47 California Game Bird Regulations for Public and Private Hunting, Possession, Transport, Consumption, and More!

California game bird regulations for upland and migratory game birds.
California game bird regulations

Here, we fetch up California game bird regulations for hunters, breeders, club owners and members, disabled hunters, game cleaners and processors, shippers, taxidermists, and more. We retrieve them with links to the laws, definitions and related topics, including:

  1. List of 19 game birds,
  2. 13 legal definitions,
  3. 47 legal topics,
  4. Summaries of each topic, and
  5. List of 19 game bird regulations.

Warning shots!! These rules are in addition to those applicable to all birds and mammals, and are supplemented by rules only for Upland Game Birds, Migratory Game Birds, Waterfowl, and individual Species. While we try to keep up with changes, always check the Fish & Game Commission website for any updates or additional rules. In addition, there might be additional rules from other sources, like criminal laws and county ordinances. Though the contents of this page is not legal advice, feel free to ask our Legal Labrador for help.


19 Game Birds

There are California game bird regulations for at least 19 “game birds.”  As we list below,  there are 15 species and/or varieties of upland game birds, of which 12 are residents and three are migratory. Besides those, there are four other migratory game birds, including waterfowl (i.e. ducks and geese). See FGC § 3500(c) and FGC § 3683.

Resident Upland Game Birds

California game bird regulations for resident upland game birds.
List of resident upland game birds.
  1. Doves of the genus Streptopelia, including Chinese spottedEurasian collared, and ringed turtledoves of the family Columbidae;
  2. Grousesooty grouse (also known as “blue grouse”);
  3. Grouseruffed grouse;
  4. Grousesage grouse (also known as “sage hens”);
  5. Partridges: red-legged partridges (including Chukar);
  6. Partridge: Hungarian partridges;
  7. Pheasants, but only varieties of ring-necked;
  8. Ptarmigan, but only the white-tailed; 
  9. QuailCalifornia quail and all varieties thereof;
  10. Quail: Gambel’s quail (also known as “desert quail”);
  11. Quailmountain quails and all varieties thereof; and
  12. Turkey: wild turkeys only.

Migratory Upland Game Birds

California game bird regulations for migratory upland game birds.
List of migratory upland game birds.
  1. Doves, but only mourning and white-winged doves;
  2. Pigeon, but only band-tailed; and
  3. Snipe, but only the common snipe (also known as “jacksnipe”).

Other Migratory Game Birds

California game bird regulations for waterfowl and other migratory birds.
Other migratory game birds.
  1. Coot, but only American coot;
  2. Ducks, including mergansers;
  3. Gallinules, but only the common moorhen; and
  4. Geese, including brant.

13 Legal Definitions

In this Section, we fetch up links to definitions for California game bird regulations used on this page, including: bag and possession limitsbird or birdscommercial preservation facilitygame birdsmigratory game birdsnongame birdspersonal abodepossession limitsresident game birdsresident small gameseasonstake, and waterfowl. For more, see our page for Hunting Definitions.


47 Legal Topics for Game Birds

Our topics from the California game bird regulations include hunter-friendly summaries, plus links to the actual regulations and our other pages with important definitions and related topics:

  1. Agricultural Land, see Baited AreasDriving & Herding, and Lights (Artificial & Night Vision).
  2. Airplanes, see Driving & HerdingDriving Game Birds to Others, and Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles.
  3. Archery Equipment, see Archery section on our page for Bird Hunting Rules that (a) prohibit certain arrows, firearm possession during archery seasons or with archery-only tags, shooting across roads & highways, and possession of ready-to-fire bows in or on a vehicle; (b) allow certain lighted nocks and use of crossbows with a Disabled Archer’s Permit; and (c) require a minimum casting distance. Also, see Crossbows below.
  4. Bag & Possession Limits, see rules prohibiting possession in excess of limits for any bird except properly tagged game birds held by either a (a) person or business for the purpose of cleaning, shipment, storage, transport, and taxidermy; (b) hunter with at least a copy a recent hunting license; or (c) recipient of a donation or gift with a copy of the hunter’s license and a confirming statement that the hunter signs and dates.
  5. Bag limits for California goose hunting seasons, California duck hunting seasons, including California Waterfowl Opening WeekingBaited Areas, see rules that (a) define “baited area,” (b) prohibit take of resident game birds within 400 yards of baited area, (c) and exempt (i) domestically reared and released game birds on licensed game bird clubs and (ii) resident game birds on or over agricultural land with certain crops and harvested croplands (e.g. corn, wheat, grains, salt, or other feed).
  6. Boardinghouses, see Breeder’s License & Tags.
  7. Boats, Kayaks & Canoes, see Driving & HerdingDriving Game Birds to Others, and Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles.
  8. Breeder’s License & Tags for rules that generally require a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, but exempt (a) pheasant clubs, (b) domesticated migratory game bird shooting areas, (c) retail meat dealers, and (d) boardinghouses, clubs, hotels, and restaurants that prepare and serve them as food. Also, see Transportation: Domestic Game Birds.
  9. Buying & Selling, see Domestically Reared Game Birds: Transporting Inedible Parts.
  10. Capture or Confinement, see Breeder’s License & Tags and Live Birds.
  11. Cleaning & Processing Services, see Bag & Possession Limits.
  12. Clubs, see rules that (a) define “commercial hunting club;” (b) require a commercial hunting club license before a bird may be taken at the club; and (c) exempt clubs (i) that charge less than $100 to enter or $1,000 for annual membership, (ii) the CDFW uses for the SHARE program, (iii) licensed domesticated game hunt clubs and migratory game bird shooting areas, and (iv) other hunting programs. Also, see Baited Areas and Breeder’s License & Tags.
  13. Cold Storage Facilities, see rules requiring cold record storage plants and frozen good lockers where game birds are processed, preserved, or stored, to maintain certain records and compliance with reasonable inspections by the CDFW. Also, see Bag & Possession Limits and Identification of Species.
  14. Contests, Derbies & Tournaments, see rule prohibiting a  reward, or offer of a reward, to take game birds unless the value is less than $500.
  15. Crossbows, see Crossbows section of our Bird Hunting Rules page for rules that (a) prohibits crossbows to take game birds during archery seasons except with a Disabled Archer’s Permit; bolts with explosive heads, poison, and tranquilizers; possession of a firearm during archery seasons or with archery-only tags; shooting across roads & highways; and having ready-to-fire a crossbow in or on a vehicle; (b) allow certain lighted nocks; and (c) require a minimum casting distance. Also, see Disabled Hunters.
  16. Disabled Hunters, see  Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles. Also, see sections from our pages for CrossbowsDisabled Archer’s PermitsDisabled Hunter LawsDisabled Hunter PermitDisabled Veteran Hunting LicenseMobility-Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License, and Recovering Service Member Hunting License.
  17. Domestically Reared Birds for rule prohibiting the purchase or sale of inedible domestically reared game bird parts except taxidermists selling mounted skins. Also, see Baited AreasBreeder’s License & TagsClubs: Commercial Hunting Club License, and Transportation: Domestic Game Birds.
  18. Donations & Gifts, see Bag & Possession Limits.
  19. Driving & Herding, for rules that (a) define “animal harassment,” (b) generally prohibit driving, herding, and animal harassment, and (c) make exceptions for use of motorized water, land, and air vehicles by (i) landowners and tenants to prevent property damage, (ii) holders of a CDFW permit, and (iii) “in the pursuit of agriculture.” Also, see rules for Driving Game Birds to Others.
  20. Driving Game Birds to Others, see rule prohibiting use of “any powerboat, motor vehicle, or airplane” to intentionally drive game birds toward a hunter.
  21. Firearms & Other Weapons, see Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles. Also, see sections of our pages for Archery and Crossbows.
  22. Food Services, see Breeder’s License & Tags.
  23. Frozen Food Facilities, see Cold Storage Facilities.
  24. Harassment, see Driving & Herding.
  25. Herding, see Driving & Herding above.
  26. Hotels, see Breeder’s License & Tags.
  27. Identification of Species for rule requiring an attached head and fully-feathered wing during possession or transport of any bird and exceptions (a) at a “personal abode,” (b) when being prepared for consumption, (c) for delivery to a “commercial preservation facility” (e.g. cold storage and taxidermist), and doves, which only require the wing.
  28. Importing, see Breeder’s License & Tags.
  29. Indian Reservations, see rules and conditions to transport game birds off Indian reservations, including possible permits, stamps, and tags from the CDFW.
  30. Licenses, see Bag & Possession LimitsBaited AreasBreeder’s License & TagsClubsDisabled Hunters, and Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles.
  31. Lights (Artificial & Night Vision), see rules that (a) define “night vision equipment, e.g. infrared; (b) prohibit night vision to help take any bird; (c) prohibit “artificial lights,” e.g. spotlights, to help take any game bird; and (d) allow certain flashlights, lamps, lanterns, lighted nocks on bows and crossbows, unintentional use of vehicle headlights, owners of agricultural land and employees while on the land or land controlled by the owner and used in connection with the agricultural industry. Also, see the sections on our page Archery and Crossbows.
  32. Live Birds, see rule prohibiting capture, possession, or confinement of live game birds except for temporary medical treatment.
  33. Meat Dealers, see Breeder’s License & Tags.
  34. Military, see Disabled Hunters above.
  35. Permits, see Crossbows section of our Bird Hunting Rules page, Driving & HerdingDisabled Hunter Permit on our page for Disabled Hunter LawsIndian Reservations, and Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles.
  36. Possession, see Bag & Possession LimitsIdentification of Species, and Live  Birds.
  37. Preservation Facilities, see Cleaning & Processing ServicesCold Storage Facilities, and Taxidermy.
  38. Private Property, see Agricultural LandDriving & Herding, and Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles.
  39. Public Land, see Agricultural Land and the sections for Archery and Crossbows on our page for Bird Hunting Rules.
  40. Raising, see Breeder’s License & Tags.
  41. Restaurants, see Breeder’s License & Tags.
  42. Seasons, see Bag & Possession Limits.
  43. Shipment, see Bag & Possession Limits and Transportation.
  44. Tags & Seals, see Bag & Possession LimitsIndian Reservations, and Transportation: Domestic Game Birds.
  45. Taxidermists, see Bag & Possession LimitsDomestically Reared Game Birds: Transporting Inedible Parts, and Identification of Species.
  46. Transportation, see rule allowing common carrier transport of dead domesticated game birds, including (a) breeder’s tag and (b) a tag or label on each package, as it provides. Also see, Bag & Possession LimitsIdentification of SpeciesIndian Reservations and Shipment.
  47. Vehicles, see rules that prohibit shooting at game birds from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, or airplane and exceptions for taking birds (a) from an unpowered motorboat, airboat, or sailboat; (b) by a landowner or tenant preventing property damage; and (c) a disabled hunter with mobility disabled persons motor vehicle license. Also, see the Archery and Crossbows sections on our page for Bird Hunting Rules, Driving & HerdingDriving Game Birds to Others, and Lights (Artificial & Night Vision).

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Summaries of Game Bird Regulations

Link to our hunter-friendly summaries, which include links to the regulations and other useful sources: Agricultural LandAirplanesArchery EquipmentBag & Possession LimitsBaited AreasBoardinghousesBoats, Kayaks & Canoes, Breeder’s License & TagsBuying & SellingCapture or ConfinementCleaning & Processing ServicesCold Storage FacilitiesContests, Derbies & TournamentsClubsCrossbowsDisabled HuntersDomestically Reared BirdsDonations & Gifts, Driving & HerdingDriving Game Birds to OthersFirearms & Other WeaponsIdentification of SpeciesImporting, Food ServicesFrozen Food FacilitiesHarassmentHerdingHotels, ImportingIndian ReservationsLicenses, Lights (Artificial & Night Vision)Live BirdsMeat Dealers, MilitaryPermitsPossessionPreservation FacilitiesPrivate PropertyPublic LandRaisingRestaurantsSeasonsShipmentTags & SealsTaxidermyTransportation, and Vehicles (e.g. boats, planes, and trucks).


Agricultural Land

Driving & Herding Game Birds

See Driving & Herding for rules that (a) define “animal harassment,” (b) generally prohibit driving, herding, and animal harassment, and (c) make exceptions for use of motorized water, land, and air vehicles by (i) landowners and tenants to prevent property damage, (ii) holders of a CDFW permit, and (iii) “in the pursuit of agriculture.” Also, see rules for Driving Game Birds to Others.

Lights (Artificial & Night Vision)

See Lights (Artificial & Night Vision) for rules that (a) define “night vision equipment, e.g. infrared; (b) prohibit use of it to help take any bird; (c) prohibit spotlights and other “artificial lights” to help take any game bird; and (d) allow owners of agricultural land and employees while on the land or land controlled by the owner and used in connection with the agricultural industry.

Hunting Over Crops

See Baited Areas for rules that (a) define “baited area,” (b) prohibit take of resident game birds within 400 yards of baited area, (c) and exempt resident game birds on or over agricultural land with certain crops and harvested croplands (e.g. corn, wheat, grains, salt, or other feed)

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Airplanes

Driving & Herding Game Birds

See Driving & Herding for rules that (a) define “animal harassment,” (b) generally prohibit driving, herding, and animal harassment, and (c) make exception for use of motorized air vehicles by (i) landowners and tenants to prevent property damage, (ii) holders of a CDFW permit, and (iii) “in the pursuit of agriculture.”

Driving Game Birds to Hunters

See Driving Game Birds to Others for rule prohibiting use of airplanes to intentionally “drive” game birds toward a hunter.

Shooting at Game Birds

See Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles for rule that prohibits shooting at game birds from airplanes except landowners and tenants preventing property damage.

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Archery Equipment

On our page for Bird Hunting Rules, see the Archery section with rules that:

California game bird regulations for archery equipment, which includes bow and arrows.
California game bird regulations for archery.
  • Prohibit:
    1. Arrows with explosive heads, poison, and tranquilizers,
    2. Crossbows without a Disabled Archer’s Permit,
    3. Possessing a firearm during archery seasons )) or with archery-only tags,
    4. Shooting across public roads & highways, and
    5. Having ready-to-fire bows in vehicles;
  • Allow lighted nocks; and
  • Require a minimum casting distance.

For related topics, also see our page for Archery Laws.

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Bag & Possession Limits

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Bag Limits.

Hunting Services

California game bird regulations for possession limits and hunting services.
Possession Limits and Hunting Services

In general, 14 CCR § 251.7 prohibits possession of more than the bag or possession limits of any bird. The Section provides an exemption for properly tagged game birds, as it provides, and held for:

  1. Cleaning,
  2. Shipment,
  3. Storage,
  4. Taxidermy, or
  5. Transportation.

After Close of Season

After the close of seasonFGC § 2001(c) and FGC § 3080 generally prohibit possession of game birds. They provide exceptions for one possession limit, but the person in possession must have at least a copy of the hunter’s license and proper game bird tags. For people receiving game birds as a gift or donation, they must also possess a statement confirming the gift or donation that the hunter signs and dates. In addition, see the Section for Bag & Possession Limits.

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Baited Areas (Taking of Resident Game Birds)

In general, 14 CCR § 257.5 prohibits taking resident game birds within 400 yards of any “baited area.”

Definition of Baited Area

Section 257.5(a) defines “baited area” as:

[A]ny area where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed whatsoever capable of luring, attracting, or enticing such birds or mammals is directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, and such area shall remain a baited area for ten days following complete removal of all such corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed.

Game Bird Club Exception

Section 257.5(b)(2)(3) allows the take of domestically reared and released birds on licensed game bird clubs using baited areas (e.g. pheasant clubs).

Agricultural Land Exceptions

Section 257.5(b)(2) allows the take of resident game birds on or over:

  1. Standing crops,
  2. Flooded standing crops,
  3. Flooded harvested croplands,
  4. Grain crops properly shucked on the field where grown,
  5. Grains found scattered solely as the result of normal agricultural planting or harvesting,

In addition, Section 257.5(b)(3) allows the take of resident game birds on or over lands where the following were scattered as the result of (a) legitimate agricultural operations or procedures or (b) manipulation of a crop or other feed on the land where it was grown for wildlife management purposes, but only before it’s removed from or stored on the field where grown:

  1. Corn (shelled, shucked, or un-shucked),
  2. Wheat or other grain,
  3. Salt,
  4. Other feed

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Boardinghouses

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exception for boardinghouses that prepare and serve them as food.

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Boats, Kayaks & Canoes

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Hunting Navigable Waters.

Driving & Herding Game Birds

See Driving & Herding for rules that (a) define “animal harassment,” (b) generally prohibit driving, herding, and animal harassment, and (c) make exceptions for use of motorized water, land, and air vehicles by (i) landowners and tenants to prevent property damage, (ii) holders of a CDFW permit, and (iii) “in the pursuit of agriculture.”

Driving Game Birds to Hunters

See Driving Game Birds to Others for rule prohibiting use of any “powerboat” to intentionally drive game birds toward a hunter. Also, see Vehicles rules about “motorized vehicles,” which include airplanes, powerboats, and trucks.

Shooting From Boats

California game bird regulations for hunting from boats, kayaks, and canoes.
Hunting from boats, kayaks, and canoes.

See Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles for rules that prohibit shooting at game birds from a powerboat or sailboat and make exceptions for taking birds (a) from an unpowered motorboat, airboat, or sailboat.

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Breeder’s License & Tags

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Domesticated Game Breeding.

Domesticated Game Breeder’s License

California game bird regulations for domesticated birds.
Breeder’s License & Tags

To raise, import, or hold in domesticated game birds in captivity, FGC § 3200 generally requires possession of a domesticated game breeder’s license. In addition to others, the Sections provide exemptions for:

  1. Licensed pheasant clubs per Section 3283 [which was deleted];
  2. Domesticated migratory game bird shooting areas;
  3. Businesses and organizations that serve the meat for actual consumption on the premises; and
  4. Retail meat dealers.

Breeder’s Tags

See Transportation: Domestic Game Birds for rules allowing common carrier transport of dead domesticated game birds, including (a) breeder’s tag and (b) a tag or label on each package, as it provides

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Buying & Selling

See Domestically Reared Game Birds: Transporting Inedible Parts for rule prohibiting purchase or sale of the inedible domestically reared game bird parts except taxidermists selling mounted skins. For related topics, also see our brief on Buying and Selling Wildlife.

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Capture or Confinement

Domesticated Game Birds

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exceptions for (a) pheasant clubs, (b) domesticated migratory game bird shooting areas, (c) retail meat dealers, and (d) boardinghouses, clubs, hotels, and restaurants that prepare and serve them as food.

Live Game Birds

See Live Birds for rule prohibiting capture, possession, or confinement of live game birds except for temporary medical treatment.

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Cleaning & Processing Services

California game bird regulations for plucking, cleaning, and processing.
Cleaning and Processing

See Bag & Possession Limits for rule allowing possession of more than the limit of properly tagged game birds for the purpose of cleaning. For related topics, also see our brief on Food Preservation Laws.

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Clubs

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Licensed Game Bird Clubs.

Clubs That Serve Birds as Food

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exception for clubs that prepare and serve them as food

Commercial Hunting Club License

To charge fees for hunting on a property, FGC § 3240.5 requires possession of a commercial hunting club license. The Section provides exemptions:

  1. Where the entrance fee is less than $100,
  2. Where the annual membership is less than $1,000,
  3. For licensed domesticated game bird hunt clubs,
  4. For licensed domesticated migratory game bird shooting areas,
  5. Where the CDFW uses the property for the SHARE program, and
  6. Some other hunting club programs.

Domesticated Migratory Game Bird Shooting Areas

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exception for domesticated migratory game bird shooting areas.

Licensed Game Bird Clubs

See Baited Areas for rules that (a) define “baited area,” (b) prohibit take of resident game birds within 400 yards of baited area, (c) and exempt (i) domestically reared and released game birds on licensed game bird clubs.

Pheasant Clubs

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exception for clubs that prepare and serve them as food.

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Cold Storage Facilities

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Cold Storage Plants and Frozen Food Locker Laws.

Bag & Possession Limits

See Bag & Possession Limits for rule allowing possession of more than the limit of properly tagged game birds for the purpose of storage.

Identification of Species

See Identification of Species for the rule requiring an attached head and fully-feathered wing during possession or transport of any bird, and exceptions for (a) doves, which only require the wing, and (b) upon delivery to a “commercial preservation facilities” (e.g. cold storage and taxidermist).

Record Keeping & Inspections

For cold storage plants and frozen food lockers where game birds are processed, preserved, or stored, FGC § 3086 and 14 CCR § 711 require certain records, as it provides, and also requires compliance with reasonable CDFW inspections thereof.

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Contests, Derbies & Tournaments

For game bird hunting contests, derbies, or tournaments, FGC § 2003 prohibits a reward or offer of a reward unless the value is less than $500.

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Crossbows

On our page for Bird Hunting Rules, see the Crossbows section for rules that:

California game bird regulations for crossbows and disabled archers.
Crossbow Regulations
  • Prohibit:
    1. Bolts with explosive heads, poison, and tranquilizers,
    2. Crossbows to take game birds during archery seasons except with a Disabled Archer’s Permit,
    3. Possessing a firearm during archery seasons or with archery-only tags,
    4. Shooting across public roads & highways, and
    5. Having ready-to-fire bows in vehicles,
  • Allow lighted nocks; and
  • Require a minimum casting distance.

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Disabled Hunters

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Disabled Hunter Laws.

Crossbows with a Disabled Archer’s Permit

California game bird regulations for disabled hunters, disabled veterans, recovering service members, and disabled members of the US Armed Forces.
Disabled Archer’s Permit

On our page for Bird Hunting Rules, see Crossbows section for rule allowing crossbows to take game birds with a Disabled Archer’s Permit during archery season and with an archery-only tag.

Disabled Hunter Permit

See Disabled Hunter Permit on our page for Disabled Hunter Laws allowing Disabled Hunter Permits in lieu of a hunting license and any required tags to qualified (a) members of the U.S. Armed Forces and (b) organizations that take disabled servicemen and veterans on special hunts.

Disabled Veteran Hunting License

See Disabled Veteran Hunting License section on our page for Disabled Hunter Laws allowing a reduced-fee hunting license to disabled veterans.

Mobility-Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License

See Mobility-Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License section on our page for Disabled Hunter Laws allowing a reduced-fee hunting license and limited use of motor vehicles by mobility-impaired hunters.

Motor Vehicles

See Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles for rule that prohibits shooting at game birds from a motor vehicle and limited exception for hunter’s with a Mobility-Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License.

Recovering Service Member Hunting License

See Recovering Service Member Hunting License section on our page for Disabled Hunter Laws allowing a reduced-fee hunting license to recovering members of the US Armed Forces that qualify.

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Domestically Reared Game Birds

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Domesticated Game Breeding.

Baited Areas

See Baited Areas for rules that (a) define “baited area,” (b) prohibit take of resident game birds within 400 yards of baited area, (c) and exempt domestically reared and released game birds on licensed game bird clubs.

Breeder’s License & Tags

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exceptions for pheasant clubs, domesticated migratory game bird shooting areas, retail meat dealers, and boardinghouses, clubs, hotels, and restaurants that prepare and serve them as food.

Hunting Clubs & Shooting Areas

See Clubs for rules that (a) define “commercial hunting club;” (b) require a commercial hunting club license before a bird may be taken at the club; and (c) exempt clubs (i) that charge less than $100 to enter or $1,000 for annual membership, (ii) the CDFW uses for the SHARE program, (iii) licensed domesticated game hunt clubs and migratory game bird shooting areas, and (iv) other hunting programs.

Licensed Game Bird Clubs & Bait

See Baited Areas for rules that (a) define “baited area,” (b) prohibit take of resident game birds within 400 yards of baited area, (c) and exception for domestically reared and released game birds on licensed game bird clubs.

Transporting Carcasses

See Transportation: Domestic Game Birds for rule allowing common carrier transport of dead domesticated game birds, including (a) breeder’s tag and (b) a tag or label on each package, as it provide.

Transporting Inedible Parts

For domestically reared game birds, FGC § 3039 generally prohibits buying or selling the inedible parts. Section 3087 provides a limited exception for a taxidermist to sell mounted skins. Section 3039 has other exceptions, but they relate to mammals.

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Donations & Gifts

See Bag & Possession Limits for rule allowing possession of more than a “possession limit” of properly tagged game birds, including a recent copy of the hunter’s license and a confirming statement that the hunter signs and dates.

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Driving & Herding

In general, 14 CCR § 251.1 prohibits driving, herding, and animal harassment, as it defines. The Section provides an exception for landowners to prevent private property damage per 14 CCR § 251.2 (e.g. crop damage). In addition, Section 3003.5 provides the following exceptions to use “any motorized water, land, or air vehicle,” e.g. motor vehicle, airplane, powerboat, and snowmobile:

  1. Landowners and tenants that “haze birds” to prevent property damage,
  2. Holders of a CDFW permit, and
  3. “In the pursuit of agriculture.”

Also, see rules for Driving Game Birds to Others.

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Driving Game Birds to Others

For game birdsFGC § 3501 prohibits use of “any powerboat, motor vehicle, or airplane” to intentionally drive them toward a hunter. Also, see the Section for Driving & Herding above.

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Firearms & Other Weapons

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Hunting Firearm Regulations.

Archery & Crossbows

On our page for Bird Hunting Rules, see the Archery and Crossbows sections on our page for Bird Hunting Rules prohibiting (a) possession of a firearm during archery seasons or hunting with archery-only tag and (b) ready-to-fire bows and crossbows in or on a vehicle.

Lights (Artificial & Night Vision)

See FGC § 2005 for rule that prohibits shining “artificial lights” (e.g. spotlights) upon mammals while in possession of a firearm or other weapon. There is no specific rule for birds, but the Section also prohibits use of “artificial lights” (e.g. spotlights) (i) on a highway and (ii) where mammals are commonly found.

Shooting From Boats, Planes & Trucks

California game bird regulations for shooting from boats, airplanes, and trucks.
Shooting from Vehicles

See Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles for rules that prohibit shooting at game birds from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, or airplane and exceptions for taking birds (a) from an unpowered motorboat, airboat, or sailboat; (b) by a landowner or tenant preventing property damage; or (c) a disabled hunter with Mobility-Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License.

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Identification of Species

California game bird regulations for bird identification with head and wings.
Species Identification with Head & Wings

In general, 14 CCR § 251.7 requires a fully-feathered wing and head to remain on all birds while in possession or transport. The Section provides an exception for doves, which only requires a fully-feathered wing. In addition, it provides exceptions relating to:

  1. A place of “personal abode,”
  2. Preparation for immediate consumption, and
  3. Delivery to a commercial preservation facility.

 

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Food Services

California game bird regulations for food preservation services.
Food Preparation Services & Facilities

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exceptions for (a) retail meat dealers, and (b) boardinghouses, clubs, hotels, and restaurants that prepare and serve them as food. For related topics, also see our page for Food Preservation Facility Laws.

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Frozen Food Facilities

See the Section above for Cold Storage Facilities.

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Harassment

See Driving & Herding for rules that (a) define “animal harassment,” (b) generally prohibit driving, herding, and animal harassment, and (c) make exceptions for use of motorized water, land, and air vehicles by (i) landowners and tenants to prevent property damage, (ii) holders of a CDFW permit, and (iii) “in the pursuit of agriculture.” Also, see rules for Driving Game Birds to Others.

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Herding

See the Section for above for Driving & Herding.

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Hotels

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exception for hotels that prepare and serve them as food.

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Importing

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exceptions for (a) pheasant clubs, (b) domesticated migratory game bird shooting areas, (c) retail meat dealers, and (d) boardinghouses, clubs, hotels, and restaurants that prepare and serve them as food.

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Indian Reservations

California game bird regulations for Indian reservations.
Indian Reservations

In general, 14 CCR § 251.8 allows transport of game birds from Indian reservations. However, the Section provides conditions and requirement relating to CDFW permits, stamps and tags, depending on where the birds were taken.

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Licenses

In addition to the subsection below, also see related topics on our page for Hunting License laws.

Bag & Possession Limits

See Bag & Possession Limits for rule prohibiting possession in excess of limits for any bird except properly tagged game birds held by a (b) hunter with at least a copy a recent hunting license or (b) recipient of a donation or gift with a copy of the hunter’s license and a confirming statement that the hunter signs and dates.

Commercial Hunting Club License

See Clubs for rules that (a) define “commercial hunting club;” (b) require a commercial hunting club license before a bird may be taken at the club; and (c) exempt clubs (i) that charge less than $100 to enter or $1,000 for annual membership, (ii) the CDFW uses for the SHARE program, (iii) licensed domesticated game hunt clubs and migratory game bird shooting areas, and (iv) other hunting programs.

Disabled Hunters

See Disabled Hunters for rules authorizing reduced-fee hunting licenses and permits for recovering servicemen, disabled veterans, disabled members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and organizations that take them on special hunts

Domesticated Game Breeder’s License

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exceptions for (a) pheasant clubs, (b) domesticated migratory game bird shooting areas, (c) retail meat dealers, and (d) boardinghouses, clubs, hotels, and restaurants that prepare and serve them as food.

Licensed Game Bird Clubs

See Baited Areas for rules that (a) define “baited area,” (b) prohibit take of resident game birds within 400 yards of baited area, (c) and exceptions for domestically reared and released game birds on licensed game bird clubs.

Mobility Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle License

See Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles for the rule that prohibits shooting at game birds from a motor vehicle and limited exception for hunter’s with Mobility-Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License.

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Lights (Artificial & Night Vision)

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Night Hunting Regulations.

Artificial Lights

Subject to the exemptions below, FGC § 2005(a) prohibits use of “artificial lights” (e.g. spotlights) to help take any game bird.

Night Vision Equipment

California game bird regulations for lights and night vision equipment, e.g. spotlights and infrared.
Night Vision Equipment

Subject to the exemptions below, FGC § 2005(c) prohibits use or possess “night vision equipment”  to help take any bird. It provides a partial list “night vision equipment,” including:

(1) An infrared or similar light, used in connection with an electronic viewing device.

(2) An optical device, including, but not limited to, binoculars or a scope, that uses electrical or battery powered light amplifying circuits.

Exemptions

As it relates to game birds, FGC § 2005(d)(4)-(9) makes the following exemptions to the artificial light and night vision equipment restrictions:

(4) The use of a hand-held flashlight that is no larger and emits no more light than a two-cell, three-volt flashlight, and is not affixed to a weapon.

(5) The use of a lamp or lantern that does not cast a directional beam of light.

(6) Headlights of a motor vehicle that are operated in a usual manner and without attempt or intent to locate a game mammal, fur-bearing mammal, or nongame mammal.

(7) An owner of land devoted to the agricultural industry, or the owner’s employee, while on that land.

(8) An owner of land devoted to the agricultural industry, or the owner’s employee, while on land controlled by the owner in connection with the agricultural industry.

(9) Other uses as the commission may authorize by regulation.*

* The Fish & Game Commission authorized the use of lighted nocks on bows and crossbows per Section 354.

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Live Birds

For live game birdsFGC § 3005.5 generally prohibits capture, possession, or confinement. The only exception is for the purpose of temporarily medical treatment.

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Meat Dealers

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exception for retail meat dealers.

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Military

See Disabled Hunters for rules authorizing reduced-fee hunting licenses and permits for recovering servicemen, disabled veterans, disabled members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and organizations that take them on special hunts.

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Permits

Disabled Archer’s Permit

On our page for Bird Hunting Rules, see the Archery and Crossbows sections for rules that allow use of crossbows with a Disabled Archer’s Permit during archery seasons and with an archery-only tag.

Disabled Hunter Permit

See Disabled Hunter Permit on our page for Disabled Hunter Laws for rules allowing Disabled Hunter Permits in lieu of a hunting license and any required tags to qualified (a) members of the U.S. Armed Forces and (b) organizations that take disabled servicemen and veterans on special hunts.

Indian Reservations

See Indian Reservations for rules and conditions to transport game birds off Indian reservations, including possible permits, stamps, and tags from the CDFW.

Property Damage

See Driving & Herding for rules that (a) define “animal harassment,” (b) generally prohibit driving, herding, and animal harassment, and (c) make exception for use of motorized water, land, and air vehicles by landowners and tenants to prevent property damage. Also, see Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles for the rule that prohibits shooting at game birds from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, or airplane and exception for landowners and tenants to take birds causing property damage.

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Possession

Hunting Services

See Bag & Possession Limits for rules that restrict possessing more than the limits for any bird, and exceptions for properly tagged game birds held by a business or person for the purpose of cleaning, shipment, storage, transport, and taxidermy.

Donations & Gifts

See Bag & Possession Limits for restrictions against possessing more than the limits for any bird, and exception for properly tagged game birds held by the recipient of a donation or gift with a copy of the hunter’s license and a confirming statement that the hunter signs and dates.

Identification of Species

See Identification of Species for the rule requiring an attached head and fully-feathered wing during possession or transport of any bird and exceptions (a) at a “personal abode,” (b) when being prepared for consumption, (c) upon delivery to a “commercial preservation facilities” (e.g. cold storage and taxidermist), and (d) doves, which only require a fully-feathered wing.

Live Birds

See Live Birds for rule prohibiting capture, possession, or confinement of live game birds except for temporary medical treatment.

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Preservation Facilities

See the Sections above and below for Cleaning & Processing ServicesCold Storage Facilities, and Taxidermy, which are “commercial preservation facilities.”

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Private Property

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Private Property.

Lights (Artificial & Night Vision)

See Agricultural Land for exception allowing land owners and employee’s to use artificial lights and night vision to help take game birds on agricultural land and land used in connection therewith.

Driving & Herding Game Birds

See Driving & Herding for rules that (a) define “animal harassment,” (b) generally prohibit driving, herding, and animal harassment, and (c) make exceptions for use of motorized water, land, and air vehicles by landowners and tenants to prevent property damage. Also, see rules for Driving Game Birds to Others.

Vehicles

See Vehicles: Shooting From Vehicles for the rule that prohibits shooting at game birds from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, or airplane and exception for landowners and tenants to take birds causing property damage.

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Public Land

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Public Land.

Bows & Crossbows

See Archery and Crossbows sections on our page for Bird Hunting Rules that prohibit shooting arrows or bolts across or on public roads and highways.

SHARE Program

See Clubs for rules that (a) define “commercial hunting club;” (b) require a commercial hunting club license before a bird may be taken at the club; and (c) exempt clubs the CDFW uses for the SHARE program. For related topics, also see our page for the SHARE Hunting Program.

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Raising Game Birds

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exceptions for (a) pheasant clubs, (b) domesticated migratory game bird shooting areas, (c) retail meat dealers, and (d) boardinghouses, clubs, hotels, and restaurants that prepare and serve them as food.

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Restaurants

See Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or confine domesticated game birds, and exception for restaurants that prepare and serve them as food.

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Seasons

See Bag & Possession Limits for rule allowing more than a possession limit of properly tagged game birds after the close of season, including hunter’s and recipients of donations or gifts. For related topics, also see our page with quick links to hunting Seasons.

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Shipping

See Bag & Possession Limits  rule allowing possession of more than the limit of properly tagged game birds for the purpose of shipment. Also, see Transportation below.

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Tags & Seals

Breeder’s Tags

See Transportation: Domestic Game Birds for rule allowing common carrier transport of dead domesticated game birds, including (a) breeder’s tag and (b) a tag or label on each package, as it provides.

Game Birds

See Bag & Possession Limits for rule allowing possession of more than the limit of properly tagged game birds held (a) for the purpose of cleaning, shipment, storage, taxidermy, or transportation, (b) by the hunter for the purpose of consumption; and (c) by the recipient of a donation or gift.

Indian Reservations

See Indian Reservations for rules and conditions allowing transport of game birds off Indian reservations, including possible permits, stamps, and tags from the CDFW,

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Taxidermy

In addition to the subsections below, also see related topics on our page for Taxidermy Laws.

Bag & Possession Limits

California game bird regulations for taxidermists.
Taxidermy Bird Regulations

See Bag & Possession Limits for rule allowing possession of more than the limit of properly tagged game birds for the purpose of taxidermy.

Domestically Reared Game Birds

See Domestically Reared Game Birds: Transporting Inedible Parts for rule prohibiting the purchase or sale of inedible domestically reared game bird parts, and exception allowing taxidermists to sell mounted skins.

Identification of Species

See Identification of Species for the rule requiring an attached head and fully-feathered wing during possession or transport of any bird and exceptions (a) at a “personal abode,” (b) when being prepared for consumption, (c) upon delivery to a “commercial preservation facilities” (e.g. cold storage and taxidermist), and (d) doves, which only require a fully-feathered wing.

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Transportation

In addition to the subsections below, also see Shipment above and related topics on our page for Common Carriers of Wild Game.

Bag & Possession Limits

See Bag & Possession Limits for rule allowing possession of more than the limit of properly tagged game birds for the purpose of transportation.

Domestic Game Birds

California game bird regulations for transporting dead domesticated game.
Dead Domesticated Game Birds

For a common carrier to transport dead domesticated game birds, FGC § 2400 requires a breeder’s tag and package labels, as the Section provides. Also, see Breeder’s License & Tags for rules requiring domesticated game breeder’s license to import domesticated game birds, and exceptions for (a) pheasant clubs, (b) domesticated migratory game bird shooting areas, (c) retail meat dealers, and (d) boardinghouses, clubs, hotels, and restaurants that prepare and serve them as food.

Identification of Species

See Identification of Species for rule requiring an attached head and fully-feathered wing during transport of any bird, and exceptions (a) at a “personal abode,” (b) when being prepared for consumption, (c) upon delivery to a “commercial preservation facilities” (e.g. cold storage and taxidermist) and (d) doves, which only require the wing.

Indian Reservations

See Indian Reservations for rules and conditions allowing transport of game birds off Indian reservations, including proper tags,

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Vehicles (Airplanes, Powerboats & Trucks).

Bows & Crossbows

On our page for Bird Hunting Rules, see the Archery and Crossbows sections for rules that prohibit a ready-to-fire bow or crossbow in or on a vehicle.

Driving & Herding Game Birds

See Driving & Herding for rules that (a) define “animal harassment,” (b) generally prohibit driving, herding, and animal harassment, and (c) make exceptions for use of motorized water, land, and air vehicles by (i) landowners and tenants to prevent property damage, (ii) holders of a CDFW permit, and (iii) “in the pursuit of agriculture.”

Driving Game Birds to Hunters

See Driving Game Birds to Others for rule prohibiting use of “any motor vehicle” to intentionally drive game birds toward a hunter.

Headlights

See Lights (Artificial & Night Vision) for rules that (a) define “night vision equipment, e.g. infrared; (b) prohibit use of night vision to help take any bird; (c) prohibit “artificial lights,” e.g. spotlights, to help take any game bird; and (d) allow the unintentional use of vehicle headlights.

Mobility-Impaired Hunters

See Mobility-Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License section on our page for Disabled Hunter Laws for rules allowing a reduced-fee hunting license and limited use of motor vehicles by mobility-impaired hunters.

Shooting From Vehicles

In general, FGC § 3002 prohibits shooting at game birds from a “powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, or airplane.” There are following exceptions, however, in 14 CCR § 251(a) to “pursue, drive, herd, or take any bird:”

(1) When the motor of such motorboat, airboat, or sailboat has been shut off and/or the sails furled and its progress therefrom has ceased, and it is drifting, beached, moored, resting at anchor, or is being propelled by paddle, oar or pole.

(2) When used by the landowner or tenant of private property to drive or herd game mammals for the purpose of preventing damage to private property.*

In addition, 14 CCR § 251(a)(3) and (b) provides an exception for holders of a Mobility-Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License.

* See 14 CCR § 251.2 for “depredation permits” allowing landowners or tenants to pursue, dive, herd, or take birds. Also, see the Sections above about AirplanesBoats, Kayaks & CanoesDisabled Hunters, and Driving & Herding.

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List of 19 California Game Bird Regulations

Here, we fetch up a list of California game bird regulations applicable to all game birds. We retrieve them from sections of the Fish & Game Code (FGC §) and Code of Regulations (14 CCR §). Finally, see include links to important definitions and out pages with related topics.

  1. FGC § 2001(c) prohibits possession of a game bird or mammal outside of season except as Section 3080 provides for the hunter or a recipient with at least a copy of the hunter’s license, tags, and any other required documents.
  2. FGC § 2003 prohibits hunting contest reward offer to take a game bird or mammal unless the value is less than $500.
  3. FGC § 2005 (a) prohibits use of “artificial lights” (e.g. spotlights) to help takegame bird; (b) prohibits use of “artificial lights” (e.g. spotlights) (i) on a highway, (ii) where mammals are commonly found, or (ii) upon mammals while in possession of a firearm or other weapon; (c) prohibits use of “night vision equipment” (e.g. infrared) to help take any bird; and (d) exempts certain (i) agricultural landowners and employees, (ii) private landowners preventing property damage by furbearing mammals per Section 4180, (ii) handheld flashlights, lamps, and lanterns, and (iii) unintentional use of vehicle headlights. For related topics, also see our page about Night Hunting.
  4. FGC § 2400 requires breeder’s tag and package labels for common carrier transport of a dead domestically game bird or mammal.
  5. FGC § 3002 prohibits shooting at game birds or game mammals from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicles, or airplane.
  6. FGC § 3005.5 generally prohibits capture, possession, or confinement of live game birds, game mammal, nongame birdnongame mammal, or furbearer, removed from the wild except temporarily for medical treatment.
  7. FGC § 3039 generally prohibits purchase or sale of any bird or mammal found in the wild or inedible parts of a domestically reared game birds except (a) taxidermists selling skin mounts per Section 3087, (b) buying, selling, or donating deer skins or hides per Section 4303; (c) handicraft items and products made from (i) furbearing mammals, (ii) nongame mammals, (iii) shed antlers, (iv) antlers from domestically reared animals–but not whole antlers, heads, mounted antlers, or antlers in velvet.
  8. FGC § 3080 allows a person to have a possession limit of game bird or game mammal during a closed season if the person has at least a copy of the recent license and tags or is a charity or middleman, who also has a signed and dated written confirmation of the donation.
  9. FGC § 3086 requires cold storage plants and frozen food lockers with a game bird or mammal to keep records for CDFW inspection.
  10. FGC § 3200 generally requires a domesticated game breeder’s license to raise, import, or hold in captivity domesticated game birds and mammals that normally exist in the wild except for (a) licensed pheasant club per Section 3283, (b) domesticated migratory game bird shooting areas, (c) hotels, restaurants, boardinghouses, or clubs that prepare and serve the meat for actual consumption on the premises; (d) retail meat dealers, etc.
  11. FGC § 3240.5 defines “commercial hunting club” to include properties to hunt birds or mammals, and requires a commercial hunting club license except (a) where the entrance fee is less than $100, (b) the annual membership is less than $1,000, (c) holders of license for a (i) domesticated game bird hunt club, (ii) domesticated migratory game bird shooting area, or (iii) other hunting club program.
  12. FGC § 3500(c) defines “game bird” to include resident game birds and migratory game birds.
  13. FGC § 3501 prohibits intentional use of motor vehicles, powerboats, and airplanes to drive game birds to another person.
  14. 14 CCR § 251.1 generally prohibits animal harassment, as it definesherding, and driving game birdsgame mammalsfurbearing mammals, nongame birds, and nongame mammals except landowners to prevent property damage, e.g. crops (see 14 CCR § 251.2).
  15. 14 CCR § 257.5 generally prohibits the take of resident game birds or mammals within 400 yards of a baited area,” as it defines, except (a) domestically reared and released birds at licensed game bird club and (b) over certain crops, harvests, operations, and wildlife management purposes on agricultural land.
  16. 14 CCR § 251.7 (a) prohibits possession of a bird in excess of bag and possession limits except game birds with proper tags, as it provides, held for (i) transportation, (ii) cleaning, (iii) shipment, (iv) taxidermy, or (v) storage; (b) requires a fully feathered wing or head on all birds in possession or transport until (i) reaching a place of “personal abode,” (ii) being prepared for immediate consumption, or (iii) delivered to a commercial preservation facilityexcept doves only require the wing; (c) requires a declaration of entry per FGC § 2353 when importing a migratory game birds; (d) prohibits post-season possession of more than a possession limit of migratory game birds
  17. 14 CCR § 251.8 allows transport of game birds and game mammals off Indian reservations, subject to conditions, with or without CDFW permit, stamps or tag, depending on where they were taken.
  18. 14 CCR § 354 (a) defines “bow” and excludes crossbows from definition of “archery equipment;” (b) restricts arrow and bolt sizes for hunting big game, (c) allows any arrow or crossbow bolt for the take of migratory game birds, resident small game, furbearers, and nongame mammals except no arrow or bolt (i) with an explosive headpoisonous substance, or tranquilizers on any animal or (ii) without flu-flu fletching for the take of pheasant or migratory game birds unless to take waterfowl sitting on the water from a boat per Section 507(a)(2); (d) prohibits shooting across public roads and highways; (e) requires minimum casting distance of 130 yards (except flu-flu fletching arrows); (f) prohibits crossbows for game birds and game mammals during archery seasons except with a Disabled Archer’s Permit; (g) prohibits possession of firearm while hunting during any archery season or with an archery-only tag; (h) prohibits ready-to-firearm bows and crossbows in or on a vehicle; (i) allows use of lighted nocks without directional be of lights as exception t o Section 2005; and (j) provides procedures for Disabled Archer’s Permits.
  19. 14 CCR § 711 provides record keeping requirements for cold storage plants and frozen food lockers with where game birds or game mammals (or their parts) are processed, preserved, or stored.

While we try to fetch up all California game bird regulations, we might miss something or make a typo. If so, please leave a comment in the reply box below.

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