80 California Hunting Definitions Every Hunter Should Know Before Hunting

Here, we fetch up California hunting definitions for phrases like “big game,” “furbearing mammal,” “migratory game birds,” “nongame birds,” “nongame mammals,” “small game,” and “upland game birds.” You’ll also find definitions for words like “junior,” “loaded,” “bag limits,” “take,” and “wildlife area.” The primary sources are the:

  1. California Title 14 of the Code of Regulations (14 CCR),
  2. Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CCR), and
  3. California Fish and Game Code (FGC).

California Hunting Definitions

Here, we retrieve links to California hunting definitions for major terms and phrases from federal, State, and local regulations.

  1. Adult
  2. Aggregate Bag Limit
  3. Aggregate Daily Bag Limit
  4. Aggregate Possession Limit
  5. Animal Harassment
  6. Arrows
  7. Bag
  8. Bag and Possession Limit
  9. Bag Limit
  10. Baited Areas
  11. Baiting
  12. BB Gun
  13. Big Game
  14. Bird
  15. Bow
  16. Bow and Arrow Fishing Tackle
  17. Camping
  18. CDFW
  19. Closed Season
  20. Commercial Preservation Facility
  21. Commission
  22. Commissioner
  23. Common Carrier
  24. Computer Assisted Remote Hunting
  25. Computer Assisted Remote Hunting Site
  26. Crossbow
  27. Daily Bag Limit
  28. Department
  29. Department Lands
  30. Dog Training
  31. Ducks
  32. Elk
  33. Entry Permit
  34. FGC
  35. Firearm(s)
  36. Fish & Game Commission
  37. Furbearing Mammals
  38. Free Roam
  39. Game Birds
  40. Game Mammals
  41. Geese (including Dark, Large Canada, Small Canada and White geese)
  42. Hunting Dog
  43. In the Field
  44. Juniors
  45. Loaded
  46. Mammal
  47. Methods of Take
  48. Migratory Bird Preservation Facility
  49. Migratory Game Birds
  50. Nongame Birds
  51. Nongame Mammals
  52. Non-resident
  53. Non-Shooter
  54. Open Season
  55. Personal Place of Abode
  56. Pigs (see Wild Pigs)
  57. Possession Limits
  58. Preservation Facility
  59. Public Road
  60. Regions
  61. Reservation
  62. Resident
  63. Resident Game Birds
  64. Resident Small Game
  65. Season
  66. Shooting Times
  67. Small Game Mammals
  68. Special Management Areas
  69. Special Use
  70. Take
  71. Type A Wildlife Areas
  72. Type B Wildlife Areas
  73. Type C Wildlife Areas
  74. Upland Game Birds
  75. Waterfowl
  76. Waterfowl Hunting Zones
  77. Wild Pigs
  78. Wildlife Area
  79. Wildlife Watering Places
  80. Youth
  81. Zones

Adult

When making a reservation at a Wildlife Area, an “adult” is defined as a person “18 years of age or older.” See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 550.5(a)(1)(E).

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Aggregate Bag Limit

California hunting definitions for bag limits.Under federal law for Migratory Birds, an “aggregate bag limit” is defined as a condition of taking in which two or more usually similar species may be bagged (reduced to possession) by the hunter in predetermined or un-predetermined quantities to satisfy a maximum take limit. See California hunting definitions at 50 CFR § 20.11(c)(1).

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Aggregate Daily Bag Limit

Under federal law for Migratory Birds, an “aggregate daily bag limit” means the maximum number of migratory game birds permitted to be taken by one person in any one day during the open season when such person hunts in more than one specified geographic area and/or for more than one species for which a combined daily bag limit is prescribed. The aggregate daily bag limit is equal to, but shall not exceed, the largest daily bag limit prescribed for any one species or for any one specified geographic area in which taking occurs. See California hunting definitions at 50 CFR § 20.11(c)(3).

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Aggregate Possession Limit

Under federal law for Migratory Birds, an “aggregate possession limit means the maximum number of migratory game birds of a single species or combination of species taken in the United States permitted to be possessed by any one person when taking and possession occurs in more than one specified geographic area for which a possession limit is prescribed. The aggregate possession limit is equal to, but shall not exceed, the largest possession limit prescribed for any one of the species or specified geographic areas in which taking and possession occurs. See California hunting definitions at 50 CFR § 20.11(c)(5).

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Animal Harassment

An intentional act that disrupts an animal’s normal behavior pattern, such as breeding, feeding, and sheltering.  However, a landowner or tenant may drive or herd birds or mammal for the purpose of preventing damage to private or public property, e.g. aquaculture and agriculture crops. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 251.1.

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Arrow

See “Bow” below.

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Bag

Reduce migratory game birds to possession. See California hunting definitions at 50 CFR § 20.11(c).

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Bag and Possession Limit

“Bag and possession limit” means the daily bag limit of each kind of resident and migratory game birds, game mammals and furbearing mammals which may be taken and possessed by any one person unless otherwise authorized. See 14 CCR § 252.

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Bag Limit

Under federal law, there are five types of bag limits. See California hunting definitions at 50 CFR § 20.11(c).

  1. Aggregate Bag Limit (see above)
  2. Daily Bag Limit (see below)
  3. Aggregate Daily Bag Limit (see above)
  4. Possession Limit (see below)
  5. Aggregate Possession Limit (see above)

In California, a “bag limit” means the maximum limit, in number or amount, of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians that may lawfully be taken by any one person during a specified period of time. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 18.

Note: No more than one daily bag limit of each kind of fish, amphibian, reptile, mollusk or crustacean named in these regulations may be taken or possessed by any one person unless otherwise authorized; regardless of whether they are fresh, frozen, or otherwise preserved. Exceptions: See California hunting definitions at Sections 7.00, 7.50(a), 27.60(c), and 195, Title 14, CCR. See 14 CCR § 1.17.

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Baited Area

Under federal law, a baited area means any area on which salt, grain, or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, if that salt, grain, or other feed could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them. Any such area will remain a baited area for ten days following the complete removal of all such salt, grain, or other feed. See California hunting definitions at 50 CFR § 20.11(j).

In general, a baited area means any 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. Exceptions are noted below. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 257.5.

    1. The taking of domestically reared and released game birds on licensed pheasant clubs and other licensed game bird clubs.
    2. The taking of resident game birds and mammals on or over standing crops, flooded standing crops (including aquatics), flooded harvested croplands, grain crops properly shocked on the field where grown, or grains found scattered solely as the result of normal agricultural planting or harvesting.
    3. The taking of resident game birds and mammals on or over any lands where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grain, salt, or other feed have been distributed or scattered as the result of bona fide agricultural operations or procedures, or as a result of manipulation of a crop or other feed on the land where grown for wildlife management purposes: provided that manipulation for wildlife management purposes does not include the distributing or scattering of grain or other feed once it has been removed from or stored on the field where grown.

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Baiting

Baiting means the direct or indirect placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of salt, grain, or other feed that could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over any areas where hunters are attempting to take them. See California hunting definitions at 50 CFR § 20.11(k).

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BB Gun

California Hunting Definitions for BB Gun on Wildlife Areas.A BB gun is not an authorized method of take and may not be used to take wildlife on any Wildlife Area (see below). A BB gun is defined as an air and/or spring-actuated rifle similar to Daisy BB gun models 96 (Timberwolf), 105 (Buck), or 1938 (Red Ryder), firing a spherical BB no larger than 0.177 inches in diameter (4.5 mm) at a muzzle velocity no greater than 350 feet per second. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 550(cc)(3)(C).

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Big Game

In California, the mammals listed below are defined as “Big Game.” See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 350.

  1. California Hunting Definitions for Big Game, including Black Bear.Black Bear (genus Ursus).
  2. Deer (genus Odocoileus).
  3. Elk (genus Cervus).
  4. Pronghorn Antelope (genus Antilocapra).
  5. Nelson Bighorn Sheep (subspecies Ovis canadensis nelsoni).
  6. Wild Pigs include feral pigs, European wild pigs and their hybrids (genus Sus).

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Birds

California hunting definitions in FGC § 22 defines “bird” as as “any wild bird or any part thereof.” The regulations allow hunting for 18 species of birds, including:

  1. 15 Game Birds
  2. 3 Nongame Birds

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Bow

Any device consisting of a flexible material having a string connecting its two ends and used to propel an arrow held in a firing position by hand only. Bow, includes long bow, recurve or compound bow. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 354(a).

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Bow and Arrow Fishing Tackle

Such tackle must have the arrow shaft or the point, or both, attached by a line to the bow or to a fishing reel (includes crossbow). See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 1.23.

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Camping

California Hunting Definitions for Camping with mobile home, trailer, or RV.Establishing, inhabiting and occupying a camp, resting, picnicking, sleeping, parking or inhabiting any motor vehicle or trailer, hunting, or engaging in any other recreational activity for a period of more than thirty (30) minutes at a given location. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 730(a).

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CDFW

As used herein, refers to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 37.

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Closed Season

See Season below.

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Commercial Preservation Facilities

Federal Law

Under the Migratory Bird Treat Act, 50 CFR § 20.11(e) defines “migratory bird preservation facility” to include certain businesses and hunting clubs.

Businesses

First, the term means any person or business that, in exchange for something of value (e.g. money or barter), has possession of another person’s migratory game birds for one of the following purposes:

  1. Cleaning,
  2. Freezing,
  3. Picking,
  4. Processing,
  5. Shipment, or 
  6. Storage.

The definition includes receipt, possession, or custody at the person’s residence or place of business, and specifically includes:

  1. Cold storage facilities,
  2. Frozen food lockers, and
  3. Taxidermists.

Hunting Clubs

Second, the term means any hunting club that normally takes possession of migratory game birds belonging to another person for purposes of picking, cleaning, freezing, processing, storage or shipment.

California Law

There are no California hunting definitions for “commercial preservation facility,” though hunting regulations use the term in 14 CCR § 251.7 and 14 CCR § 485. However, there is a definition in 14 CCR § 1.45 of in the fishing regulations:

Commercial preservation facility is defined as any person who at their residence or place of business and for hire or compensation cleans or processes  fish for another person, or any taxidermist, cold-storage facility or locker plant which for hire or other compensation processes or stores fish.

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Commission

The Fish and Game Commission. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 30.

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Commissioner

Means a member of the Fish and Game Commission. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 30.

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Common Carrier

According to FindLaw, a common carrier is simply an entity whose business transports people or goods from one place to another for a fee. See What is a Common Carrier?, last visited on April 25, 2017.

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Computer Assisted Remote Hunting

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. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 251.9(d).

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Computer Assisted Remote Hunting Site

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. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 251.9(d).

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Crossbow

California Hunting Definitions of Crossbows.Any device consisting of a bow or cured latex band or other flexible material (commonly referred to as a linear bow) affixed to a stock, or any bow that utilizes any device attached directly or indirectly to the bow for the purpose of keeping a crossbow bolt, an arrow or the string in a firing position. Except as provided in subsection 354(j), a crossbow is not archery equipment and cannot be used during the archery deer season. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 354(b).

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Daily Bag Limit

California Hunting Definitions for Daily Bag Limits.Under federal law, “daily bag limit” means the maximum number of migratory game birds of single species or combination (aggregate) of species permitted to be taken by one person in any one day during the open season in any one specified geographic area for which a daily bag limit is prescribed. See California hunting definitions at 50 CFR § 20.11(c)(2).

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Department

As used herein, refers to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 37.

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Department Lands

California Department of Fish & Wildlife land includes the properties listed below. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 550(b)(1).

  • (A) Any state-owned real property over which the department has jurisdiction and management authority.
  • (B) real property over which the department has management authority through a current lease, memorandum of understanding, management agreement, or similar document.
  • (C) Real property designated by the commission as a wildlife area (Section 551 of these regulations.
  • (D) Real property designated by the commission as an ecological reserve (Section 630 of these regulations).
  • (E) Real property held or administered by the department as a fishing access.
  • (F) Real property held or administered by the department as a public access.
  • (G) Real property designated by the commission as a public shooting area.

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Dog Training

In general, 14 CCR § 265(b)(6) of the California hunting definitions define “dog training” as:

For purposes of these regulations, dog training is defined as the education of dogs through “breaking” or “practicing” under strict provisions that preclude the injuring or take of animals. Training is distinguished from “pursuit”, as used in Section 86 of the Fish and Game Code, in that the animal being chased shall not be killed, captured, or injured.

For visiting wildlife areas14 CCR Section 550(b)(13) define it as:

“Dog training” for the purposes of department land is defined as the noncommercial act of training a hunting dog to improve the dog’s performance in hunting migratory or upland game birds and retrieval of downed game, and to enhance the hunting experience.

Also, see our page for Dog Hunting Laws.

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Ducks

California Hunting Definitions for Ducks.Ducks are a type of Waterfowl (see below), and include less known subspecies listed below. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 502(d)(1).

  1. Mergansers.
  2. Scaup.

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Elk

Elk is a type of Big Game (see above). For hunting, there are seasons for the kind of elk below. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 364(l).

  1. California Hunting Definitions for Elk hunting.Bull elk: Any elk having an antler or antlers at least four inches in length as measured from the top of the skull.
  2. Spike bull: A bull elk having no more than one point on each antler. An antler point is a projection of the antler at least one inch long and longer than the width of its base.
  3. Antlerless elk: Any elk, with the exception of spotted calves, with antlers less than four inches in length as measured from the top of the skull.
  4. Either-sex elk: For the purposes of these regulations, either-sex is defined as bull elk, as described in Section 364(l)(1), or antlerless elk as, described in Section 364(l)(3).

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Entry Permit

California Hunting Definitions for Entry Permits.“Entry permit” is defined as a permit which allows entry to specified department land for department-authorized activities where general access is restricted per subsection 550(c)(2)(D). Entry permits may require payment of a fee to the department. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 550(b)(6).

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FGC

The California Fish and Game Code. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 1.

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Firearm

California hunting definitions fail to define “firearm” or “firearms.” Depending on the hunter, hunting method, and location, a “firearm” can include everything from shotguns to slingshots. For details, link to our page below about Firearm Regulations.

60 California Hunting Firearm Regulations for 30 Firearms and Other Weapons

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Fish & Game Commission

The regulatory agency responsible for establishing fish and wildlife regulations (e.g., seasons, bag and possession limits, method take, area descriptions and special conditions)

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Furbearing Mammals

Furbearing Mammals include mammals that are protected and those with hunting seasons. Protected mammals include: fisher, marten, river otter, desert kit fox, and red fox. There are hunting seasons for the furbearing mammals listed below. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 4000 and 14 CCR §§ 460,  461, 462463464465,  and 466.

California Hunting Definitions for Furbearing Mammals, including Badger.Badger.

Beaver.

Gray Fox.

Mink.

Muskrat.

Raccoon.

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Free Roam

An uncontrolled area at a California Wildlife Area (see below) that is designated for hunting.

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Game Birds

California hunting definitions for game birds, icluding upland game birds.There are several categories of game birds.  As used by The Legal Labrador, a game birds is a bird lawfully taken as a recreational activity for the purpose of consumption. Game birds include the categories listed below.

  1. Migratory Game Birds.
  2. Resident Game Birds.
  3. Upland Game Birds.

FGC § 3500(c)

References in this code to “game birds” means both resident game birds and migratory game birds.

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Game Mammals

For the purpose of hunting, game mammals include the species and subspecies listed below. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 3950, FGC § 3950.1 [mountain lions] and 4902.

  1. Antelope (Prong-horned, genus Antilocapra).
  2. Bears (Black and brown or cinnamon bears, genus Euarctos).
  3. Deer (genus Odocoileus).
  4. Elk (genus Cervus).
  5. Jackrabbits and varying hares (genus Lepus).
  6. Pigs (wild pigs, including feral pigs and European wild boars, genus Sus).
  7. Rabbits (cottontails, brush rabbits, pigmy rabbits, genus Sylvilagus).
  8. Sheep (Nelson bighorn sheep, subspecies Ovis canadensis nelsoni).
  9. Tree squirrels (genus Sciurus and Tamiasciurus).

* Mountain Lions were excluded from the list of “game mammals” in 1990.

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Geese

California hunting definitions for geese.Geese are Migratory Game Birds, some of which are categorized by color and subspecies. “Dark Geese” include Canada geese, Cackling geese, Aleutian geese, and White-fronted geese (“Specklebellies”). “Large Canada Geese” include Western Canada geese (“Honkers”) and Lesser Canada geese (“Lessers”). “Resident Canada Geese” are Canada geese that nest within the lower 48 States and the District of Columbia in the months of March, April, May, or June, or reside within the lower 48 States and the District of Columbia in the months of April, May, June, July, or August. “Small Canada Geese” are about the size of a mallard. They are nearly identical in appearance to Large Canada geese. They have white cheeks, and make a high-pitched “cackle” as opposed to the deeper “honking.” The include the subspecies listed below. Cackling geese (dark breasts) and Aleutian geese (thin white neck ring). “White geese” include blue and white phases of Ross’ geese and Snow geese. See California hunting definitions at 50 CFR § 20.11(n) and 14 CCR § 502(a).

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Hunting Dog

“[H]unting dog” means a dog in the field actively engaged in the taking of mammals or birds, or a dog actively being trained for the taking of mammals or birds, that is located in an area where mammals or birds can be taken, at that time and place, in accordance with existing law. See FGC § 2011.5 on our page for Dog Hunting Regulations.


In the Field

All areas of a California Wildlife Area (see below) except check stations and designated parking areas.  NOTE: this definition applies to the possession of alcohol and other controlled substances. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 550(x)(1).

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Juniors

California hunting definitions for juniors and youth.In general, a “junior” is a person under the age 18 on July 1 of the licensing year (e.g. Junior Hunting License).  See FGC § 3031(a)(2). When hunting at California Wildlife Areas, there are special rules for Juniors ages 16 and 17 and “youth” under the age of 16. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 550(cc)(3)(C).

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Loaded

California hunting definitions of loaded firearms.A rifle or shotgun shall be deemed to be loaded for the purposes of this section when there is an unexpended cartridge or shell in the firing chamber but not when the only cartridges or shells are in the magazine. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 2006(b).

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Mammal

Under FGC § 54 of the California hunting definitions,

“Mammal” means any wild or feral mammal or any part thereof, but not any wild, feral, or undomesticated burro.

For hunting purposes, see our pages for Big Game Mammals, Small Game Mammals, and Nongame Mammals.

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Methods of Take

There are no California hunting definitions that specifically define “method of take,” but they do define “take” and restrict it to specific “methods.” First, FGC § 86 defines “take” to mean:

  1. Hunt,
  2. Pursue,
  3. Catch,
  4. Capture,
  5. Kill, or
  6. Attempt any of those things.

Second, general hunting regulations restrict “methods” to for taking specific birds, mammals, and categories of each. Potential methods include firearms (e.g. shotguns and rifles), archery equipmentcrossbowspellet gunsfalconrytraps, and more. Restrictions often apply to specific firearms (e.g. gauge, shell capacity, and ammo), arrows, bait, bows, calls, crossbow bolts, decoys, hunting dogslights, poison, scopes, shooting, traps, and more. In addition, regulations sometimes require special permits, tags, and written authorization.

Major categories with method of take restrictions include:

Warning shots!! In addition, there a method of take restrictions for specific birds, mammals, and locations. For examples, see 14 CCR § 464(c) [raccoon], 14 CCR § 250.1 [big game in the Condor Range], and 14 CCR § 550(b)(12) [“hunting” at wildlife areas]. For specific methods of take, select a species from our Hunting menu.


Migratory Game Birds

California hunting definitions for migratory game birds, including Snipe.Federal and California hunting definitions define “migratory game birds.” However, there are only hunting seasons for the following species:

  1. Coot (American only),
  2. Doves (mourning and white-winged only),
  3. Ducks (including mergansers),
  4. Gallinule (common moorhen only)
  5. Geese (including brant),
  6. Pigeon (band-tailed only), and
  7. Snipe (common “jacksnipe” only).

* In addition to the Federal and California laws below, also see Resident Game Birds (Eurasian-collared, ringed turtledoves, and Chinese spotted doves), Upland Game Birds (all doves, pigeon, and snipe), and Waterfowl (ducks and geese).

Federal Law

50 CFR § 20.11(d)

For the purpose of this part, the following terms shall be construed, respectively, to mean and to include:

(a) Migratory game birds means those migratory birds included in the terms of conventions between the United States and any foreign country for the protection of migratory birds, for which open seasons are prescribed in this part and belong to the following families:

(1) Anatidae (ducks, geese [including brant] and swans);
(2) Columbidae (doves and pigeons);
(3) Gruidae (cranes);
(4) Rallidae (rails, coots and gallinules); and
(5) Scolopacidae (woodcock and snipe).

A list of migratory birds protected by the international conventions and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act appears in §10.13 of this subchapter.

California Law

FGC § 3500(b)

Migratory game birds are as follows:
(1) Ducks and geese.
(2) Coots  and gallinules.
(3) Jacksnipe [common snipe].
(4) Western mourning doves.
(5) White-winged doves.
(6) Band-tailed pigeons.

Also, see 14 CCR § 506 below, and the sections for Game BirdsResident Small Game (Chinese spotted, Eurasian collared, and ringed turtledoves), DucksGeese, and Waterfowl.

14 CCR § 506

The shooting hours for migratory game birds, including mourning doves, white-winged doves, band-tailed pigeons, American coots, common moorhens, common snipe (jacksnipe), and waterfowl for all of California shall be from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
***

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Nongame Birds

“Nongame birds” include, but are not limited to, the species listed below. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR §§ 472(a) and (d) and 485, and 50 CFR § 20.133 [crows].

  1. California hunting definitions for nongame birds, including American Crow.American Crow.
  2. English Sparrows.
  3. Starlings.

 

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Nongame Mammals

California bobcat hunting seasonsAll mammals occurring naturally in California which are not game mammals, fully protected mammals, or fur-bearing mammals, are nongame mammals.  Examples include Bobcat and Coyote, as well as weasels, skunks, opossum, moles, and rodents (e.g. wild ground squirrels, chipmunks, rats, and mice). See California hunting definitions at FGC § 4150 and 14 CCR § 472(a).

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Non-resident

Any person who has not resided continuously in the State of California for six months immediately prior to the date of his application for a license or permit. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 57.

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Non-Shooter

Visitors of a Wildlife Area (see below) who accompany a reservation holder in the field or remain at a designated parking area. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 550.5(a)(E).

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Open Season

California hunting definitions for open seasons.Under federal law, “open season” means the days on which migratory game birds may lawfully be taken. Each period prescribed as an open season shall be construed to include the first and last days thereof. See 50 CFR § 20.11(b)(1).

In California, “open season” is that period of time during which the taking of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians is allowed as prescribed in this code and regulations adopted by the commission. If used to define the period of time during which take is allowed “season” means “open season.” See California hunting definitions at FGC § 62.

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Personal Place of Abode

There are federal and California hunting definitions for or usages of the term “personal abode.” Under federal law for migratory game birds50 CFR § 20.11(d) defines “personal abode” as:

California hunting definitions for personal abode or personal place of abode.Personal abode means one’s principal or ordinary home or dwelling place, as distinguished from one’s temporary or transient place of abode or dwelling such as a hunting club, or any club house, cabin, tent or trailer house used as a hunting club, or any hotel, motel or rooming house used during a hunting, pleasure or business trip.

Neither the California Fish & Game Code nor Title 14 of the Code of Regulations specifically define “personal abode.” The do, however, use the federal definition as it relates to migratory game birds and distinguish between “personal abode” and “temporary or transient place of lodging” for American Crow–a migratory nongame bird. See FGC § 12013 and 14 CCR § 485(c)(2).

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Possession Limits

California hunting definitions for possession limits.A “possession limit” is the maximum number of migratory game birds of a single species or a combination of species permitted to be possessed by any one person when lawfully taken in the U.S. in any one specified geographic area for which a possession limit is prescribed. See California hunting definitions at 50 CFR § 20.11(c)(4).

In California, a “possession limit” is defined as the maximum, in number or amount, of the species listed below that may be lawfully possessed by one person. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 19, 14 CCR § 1.17, and 14 CCR § 252.

  1. Birds.
  2. Mammals.
  3. Fish.
  4. Reptiles.
  5. Amphibians.

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Public Road

“Public road” means a road open to the general public which is (a) in the State or County road system, or (b) a road on which a public agency has a deeded, unlimited easement. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 895.1.

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Regions

The Department is divided into seven administrative Regions, which do not correspond with Waterfowl Zones:

  1. California hunting definitions of CDFW Regions.Bay Delta Regions includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Sacramento*, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Joaquin*, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo* counties.
  2. Central Regions includes Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Stanislaus, Tulare and Tuolumne counties.
  3. Inland Deserts Regions includes Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
  4. Marine Regions includes the entire California coastline from border to border and three nautical miles out to sea.
  5. Northern Regions includes Del Norte, Humboldt, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama and Trinity counties.
  6. North Central Regions includes Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lake, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento*, San Joaquin*, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo* and Yuba counties.
  7. South Coast Regions includes Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
  8. * These counties are split between Regions.
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Resident

Any person who has resided continuously in the State of California for six months or more immediately prior to the date of his application for a license or permit, any person on active military duty with the Armed Forces of the United States or auxiliary branch thereof, or any person enrolled in the Job Corps established pursuant to Section 2883 of Title 29 of the United States Code. See California hunting definitions at FGC § 70.

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Resident Game Birds

Per FGC § 3500(a), “resident game birds” include:

  1. Chukar, which is a variety of red-legged partridge.
  2. Doves, but only of the genus Streptopelia (e.g. spotted, ringed turtledoves, and Eurasian collared).*
  3. Grouses, but only varieties of sooty or blue grouse, and the ruffed and sage grouse or hens.
  4. Hungarian partridges.*
  5. Pheasants, but only varieties of ring-necked pheasants.
  6. Quails, but only varieties of California and mountain quails, and Gambel’s (desert) quail.
  7. Turkeys, but only wild turkeys of the order Galliformes.

* There is no hunting season for Hungarian partridges. Also, see the sections for Game BirdsMigratory Game Birds (white-winged and mourning doves), Resident Small Game (birds), and Upland Game Birds.

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Resident Small Game

“Resident small game” essentially means Resident Game Birds and Small Game Mammals.

Resident Small Game Birds

In addition to the resident small game mammals below, 14 CCR § 257 defines “resident small game” to mean the following resident game birds:

    1. Chukar, which is a variety of red-legged partridge.
    2. Doves, but only the Chinese spottedEurasian collared, and ringed turtledoves of the family Columbidae.
    3. Grouses, but only varieties of sooty grouse, and the ruffed grouse and sage grouse / hens.
    4. Hungarian partridges.*
    5. Pheasants, but only varieties of ring-necked.
    6. Ptarmigan, but only the white-tailed.
    7. Quails, but only varieties of California and mountain quails, and the Gambel’s (desert) quail.
    8. Turkeys, but only wild turkeys of the order Galliformes.

* There is no hunting season for Hungarian partridges.

Small Game Mammals

In addition to the resident game birds above, 14 CCR § 257 defines “resident small game” to mean the following game mammals:

    1. Jackrabbits and varying hares (genus Lepus),
    2. Rabbits, including cottontail, brush, and pigmy rabbits (genus Sylvilagus), and
    3. Tree squirrels (genus Sciurus and Tamiasciurus).

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Season (Open and Closed)

There are federal and California hunting definitions for “season,” “open season,” and “closed season,” depending on the species of bird or mammals. Also, see our page with Hunting Seasons for categories and species.

Season

For resident game birdsmigratory game birds, game mammals and fur-bearing mammals14 CCR § 258 defines “season” as the period of time during which they may be taken. All dates are inclusive.”

Open Season

Under California hunting definitions, “open season” means that period of time during which the taking of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians is allowed as prescribed in this code and regulations adopted by the commission. If used to define the period of time during which take is allowed “Season” means “Open Season.” See FGC § 62.

Closed Season

Under federal hunting definitions, “closed season” means the days on which migratory game birds shall not be taken. See California hunting definitions at 50 CFR § 20.11(b)(2).

Under California hunting definitions, “closed season” means that period of time during which the taking of birds, mammals, fish, or amphibia is prohibited. See FGC § 29.

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Shooting Times

California hunting definitions define “shooting time,” “clock time,” “sunrise” and “sunset” in 14 CCR § 250.5. Also, see our page for Shooting Hours of birds and mammals.

California hunting definitions define "shooting time" and "clock time," "sunrise" and "sunset."
California hunting definitions for “shooting time.”

In these orders whenever a specific clock time is mentioned, such time is meant to be legal California time for the date specified: i.e., during the days when California is on Pacific Daylight Saving Time, Pacific Daylight Saving Time is intended; when California is legally on Pacific Standard Time, Pacific Standard Time is intended. When reference is made to sunrise or sunset time, such reference is to the sunrise or sunset time at the location of the hunter.

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Small Game Mammals

California hunting definitions define “small game mammals” in 14 CCR § 257 to include the following species:

  1. California hunting definitions for small game mammals, including rabbits and tree squirrels.
    California hunting definitions for small game mammals.

    Hares (genus Lepus).

  2. Jackrabbits.
  3. Rabbits, including cottontail, brush, and pigmy (genus Sylvilagus).
  4. Tree Squirrels (genus Sciurus and Tamiasciurus).

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Special Management Areas

California hunting definitions define legal boundaries of eight waterfowl “Special Management Areas” in 14 CCR § 502(b)(6). Also, see our Google map.

Humboldt Bay South Spit (West Side)

California hunting definitions for waterfowl Special Management Areas.
California hunting definitions for waterfowl Special Management Areas.

Beginning at the intersection of the north boundary of Table Bluff County Park and the South Jetty Road; north along the South Jetty Road to the South Jetty; west along the South Jetty to the mean low water line of the Pacific Ocean; south along the mean low water line to its intersection with the north boundary of the Table Bluff County Park; east along the north boundary of the Table Bluff County Park to the point of origin.

Imperial County

Beginning at Highway 86 and the Navy Test Base Road; south on Highway 86 to the town of Westmoreland; continue through the town of Westmoreland to Route S26; east on Route S26 to Highway 115; north on Highway 115 to Weist Rd.; north on Weist Rd. to Flowing Wells Rd.; northeast on Flowing Wells Rd. to the Coachella Canal; northwest on the Coachella Canal to Drop 18; a straight line from Drop 18 to Frink Rd.; south on Frink Rd. to Highway 111; north on Highway 111 to Niland Marina Rd.; southwest on Niland Marina Rd. to the old Imperial County boat ramp and the water line of the Salton Sea; from the water line of the Salton Sea, a straight line across the Salton Sea to the Salinity Control Research Facility and the Navy Test Base Road; southwest on the Navy Test Base Road to the point of beginning

Martis Creek Lake

The waters and shoreline of Martis Creek Lake, Placer and Nevada counties.

Morro Bay

Beginning at a point where the high tide line intersects the State Park boundary west of Cuesta by the Sea; northeasterly to a point 200 yards offshore of the high tide line at the end of Mitchell Drive in Baywood Park; northeasterly to a point 200 yards offshore of the high tide line west of the Morro Bay State Park Boundary, adjacent to Baywood Park; north to a point 300 yards south of the high tide line at the end of White Point; north along a line 400 yards offshore of the south boundary of the Morro Bay City limit to a point adjacent to Fairbanks Point; northwesterly to the high tide line on the sand spit; southerly along the high tide line of the sand spit to the south end of Morro Bay; easterly along the Park boundary at the high tide line to the beginning point.

North Coast

All of Del Norte and Humboldt counties

Northern Brant

Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

Sacramento Valley

Beginning at the town of Willows; south on Interstate 5 to the junction with Hahn Road; east on Hahn Road and the Grimes-Arbuckle Road to the town of Grimes; north on Highway 45 to its junction with Highway 162; north on Highway 45-162 to the town of Glenn; west on Highway 162 to the point of beginning.

Balance of State Brant

That portion of the state not included in the Northern Brant Special Management Area.

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Special Use

California hunting definitions for special use permits.“Special use” is defined as an activity, use, event or gathering on department land that is not authorized in sections 550, 551 or 630 of these regulations but which may be allowed with written authorization from the department; typically in the form of a Special Use Permit. When allowed, special uses occur on a limited basis as defined in the Special Use Permit or other authorizing document. An authorized special use on department land shall not conflict with the normal uses, purposes or management of the department land.

See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 550(b)(7).

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Reservation

California hunting definitions for Reservations at wildlife areas.“Reservation” is defined as a randomly drawn application that assures entry onto a wildlife area, when presented with the appropriate entry pass as specified in Section 550.5(c), if applicable. (For definition of Wildlife Area, see below)

See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 550(b)(8).

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Take

The general definition of “take” under California law means to “hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill.” See California hunting definitions at FGC § 86.

Federally Endangered Species

California hunting definitions of take.

Under federal laws protecting endangered species, “take” means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. See California hunting definitions at 16 USC § 1532(19).

State Forests

For the purpose of protecting Endangered Species (see above) in a State Forests, “take” means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct as stated in 16 United States Code 1532(19). See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 895.1.

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Type A Wildlife Areas

California hunting definitions from 14 CCR § 551(e)(1) define “Type A” wildlife areas:

California hunting definitions for "Type A" wildlife areas (e.g. Gray Lodge).
California hunting definitions for “Type A” wildlife areas.

“Type A” wildlife areas are defined as wildlife areas which have restricted hunter access during waterfowl season, and require a hunting pass to be purchased in advance and exchanged for an entry permit at the Wildlife Area, per subsections 550.5(c) and 702(b) of these regulations. Reservations are available per subsection 550.5(a) of these regulations during waterfowl season. Species open for hunting are waterfowl, coots, moorhens, snipe, pheasant, and dove, unless otherwise specified in subsection 551(s). Except as provided in subsection 551(p) and Section 552 of these regulations, shoot days are Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays during waterfowl season, youth waterfowl hunt days authorized in Section 502 of these regulations, and daily during the September dove season only. All Type A Wildlife Areas are closed to hunting on Christmas Day.

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Type B Wildlife Areas

California hunting definitions from 14 CCR § 551(e)(2) define “Type B” wildlife areas as:

California hunting definitions for Type B wildlife areas (e.g. Yolo Bypass).
California hunting definitions for Type B wildlife areas.

“Type B” wildlife areas are defined as wildlife areas which have restricted hunter access during waterfowl season and require a Type A or Type B season hunting pass to be purchased in advance and presented for an entry permit at the Wildlife Area, per subsection 550.5(c) and Section 702 of these regulations. Reservations are required for opening weekend per subsection 550.5(a) of these regulations. Species open for hunting include waterfowl, coots, moorhens, snipe, pheasant, and dove, unless otherwise specified in subsection 551(s). Except as provided in subsection 551(p), shoot days are Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays during waterfowl season and daily during the September dove season only. All Type B Wildlife Areas are closed to hunting on Christmas Day, except as provided in subsection 551(o).

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Type C Wildlife Areas

California hunting definitions from  14 CCR § 551(e)(3) define “Type C” wildlife areas as:

California hunting definitions for Type C wildlife areas (e.g. O'Neil Forebay Wildlife Area).
California hunting definitions for Type C wildlife areas.

 “Type C” wildlife areas are defined as wildlife areas that, except as provided in subsections 551(q) and 551(t), are open daily for hunting all legal species and do not require the purchase of a hunting pass for entry.

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Upland Game Birds

Per FGC § 3683 and 14 CCR § 300, there are California hunting definitions for upland game birds that include all eight resident small game birds__ and three migratory game birds__.

Resident Upland Game Birds

California hunting definitions for Upland Game Birds, including Chukar

  1. Chukar, which is a variety of red-legged partridge
  2. Doves of the genus Streptopelia, including Chinese spottedEurasian collared, and ringed turtledoves of the family Columbidae.
  3. Grouses, but only varieties of sooty (blue) grouse, and the ruffed grouse and sage grouse (hens_.
  4. Hungarian partridges.
  5. Pheasants, but only varieties of ring-necked.
  6. Ptarmigan, but only the white-tailed.
  7. Quails, but only varieties of California and mountain quails, and the Gambel’s (desert) quail.
  8. Turkeys, but only wild turkeys of the order Galliformes.

Migratory Upland Game Birds

  1. Doves, but only white-winged and western mourning doves.
  2. Pigeon, but only band-trailed pigeon.
  3. Snipe, but only the common jacksnipe.

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Waterfowl

California hunting definitions for waterfowl, including ducks, geese, and swans. Waterfowl is a subcategory of Migratory Game Birds.  They include Ducks, Geese, and swans. Ducks include scaup and mergansers. Geese include brant. There is no season in California for swans. NOTE: Coots and Moorhens are NOT considered waterfowl, but they are Migratory Game Birds. See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 502(d) and USFWS Migratory Bird Program definition.

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Wild Pigs

California hunting definitions define the term “wild pigs” in FGC § 4650. Also, see our page for Pig Hunting Seasons.

California hunting definitions for "wild pigs."
California hunting definitions for “wild pigs.”

Wild pigs, as used in this chapter, means free-roaming pigs not distinguished by branding, ear marking, or other permanent identification methods. See 


Waterfowl Hunting Zones

California hunting definitions for Waterfowl Hunting Zones.
California hunting definitions for Waterfowl Hunting Zones.

California hunting definitions define the geographical boundaries of “waterfowl hunting zones” in 14 CCR § 502(b). Also, see our custom map.

Colorado River Waterfowl Zone

In those portions of San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial counties lying east of the following lines: Beginning at the intersection of Highway 95 with the California-Nevada state line; south along Highway 95 to Vidal Junction; south through the town of Rice to the San Bernardino-Riverside county line on a road known as “Aqueduct Road” in San Bernardino County; south from the San Bernardino-Riverside county line on road known in Riverside County as the “Desert Center to Rice Road” to the town of Desert Center; east 31 miles on Interstate 10 to its intersection with the Wiley Well Road; south on this road to Wiley Well; southeast along the Army-Milpitas Road to the Blythe, Brawley, Davis Lake intersections; south on the Blythe-Brawley paved road to its intersection with the Ogilby and Tumco Mine Road; south on this road to Highway 80; east seven miles on Highway 80 to its intersection with the Andrade-Algodones Road; south on this paved road to the intersection of the Mexican boundary line at Algodones, Mexico.

Northeastern Waterfowl Zone

In that portion of California lying east and north of a line beginning at the intersection of Interstate 5 with the California-Oregon state line; south Interstate 5 to its junction with Walters Lane south of the town of Yreka; west along Walters Lane to its junction with Easy Street; south along Easy Street to the junction with Old Highway 99; south along Old Highway 99 to the point of intersection with Interstate 5 north of the town of Weed; south along Interstate 5 to its junction with Highway 89; east and south along Highway 89 to Main Street in Greenville; north and east to its junction with North Valley Road; south to its junction of Diamond Mountain Road; north and east to its junction with North Arm Road; south and west to the junction of North Valley Road; south to the junction with Arlington Road (A22); west to the junction of Highway 89; south and west to the junction of Highway 70; east on Highway 70 to Highway 395; south and east on Highway 395 to the point of intersection with the California-Nevada state line; north along the California-Nevada state line to the junction of the California-Nevada-Oregon state lines west along the California-Oregon state line to the point of origin.

Southern California Waterfowl Zone

In that portion of southern California (but excluding the Colorado River Zone) lying south and east of a line beginning at the mouth of the Santa Maria River at the Pacific Ocean; east along the Santa Maria River to where it crosses Highway 166 near the City of Santa Maria; east on Highway 166 to the junction with Highway 99; south on Highway 99 to the crest of the Tehachapi Mountains at Tejon Pass; east and north along the crest of the Tehachapi Mountains to where it intersects Highway 178 at Walker Pass; east on Highway 178 to the junction of Highway 395 at the town of Inyokern; south on Highway 395 to the junction of Highway 58; east on Highway 58 to the junction of Interstate 15; east on Interstate 15 to the junction with Highway 127; north on Highway 127 to the point of intersection with the California-Nevada state line.

Southern San Joaquin Valley Waterfowl Zone

All of Kings and Tulare counties and that portion of Kern County north of the Southern California Zone.

Balance of State Waterfowl Zone

That portion of the state not included in Northeastern California, Southern California, Colorado River or the Southern San Joaquin Valley zones.

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Wildlife Area

In California, a “Wildlife Area” is and area-

  1. California hunting definitions for wildlife areas.Listed in Section 551.
  2. Either owned or operated by the Department (including some National Wildlife Refuges).
  3. In which visitor use is subject to the regulations in Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations, including  Sections 550 and 550.5.
  4. Maintained for the primary purposes of developing a statewide program of
  5. Ecological conservation,
  6. Restoration,
  7. Preservation,
  8. Development and management of Wildlife, Wildlife habitat, and Hunting.

See California hunting definitions at 14 CCR § 550(a).

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Wildlife Watering Places

California hunting definitions define “wildlife watering places” in 14 CCR § 730(b).

Waterholes, springs, seeps and man-made watering devices for wildlife such as guzzlers (self-filling, in-the-ground water storage tanks), horizontal wells and small impoundments of less than one surface acre in size.

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Youth

California hunting definitions for "youth."
California hunting definitions for “youth.”

California hunting definitions typically define “youth” as a person under the age of sixteen (16). For an example, see 14 CCR § 550(cc)(3) for hunting at wildlife areas.

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Zones

California hunting definitions define several “hunting zones” restrictions for the following species:

  1. California hunting definitions for hunting "zones," like the one for tree squirrels and band-tailed pigeon.
    California hunting definitions for hunting “zones.”

    Band-Tailed Pigeon Zones,

  2. Grouse Zones,
  3. Quail Zones,
  4. Special Management Areas,
  5. Tree Squirrel, and
  6. Waterfowl Zones (Ducks and Geese).

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While we try to fetch up all major California hunting definitions, we might miss a few or make a typo. If so, please leave a comment or question in the reply box below. You might also wish to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or our Blogs. If you still need help, ask our Legal Labrador to fetch it up.

14 CCR § 485

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