Here, we fetch up California quail hunting seasons, laws, and locations for public and private hunts.
Regulations & Species
During the California quail hunting seasons, you can hunt the following species:
- California quail, also known as California Valley Quail (all varieties).
- Gambel’s quail, also known as California desert quail.
- Mountain quail (all varieties).
When hunting quail, you must follow hunting rules for not only quail but also for the following categories:
* Link to the 2002 California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) Guide to Hunting Quail in California. The guide includes California quail information and images, including California quail identification, hunting tips, images, hunting with dogs, maps for mountain quail and Gambel’s quail, hunting on public lands like BLM, in Northern California, Central California, and Southern California.
To hunt quail during the California quail hunting seasons, you must a Hunting License from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (“CDFW”). Warning shot!!! You must have your license in your immediate possession while hunting. See FGC § 3031 and 14 CCR § 700(b). There are also licenses for disabled hunters, hunting with a falcon, guides and outfitters, hunting clubs, and junior hunters.
If you’re a disabled hunter and want to hunt quail, you can apply for a Recovering Service Member Hunting License, Disabled Veteran Hunting License, or Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle License.
If you’re going to use a falcon to hunt quail during the California quail hunting seasons, you must have a Falconry License.
Guides and Outfitters
If you’re a commercial guide or outfitter that offers quail hunting, you must get a Guide License.
If you’re a commercial hunting club that offers quail hunting, you must get a Commercial Hunting Club License. Licensed quail clubs are exempt from the requirement to have a domesticated game breeder’s liens. See FGC § 3031, FGC § 3200, and 14 CCR § 600.
Warning shot!!! In addition to a hunting license, you may also need an Upland Game Bird Stamp to hunt quail.
Upland Game Bird Stamp Validation
In general, you need an Upland Game Bird Hunting Validation to hunt upland game birds, including quail during the California quail hunting seasons. The only exception is for Juniors hunting with a valid Junior Hunting License.
Warning shot!!! You must carry your license and validation with you while hunting. See 14 CCR § 313.
California quail hunting seasons vary by (1) method of hunting, (2) geographical location, (3) species, and the (4) hunter’s age. There is a general shotgun season for hunting quail in California, as well as separate quail hunting seasons for archery and falconry. There are three California quail hunting zones established by the CDFW (Zone Q1, Q2, and Q3). There is a special California quail hunting season for mountain quail. Finally, there are special opportunities for youth during the California quail season. You can double-check these on the CDFW website.
Zone Q1 – Mountain Quail Only
The California mountain quail season in “Zone Q1” is the second Saturday in September through the Friday before the third Saturday in October (September 10 – October 14). (Expand image of the “California Quail Zone Map” above.)
The California quail hunting season for all species in “Zone Q1” is the third Saturday in October through the last Sunday in January (October 15 – January 29, 2017). (Expand image above of the California quail zone.)
Zone Q2 (Early Costal Season)
The California quail hunting season for all species in “Zone Q2” is the last Saturday in September through the last Sunday in January (September 24 – January 29, 2017). (Expand image above of the California quail hunting zone map.)
Zone Q3 (Balance of STate)
The California quail hunting season for all species in “Zone Q3” is the third Saturday in October through the last Sunday in January (October 15 – January 29, 2017). (Expand image above of California quail zones.)
The was a youth California quail hunting season in the Mojave National Preserve is the first Saturday and Sunday in October (October 1 – 2). Visit us after July 1, 2015 for additional junior California quail hunting opportunities. For California youth hunting rules, link to our summary.
In general, quail hunting is authorized on all Type C Wildlife Areas, unless otherwise restricted in Sections 551(q) and (t). [14 CCR § 551(e)]. In general, quail hunting is NOT allowed on Type A and Type B Wildlife Areas unless specifically authorized. See “Public Hunting Areas” for Wildlife Areas where quail hunting is allowed.
The California archery-only quail season for all species is the third Saturday in August, extending for 21 days (August 20 through September 10). You can also use a bow during the general seasons. (Click here for California quail archery regulations.)
The California quail season for falconry is the third Saturday in August through the last day in February (August 20 through February 28, 2017). (Click here for falconry regulations.)
In general, shooting hours for all upland game birds, including quail during the California quail hunting seasons, are from one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise until sunset. Warning shot!!! Shoot times may be further restricted on public land, e.g. Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves, and there are exceptions are for pheasant and spring turkey seasons. See 14 CCR § 310.5.
Hawking hours during the falconry season for quail are from sunrise to sunset. See 14 CCR § 300(a)(3)(B).
CDFW Timetables (2015-2016)
Bag & Possession Limits
Daily Bag Limit
The daily quota, or daily bag limit, for California quail hunting is ten (10) quail in any combination for the authorized season.
The possession limit for California quail season is triple the daily bag limit (see above).
These California quail season regulations are located at 14 CCR §§ 300(a).
Quail hunting during the California quail hunting seasons is allowed, but only with the following hunting methods and restrictions: air rifles, archery, bait, boats, bow and arrow, calls, computers, crossbows, decoys, dogs, falconry, harassment, lights, motor vehicles, muzzleloaders, pistols, rifles, and shotguns.
In general, you can use an air rifle to hunt resident small game, including quail during the California quail hunting seasons. While you can use any caliber of pellet (except for turkey), the air rifle can only be powered by air or gas. See 14 CCR § 311(f).
Bait & Baited Areas
Boats, Kayaks, and Canoes
There used to be a prohibition against shooting resident small game from boats, but the regulation was repealed. While you can shoot quail from a boat, it’s illegal to use a motorboat, powerboat, airboat or sailboat to pursue, drive, or herd any bird or mammal in California. When hunting, the the motor has been shut off, all momentum has ended, and the boat is either drifting, beached, moored, resting at anchor, or is being propelled by a paddle, or or pole.
Warning shots!!! There may be area-specific restrictions when hunting on public land, like Wildlife Areas. There are exceptions related to agriculture, landowners, tenants, and depredating animals. See our summary of rules for hunting on navigable waters, FGC § 3002, 14 CCR § 251, and 14 CCR § 311.8 [repealed].
Bow and Arrows
In general, Bow and Arrows are allowed for hunting quail in California. Any type of arrow can be used except arrows with (1) lighted nocks with a beam of light, (2) an explosive head, (3) tranquilizers, or (4) poison. See 14 CCR § 311(e) and (k) and 14 CCR § 354(c)-(i) and “Crossbows” below.
- Don’t shoot arrows from or across any highway, road, or place open to the pubic for vehicles.
- Your bow has to be capable of killing the bird from at least 130 yards.
- In general, you’re not allowed to have a firearm while hunting quail during any archery season.
- Don’t put a bow in your vehicle if it’s nocked or the end of an arrow is fit to the notch.
NOTES: You only must use flu-flu fletching for migratory game birds and pheasant. In general, archery isn’t allowed on Type A or Type B Wildlife Areas during pheasant (or waterfowl) seasons. The only exception is at the Los Banos Wildlife Area and only as authorized in Section 551(u). See 14 CCR § 550(cc)(4)(F)].
Calling “devices” are NOT allowed for hunting quail (or any other resident small game). This includes: “Electronic or mechanically-operated calling or sound-reproducing devices.” See 14 CCR § 311(i).