California Junior Hunting Seasons, Laws, and Locations for Waterfowl, Big Game, Upland Game Birds, and More

California duck hunting seasons and California goose hunting seasons.

Here, we fetch up California junior hunting seasons, laws, and locations on public and private land. A “junior” is a person under the age 18 on July 1 of the current hunting year. There are hunting opportunities for all juniors, as well as “youth” (typically under the age of 16) and “apprentice” (often including beginners of all ages). On this page, we retrieve definitions and hunting info about licenses, stamps, and permits. You’ll also find info related to age limits, adult supervision, hunting on public land, and much more.


Topics

California junior hunting seasons.
California junior hunting seasons.
  1. BB Guns
  2. Bear Hunting
  3. Bighorn Sheep Hunting
  4. Chukar Hunting
  5. Contests, derbies, & tournaments
  6. Deer Hunting
  7. Definitions (adult, junior, and youth)
  8. Duck and Goose Hunting (see Waterfowl Hunting)
  9. Elk Hunting
  10. Falconry
  11. Forum and blog
  12. Hunting Dogs
  13. Junior Hunting License
  14. Lotteries
  15. Mobility-Impaired Hunters
  16. National Wildlife Refuges
  17. Passes
  18. Permits
  19. Pheasant Hunting
  20. Pig Hunting
  21. Pronghorn antelope hunting
  22. Quail Hunting
  23. Reservations
  24. Turkey Hunting
  25. Upland Game Bird Stamps
  26. Validations and Duck Stamps
  27. Waterfowl Hunting
  28. Wildlife Areas
  29. Youth-Only Hunts

NOTE: All references are to the California Fish & Game Code (FGC) and Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (14 CCR). “Section” or “Sections” is abbreviated with the § or §§ symbols.


BB Guns

See BB Guns in the Section for Wildlife Areas below.

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Black Bear Hunting

California junior hunting seasons for black bear.
California junior hunting seasons for black bear.

In general, Juniors have to be at least 12 years old to hunt black bear in California. You need a valid Junior Hunting License and bear tags. For more info, see our summary for California Bear Hunting Seasons. Also see FGC § 4751.

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Bighorn Sheep Hunting

California junior hunting seasons for bighorn sheep.
California junior hunting seasons for bighorn sheep.

In general, Juniors must be at least 16 years old on or before July 1 to hunt Bighorn Sheep in California. You need a valid Junior Hunting License and a ram tag. These rules apply to nonresidents of California and to fundraising tags. For more info, see our summary for California Nelson Bighorn Sheep Hunting Seasons.

Also see 14 CCR § 708.9(b)(3), 14 CCR § 708.14(a)(4)(B), and 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(B).

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Chukar Hunting

California junior hunting seasons for chukar.
California junior hunting seasons for chukar.

In general, Juniors need a Junior Hunting License and an Upland Game Bird Stamp to hunt chukar. For more details, go to our summary for California Chukar Hunting Seasons.

Licensed Game Bird Clubs

Juniors, ages 16 and older, can serve as an authorized agent for people with a license to operate a game bird club that release Indian chukar. For more information, see 14 CCR § 600. (The same is true for Hungarian partridge.)

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Contests, Derbies & Tournaments

In general, its illegal to offer a reward for hunting any Game Bird or Mammal in any contest, tournament, or derby. There’s an exceptions (1) for hunters that get a permit from the CDFW and (2) if the reward is less than $500. Note: Juniors under the age of 16 (and people with a physical or mental disability) may be eligible for a fee waiver if the primary purpose is to introduce or educate anglers (and possibly hunters) to the sport. See FGC 2003.

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Deer Hunting

California junior hunting seasons for deer.
California junior hunting seasons for deer.

In general, Juniors have to be at least 12 years old to hunt deer in California. They also need a Junior Hunting License and hunting tags for the particular zone they wish to hunt in. For more info, link to our summary for California Deer Hunting Seasons, which includes “apprentice” hunts. Also see 14 CCR 360.

Animal Control

Junior have to be at least 16 years old to apply for a deer depredation permit, which is a permit issued to prevent property damage. See 14 CCR 400(g) and our page for California Depredation Permits.

Ecological Reserves

Special apprentice hunts are allowed on some ecological reserves, including the San Antonio Valley Ecological Reserve.

Tags

To buy a Deer Tag and participate in the Big Game Drawing, juniors have to (1) be at least 12 years old and (2) have a Junior Hunting License. Juniors may also purchase a second deer take and fundraising tags. See FGC 4332, 14 CCR § 708.2(a)(2), 14 CCR § 708.3, 14 CCR § 708.14(a)(4)(A), 14 CCR § 708.15(a)(3)(E) and (F), and 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(A).

Wildlife Areas

Apprentice hunts are allowed on some Type A and Type B Wildlife Areas, including the ones listed below.

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Definitions

In California, there are hunting rules for adults, juniors, and youth, which may have different definitions depending on where and when you’re hunting.

Adults

In general, an adult is a person 18 years of age or older, e.g. California Wildlife Areas. See 14 CCR § 550.5(c)(8).

Juniors

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).

NOTE: Prior to January 2015, a Junior Hunting License was available to a person under the age of 16 on July 1 of the licensing year.

Youth

California junior hunting seasons for "youth" at National Wildlife Refuges.
California junior hunting seasons for “youth” at National Wildlife Refuges.

There are several definitions of “youth” depending on what you’re doing and where you’re at. When using BB guns on Wildlife Areas, a “youth” is a person under the age of 16. See 14 CCR § 550(cc)(3)(C). For “youth-only hunts” on some National Wildlife Refuges, juniors have to be under the age of 16 on the day of the hunt (e.g. Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge). At others, youth under the age of 13 are exempt from “Use Fees” (e.g. Pintail Slough Unit of the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge).

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Duck Hunting

See Waterfowl Hunting below.


Elk Hunting

California junior hunting seasons for elk.
California junior hunting seasons for elk.

In general, Juniors have to be at least 12 years old to hunt elk in California. They also need a Junior Hunting License and elk tags. For more info, link to our summary for California Elk Hunting Seasons. Also see 14 CCR § 708.14(a)(4)(A) and 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(A).

Cooperative Elk Hunting Areas

Cooperative elk hunt areas allow limited elk hunting on private land. To apply for a tag to hunt in one, juniors have to be at least 12 years old and have a California Junior Hunting License. For more information, see 14 CCR 555.

Tags

To buy an Elk tag and participate in the Big Game Drawing, juniors have to (1) be at least 12 years old and (2) have a Junior Hunting License. This also includes fundraising tags. See 14 CCR § 708.14(a)(4)(A) and 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(A).

Youth-Only Apprentice Hunts

Click here for junior / apprentice elk hunts. See 14 CCR § 364(e) et seq.

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Falconry

California junior hunting seasons for falconry.
California junior hunting seasons for falconry.

In general, Juniors have to be at least 12 years old to apply for an apprentice falconry license. To apply for a general falconry license, Juniors have to be at least 16 years old. For more info, go to our summary for California Falconry Hunting Seasons. Also see 14 CCR 670(e)(6)(A) and (B) like sponsorship requirements.

Warning shot!!! A Falconer’s Annual Progress Report (FG 360c (New 2/13) must be filed either (a) when applying for a apprentice falconry license renewal or (b) within 10 calendar days of its expiration. See 14 CCR 703(b)(1)(D).

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Goose Hunting

See Waterfowl Hunting below.


Hunting Dogs

See Upland Game Bird Validations below.


Junior Hunting License

California junior hunting seasons and age limits for public land.
California junior hunting seasons and age limits for public land.

A hunting license is required to hunt any bird or mammal in California. A Junior Hunting License is available to residents and nonresidents of California, who are under 18 years of age on July 1st of the licensing year. The fee is also reduced. Click here to buy online. When applying online, juniors have to provide valid identification.

Any applicant less than 18 years of age applying for any license, tag, permit, reservation or other entitlement issued via the ALDS shall provide personal identification or from his or her parent or legal guardian. See 14 CCR 700.4 for acceptable forms of identification.

Warning shot!! Depending on your age, you might or might not be able to hunt “junior,” “youth-only,” and “apprentice” hunts (see the chart above). Prior to January 2015, a junior was a person under the age 16. See FGC § 3031(a)(2).

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Lotteries

At some National Wildlife Refuges and State Wildlife Areas, a random drawing is held to determine the order in which entry Permits are issued after Reservations are processed. The drawing is commonly referred to as a “lottery.” Juniors are typically allowed to participate in Lotteries subject to the restrictions below.

Adult Supervision

When juniors are allowed to participate in a lottery, adult supervision is typically required.

Junior Hunting License

When juniors are allowed to participate in a lottery, the junior must possess and carry a valid Junior Hunting License.

Line Placement

When juniors are allowed to participate in a lottery, non-shooting adults, may establish the junior’s place in line on Type A and Type B Wildlife Areas.

Registration

When juniors are allowed to participate in a lottery, juniors are typically required to register at the designated check station.

Reservations

See Reservations below.

Wildlife Refuges and Areas

Some National Wildlife Refuges and State Wildlife Areas allow juniors to participate in the lottery. A few examples are listed below.

    1. Imperial Wildlife Area, Finney-Ramer Unit
    2. Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mud Slough Unit
    3. Merced National Wildlife Refuge
    4. North Grasslands Wildlife Area.
    5. San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Davis Road Unit
    6. San Luis National Wildlife Refuge
    7. Volta Wildlife Area

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Mobility-Impaired Hunters

California junior hunting seasons for mobility-impaired hunters with juniors.
California junior hunting seasons for mobility-impaired hunters with juniors.

Mobility-impaired hunters are expressly authorized to accompany two (2) juniors at the Little Dry Creek Unit of the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area.

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National Wildlife Refuges

Fees

National Wildlife Refuges are allowed to charge a “use fee.” Youth are often exempt from the fee. At the Pintail Slough Unit of the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, for example, youth under the age of fourteen are exempt from their “use fee.”

Also see Lotteries, Passes, Permits, and Reservations.

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Passes

In general, juniors are exempt from daily and annual pass requirements. However, they have to be hunting with a Junior Hunting License. They also have to be accompanied by an adult while In the Field on some public lands. Examples include Wildlife Areas, National Wildlife Refuges, and Ecological Reserves, e.g. Colusa National Wildlife Refuge and Shasta Valley Wildlife Area. See 14 CCR 550.5(c)(8).

Fees

Hunters with a Junior Hunting License are exempt from fees. Also see Passes and Permits above).

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Permits

Motor Vehicle Permits

Juniors are not allowed to get a permit to use a motorized land, water, or air vehicle to hunt any bird or mammal. See 14 CCR § 251.2.

Special Permits

A special permit may be required to hunt in youth-only, e.g. “Zone 6” and the Mud Slough Unit of the Los Banos Wildlife Area.

Supervision

At some National Wildlife Refuges, a permit-carrying adult must accompany Juniors, e.g. opening weekend of waterfowl season at the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake.

Also see Lotteries above.

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Pheasant Hunting

California junior hunting seasons for pheasant.
California junior hunting seasons for pheasant.

In general, Juniors need a valid Junior Hunting License and an Upland Game Bird Stamp to hunt pheasant in California. For more info, link to our summary of California Pheasant Hunting Seasons.

Licensed Game Bird Clubs

Juniors, ages 16 and older, can serve as an authorized agent for people with a license to operate a game bird club that release pheasant of the species Phasianus colchicus, including all ring-necked pheasant races. For more information, see 14 CCR 600.

Special Hunts

Click here for special hunts offered by the CDFW on private property through the SHARE Program.

Wildlife Areas

The CDFW Regional Manager can authorize junior pheasant hunts on Wildlife Areas during or outside of the general season. See 14 CCR § 550(i)(2).

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Pig Hunting

California junior hunting seasons for pigs.
California junior hunting seasons for pigs.

In general, Juniors have to be at least 12 years old to hunt wild pigs in California. They also need a Junior Hunting License and tags. For more info, go to our summary for California Pig Hunting Seasons.

Tags

To buy a Wild Pig tag, juniors have to (1) be at least 12 years old and (2) have a Junior Hunting License. See FGC 4654 and 14 CCR § 708.13.

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Pronghorn Antelope Hunting

In general, Juniors have to be at least 12 years old to hunt Pronghorn Antelope. They also Click valid Junior Hunting License and tags. For more info, go to our summary for California Pronghorn Antelope Hunting Seasons.

Tags

California junior hunting seasons for pronghorn antelope.
California junior hunting seasons for pronghorn antelope.

To buy a Pronghorn Antelope tag and participate in the Big Game Drawing, juniors have to (1) be at least 12 years old and (2) have a Junior Hunting License. This also includes fundraising tags. See 14 CCR § 708.10(b)(2), 14 CCR § 708.14(a)(4)(A), and 14 CCR § 708.16(a)(1)(A).

Wildlife Areas

Apprentice hunts are allowed on some Type A and Type B Wildlife Areas, including:

Youth-Only / Apprentice Hunts

To participate in youth-only apprentice hunts for Pronghorn antelope, juniors have to be under the age of 16. Click here for a list of apprentice hunts, and see 14 CCR § 363(g) et seq., 14 CCR § 708.10(b)(2), and 14 CCR § 708.14(a)(4)(A).

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Quail Hunting

California junior hunting seasons for quail.
California junior hunting seasons for quail.

In general, Juniors need a valid Junior Hunting License and an Upland Game Bird Stamp to hunt quail in California. For more info, link to our summary of California Quail Hunting Seasons.

Licensed Game Bird Clubs

Juniors, ages 16 and older, can serve as an authorized agent for people with a license to operate a game bird club that release bobwhite quail and Coturnix quail. For more information, see 14 CCR 600.

Youth-Only Hunts

Mojave National Preserve, the first Saturday in October extending for two days. See 14 CCR § 300(a)(1)(B).

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Reservations

Party Size

In general, a reservation is good for up to six visitors. No more than two of them may be (1) adults and (2) juniors, ages 16 or 17. Each adult can accompany no more than (a) two juniors with a Junior Hunting License or (b) two non-shooters. If hunting in a designated hunting zone, assigned pond, or blind area, the party is restricted to the specified capacity. Warning shot!!! Parties must hunt together.

There are exceptions are some areas like the Delevan National Wildlife Refuge and the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, where a reservation assures entry of only four individuals (whether adult, junior, or non-shooters). See 14 CCR 552(a)(2)(G) and (4)(G).

Also see Passes above.

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Turkey Hunting

California junior hunting seasons for turkey.
California junior hunting seasons for turkey.

In general, Juniors need a valid Junior Hunting License and an Upland Game Bird Stamp to hunt wild turkey in California. For more info, link to our summary of California Turkey Hunting Seasons.

Licensed Game Bird Clubs

Juniors, ages 16 and older, can serve as an authorized agent for people with a license to operate a game bird club that release domestically reared wild turkey. For more information, see 14 CCR 600.

Spring Turkey Season

During the spring, there are two junior-only turkey hunts:

    1. Saturday and Sunday before the general spring Turkey season opens, and
    2. The day after the general spring Turkey season closes, extending for 14 days.

See 14 CCR § 300(a)(1)(G).

Wildlife Areas

The CDFW Regional Manager can authorize junior turkey hunts on Wildlife Areas during the general season. See 14 CCR § 550(i)(2).

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Upland Game Bird Validation

California junior hunting seasons and upland game bird stamps.
California junior hunting seasons and upland game bird stamps.

Juniors are exempt from the requirements to purchase and carry an Upland Game Bird Validation, commonly referred to as a stamp. The same is true for the training of hunting dogs on domestically reared game birds, including Hungarian partridge, ring-necked pheasant, and chukar. Upland game birds including:

    1. Band-Tailed Pigeons.
    2. Chukar (variety of Red-legged partridge).
    3. Doves (spotted, ringed turtledoves, Eurasian collared western mourning, white-winged doves).
    4. Grouse (ruffed, sage, and sooty or blue grouse).
    5. Jacksnipe (snipe).
    6. Pheasant (all varieties of ring-necked pheasants).
    7. Ptarmigan (white-tailed).
    8. Quail (all varieties of California, Gambel’s or desert quail, and Mountain quail quail).
    9. Turkeys (wild).

See FGC 3683, 14 CCR 313, and 14 CCR 677.

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Validations

Juniors are required to possess and carry an HIP Validation, e.g. Don Edwards S.F. Bay National Wildlife Refuge (also see Waterfowl Hunting: Duck Stamps below).

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Waterfowl Hunting

California junior hunting seasons for waterfowl (i.e. ducks and geese).
California junior hunting seasons for waterfowl (i.e. ducks and geese).

“Waterfowl” includes Ducks and Geese. In general, Juniors need a valid Junior Hunting License to hunt waterfowl in California. Juniors at least 16 years old also need a California Duck Stamp and Federal Duck Stamp. For more info, link to our summaries of Duck Hunting Seasons and Goose Hunting Seasons. Also see 14 CCR § 509(c) [federal stamp] and 14 CCR §510 [state stamp].

Special Hunts

Click here for special hunts on private land offered by the CDFW through the SHARE Program.

Youth-Only Hunts

Afternoon shoots

At some areas, afternoon shoots are reserved for juniors at certain times of the year (e.g. Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge have up to six afternoon shoots from December on).

Applications

At some locations, juniors must submit an application by the deadline to participate in youth-only hunts (e.g. the deadline for Modoc National Wildlife Refuge is in mid-September)

Postseason

Some areas have junior-only hunts after the close of regular season, e.g. the Pintail Slough Unit of the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge has a hunter education/camp in the first week of January. Warning shot!!! At some locations, the junior must be under the age of 16 at the time of the hunt, e.g. Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Preseason

For the 2014-2015 season, juniors are authorized to hunt in every waterfowl zone on the Saturday and Sunday two weeks before the opening of general waterfowl seasons. Warning shot!!! At some areas, youth-only hunts are first-come, first-served (e.g. Ash Creek Wildlife Area).

Priority

At some locations, juniors have priority over adults (e.g. at O’Neil Forebay Wildlife Area, juniors have priority on the day after special apprentice hunts)

Shell Limits

See above.

Special Hunts

At some areas, there are special junior-only hunts throughout the year, which may not be announced until after State regulations are approved, e.g. the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge announces junior hunts in September

Type C Wildlife Area

On some Type C Wildlife Areas, there are special draws for junior-only hunts identified in Section 551(q). See 14 CCR § 502 and 14 CCR § 550(i).

Youth-Only Hunting Areas

At some locations, there are areas designated for youth hunt. Examples are listed below.

    1. Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Pond 11 requires at least one junior and on certain days. All binds may be reserved for juniors (e.g. Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013).
    2. Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, West Family Unit has a capacity for seven juniors (adult chaperones with a Type A and Type B pass may hunt with the junior).
    3. Los Banos Wildlife Area, there are ten 2-person blinds in the Mud Slough Unit junior hunting area. It has the capacity for twelve (12) parties of juniors and there are three 2-person junior blinds in “Zone 6” available by special permit.
    4. Kern National Wildlife Refuge has a junior hunt map.

Youth-Only Waterfowl Blinds

Some National Wildlife Refuges and State Wildlife Areas (or units within them) have Youth-Only blinds but may require a Reservations or special Permit. Juniors typically count toward the blind capacity, if any (e.g. Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. The following locations had them in 2014-2015:

Grizzly Island Wildlife Area

The West Family Unit of the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area had the capacity for seven (7) juniors at designated blinds. Adults were also allowed to hunt with a Type A and Type B Pass.

Los Banos Wildlife Area

The Mud Slough Unit of the Los Banos Wildlife Area had ten (10) two-person blinds in the junior hunting area.

“Zone 6” the Los Banos Wildlife Area had three (3) two-person junior blinds, but required a special permit.

Sacramento Wildlife Refuge

The manager of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge has discretion to reserve blinds for juniors on specific days (e.g. Dec. 8, 2012)

Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

The Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge had three-person blinds that were available by reservation on Saturdays and postseason hunts.

Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area

“Zone 7” of the Howard Slough Unit at the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area had blinds designated for juniors on Saturdays and Wednesdays, beginning around mid-December, but required a reservation.

Youth-Only Hunting Seasons by Waterfowl Zone

To participate in youth-only waterfowl hunting days, juniors must be under the age of 16 and accompanied by a non-hunting adult. See 14 CCR § 502(e).

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Wildlife Areas

In addition to this Section, see the sections above for Deer HuntingLotteriesNational Wildlife RefugesPassesPermitsPheasant HuntingPronghorn Antelope Hunting, ReservationsTurkey HuntingValidations, and Waterfowl Hunting.

Permits

At some Wildlife Areas, the supervising adult must have a permit, e.g. Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuge and controlled areas of the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Permits are NOT required at Type C Wildlife Areas. Also see Permits above.

Pond Capacity

When hunting at National Wildlife Refuges and State Wildlife Areas, juniors typically count toward the maximum pond capacity (e.g. Sutter National Wildlife Refuge).

Quotas

When hunting at National Wildlife Refuges and State Wildlife Areas, juniors typically count toward the daily quota–the maximum number of hunters allowed on a particular day. Also see our summary for Hunter Quota System.

Registration

When hunting at National Wildlife Refuges and State Wildlife Areas, juniors are typically required to register either at the check station or through self-registration, depending on the location. Examples:

Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Juniors hunting at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge must register at the Lonetree and Merced Units.

O’Neil Forebay Wildlife Area

When self-registration is required, juniors usually have do register too. At the O’Neil Forebay Wildlife Area, though, juniors are exempt on the day of and day following junior pheasant hunts. Se 14 CCR § 551(q)(15).

San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

Juniors hunting at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge must register at the E. Bear Creek, Freitas North, and Freitas South Units.

Reservations

See Reservations above.

Shell Limitations

Some Wildlife Areas have limits on the number of shotgun shells a hunter can have In the Field. In general, the same rule applies to juniors. There are a few exceptions, depending on the location and type of hunt. At the China Island, Gadwall Units, and Salt Slough Units of the North Grasslands Wildlife Area and at the Volta Wildlife Area, juniors can take as many shells as the want on days when only upland game may be taken and on special “youth only days.” See 14 CCR § 550(cc)(4)(D) and 14 CCR § 551(o)(34), (40), and (60) .

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Youth-Only Hunts

For Youth-Only Hunts, see the sections above for Definitions, Elk Hunting, Quail Hunting, and Waterfowl Hunting.


Forum and Blog

To participate in our hunting forum and blog for juniors, leave a question or reply in the comment section below.

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