Each refuge is governed by federal and state law, supplemented by rules and regulations specific to the Complex, Refuges, and Units withing them. On this page, you’ll find (a) general information about the Complex, (b) a summary of rules and regulations for that portion of the Complex located within California, and (c) links to similar summaries for the Refuges and Units.
- Administrator: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS“)
- Fish & Game: California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (“CDFW“)
- Location: On the boarders of California & Oregon
- Phone Number: 530-667-2231
- Region: USFWS Pacific Southwest (Region 8)
- Visitor Center: click here for location, directions and hours of operation (also see our Google map)
- Waterfowl Zone: CDFW Northeastern California
- Websites: Tule Lake NWR (the primary website for the Complex)
I. Regulatory Summary
Klamath Basin is owned and operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. In addition to our summary of Complex-specific regulations, link to our summary of general regulations from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
B. Refuge-Specific Regulations
Beginning with Par. II below, you’ll find an alphabetical summary of legal topics that combine Complex-specific rules and regulations from the website for the Tule Lake NWR, which is the primary website for the Complex.
Warning shot!!! Click here for updates.
II. Summary of Rules and Regulations for the Complex
Accidents: report all accidents and injuries by reporting them immediately to the Refuge Manage at the Visitor Center or by calling (530) 667-2231
Alcohol: use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited
Ammunition: may NOT be taken into the field except when hunting waterfowl or pheasant by a legal method of take (also see “Shotguns” below)
Bag limits: set by the CDFW, bag limits are: (a) posted at each Refuge entrance, (b) available online for download from the Complex, (c) summarized by the CDFW for waterfowl and pheasant, and summarized by us for ducks and geese. (For the Oregon side, link to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.)
Boats: see “Personal Property” below
Camping & overnight: NOT allowed on any of the Refuges (there is access to primitive camping in the Modoc National Forest)
Decoys: see “Personal Property” below
Dogs: must be leashed except when actively engaged in legal hunting activities
Entry times: times are posted at each Refuge entrance and are available for download from the Complex webpage
- Access routes: firearms must be unloaded while on access routes, which may NOT be shot from or over
- Discharge: firearms may NOT be fired except in compliance with Refuge hunting regulations, i.e. only during the lawful pursuit of game during legal seasons. (Also see “Ammunition,” “Retrieval Zones,” “Vehicles” and “Weapons” below.
- Parking areas: no shooting from or across them
- Possession: firearms may not be possessed, transported, or carried except in compliance with State regulations
Guides: to conduct business on a Refuge, guides must have a permit and be listed with the Refuge
Hunt areas: hunting is allowed only on designated areas of each Refuge, each of which is described online by the Complex.
License, permits & stamps: when a license, permits, stamp and/or validation is required by law (federal, State or Refuge), each must be possessed and carried while hunting, including–
- HIP Validation: see above*
- License: CA hunting license*
- Pass: an annual recreation pass is required for hunting anywhere on the Complex**
- Stamps: federal and state duck stamps are required for hunting waterfowl**
* A California hunting license and HIP validation must be purchased before you get to the Refuge–they are NOT for sale at the Complex. Each may be purchased from the CDFW online or a CDFW sales office or license agent
** The annual recreation pass and duck stamps are available for purchase from the Complex Visitor Center or by credit card in advance by calling (530) 667-2231
Natural resources: it is unlawful to collect plants, animals, minerals, antlers and/or artifacts on a Refuge
Pass: an annual recreation pass is required and good from the date of purchase
- Fee: the pass is $25 or half price (a) with an interagency pass and (b) for full-time students
- Possession: hunters must carry the pass while hunting
- Purchasing: passes (and duck stamps) may be purchased at the Visitor Center. Warning shot!!! Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validations and other state licenses must be purchased in advance from the CDFW either online, at a sales office, or from a license agent
Personal property: all decoys, boats, other equipments, and trash (including shot shell hulls) must be removed by the following deadlines—
- Hunt areas: one and one-half (1 1/2) hour after “Shooting hours” (see below)
- Refuge: by the close of each day
Retrieval Zones: the following are NOT allowed in retrieval zones while waterfowl or pheasant hunting:
- Loaded Firearms
Scouting: possible from Refuge trails, which are open daily from sunrise to sunset
Seasons: set by the CDFW, seasons are: (a) posted at each Refuge entrance, (b) available online for download from the Complex, (c) summarized by the CDFW for waterfowl and pheasant, and summarized by us for and . (For the Oregon side, link to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.)
Shooting: see “Firearms” above
Shotgun shell shot: only steel or other non-toxic shot approved by the USFWS may be used for any species
Shotgun shells: no limit on the number of shells that may be taken into the field
Stamps: see “License, permits & stamps” above
- Access Routes: unless posted otherwise, vehicles are allowed ONLY on hunter access routes
- Dikes: NOT allowed unless marked open
- Firearms: must be unloaded while on access routes
- Parking: allowed ONLY in designated parking areas unless posted otherwise
Violations: report violations in progress to Refuge enforcement by calling (541) 891-5980 or (888) 334-2258 (in Oregon, call 800-452-7888)
Weapons: allowed in the field.
II. Regulatory Text
General Hunting Opportunities
Hunting Opportunities on Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Deer hunting is allowed only on one section of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge complex, Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge which is located in Southern Oregon. For more information on deer hunting on Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge please contact the refuge headquarters at Tule Lake by calling (530) 667-2231.
Waterfowl hunting is allowed on Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Clear Lake Refuge and Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuges.
Pheasant hunting is becoming more and more popular on the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge along with Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
Waterfowl Hunting on Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Refuge recreation passes and duck stamps are sold at the visitor center office which is located at 4009 Hill Rd, Tulelake California. Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validations and other state licenses must be attained in advance and will not be available at the check stations or visitor center offices. Check station procedures, regulations, and bag limits are available on this site.
A yearly hunt fee is required to hunt Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Refuges. Hunters may pay in person at Refuge Headquarters or in advance with a credit card by phoning refuge headquarters (530)-667-2231. All fees collected are kept at the Klamath Basin Refuges and are used to improve the hunt program. Annual Recreation Pass: $25.00 NOTE: Pass must be carried at all times in the field
Golden Age and Golden Access Passport holders: ½ off Student Pass (full time): ½ off
15 years & under: FREE
Licenses & Permits
All hunters must carry valid state hunting licenses and all required state and federal stamps and refuge passes. During the first two days of waterfowl season, all hunters 16 years of age or older must carry a valid entry permit for the controlled unit in which they are hunting. Hunters under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a permitted adult. Permits are issued in advance of waterfowl season to applicants selected by a lottery draw.
Only geese, ducks (including mergansers), coots, moorhens, snipe, and pheasants may be hunted on the Refuges. All other wildlife species are protected!
The public is allowed on the refuges only during the times posted at refuge entrances. Camping and overnight parking are not permitted on the refuges. However, several campground/trailer parks are located nearby.
Hunting is permitted 7 days per week during the normal season. Legal waterfowl shooting hours end at 1:00 PM on the Tule Lake Refuge and the California portion of Lower Klamath Refuge. Waterfowl shooting hours for the Oregon portion of Lower Klamath correspond to state regulations. Pheasant hunting hours on all refuge areas correspond to state regulations. Beginning Dec. 15, waterfowl hunting will be permitted all day on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Boats may be used on all areas open to waterfowl hunting. Air-thrust and inboard water-thrust (jet) boats are prohibited. Unit 6B-1 on Lower Klamath Refuge is motorless, or electric motors only areas until December 1st. Starting December 1st, unit 6B-1 will be open to motorboat use. Boat launching is not permitted after 1:00 PM. State lighting requirements are enforced by refuge officers.
Retrieval zones are NO hunt zones. Possession of firearms in retrieving zones is prohibited, except unloaded firearms may be taken through the zones when necessary to reach hunting areas. Decoys may not be set in retrieving zones. Restrictions apply to both waterfowl and pheasant hunting.
It is illegal to shoot from or across any access route or parking area. Motor vehicles are allowed only on designated access routes. It is illegal for hunters to carry loaded firearms on hunter access routes open to motor vehicles. These roads may be closed during parts of the season.
Waterfowl hunters may drive off access routes only to set out or pick up decoys in field units of The League of Nations, the Panhandle, and all Spaced -blinds on Tule Lake Refuge, and Sheepy East, Sheepy West, Miller Lake, the Orem/Sterns Units, Unit 4G, Unit 9D and the Oregon Straits sections of Lower Klamath Refuge. Due to the variety in habitat and weather conditions, driving off access routes is at your own risk. The Refuge takes no responsibility for damage to vehicles or equipment.
Vehicle access is NOT permitted on dikes unless the dike is marked open to vehicle traffic.
All decoys, boats, and other personal property must be removed from waterfowl hunt areas by 2:30 PM and from the refuges at the close of each day. Hunters are responsible for removing all trash including shot shell hulls when leaving hunting areas.
All accidents and injuries occurring on the refuges must be immediately reported to the refuge manager: Klamath Basin NWR’s, 4009 Hill Road, Tulelake, CA 96134. Phone (530)-667-2231
Weapons and Ammunition
No person may possess any weapon or ammunition in the field that may not be legally used for taking waterfowl or pheasants on these refuges. Nontoxic (steel) shot must be used to hunt ALL huntable species including ducks, geese, coots, moorhens, snipe, and pheasant on the Klamath Basin Refuges.
Alcohol use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited.
Only portable blinds and temporary blinds built of natural vegetation are permitted. Digging or pit blind construction in fields is not permitted.
The refuge has a list of commercial hunting guides authorized by permit to conduct guided hunts on the Refuges. No other guides are allowed to conduct commercial business on the Refuges.
Mobility Impaired Hunters
The Refuge Complex typically offers a variety of hunting habitats to hunters with mobility impairments. Lower Klamath Refuge, offers two boat-in blinds. One in Unit 1 and one in Unit 5. These blinds are available by reservation only through the Refuge Visitor’s Center. Opening of these blinds is based on water availability each season. The drive in field units (Sheepy East, Sheepy West, Orems 1, 2 , 3; and 9D) are all accessible for field hunting.
On the Tule Lake NWR all field hunt areas including the Spaced-blinds are drive-in units, allowing accessibility for those hunters with mobility impairments.
The Refuges cover a variety of habitats which include rough, uneven terrain, deep waters, dense stands of bulrushes (tules), stubble fields, ditches, and others. Rainfall can make roads and fields muddy and slippery, making them more difficult to negotiate. Hunting difficulty varies by area and hunters should examine their own abilities and limitations before using the refuges. Disabled persons should hunt with a partner. Consult the refuge manager for suggestions for hunting the area safely.
Permits and Passes
The annual recreation pass is needed if you are planning on hunting or reserving a photo blind on any part of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The pass is 25$ ($12.50 per person for those with a Senior Interagency Pass, an Interagency Access Pass or for full time students) and is good for one year from the date of purchase. If you wish to purchase your recreation pass over the phone please call (530) 667-2231.The annual recreation pass is needed if you are planning on hunting or reserving a photo blind on any part of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The pass is 25$ ($12.50 per person for those with a Senior Interagency Pass, an Interagency Access Pass or for full time students) and is good for one year from the date of purchase. If you wish to purchase your recreation pass over the phone please call (530) 667-2231.
A series of passes covers the entrance and standard amenity fees charged for using federal recreational lands – including national wildlife refuges.
Existing Golden Eagle Passports and National Parks Passes with an expiration date will be honored until they expire. Paper versions of the Golden Age or Golden Access Passports should be exchanged for the new Senior or Access passes. However, plastic Golden Age or Access passes are valid for the pass holder’s lifetime and do not need to be exchanged.
The Senior and Access passes are good for the lifetime of the holder and make available (to the pass holder only) 50 percent discounts on some expanded amenity fees.
For the first time, decals and hangtags are available: decals for those who park open-topped vehicles (like Jeeps) or motorcycles at unstaffed federal recreation sites, and hangtags for those who anticipate parking closed vehicles at unmanned facilities.
Please visit the National Wildlife Refuge System Web site for more information about passes.