California Hunting Rules for Birds and Mammals

California duck hunting seasons and California goose hunting seasons.

California hunting rules can be intimidating and hard to find, yet hunters are required to know them all! In fact, ignorance is not a defense to a violation. Our job at Legal Labrador is to take the guesswork out of hunting by arming you with knowledge. If you get charged with a hunting violation, contact our Attorney immediately.


California Hunting Rules

Manual with California Hunting Rules.Depending on the animal, we summarize and link to California hunting rules. Most of the federal rules are located in Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”). Federal rules are administered the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (“USFWS”). We do the same for state rules located in the California Fish & Game Code (“FGC”), plus Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (“14 CCR”). State rules are administered by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (“CDFW).

Warning shots!!! California regulates hunting of all birds and mammals within its borders except when it’s inconsistent with federal hunting regulations. Specific hunting rules for species override general hunting rules. General and specific hunting rules may be further restricted at specific locations.

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Birds and Mammals

To help you find California hunting rules for Birds and Mammals, we summarize and link to general hunting rules that apply to all “wildlife” and “animals” (e.g. Hunting License, Stamps, and Tags).


Image of Male Blue Grouse displaying colors during mating season on a hillside covered with grass and sagebrushTo help you find California hunting rules for birds, we summarize and link to general rules for “birds,” “game birds,” and “nongame birds.”

For some game birds, we also summarize and link to rules for Upland Game Birds. Those birds include Chukar, some Doves, Grouse, Pheasants, White-Tailed Ptarmigan, Quails, and wild Turkey.  Most of those birds are also regulated as “resident small game.” Finally, we include rules that are just for each species (e.g. Seasons, Bag Limits, Shooting Hours, etc.).

For birds that migrate across state lines, we also summarize and link to federal and state rules for “migratory game birds.” Those birds include certain Doves, plus Ducks, Geese, Band-Tailed Pigeon, and Snipe. The federal rules are primarily located in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Ducks and geese are also regulated under the broader category of “waterfowl” (e.g. waterfowl zones and hunting restrictions).  For doves, we include rules for both upland and migratory game bird species. Finally, we include rules for each species of migratory game bird (e.g. duck seasons, bag limits, etc.).

For all other birds, we summarize and link to hunting rules for “nongame birds.” Those birds include the American Crow, sparrows, and starlings. Finally, we include all the rules specific to the individual species (e.g. American crow seasons, bag limits, etc.).


Image of Roosevelt ElkTo help you find California hunting rules for mammals, we summarize and link to general rules for “mammals,” “game mammals,” and “nongame mammals.”

For “game mammals,” we also summarize and link to hunting rules for Big Game. Those mammals include Black Bear, Deer, Elk, and Wild Pig, plus certain Antelope and Sheep. For mammals that are mainly hunted for their fur, we include rules for “furbearing mammals,” sometimes referred to as “furbearers.” Those mammals include Badger, Beaver, Gray Fox, Mink, Muskrat, and Raccoon. For smaller mammals, like Rabbits and Tree Squirrels, we’ve included rules for “small game” and “resident small game.”

For all other mammals, we summarize and link hunting rules for “nongame mammals.” Those include predators like Bobcat and Coyote. They also include larger nongame, like Sika deer and certain goats. Finally, they include smaller nongame, like ground squirrels and certain jackrabbits. (We briefly discuss rules for rodents like skunks.)

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Methods of Take

Archery CrossbowFor ways to hunt birds and mammals, we summarize and link to California hunting rules for “methods of take.” We include them for each Bird and Mammal that you can hunt. We also include them for Archery, Crossbows, FalconryHunting Dogs, Muzzleloaders, and Trapping. Finally, we make you aware of the ban on Toxic Shot (i.e. lead), which is being phased in through California beginning with the California Condor Range.

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Public Hunting

Image of navigable waters.There are at least ten sets of general rules for hunting on public land in California (follow links below). There are over 650 separate locations, each of which may further restrict general California hunting rules (e.g. authorized species, shoot times, hunts days). We summarize and link to each of those hunting rules.

Area managers typically have discretion to make local rules and procedures related to protecting the health, safety or welfare of people, property, and wildlife. Some of those local rules are published on agency websites; others are available only at the area headquarters, check stations, kiosks, ranger station, and/or signs. When possible, we also include the local rules and links to those websites.

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Private Hunting

Image of logo for the California Waterfowl Association (CWA)

To help you find California hunting rules for private land, we summarize and provide links to laws for programs, people, and places. First, we identify hunting rules and opportunities under the SHARE program, which is offered through the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW). They work with private land owners and groups like the California Waterfowl Association. We also make you aware of rules and hunts with Hunting Guides and at Hunting Clubs, including Game Gird Clubs.

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Special Hunting Opportunties

Image of father and son hunting in California.There are California hunting rules for hunters based on their age, gender, abilities, and military status. We prepare summaries and link to California hunting laws for Juniors, which are sometimes referred to as “apprentice” and “youth.” We also include rules for Disabled Hunters with mobility or visual-impairments. Those rules also apply disabled veterans and recovering service members. They provide for privileges like reduced fees, special hunting opportunities, and to use certain hunting methods (e.g. crossbows and vehicles). We also make you aware of special rules for families and Ladies.

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Service Industry

Last, but not least, we summarize and link to California hunting rules for the service industry. Those services are listed below.

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