference between the fee paid for a nonresident deer tag application and a resident deer tag application for any nonresident.

(k) Any applicant who was awarded an elk, antelope, or big horn sheep tag in the big game drawing and can not hunt for any reason may submit a written request to retain the accumulated preference point total and earn one preference point for elk, antelope or big horn sheep for that year. Applicants shall return the tag to the department’s License and Revenue Branch before the season starts for which the tag is valid for the department to consider the request. The applicant shall submit the nonrefundable processing fee specified in Section 702 with the request. If the request is granted the applicant shall retain the preference point total the applicant accumulated prior to the big game drawing and earn one preference point for elk, antelope or big horn sheep. The department may refund the tag fee.

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link .15, .16, .17 here and from the other pages

14 CCR § 708.15 (California big game hunting laws)

(a) Premium Deer Hunts

(1) Except for apprentice deer hunt applicants, as specified in Section 708.2, applicants shall apply via first-deer tag for premium deer hunts with the department’s Big Game Drawing through the department’s Automated License Data System terminals at any department license agent or department license sales office.

(2) Party deer tag drawing applications for premium deer hunts shall not be split to meet the tag quota if the number of party members exceeds the number of available tags. Party applications which exceed the number of available tags shall be bypassed until the tag quota is reached.

(3) License tags for premium deer hunts (except apprentice deer hunts) shall be awarded based on the following:

(A) Ninety percent (90%) of the individual zone or hunt tag quota shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing. Tag quota splits resulting in decimal fractions of a tag shall be rounded to the next higher whole number.

(B) Ten percent (10%) of the individual zone or hunt tag quota shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing. Tag quota splits resulting in decimal fractions of a tag shall be rounded to the next lower whole number.

(C) For zones or hunts with quotas less than ten (10) tags, one (1) tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing. Remaining tags shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing.

(D) Tags awarded to applicants for second or third choice zones or hunts shall be through a Draw-By-Choice drawing and shall not result in loss of accumulated points.

(E) License tags for apprentice deer hunts (J Hunts) as described in subsection 360(c) shall be awarded based on the following:

1. Fifty percent (50%) of the hunt tag quota shall be awarded through a Preference Point drawing. Tag quota splits resulting in decimal fractions of a tag shall be rounded to the next higher whole number.

2. Fifty percent (50%) of the hunt tag quota shall be awarded through a Draw-By-Choice drawing. Tag quota splits resulting in decimal fractions of a tag shall be rounded to the next lower whole number.

(F) An apprentice hunter applying for premium deer hunts (X zones, Area-specific archery hunts, and additional hunts) on a first-deer tag application and a second-deer tag application shall:

1. Receive a point only if he/she is unsuccessful in the big game drawing with his/her first choice on both applications.

2. Lose all preference points for deer if he/she receives his/her first choice on either application.

(b) Bighorn Sheep Hunts

(1) Successful bighorn sheep tag applicants shall be determined as follows, based on tag quotas for each hunt.

(A) For quotas of one, the tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(B) For quotas of two, one tag shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing, and one tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(C) For quotas of three, two tags shall be awarded using a Preference Point Drawing, and one tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(D) For quotas of four or more, seventy-five percent (75%) of the quota shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing. Any resulting fractional tag shall be rounded to the next higher whole number. The remaining portion of the quota shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(2) Alternates shall be selected for each hunt using a Preference Point Drawing. Alternate selection shall be limited to resident applicants.

(c) Elk Hunts

(1) Successful elk tag applicants shall be determined as follows, based on tag quotas for each hunt or hunt period.

(A) For quotas of one, the tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(B) For quotas of two, one tag shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing, and one tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(C) For quotas of three, two tags shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing, and one tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(D) For quotas of four or more, seventy-five percent (75%) of the quota shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing. Any resulting fractional tag shall be rounded to the next higher whole number. The remaining portion of the quota shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(2) Party applications drawn for the last tag available through the Preference Point drawing for a hunt will be split and the party leader (first of the party members to apply) shall be awarded the elk license tag. The party member shall become the first alternate for that hunt. Party applications shall not be split to fill the last tag available through the Draw-By-Choice drawing. In the event only one elk license tag is available to an alternate, party applications will be split and the alternate tag shall be awarded to the party leader.

(3) Alternates shall be selected for each hunt or hunt period using a Preference Point drawing. Alternate selection shall be limited to resident applicants.

(d) Pronghorn Antelope Hunts

(1) Successful pronghorn antelope tag applicants shall be determined as follows, based on tag quotas for each hunt or hunt period.

(A) For quotas of one, the tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(B) For quotas of two, one tag shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing, and one tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(C) For quotas of three, two tags shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing, and one tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(D) For quotas of four or more, seventy-five percent (75%) of the quota shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing. Any resulting fractional tag shall be rounded to the next higher whole number. The remaining portion of the quota shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

(2) Party applications drawn for the last tag available through the Preference Point drawing for a hunt will be split and the party leader (first of the party members to apply) shall be awarded the pronghorn antelope license tag. The party member shall become the first alternate for that hunt. Party applications shall not be split to fill the last tag available through the Draw-By-Choice drawing. In the event only one pronghorn antelope license tag is available to an alternate, party applications will be split and the alternate tag shall be awarded to the party leader.

(3) Alternates shall be selected for each hunt or hunt period using a Preference Point drawing. Alternate selection shall be limited to resident applicants.

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14 CCR § 708.16 (California big game hunting laws)

(a) General Conditions

(1) Commencing January 1, 2011, except as otherwise provided, the department may award license tags for fund-raising hunts for deer, bighorn sheep, elk and pronghorn antelope hunts, as described in sections 360, 361, 362, 363, and 364, using a random drawing system.

(A) Applicants for a deer, elk, or antelope license tag shall be 12 years of age on or before July 1 of the license year for which they are applying.

(B) Applicants for a big horn sheep license tag shall be 16 years of age on or before July 1 of the license year for which they are applying.

(C) Applicants for deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and elk hunts shall include the appropriate nonrefundable fee in Section 702.

(D) Applicants shall apply through the department’s Automated License Data System terminals at any department license agent or department license sales office on or before June 2 each year.

(E) Any resident or nonresident applicant may submit one or more fund-raising tag random drawing applications for each species during the same license year.

(F) No applicant shall earn a preference point in any fund-raising tag random drawings.

(G) Accumulated preference points shall not be considered in any of the fund-raising tag random drawings.

(H) Fund-raising tags shall not be transferred to another person.

(I) Successful applicants and a list of alternates for each fund-raising license tag will be determined by drawing within 10 business days following the application deadline date. If the drawing is delayed due to circumstances beyond the department’s control, the department shall conduct the drawing at the earliest date possible.

(J) Unsuccessful applicants shall not be notified by mail.

(K) Successful applicants will be mailed notification as soon as practical.

(L) Upon receipt of the notification, the applicant shall claim the tag at the department’s License and Revenue Branch, 1740 N. Market Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95834 by 5:00 p.m. on July 15 each year. If the deadline to claim the tag falls on a weekend or holiday the applicant can claim the tag until the close of business on the first state business day following the deadline. Any tags unclaimed by successful applicants after that date shall be awarded to alternates for that license tag in the order drawn.

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14 CCR § 708.17 (California big game hunting laws)

(a) Not more than one replacement license tag for each deer, bear, elk, pronghorn antelope, or bighorn sheep license tag issued to any tag holder shall be replaced each year. If the tagholder loses any big game license tag, it shall be replaced only by following the procedures below:

(1) The tag holder shall provide all of the following to any department license sales office:

(A) An affidavit, specified in Section 702, signed under penalty of perjury by the tag holder, containing the following information:

1. A statement confirming that the originally issued big game license tag cannot be recovered.

2. A statement describing the factual circumstances surrounding the loss of the big game license tag.

(B) Payment of the Duplicate Big Game License Tag Fee specified in Section 702, established pursuant to subdivision 1053(b) of the Fish and Game Code, and as adjusted pursuant to Sections 713 and 1055 of the Fish and Game Code.

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Warning shot!! While we try to fetch up all major California big game hunting regulations, we might miss a few or make a typo. If so, please leave a comment or question in the reply box below.

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