Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Hunting Rules, Regulations, and Procedures

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters Sign

On this page, you’ll find practically everything you need for hunting ducks, geese, snipe, pheasant, coots and moorhen at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, which is a California Wildlife Area. You’ll also find general info about the Refuge, custom maps, hunting for juniors and disabled hunters, and rules for to bikes, camping, check stations, dogs, firearms, decoys, reservations, lotteries, shooting hours, hunt days, and more.

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About the Refuge

Address and Phone

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge exit signThe Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is in Glenn County and Colusa County, California. The Check Station is about 9 1/2 miles south from Willows and 10.2 miles north from Maxwell. The telephone number is (530) 934-2801. See our custom map for driving directions.

Description

The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which (for hunting) also includes the ColusaDelevanSutter, and Sacramento River refuges. These are five of nine refuges classified as State wildlife areas, which means the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) manages the hunting programs. For informational purposes only, the Refuges are in CDFW North Central Region (Region 2). The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is classified as a Type A wildlife area. See 14 CCR § 551(c)(8).

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Federal, State, and Local Rules

Authorized Species

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge goose hunting
Waterfowl Hunting

In general, you’re allowed to hunt at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. However, you’re only allowed to hunt ducksgeesesnipepheasant, coots and moorhen. Follow those links for general State hunting rules, like seasons, bag limits, hunting methods, etc. Also see 50 CFR § 32.24(A) and (B) and 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(C).

 

General Rules

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge snipe hunting seasons.When hunting  ducksgeesesnipe, coots and moorhen, you have to comply with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. When hunting at any State Wildlife Area, you must adhere to general use rules. (Follow the links above for our summary of those rules.)

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Refuge Bird Hunting Rules

In this Section, you’ll find rules and procedures for all bird hunting at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, including topics for access, accidents, alcohol bicycles, boats, camping, check stations, dogs, firearms, fires, free roam, hunt areas, marijuana, personal property, shooting, and vehicles__.

Access & Accommodations

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge disabled hunter sign
Accommodations for Disabled Hunters

In general, access is only by foot. However, accommodations can be made for disabled hunters by asking the refuge manager or check station staff. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(4).

Accidents & Injuries

You should immediately report accidents and/or injuries to CDFW staff at the Check Station or Complex headquarters. See Complex Rules.

Alcohol

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

Bicycles

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge rules for bikes

In general, you cannot ride bikes at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. If you have a mobility-impairment, ask the Refuge Manager for an accommodation. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(4) and 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(F).

Camping & Tents

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge camping rulesIn general, you cannot camp at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. The only exception is the night before each waterfowl shooting day, but only in the Check Station parking area (Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays except Federal holidays). You can camp in vehicles, motor homes, and trailers, but not tents. For directions to the parking area, use our custom map.

See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(14) as further restricted by 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(E). Also see Fires below.

Check Station & Procedures

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Checking Station Map
Directions to the Check Station

To get to the Check Station from I-5, exit Road 68, go east for one mile, and turn south through the gate down the gravel road.

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)(5)14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(I), and Complex Rules.

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

Dogs

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge hunting dogsIn general, you have to keep your dog on a leash or in a vehicle while at the Sacramento 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)(15) and Complex Rules.

Entry & Exit

You can only enter and exit the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge through at designated locations, which includes the Check Station. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(5).

Firearms

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge shotguns 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 larger than size T in steel. Shotguns must be unloaded between parking areas and spaced blind areas (chamber and magazine). You can only carry 25 shells into the field.

Warning shot!!! You cannot use or possess pistols or rifles at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(8)-(10)14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(A), and See Complex Rules..

Fires

In general, you’re not allowed to make fires at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. There’s an exception, however, for portable gas stoves. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(13) and 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(E).

Hunt Areas

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge waterfowl hunt map
Check Station Hunt Map

You can only hunt in designated areas of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, and only in accordance with State regulations. While the Refuge hands out hunting maps, but they’re only for general guidance. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A).

Marijuana Cards

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

Personal Property

Each day, you must remove all personal property that you bring into the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (e.g. portable blinds, decoys, and other equipments). See Complex Rules.

Shooting

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

Vehicles & Parking

You can only stop your vehicle at designated parking areas of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. You’re not allowed to “dump” or drop off passengers or equipment, or stop between parking areas. Warning shot! The speed limits are 15 mph on the entrance road and 25 mph on the auto tour. Firearms must be unloaded while traveling between parking areas and spaced blinds. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(6)14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(I), and See Complex Rules. .

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Waterfowl and Snipe Hunting

Sacramento National Wildlife Areas Waterfowl Hunting and Sacramento National Wildlife Areas Snipe Hunting
Cinnamon Teal in flight.

In general, you’re allowed to hunt ducks, geese, snipe, coots and moorhen. However, you can only hunt them (1) in designated areas, (2) in accordance with State laws, and (3) subject to the conditions below. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A) and 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(C).

Access

In general, access to the Sacramento 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).

Blinds

Free Roam Area

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

Spaced Blind Unit

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge blind waiting list
Blind Waiting Chart

In general, if you’re assigned to the spaced blind unit, you’re not allowed to hunt outside of 100 feet of the blind. The only exceptions are to retrieve birds, place decoy, or while traveling to and from the parking area. The same is true for the Delevan NWR, and Complex Rules.

Warning shot!! You cannot hunt pheasant from the assigned blind areas except on the first Monday of the pheasant season. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(3)14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(H), and the Pheasant Hunting below.

Check Station

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Parking Area A
Check Station

To enter and exit the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, you have to get a permit from the Check Station. For directions to the check station, use our custom map. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(1).

Check-In

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge check station procedures
Check Station

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.

Check-Out

To leave the Refuge, you have to check-out at the Check Station. You have to give them your “kill card” and permit, and show them your birds upon request. Also see Permits below

Decoys

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

Disabled Hunters

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Disabled Hunter AccommodationsThe Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge has three spaced blind areas for disabled hunters. Areas 5D and 23D have concrete pads. Area 27D is an assigned pond, which has a “bike track floor and car top boat access (no trailers)” to make it better for hunting. The roads to these areas are made of packed gravel. You can get to the with a vehicle or ATV. The blinds also have two folding chairs. Use our custom map for directions to ADA blinds and parking lot. Also see Complex Rules.

Hunt Areas

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge flood map
Water Map

When hunting at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, you can ask to be assigned to the “spaced hunting area,” which includes blinds and assigned ponds. There’s also a Free Roam areas. The maximum capacity is 184 people at the refuge, including juniors. See See 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(H) and Complex Rules.

Warning shot!! You cannot hunt pheasant from assigned blind areas except on the first Monday of the pheasant season. Chest waders are highly recommended. Also see Hunt Area MapBlind and Pond DescriptionFree Roam Description, and Flood Map.

Assigned Blinds

There are 38 in-ground blinds in which only one party is allowed. Warning shot! In general, you can only hunt within 100 feet of the blind. The only exceptions are to retrieve dead or crippled birds, and to put out decoys. The same is true for the Delevan NWR.

Assigned Ponds

There are eight (8) pond assignments for individual parties (Ponds #5, 26, 30, 37, 38, 40A, 46, and 52.) Warning shots!!! You can only hunt within your pond boundaries. The only exceptions are to retrieve dead or crippled birds, and to put out decoys. You cannot hunt from the levees.

Hunt Days

When hunting ducks, geese, and snipe at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, you can only hunt on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during open seasons. See 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(B).

Hunt Results

CDFW typically posts hunting results online on the mornings of Tuesday and Friday. After 1 PM, you can also call (530)934-7774, ext. 43.

Juniors & Teens

Juniors, ages 16 and 17, can hunt alone, but an adult must supervise all other juniors. There’s usually a junior-only hunt in December, but adults can hunt in the Free Roam areas. Click here for special hunt dates.

Permits (Reservations, Lottery, and Waiting List)

All hunters need an entry permit to hunt at the Sacramento National Wildlife Area. CDFW issues entry permits at the Check Station (see above). To get one, you either need a reservation, have a lottery number, or get an entry permit through the waiting list. If the quota is met, you might not get in through the lottery or waiting list. The don’t issue permits after 3:00 PM. NOTE: Visitors must pay a “day use” fee, unless they have a Federal duck stamp ($6 fee in 2016). See Complex Rules, Regs, and Procedures.

Reservations

To get a reservation at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, you have to apply to the CDFW at least 17 days before your hunt date. On the morning of the hunt, CDFW staff calls reservation numbers at the check station beginning at least two hours before shoot time. If you’re late, they will skip your name, but you can still get in from the end of the reservation line until one hour before shoot time. See Check Stations above.

If you want to enter as a hunting party, a reservation ensures entry of four (4) people, which includes juniors and non-shooters. See 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(G).

Lottery / Drawing

If you don’t have a reservation for the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, you can enter into the non-reservation drawing (i.e. lottery). They use it to establish the order of entry after they process reservation holders and only as space becomes available.

You have to enter at the check station Friday night, between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM, for Saturday and Sunday hunts. The same rules apply on Tuesday night, for Wednesday hunts. On the morning of the hunt, they purge names from the lottery at 8:00 AM. Warning shot!  You can only make one choice between Sacramento, Delevan, and Colusa refuges. See 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(G)14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(D), and Complex Procedures.

Waiting List

If you miss the lottery at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, sign up for the waiting list, commonly know as the “sweating it in.” They use the waiting list to fill any vacancies on a first-come, first-serve basis as space becomes available. You must be present and respond when they call your name; otherwise, they will skip go on to the next names. They stop calling names after 3:00 PM (see Waiting List below).

Seasons & Limits

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

Click here for that season and here to see our custom map of the Special Management Area.

Shooting Hours

Shoot time for waterfowl and snipe at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuges are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset. Warning shot!  You can find general daily shoot times in the “Sacramento” column of CDFW’s table for Northern California, but the actual shoot times are at the Check Station.

Snipe Hunting

You cannot hunt snipe in the Spaced Blind Areas. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(12).

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Pheasant Hunting Rules

In general, you can hunt pheasant hunting at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. However, there are restrictions for hunt 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. Also 50 CFR § 32.24(B) and 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(C).

Access

In general, access to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is only by foot. Disabled hunters can ask the refuge manager for additional accommodations, like the use of a bike. See 50 CFR § 32.24(A)(4).

Blinds (Space Blind Areas)

In general, you cannot hunt pheasant in the Spaced Blind Areas of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. The only exception is the first Monday of the pheasant season.

Hunt Areas

In general, you can hunt pheasant within the the Free Roam and Pheasant-Only Areas of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. You can also hunt pheasant in the Spaced Blind Areas, but only on the first Monday of the Pheasant season. See Complex Rules.

Hunt Days

You can hunt pheasant at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, but only on the first Monday of pheasant season, and then on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during waterfowl season. See 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(C). See 14 CCR § 552(a)(5)(B).

Permits

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 at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.

Shooting Hours

Shooting hours for pheasant hunting at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuges are from 8:00 AM to sunset. See Complex Rules.

Special Monday Hunt

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

In general, you must register at the check station on Sunday between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 PM, after which they do the drawing.  You don’t have to be present to receive a lottery number. If you’re absent at 8:00 AM, they will purge your name from the list. However, you can get on the waiting list, which they use until 3:00 p.m. Warning shot!!! You cannot shoot waterfowl or snipe while in the Free Roam area.

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