4 California Deer Tags, Applications, Drawings, Point System, Tagging, Reports, and More

Species for California deer hunting seasons, and California deer tags., and California deer tag quotas and bag limits

Here, we fetch up practically everything about 4 kinds of California deer tags, including applications, drawings, point systems, tagging procedures, reporting requirements, and more. For more on deer hunting, see our page for California Deer Hunting Seasons & Hunting Laws.

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California Deer Tags
California Deer Tags, Applications, Drawing, Point System, Tagging, Reports, and More
    1. Age Requirements
    2. Application Procedures
    3. Exchanges
    4. Hunting License
    5. Party Applications
    6. Possession of License and Tags
    7. Preference Point System
    8. Purchasing
    9. Replacement Tags
    10. Reporting requirements
    11. Tag Limits
    12. Tagging Procedures
    13. Types of Tags
    14. Violations

Age Requirements

Age requirements for California deer tags.To apply for California deer tags, you have to be least twelve (12) years of old. If you apply before July 1, you already have to be at least 12. If you apply after that, you have to be at least 12 before applying. See 14 CCR § 708.2(a)(2).


Applications Procedures

Completeness

When you apply for California deer tags, make sure the application is complete or it’ll get rejected. Also make sure is timely, legible, and accurate. See 14 CCR § 708.2(a)(3).

Number of Applications

When you apply for your “first-deer” tag, don’t submit more than one application per year. The same is true for a “second-deer” application. The license year is from July 1 through June 30. See 14 CCR § 708.3(e).

Tag Fees

Before you can get California deer tags, you have to pay the tag fee. (Click here for current prices).  In general, deer license tag fees aren’t refundable after you get the tag. The same is true for after entering the Big Game drawing. The rule applies to events like fires that destroy an area where the tag applies. Ironically, there’s a limited exception for nonresidents of California. See 14 CCR § 708.2(b).

Processing  Fee

Before you can get California deer tags, you have to pay a processing fee. Like tag fees, processing fees aren’t refundable. See 14 CCR § 708.2(a)(2).


Exchange Fees

In general, you can exchange California deer tags for a different zone or different hunt. However, tags can’t be exchanged if the tag quota for the original zone or hunt has been filled. The same is true if the earliest season (either archery or general) for the tag being exchanged has already opened. There’s a nonrefundable processing fee to exchange a tag. Apply at a CDFW license sales office__.  See 14 CCR § 708.4.


Fundraising Deer Tags

A “fundraising” deer tag is ___. In general, there’s a limited number of fundraising California deer tags.

Age Limit

To apply for fundraising California deer tags, you have to be at least 12 years old before July 1. See 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(A).

Applications

Applications for fundraising California deer tags are due by June 2. See 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(D).

Drawing

Fundraising California deer tags are issued through a random drawing by the CDFW. In general, the drawing is held withing ten (10) business days after the application deadline.  You’ll be notified by mail if you are drawn or get selected as an alternate. If you don’t get drawn, you won’t receive notice. See 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(I), (J), and (K).

If you get selected, you can pick it up at CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch, which is located at 1740 N. Market Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95834. You have to pick it up by 5:00 p.m. on July 15. If that date falls on a weekend or a government holiday, you can get it on the first business day after that. If you don’t pick it up, it’ll be awarded to an alternate in the order drawn. See 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(L).

Fees

Before you can get fundraising California deer tags, you have to pay the designated fee. See 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(C).

Preference Points

If you don’t get selected for fundraising California deer tags, you don’t get any Preference Points. If you already have some points, they’re not considered for fundraising tag drawings. See 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(F) and (G) and Preference Point System below__.

Purchasing

To apply for fundraising California deer tags, go online__ or to a CDFW license sales office or agent. See 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(A).

Residency

Residents and nonresidents can apply for fundraising California deer tags. Warning shot!!! Remember, you can submit as many applications as you want. See 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(E).

Transferability

If you get fundraising California deer tags, you’re not allowed to transfer them to someone else. See 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(H).


Hunting License

It’s illegal to hunt without California a deer tags for the particular area or deer hunt to which it applies. See 14 CCR § 708.1(a)(1). You can’t apply for a deer tag unless you have a valid Hunting License___ for the season in which you are applying. If you apply for an apprentice, you need a Junior Hunting License. Click here for information about Junior hunting. See 14 CCR § 708.2(a)(2).


Possession

When hunting deer, you have to be in possession of both a Hunting License and the appropriate California deer tag for the particular hunt or hunting area.  See 14 CCR § 708.1(a)(1).


Party Applications

Applications

When two or more people want to hunt deer together, can apply for California deer tags as a “hunting party.”  It starts with the “party leader,” who applies first and gets a Party Identification Number (PIN). The rest of the party applies by using the leader’s PIN. They’ll be assigned the same tag choices in the same order of preference as the party leader. See 14 CCR § 708.14(b)(7)-(9).

If the party applies for a Premium Tag, and the number of party members is greater that the tag quota, the hunt won’t be split to meet the tag quota. In other words, the party will be skipped until the quota is met by smaller parties or individuals. You can apply online or at a CDFW license sales office or agent. See 14 CCR § 708.15(a)(2) and Premium California Deer Tags below__.

Declaration

When apply, you have to declare whether your applying as (a) an individual, (b) a party leaders, or (c) a member of an existing party. See 14 CCR § 708.14(b)(5).

Party Identification Number

Your Party Identification Number is assigned by the CDFW through the Automated License Data System (ALDS).  You’ll use the PIN to apply for other species, besides just deer. See 14 CCR § 708.14(b)(6).

Party Size

If you apply for a Premium Tag, no more than six people may apply together. See 14 CCR § 708.14(b)(1).

Priority

When you apply as a party, the CDFW uses the party’s average Preference Point value for the drawing. They take the total Preference Points of the party and divide it by the party size. They don’t round up the average. See 14 CCR § 708.14(e).


Preference Point System

When applying for Premium California Deer Tags__, the CDFW use a Modified Preference Point system to fill a designated percentage of the quota.  That systems uses two methods for awarding the tags:  (1) Preference Point Drawings and (2) Draw-By-Choice Drawings. See 14 CCR § 708.14(a)(1) and (2).

Preference Point Drawing

In a Preference Point Drawing, Premium California Deer Tags are awarded in the order listed below. See 14 CCR § 708.14(a)(2)(A).

(1) An applicant’s hunt choice (first choice only for deer).

(2) Accumulated point totals by species (highest to lowest).

(3) Computer-generated random number (lowest to highest).

Draw-By-Choice Drawings

In a Draw-By-Choice, Premium California Deer Tags are awarded in the order listed below. See 14 CCR § 708.14(a)(2)(B).

(1) The applicant’s hunt choice.

(2) Computer-generated random number (lowest to highest), without consideration of accumulated points.

Quota Percentages

In general, the quota for Premium California Deer Tags is split as described below. (There’s an exception for apprentice deer hunts.) See 14 CCR § 708.15(a)(3).

(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.

Accumulation of Points

Point accumulation depends on a whether you: (1) were drawn or not, (2) chose not to apply, or (3) chose not to hunt. Your points will be cancelled if you were drawn or fail to apply for a certain number of years.

Unsuccessful Applicants

If you apply for Premium California Deer Tags, but weren’t drawn (based on first choice selection), you’ll earn one (1) Preference Point. You can use the point in future Big Game Drawings. Preference Points are accumulated by species. The points aren’t zone or hunt specific.

To apply, you have to meet the minimum qualifications listed below.

(a) You have to be at least twelve (12) years old on or before July 1.

(b) You need a valid annual California Hunting License__.

(c) You have to apply by June 2 at a CDFW license sales office or agent__.

Warning shots!!!  Make sure you get your “big game drawing receipt.” It’ll have your name, permanent ID number, proof of entry, hunt choices, accumulated preference points, and Party ID Number. Unless you’re a Junior apply for an apprentice hunt, don’t submit more than one drawing application per license year (July 1 – June 30).  See 14 CCR § 708.14(a)(3) and (4) and (c). Also see “Party Applications” above.

Non-Applicants

In you chose not to apply for Premium California Deer Tags, you might be able to earn a Preference Points. To qualify, you have to take the actions listed below. See 14 CCR § 708.14(f).

1. Apply online for the point, or at a CDFW license sales office of agent.

2. Select the point code number for the hunt choice (first choice only for deer).

3. Comply with the the regular application requirements.

Non-Hunters

If you were drawn for a “First-Deer Tag” but can’t hunt for some reason, you can apply to retain your accumulated points and earn another one. To have a change, you have to give your tag back to the CDFW before the season starts. Send it to their License and Revenue Branch.  If they grant your request, and you’re a resident, yoo won’t get a refund on the fees your paid. If you’re a nonresident, they have discretion to refund the difference your nonresident application and what residents pay. See 14 CCR § 708.14(j).

Cancellation of Points

Successful Applicants

In general, successful applicants of first choice Premium California Deer Tags will lose all preference points. See 14 CCR § 708.14(d).

Non-Applicants

Preference Points will be reduced to zero (0) if you don’t apply through the CDFW’s Big Game Drawings for five (5) consecutive years.  The same is true for a person disqualified from the drawing.  By applying for Preference Points, you’ll keep your file active.

Warning shot!!! If you get disqualified, you can appeal in writing to CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch in Sacramento. See 14 CCR § 708.14(h).

Transferability

Preference Points are accumulated by species. You can’t transfer them to another species or another person. See 14 CCR § 708.14(c).

Qualifications

To qualify for Preference Points, you have to meet the minimum qualifications listed below.

    1. You have to be least 12 years old on or before July 1.
    2. You need a current Hunting License.__
    3. You have to apply at a CDFW license sales office or agent.
    4. You haven’t submitted more than one non-apprentice application.

Warning shot!!! Make sure you get a receipt and hang on to it.

Records

The CDFW keeps a record of everyone’s Preference Points.  They keep up with them based on your Personal ID Number (PIN).  You PIN and Get Outdoors ID (GO ID) will be printed on each receipt. If you need to make any corrections, you have to must the CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch in writing. This includes changes or corrections to your name, mailing address, and date of birth. See 14 CCR § 708.14(g).


Premium Deer Hunts Tags

Premium California Deer Tags include all deer tags where the quota was filled by the first business after July 1 in the last license year. See 14 CCR § 708.1(a)(2)(A)(1).

Applications for First-Deer Tag

In general, applications for Premium California Deer Tags must be submitted at a CDFW license sales office or agent __. There’s an exemption for “apprentice” (Junior) hunters, who can apply online__. See 14 CCR § 708.15(a)(1).

CHOICE RESTRICTION

To apply for Premium California Deer Tags, you can use a “first-deer” tag drawing application. However, you can’t submit more than three (3) choices for deer tags per year.  See 14 CCR § 708.3(a)(1)(A).

JULY 2nd APPLICATIONS

If the quota for Premium California Deer Tags hasn’t been fulfilled by July 1, you can apply for one as early as 8:00 a.m. the following day. The rest will be issued to “first-deer” tag applicants until the quota is filled. Warning shot!!!  However, you can’t apply if you already got a Premium or Restricted “second-deer” tag until after August 1. See 14 CCR § 708.3(a)(1)(D).

AUGUST 2nd APPLICATIONS

If the quota for Premium California Deer Tags still hasn’t been met by August 1, you can apply as early as 8:00 a.m. the following day. This is true even if you received a “second-deer” tag.  The rest will be issued to “first-deer” tag applicants until the quota is filled.  See 14 CCR § 708.3(a)(1)(E).

Applications for Second-Deer Tag

Warning shot!!!  Don’t apply more than once for a first or second-deer California Deer Tags. See 14 CCR § 708.3(e).

AUGUST 2nd APPLICATIONS

On August 2, beginning at 8:00 a.m., second-deer tag applicants may apply for a Restricted or Premium California Deer Tags. You can apply online or at a CDFW license sales office or agentWarning shot!!!  Don’t apply if you already got a Premium or Restricted Tag, or if you have a pending application. See 14 CCR § 708.3(c).

APPRENTICE HUNTS

If you’re under the age of 16 on July 1, and haven’t applied for a “first-deer” apprentice hunt, you can apply for another second-deer hunt. However, you can’t submit more than one application for the additional hunt. See 14 CCR § 708.3(d).

Deadline

When you apply for Premium California Deer Tags, you have to get it to the CDFW by June 2. See 14 CCR § 708.1(a)(2)(A)(2).

Drawing

In general, Premium California Deer Tags are issued through a random drawing. The drawing is usually held within 10 business days after the application deadline. See 14 CCR § 708.1(a)(2)(A)(2).

Notice

The CDFW will let you know by mail whether you were drawn.

Parties

See “Party Applications” above.

Purchasing

You can apply at a CDFW license sales office or license agent__. See 14 CCR § 708.1(a)(2)(A)(2).

Preference Point System

See “Preference Point Systems” above.

Residency__

Both residents and nonresidents can apply for Premium California Deer Tags. See 14 CCR § 708.14(b)(1).


Purchasing

In general, you can apply for California deer tags online, or at a CDFW license sales office or agent. See 14 CCR § 708.2(a)(1).


Replacement Tags

If you happen to lose your California deer tags, you can request one replacement tag per year. To get one, you have to pay CDFW the processing fee. You also have to confirm that you can’t find the original, and explain how it was lost. See 14 CCR § 708.17.


Reporting Requirements

For California deer tags, you have to file a harvest report by January 31. This is true even if you didn’t hunt or kill a deer.

Methods

Submit your harvest reports online. Afterwards, record the confirmation number on your harvest report card. Keep it until at least March 1. Return your California Deer Tags if the CDFW asks for them. Otherwise, just return the report card portion by mail to CDFW. Send it to the CDFW Wildlife Branch, PO Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002.

Penalty

If you don’t submit your harvest report, you have to pay CDFW a non-reporting fee. You’ll have to pay either the next time you buy California Deer Tags application or license. The fee is about $20 – $20.


Restricted Deer Hunt Tags

In general, Restricted California Deer Tags include all tags except Premium Tags when the quota was filled by August 2 of the last hunt year. See 14 CCR § 708.1(a)(2)(A)(1).

Applications for First-Deer Tag

Warning shot!!!  Don’t apply more than once for a first or second-deer California Deer Tags during the same hunt year. See 14 CCR § 708.3(e).

In general, first-deer tag applicants can apply for any Restricted deer hunt. Tags are issued by request until the tag quota for the hunt is filled. Warning shot!!!  Don’t apply if you were already issued a second-deer Premium or Restricted tag. See 14 CCR §708.3(a)(1)(C).

AUGUST 2 APPLICATIONS

If the tag quota hasn’t been filled, you can apply as early as 8:00 on August 2. This is true even if you received a first or second-deer Premium or Restricted California Deer Tags. You can online or at a CDFW license sales office or agent. See 14 CCR § 708.3(a)(1)(E).

Applications for Second-Deer Tag

If the quota still hasn’t been filled by the, you can apply for a second-deer Premium or Restricted California Deer Tags. Warning shot!!!  Don’t apply if you already received a Premium or Restricted Tag, or if you have a pending drawing application. See 14 CCR § 708.3(a)(2)(b).

AUGUST 2nd APPLICATIONS

On August 2, beginning at 8:00 a.m., you can apply for a second-deer Premium or Restricted California Deer Tags. You can apply online or at a CDFW license sales office or agent. Tags will be issued until the quota is filled. Warning shot!!!  Don’t apply if you already received a Premium or Restricted first-deer tag, or if  you have a pending drawing application. See 14 CCR § 708.3(c).

APPRENTICE HUNTS

To apply for an apprentice hunt, you have to be under the age of 16 on July 1. If you haven’t already used a first-deer tag application for an apprentice hunt, you can use a second-deer tag application to apply for another apprentice tag. You can’t submit more than one application for additional hunts. See 14 CCR § 708.3(d).


Tag Limit

In general, you’re not allowed to kill more than two deer per license year, which is July 1 through June 30. See 14 CCR § 708.1(a)(1).


Tagging Procedures

1. Complete the Tag

After killing a deer, immediately fill out all portions of the tag. This includes the report card section. Make sure you completely fill out the tag, and that it’s legible. Use a permanent pen or marker. Completely remove the notches or punch holes for the month and date of the kill.

2. Tag the Deer

You can only use California deer tags for the particular area or deer zone.  For bucks, attach it to the antlers. For does, attach it to an ear. Keep it attached until at least 15 days after the season ends. It’s usually a hunting violation to have an un-tagged deer in your possession. See FGC  § 4336.

3. Countersigning

After you tag the deer, get it validated and countersigned. Take it straight to the closest person authorized by the Fish & Game Commission. Warning shot!!! It’s illegal to validate or countersign your own tag. See 14 CCR § 708.6.

4. Reporting the Kill

Within 30 days after you kill a deer, return the completed report card portion to the CDFW.

5. Retain the Deer Head

After killing a deer, keep the part of its head that, in adult males, normally has the antlers. Keep it until at least 15 days after the season closes. If an enforcement officer asks to see it, you have to show the. See 14 CCR § 708.1(a)(1) and 708.5, 708.6, and 708.7.


Unrestricted Deer Hunt Tags

Unrestricted California Deer Tags include all tags where the tag wasn’t filled by August 1 of the last hunting year. See 14 CCR § 708.1(a)(2)(A)(1).

Applications for First-Deer Tag

Warning shot!!! Don’t apply more than once for first or second-deer California Deer Tags during a single hunting year, which is from July 1 through June 30. If you’re apply for a first-deer tag, you can apply for an Unrestricted Tag. They’re issued upon request until the tag quota for the hunt is filled. See 14 CCR § 708.3(a)(1)(B) and (e).

Applications for Second-Deer Tag

If you’re apply for a second-deer tag, you can apply for for Unrestricted Tag. They’re issued upon request until the tag quota for the hunt is filled.  See 14 CCR § 708.3(a)(2)(a).

APPRENTICE HUNTS

To apply for apprentice hunts, you have to be under the age of 16 on Jly 1. If you haven’t already used an application for a first-deer tag drawing, you can use an application for a second-deer tag. You’re not allowed to apply more than once for additional apprentice hunts. See 14 CCR § 708.3(d).


Violations

If you apply more than once per year for first or second-deer California Deer Tags, you’re application will be denied. It will also be denied for the next year. See 14 CCR § 708.3(e).

If you’ve been convicted of a deer hunting violation, you have to give back your California Deer Tags for the current year and you can’t apply the next year. In addition, you can’t apply for an Preference Points. See FGC § 4340 and 14 CCR § 708.8.

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While we try to fetch up all major rules for California deer tags, and summarize them accurately, we might miss some or make an error. If so, please leave a comment or question in the reply box below.

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