California Muzzleloader Season and Limits

Muzzleloaders for California hunting seasons

On this page, we cover rules for the California muzzleloader season, including big game, game birds, small game, fur, and nongame. We include special rules for disabled hunters, muzzleloading shotguns, rifles, ammo, bag limits, scopes, tags, and vehicles. We have rules for places like shooting clubs, public hunting areas, and the condor range.


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Disabled Hunters

California Muzzleloader Season for disabled hunters.There is no fee for a Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit Application. See 14 CCR § 353(l)-(m) [application procedures], 14 CCR § 702(c)(U) [fees], and our summary of hunting rules for Disabled Hunters.

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Big Game

In general, muzzleloaders shotguns and rifles are allowed for hunting Big Game. Those mammals include certain species of Antelope, Black Bear, Deer, Elk, Sheep, and Pig (link to additional methods). There are even special muzzloader-only hunts for deer and elk. Warning shot!!! Read below for restrictions related to your equipment and location. Also see Condor Range below.

Sheep

Nonlead muzzleloader ammunition is required for hunting Nelson Bighorn Sheep.

Deer Hunts

 

There are several Muzzleloading Hunts for Deer. See 14 CCR § 360(c)(16)- (25). Follow the links for hunting areas, season, bag limits, possession limits, and tag availability).

Elk Hunts

There are several Muzzleloader Hunts for Elk, including Archery/Muzzleloader Hunts and Muzzleloader Only Hunts. See 14 CCR § 364(d)(12)(D)(3), (g), (h), and (j)(4).

Sheep

Nonlead muzzleloader ammunition is required for hunting Nelson Bighorn Sheep.  See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(1)(A).

Shotguns

Muzzle-loading shotguns may be used to hunt Big Game. Those mammals include certain species of Antelope, Black Bear, Deer, Elk, Sheep, and Pig. See 14 CCR § 353 (a), (f), (g), (k).

Rifles

In general, you can hunt Big Game with wheellock, matchlock, flintlock or percussion type, including “in-line” muzzleloading rifles using black powder or equivalent black powder substitute, including pellets, with a single projectile loaded from the muzzle and at least .40 caliber in designation. See 14 CCR § 353(c).

Sights

If you have a “Muzzleloading Rifle Only Tag” or a “Muzzleloading Rifle/Archery Tag”, you have to use “peep” sights are. The only exception is for seeing-impaired hunters. (See 14 CCR § 353(h) and (i) and Disabled Hunters above).

Tags

See Sights above.

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Condor Range

Lead projectiles may NOT be use for taking Big Game or Nongame Mammals in the Condor Range . See 14 CCR § 2501.1(e) and Big Game above.

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Furbearing Mammals

In general, nonlead muzzleloader ammunition is required for hunting fur-bearingin mammals. Those mammals include species of Badger, Beaver, Gray Fox, Mink, Muskrat, and Raccoon. Follow the links for additional hunting methods. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(2)(C) and 14 CCR § 465.

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Game Birds

Shooting Clubs

Domesticated migratory game birds may be taken on licenses areas with muzzle-loading shotguns. See 14 CCR § 600.4(g)(1).

Shotguns

In general, muzzleloading shotguns may be used to hunt Migratory Game Birds. Those birds include certain species of Doves, Ducks, Geese, Coot, Moorhen, Pigeon, and Snipe. Follow the links for additional hunting methods. See 14 CCR § 507(a)(3), Shooting Clubs above, and Upland Game Birds below.

Upland Game Birds

California Muzzleloader Season and California turkey hunting seasonsIn general, nonlead muzzleloader ammunition is required for hunting Upland Game Birds. Those birds include species of Chukar, Doves, Grouse, Pheasant, Pigeon, Ptarmigan, Quail, Snipe, and Turkey. Until July 1, 2019, there are exceptions for dove, quail, snipe, and game birds taken at a Licensed Game bird Club.

See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(2)(A) and 14 CCR § 311(c).

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Nongame Birds and Mammals

California Muzzleloader Season and California bobcat hunting seasonsIn general, nonlead muzzleloader ammunition is required for hunting Nongame Birds and Nongame Mammals. Three of the more common species are BobcatCoyote, and Crow. Follow the links for additional hunting methods. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(2)(E) and 14 CCR § 475.

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Property Damage

In general, nonlead muzzleloader ammunition is required for killing wildlife causing property damage. These mammals are referred to in the law as “fur-bearing mammals.” See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(2)(F).

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Public Land

Ecological Reserves

Nonlead muzzleloader ammunition is required for hunting on Ecological Reserves.  See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(1)(B).

Wildlife Areas

Nonlead muzzleloader ammunition is required for hunting on Wildlife Areas. Some areas restrict muzzleloaders to certain units, e.g. Egan Management Area of the Bass Hill Wildlife Area.

See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(1)(B) and 14 CCR § 551(r) [Bass Hill Wildlife Area].

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Small Game Mammals

Shotguns

California Muzzleloader Season and California squirrel hunting seasonsIn general, muzzleloading shotguns are allowed for hunting Resident Small Game. Those mammals include Rabbits and Tree Squirrels. In general, nonlead muzzleloader ammunition is required for hunting. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(2)(C) and  311(c).

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Vehicles

In general, it is unlawful to possess a loaded muzzleloading firearm in a vehicle of conveyance or its attachments which is standing on or along or is being driven on or along any public road or highway or other way open to the public.

Warning shot!!!  “Loaded” means that it is “capped or primed or has an electronic or other ignition device attached and has a powder charge and projective or shot in the barrel or cylinder.” See 14 CCR § 353(k).

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