On this page, you’ll find rules for California Hunting Guide Services and Outfitters.
- Big Game.
- Game Bird Clubs.
- Licensed Guides and Outfitters.
- Notice to Clients.
- Public Land.
There are special rules for offering guide services for Big Game Mammals. Those rules include specific game, like Bighorn Sheep and Black Bear. There are also record keeping requirements for each hunt.
To hunt Bighorn Sheep in California, hunters have to apply to the CDFW for a license tag. In general, applications are entered into a random drawing. Successful applicants are allowed to use licensed California hunting guide services and outfitters. If so, guides have to attend the pre-hunt orientation with their clients. See 14 CCR § 708.9(c)(2) and our summary for California Nelson Bighorn Sheep Hunting Seasons.
To hunt Black Bear in California, hunters have to apply to the CDFW for a license tag. If you use California hunting guide services and outfitters, you have to make sure they have a valid license. If you kill a bear, you also have to put the guide’s license number on your bear tag in the space provided. See 14 CCR § 708.12(b). Also see our summary for California Black Bear Hunting Seasons.
There are record keeping requirements for California hunting guide services and outfitters when hunting Big Game. You have to make a record of each guided trip. Make sure you use the forms provided by the CDFW. You have to take it on each trip. You have to record all the required information. You have to make it available to the CDFW upon request. For more details, see 14 CCR § 745(e). If you don’t follow these rules, the CDFW could revoke your license. They could also refuse to issue a new guiding license. Also see “Notice to Client” below.
In general, a “guide” is a person who collects a fee in exchange for helping another person hunt Birds and/or Mammals. A “guide” is also a person that collects a fee in exchange for transporting another person and/or their equipment to or from a hunting area. This is commonly referred to as “packing.” They are commonly referred to as “outfitters.” See FGC § 2535.
Game Bird Clubs
When hunting on a Licensed Game Bird Club, retrievers are encouraged for recovering downed birds. Dog handlers cannot serve as a guide. In addition, the use of dogs is not considered guiding. See 14 CCR § 600(a)(17) and our summary for Licensed Game Bird Clubs.
California hunting guide services and outfitters are illegal unless they have a valid Guide License from the CDFW. See FGC § 2536.
To get a Guide License, you have to apply to the CDFW. Give them your contact information. Describe your level of experience. Identify your area of operation and the types of guiding, equipment, vehicles, and animals you intend to your. See FGC § 2538.
In general, employees of Licensed Guides don’t have to get their own license. However, they have to be acting within the scope of their employment. See FGC § 2536 for any other applicable conditions.
The hunting calendar is from July 1 through June 30. However, the license year for a Guide License is from February 1 through January 31 of the following year. See 14 CCR § 745.
There are three scenarios under which the CDFW could revoke your Guide License for up to three year. First, they could revoke it if you violate hunting or fishing laws. Second, they could revoke it if you let a client break those rules. Finally, they could revoke it if one of your employees or assistants violate those rules. See FGC § 12156.5 and 14 CCR § 745(c).
Warning shot!!! If the CDFW tries to revoke your license, you typically have a right to a hearing before they can do it. Contact our attorney immediately.
Click here for a list of guides registered with the CDFW.
Notice to Clients
Before taking a client out, California hunting guide services and outfitters must first provide their clients a written description of the services to be provided. The statement also has to include the cost and their Guide License Number. Guides have to keep a copy and make it available upon request to the CDFW. See 14 CCR § 745(d).
California Wildlife Areas
In general, California hunting guide services and outfitters are allowed on California State Wildlife Areas. However, check each area for relevant restrictions. Horses for packing, for example, are not allowed unless specifically authorized. See 14 CCR § 551(l). Also see our summary for California Wildlife Areas.
National Wildlife Refuges
Sometimes, you need a special use permit to offer guiding services at National Wildlife Refuges. You get them from the Refuge Manager (e.g. Clear Lake, Havasu, Lower Klamath, Sacramento River, and Tule Lake. See 50 CFR § 32.22(A)(9) and 14 CCR § 552(a)(6)(D).
Sometimes, a special permit is required for hunting or offering guiding services. Without the permit, all California hunting guide services and outfitters are illegal. See FGC § 2539 and the example listed below.
If a grazing permit is required, you cannot offer guiding services without.
National Wildlife Refuges
See National Wildlife Refuges above and, for specific location, see our summary for California National Wildlife Refuges.
U.S. Department of Interior Land
If a special use permit is required on U.S. Department of Interior land, you can’t offer guiding services without it. These areas are managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. They are commonly referred to as BLM land. For specific locations, see our summary for California Hunting on BLM Land.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Land
If a special use permit is required on U.S. Department of Agriculture land, you can’t offer guiding services without it.