Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Hunting Rules

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Waterfowl Hunting Entrance

On this page, you’ll find info for hunting ducks, geese, snipe, pheasant, coots and moorhen at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, which is State wildlife area. You’ll also find general info about the refuge, plus custom maps, hunting for juniors and disabled hunters, and rules related to bikes, camping, check stations, dogs, firearms, decoys, reservations, lotteries, shooting hours, hunt days, and more.


 About the Refuge

Location and Phone

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters SignThe Colusa National Wildlife Refuge is in Colusa County, California. The telephone number are (530) 458-2666 and (530) 934-2801. To get to the headquarters, take the O’hair Road exit.

See our custom map for driving directions and for the check station, hunt area, parking lots, canal crossing, and more more.


Colusa National Wildlife Refuge
Auto Tour Entrance and BathroomsThe

The Colusa National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which also includes the SacramentoDelevanSutter, and Sacramento River refuges.

These are five of the nine refuges classified as a “wildlife areas,” which means the hunt programs are managed by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW). They’re located within CDFW North Central Region (Region 2). The Colusa National Wildlife Refuge is classified as a Type A wildlife area.


Federal, State, and Local Rules

Delevan National Wildlife Refuge goose hunting
White-front geese, aka Speckle bellies.

In general, you can hunt at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. However, you can only hunt ducks, geesesnipe, pheasant, coots and moorhen. When hunting those birds, you must comply with all federal, State, and local hunting rules. In this Section, we cover the general hunting rules.

For refuge-specific rules, see the Sections below for Bird Hunting Rules, Waterfowl an Snipe Hunting Rules, and Pheasant Hunting Rules. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A) and 14 CCR § 552(a)(1)(C).

Federal Hunting Rules

There are federal hunting rules that generally apply to all migratory birds, which are birds that tend to migrate across State lines. Migratory game birds include birds like ducks, geese, snipe, coots, and moorhen. They do not include upland game birds, like pheasant. Follow the link above to see our summary, including topics like field dressing.

Plucking and cleaning ducks at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge
Migratory Bird Treaty Act

To see general federal hunting rules, go to our summary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It covers topics like field dressing. For example, you can field dress ducks, but you have to keep the head or one fully-feathered wing attached until you get it home.

State Hunting Rules

There are California hunting rules that generally apply to hunting seasons, bag limits, shooting hours, methods of take, etc. To see general California hunting rules, go to our pages for ducksgeesesnipe, and pheasant. However, general State rules are restricted by refuge-specific rules.

Refuge Hunting Rules

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge hunting rules and procedures
Type A Wildlife Areas

There are California rules that generally apply when visiting any State Wildlife Area, and rules specific to Type A wildlife areas, like the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. Those rules apply to activities like hunting, fishing, bike riding, camping, falconry, shooting, trapping, and driving. In addition, they address rules and procedures for things like passes, permits, reservations, and lotteries.

To see general refuge rules, follow the two links above. Keep in mind, though, that there are complex-specific and refuge-specific rules that either add to or further restrict those rules. There may be additional rules at check station windows and information booths, and on hunting maps and road signs.


Bird Hunting Rules

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge bird hunting

In this Section, you’ll find refuge-specific hunting rules for all bird hunting at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, including topics related to access, accidents, alcohol bicycles, boats, camping, check station, dogs, firearms, fires, fishing__, free roam, hunt areas, marijuana, personal property, shooting, turkey hunting__, and vehicles. See the next Sections for additional rules specific to hunting waterfowl, snipe, and pheasant.


Colusa National Wildlife Refuge foot access
Access by Foot

In general, access is only by foot. However, accommodations can be made for disabled hunters by asking the refuge manager.  See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(3).


Accidents & Injuries

All accidents and/or injuries should be reported immediately to CDFW staff at the check station or Complex headquarters. See Complex Rules.



It’s illegal to use or possess open containers at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. See Complex Rules.



Colusa National Wildlife Refuge rules for bikes
Not allowed

In general, you cannot ride bicycles at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge manage can make an exception for mobility-impaired hunters. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(3)14 CCR § 552(a)(1)(E), and Disabled Hunters in the next Section.



Colusa National Wildlife Refuge camping rules
Camping at the Check Station

In general, camping is not at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. The only exception is the night before each waterfowl shooting day. When allowed, you can only do it in the check station parking area. You can use vehicles, motor homes, and trailers, but you cannot use tents. For directions to the parking area, use our custom map.

See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(8) as further restricted by 14 CCR § 552(a)(1)(D). Also see Fires below.


Check Stations

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge
Entry & Exit from Check Station and Parking Lots

You’re only allowed to enter and exit the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge through at designated locations, which is the check station and parking lots.

You have to get an entry permit from the check station before entering. You have to check out there, report your results, return your permit, and leave by 90 minutes after shoot time ends unless hunting the next day. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(6)14 CCR § 552(a)(1)(F), and Complex Rules.

For directions to the check station, use our custom map and the USFWS check station map.



Colusa National Wildlife Refuge hunting dogs
Hunting Dogs & Leashes

In general, you have to keep your dog on a leash or in a vehicle while at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. There’s an exception for hunting dogs, but only if they are hunting under the immediate control of a licensed hunter. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(9) and Complex Rules.



Colusa National Wildlife Refuge shotguns restrictions.
Firearms Restrictions

For shotguns, you can’t use anything larger than a 12-gauge. You can only use steel or other non-toxic shot while in the field, and it can’t be larger than size T shot.

Warning shots!!! Shotguns must be unloaded until reaching spaced hunting areas (chamber and magazine). You can only carry 25 shells into the field. Pistols and rifles are not allowed at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(1) and (2)14 CCR § 552(a)(1)(A), and Complex Rules.



In general, you’re not allowed to make fires at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. There’s an exception, however, for portable gas stoves. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(5) and 14 CCR § 552(a)(1)(D).



Colusa National Wildlife Refuge fishing
No Fishing

While there’s a nice stream running through the refuge, you cannot fish.

Free Roam Areas & Blinds

Harvest Information Program HIP Survey
Hunting blinds

In the Free Roam areas of the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, you can only use portable blinds, temporary blinds made from natural material, and any concrete in-ground blinds. Warning shot!!! You’re not allowed to make permanent blinds, or cut or break woody vegetation. See Complex Rules.


Hunt Areas

You’re only allowed to hunt in designated areas of the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, and only in accordance with State regulations. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A).


Marijuana Cards

Medical marijuana cards aren’t valid at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge or any other national wildlife refuge. See Complex Rules.


Personal Property

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge decoys
Remove Your Decoys and other Property

All personal property that you bring into the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge must be removed daily, e.g. portable blinds, decoys, and other equipments. See Complex Rules.



Colusa National Wildlife Refuge retrieval zones
Firearm Restrictions

It’s illegal to shoot from or across access roads, parking areas, or into or from safety zones at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge.


Turkey Hunting

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge turkey hunting
No Turkey Hunting

While you will likely see wild turkeys on the auto tour route, you cannot hunt turkey at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge.

Vehicles & Parking

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Parking Lot C
Park in Designated Lots A – C

You can only stop your vehicle at designated parking areas of the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. You’re not allowed to “dump” or drop off passengers or equipment, or stop between parking areas. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(7) and 14 CCR § 552(a)(1)(F).



Waterfowl and Snipe Hunting

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Waterfowl Hunting and Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Snipe Hunting
Cinnamon Teal in flight.

In this Section we cover refuge-specific rules for hunting ducks, geese, snipe, coots and moorhen. Topics relate to access, the check station, decoys, disabled hunters, hunt areas, hunt days, hunt results, juniors and teens, permits (reservations, lottery, waiting list), seasons & limits, and shooting hours. These rules are in addition to those in the Section above for all bird hunting.

For more info, see Complex Rules. Also ee 50 CFR § 32.24(A) and 14 CCR § 552(a)(1)(C).


Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Access
Access by Foot

In general, access to the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge is only by foot. Disabled hunters can ask the refuge manager for additional accommodations, like the use of a bike. Warning shot!!! Chest waders are highly recommended. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(3).


Check Station

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Check Station
Check-In and Check-Out Procedures

To enter and exit the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, you have to go through the check station. For directions to the check station, use our custom map. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(6)..


To get in the refuge, you need to get an entry permit from the check station. To get a permit, you have to present the things listed below to check-in. Hunters with a Junior hunting license are exempt from pass requirements, and Juniors under the age of 16 are exempt from stamp requirements.

1. Hunting license.

2. Prepaid Type A Pass (1-day,2 -day or season long).

3. HIP validation, which is free.

4. Federal duck stamp, which must be signed.

5. California Duck Stamp.

Warning shots!!!  You can’t buy any of those items at the check station. You have to buy them in advance either online or from a CDFW license sales office or license agent. Also see Permits below and Complex Rules.


To leave the refuge, you have to check-out at the check station. You have to give them your “kill card” and permit, and be prepared to show them your birds.



Prior to December 1, you cannot use decoys with electronic spinning blade devices or wings at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. The same is true for mechanically-operated spinning blade devices or wing decoys. See 14 CCR § 507(c).


Disabled Hunters

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Parking for Disabled Hunters
Disabled Hunter Blinds

In general, boats are not allowed at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. However, there is an exception for hunters with disabilities, who can only use electric motors. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(4).

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Disabled Hunter Wheelchair Access
Wheelchair Access

For mobility-impaired hunters, there are two assigned ponds: (1) P2A and (2) P2B. Both are accessible by boat, and on P2B has wheelchair access. The blind at P2A is located on an island. The blind at P2B has an access route, floor with packed soil, and two folding chairs.

Click here for more info and our custom map for directions to the parking lot, boat access, and blinds.


Hunt Areas

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Hunt Map
2016-2017 Hunt Area Map

Designated hunt areas at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge include: (1) assigned ponds, (2) east side free roam, and (3) west side free roam. In the assigned ponds, there are 15 ponds with a capacity of 50 people. In the east side free roam area, there’s a capacity for 34 people. In the west side free roam area, there’s a capacity for 14 people. For each area, the capacity excludes juniors.

See our custom map below for directions and photos of parking areas, canal crossing, retrieval zones, hunt boundaries, and the check station. Also see Area DescriptionHunt Map, and Flood Map. Warning shot!!! In general, pheasant hunting is not allowed in these areas. The only exception is for the Special Monday Pheasant Hunt (see Pheasant Hunting below.)


Hunt Days

When hunting ducks, geese, and snipe at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, you’re only allowed to hunt on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during open seasons. See 14 CCR § 552(a)(1)() and 14 CCR § 552(a)(1)(B).


Hunt Results

Hunting results for blinds and assigned ponds at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge are generally posted online on the mornings of Tuesday and Friday. After 1 p.m., you can also call  (530) 934-7774, ext. 43.


Juniors & Teens

Click here for special hunt dates at the Complex.


Permits (Reservations, Lottery, and Waiting List)

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Permits
Permits & Passes

All hunters need an entry permit to hunt at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. Permits are issued at the check station (see above). To get one, you either need a reservation, have a lottery number, or get called from the waiting list. If the quota is met, you might not get in through the lottery or waiting list.  NO permits are issued after 3:00 p.m. See Complex Rules and Procedures.

Warning shots!!! All applicable hunting rules are incorporated into your permit–whether you know them or not–and are a condition for use. Don’t forget that you must repurchase a Type A Pass before you can get a permit.



To get a reservation at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, you have to apply to the CDFW at least 17 days before your desired hunt date. On the morning of the hunt, reservation numbers are called by CDFW staff at the check station beginning at least two hours before shoot time. If you’re late, you get skipped and your reservation expires an hour before shoot time. See Check Stations above.

If you want to hunt as a party, each reservation ensures entry of up to six (6) people, including no more than three (3) adults and a combination of two (2) juniors or non-shooters per adult. See 14 CCR § 551(x).



If you don’t have a reservation for the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, you can enter into the “non-reservation drawing,”commonly referred to as the lottery. It’s used to establish the order of entry after reservation holders are called and as space becomes available.

You have to enter at the check station the night before the hunt between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., at which time the drawing will be held. On the morning of the hunt, all names will be purged from the lottery at 8:00 a.m. Warning shot!!!  You can only make one choice between Colusa, Delevan, and Sacramento refuges. See 14 CCR § 552(a)(1)(G) and Complex Procedures.


Waiting List

If you miss the lottery at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, you can get on a waiting list or “sweat it in.” They use it to fill any vacancies on a first-come, first-serve basis as space becomes available. When they call your name, you must be present and respond or they will skip you. They stop calling names at 3:00 p.m.


Seasons & Limits

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Sacramento Valley Special Management Area
Special Management Area for Goose Hunting

The Colusa National Wildlife Refuge is located within the Balance of State Waterfowl Zone. For waterfowl seasons, click ducks and geese. Warning shot!!! The refuge is located within the Sacramento Valley Special Management Area, which has a different season for white-front (speckle-belly) geese. (The Sacramento and Devan NWR’s are also in this SMA).


Shooting Hours

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Shooting Hours
Shooting Hours

Shoot time for waterfowl and snipe at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuges are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset. Warning shot!!!  They post daily shoot times at the check station and in the “Colusa” column of CDFW’s table for Northern California. 


Pheasant Hunting Rules

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge pheasant hunting
Pheasant Hunting Rules

In general, you can hunt pheasant at the Refuge. However, there are restrictions for hunting areas, days, and hours. Click here for seasons, bag limits, other places to hunt and more. Warning shot!!! Make sure you bring your hunting license, Type A Pass, HIP Validation, and Upland Game Bird Stamp. For more info, see Complex Rules.

Hunt Area

In general, you can only hunt pheasant in the Free Roam areas of the Refuge. The only exception is the Special Monday Hunt when you can hunt pheasant in the spaced hunting areas, which includes blinds and assigned ponds (see below). Also see 50 CFR § 32.24(B) and Complex Rules.

Hunt Days

Pheasant hunting at the Refuge is only allowed on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during waterfowl season. See 14 CCR § 552(a)(1)(B).


For info on reservations, lotteries, and the waiting list, see Waterfowl & Snipe Hunting: Permits above. Warning shot!!! Reservations are not available on the first Monday of the pheasant season.

Shooting Hours

Shooting hours for pheasant hunting are from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. See Complex Rules.

Special Monday Hunt

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Pheasant Hunt MondayThere is a special pheasant hunt at the Refuge on the opening Monday of pheasant season. The same is true at the Delevan and Sacramento refuges. (See Hunt Areas above.) Reservations aren’t available for this hunt. Instead, they use a random drawing or “lottery” to determine the order of entry. They post the procedures at the check station. See Complex Rules.

In general, you must register at the check station on Sunday between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., at which time the drawing is held.  You don’t have to be present to receive a lottery number. If you’re not present on the morning of the hunt, they will purge your name from the list at 8:00 a.m. After that, you can get on the waiting list, which they use until 3:00 p.m.


Non-Hunting Activities

Besides hunting, you can take the auto tour and go hiking in designated areas. You cannot fish, though.

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge hiking
Hiking Trail
Colusa National Wildlife Refuge auto tour
Auto Tour

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