California Hunting Licenses for Adults, Juniors, Residents, and Nonresidents

California hunting license for California duck hunting seasons and California goose hunting seasons

On this page, you’ll find information about the California Hunting License.

Topics for the California Hunting License


California Hunter Education

In general, you have to complete California Hunters’ Education Program before you get buy a California Hunting License.

Who has to complete program?

In general, all first time hunters have to complete the California Hunter Education Program. However, there are a few exceptions for hunters with a:

1.  Current or old California hunting license,
2. Current hunting license from another state or province issued within the previous two years,
3. Hunters’ Education Certificate of Completion.

Classes are taught by over 1,000 volunteer instructors that are certified through the CDFW. Classes are at least 10 hours long, plus some homework and field instruction.  Topics include firearm safety, firearm handling, hunting ethics, and wildlife conservation.  You’ll also learn about archery, muzzleloaders, how to identify wildlife, how to clean and care wild game, first aid, and survival.  After passing the final exam, you’ll receive a “Certificate of Completion.” Click here to register for a class.

Instead of a 10-hour class, you can start with an online course.  After passing that, you’ll have to go to a 4-hour class.  Follow these links for an online course and follow-up class.

There’s no age limit for the Hunters’ Education Program; however, children under the age of 18 must have their parent or guardian present a Parental Release Form to the instructor. Instructors can’t charge for their time, but can charge a fee to cover their teaching materials.

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Harvest Information Program HIP

If you intend to hunt migratory game birds or upland game birds, you have to complete the Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey before you can get a California Hunting License.

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Privilege to Hunt

California hunting license privilegesIt’s considered a privilege to hunt in California, which means it’s not a right.  To qualify for the privilege, you have to get a California Hunting License.  To get the license, you have to complete the Hunters’ Education Program and, if you intend to hunt migratory game birds, you have to complete the Harvest Information Program.  For other species, like big game, you may also have to have to purchase tags, carry a special permit, and/or complete species-specific training.  Once you’ve done all that, and pay the fees, then the CDFW has to give you a license.

Your privilege to hunt in California can be lost. If you commit a hunting violation, you could lose your license. Even if you committed a hunting violation in another state, you could lose your California hunting license under the “Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.” If you lose your license or can’t get one, you can’t hunt in California. Click here to read the hunting laws and contact our attorney if you need help with getting or keeping your license.


California Hunting Licenses

To hunt any bird or mammal in California, you have to buy a California Hunting License. The type of hunting license required depends on the hunter’s state of residence, age, method of take, hunting location, hunting duration, profession and physical abilities.  The following hunting licenses are available from the CDFW. See 14 CCR § 3031.

Click here for more information from the CDFW.

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California Hunting License Fees

California Hunting License FeesIn general, there is a fee for most hunting licenses.  However, there is a reduced fee for disabled veterans and recovering service members. You can purchase your license from the CDFW either online, from a license office, or license agent.

Resident Hunting License

$47.50 for residents, 18 years of age or older

Junior Hunting License

$12.45 for residents and nonresidents, under 18 years of age on July 1 of the licensing year, even if you apply after July 1.

Nonresident Hunting License

For nonresidents, 18 years of age or older

Annual License

$163.65 for nonresidents

One Day License

$22.42, valid for one day and only for the taking of domesticated game birds and pheasants while on the premises of a licensed game bird club, or for the taking of domesticated migratory game birds in areas licensed for shooting those birds

Two Consecutive Day License

$47.01, valid only for taking resident and migratory game birds, resident small game mammals, fur-bearing mammals, and nongame mammals.

* A one day license is available to nonresidents for taking (a) domesticated game birds and pheasants on licensed game bird clubs and (b) domesticated migratory game birds in areas licensed for shooting those birds.  A two consecutive day license is also available to nonresidents  for hunting game birdsresident small game mammalsfurbearing mammals, and nongame mammals.

Click here for a list of  current fees on the CDFW webpage.

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California Hunting License Year

A hunting license is valid from July 1 or the date of purchase through June 30 of the following year. (Reference CDFW license webpage.)

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Possession of a California Hunting License

While hunting, the license must be in the hunter’s immediate possession. This license regulation is located at 14 CCR § 700(b).

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California Hunting Permits

Special hunting permits are also available for hunters with certain disabilities:

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