California Rabbit Hunting Seasons, Laws, and Locations on Private and Public Land

California rabbit hunting seasons.

Here, we fetch up California rabbit hunting seasons, laws, and locations for public and private land. We retrieve them by Topic and include definitions, hunter-friendly summaries of each topic, and links to regulations from the Fish and Game Code and Title 14 of the Code of Regulations. Warning shot!! Always review the FGC website for current and any additional rules. While the contents of this page is not legal advice, our Legal Labrador is here to help.

Topics

  1. Seasons
  2. Hunting hours
  3. Bag and possession limits
  4. Species
  5. Hunting license
  6. Hunting methods
  7. Trapping
  8. Hunting areas
  9. Forum and blog

Species

There are California rabbit hunting seasons, but only for the species of rabbits listed below. Under California hunting laws, they are listed as Resident Small Game mammals.

    1. Brush Rabbits.
    2. Cottontail Rabbits.
    3. Hares.
    4. Jackrabbits.
    5. Pigmy Rabbits.

Theses rules for California rabbit hunting seasons are located at FGC § 3950 and 14 CCR § 257.

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License

To hunt rabbits in California, you need a California Hunting License from the CDFW. You have to keep it in your possession while In the Field hunting. You can get it online from the CDFW. They’re available to residents and nonresidents of California. Theses rules for California rabbit hunting seasons are located at FGC § 3031 and 14 CCR § and 700.

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Hunting Methods

You can hunt rabbits in California. However, you can only use the hunting methods listed below.

Air Rifles

In general, you can hunt rabbits with an air rifle. However, it has to be powered by compressed air or gas. You can use an caliber of pellet. This rule for California rabbit hunting seasons is located at 14 CCR § 311(f).

Archery

Archery for California rabbit hunting seasons.
Archery for California rabbit hunting seasons.

In general, archery with a bow and arrow is an authorized method for hunting rabbits.  If you use a bow, it’s illegal to carry a firearm while you’re hunting. See our summary for California Archery Laws for any additional restrictions.

This archery regulation is located at 14 CCR §§ 311(e) and (k). Also see “Crossbows” below.)

Boats, Kayaks, and Canoes

It used to be illegal to shoot resident small game from a boat or kayak, including rabbits.  However, the rule was repealed in June 4, 1970. In general, you can’t use a boat to chase, drive, or herd rabbits in California. If you use a boat, the motor has has to be shut off. You also have to let all the momentum come to an end before shooting. Finally, the boat has to be drifting, beached, moored, resting at anchor, or propelled by a paddle or pole. Theses rules for California rabbit hunting seasons are located at FGC § 3002  and 14 CCR § 251.

Warning shots!!! These restriction also apply to airboats, sailboats, or other watercraft. There are exceptions related to agriculture, landowners, tenants, and animals causing property damage. Click here for more hunting rules while hunting on “navigable waters.” If hunting on public land, there may also be some local rules (e.g. BLM landnational forests, ecological reserves).

Box Traps

Traps for California rabbit hunting seasons
Box traps for California rabbit hunting seasons.

In general, box traps are NOT allowed for hunting rabbits in California. There’s an exception for San Diego county and Orange county, where you can use them any time during open season. However, you have to comply with the restrictions noted below for bag limits, trap size, and attendance.

Daily Bag Limit

Rabbits caught in a box trap must be killed immediately and added to the trapper’s daily bag limit.

Size of Trap

The box trap shall not exceed 24 inches in any dimension.

Tending

The box trap shall be tended at least once every 24 hours, and must show the name and address of the trap owner.

This rule for California rabbit hunting seasons is located at 14 CCR §§ 311(h).

Calls

It’s illegal to to use electronic calls to hunt rabbits in California. The same is true for “sound-reproducing devices.” This rule for California rabbit hunting seasons is located at 14 CCR § 311(i).

Crossbows

Crossbows for California rabbit hunting seasons.
Crossbows for California rabbit hunting seasons.

In general, it’s illegal to hunt rabbits with a crossbow. There’s an exception for hunters with a Disabled Archer Permit. Theses rules for California rabbit hunting seasons are located at 14 CCR §§ 311(n) and 354(d) and (g). Click here for our summary of California crossbow regulations.

Decoys

It’s illegal to use live decoys to hunt rabbits in California. This rule for California rabbit hunting seasons is located at 14 CCR § 311(l).

Dogs

Dogs for California hunting seasons.
Hound dogs for California rabbit hunting seasons.

In general, you can use dogs to hunt rabbits in California, including “coursing dogs.” However, see our summary for California Hunting Dog Laws for any restrictions. This rule for California rabbit hunting seasons is located at 14 CCR §§ 311(j) and (o).

Falconry

In general, you can use falcons to hunt rabbits in California. However, see our summary for California Falconry Hunting Seasons. Also see the rule for California rabbit hunting seasons, which is located at 14 CCR §§ 311(d).

Muzzleloaders

In general, muzzleloading shotguns are allowed for hunting rabbits in California. However, see our summary for California Muzzleloader Season for any restrictions. This rule for California rabbit hunting seasons is located at 14 CCR § 311(c).

Pistols

In general, pistols are allowed for hunting rabbit in California. However, there’s an exceptions for Los Angeles County, where pistols aren’t allowed. This rule for California rabbit hunting seasons is located at 14 CCR § 311(g).

Rifles

In general, rifles are allowed for hunting rabbits in California. However, there’s an exceptions for Los Angeles County, where rifles aren’t allowed. This rule for California rabbit hunting seasons is located at 14 CCR § 311(g).

Shotguns

In general, shotguns are allowed for hunting rabbit in California. However, there are restrictions related to the gauge, shell capacity, shell size, and location.

Gauge

Firearms and shotguns for California rabbit hunting seasons
Shotgun restrictions for California rabbit hunting seasons.

In general, you can’t use anything larger than a 10-gauge. There’s an exception in Morro Bay, where you can’t use anything larger than a 12-guage. The rule apply to hunting over or adjacent to the waters of Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County.  Warning shot!!! There are similar restrictions at some California Wildlife Areas. This rule for California rabbit hunting seasons is located at 14 CCR §§ 311(a).

Shell Capacity

Your shotgun cannot be capable of holding more than three (3) shells in the magazine and chamber combined. If you use a plug to reduce the shell capacity, it has to be of one piece construction, incapable of being removed without disassembling the gun. This rule for California rabbit hunting seasons is located at 14 CCR §§ 311(a).

Shell Size

You can’t use a shot size larger than No. BB. In fact you can’t even possess larger shot while hunting rabbits.  All shot shall be loose in the shell. This rule for California rabbit hunting seasons is located at 14 CCR §§ 311(b).

Vehicles

In California, it’s illegal to use any kind of motor vehicle to chase, drive, or herd rabbits. In addition, you can’t shoot rabbits from your motor vehicle.  (Also see “Boats, Kayaks & Canoes” above.”) Theses rules for California rabbit hunting seasons are located at FGC §§ 3002, 3003.5, and 3501; and 14 CCR § and 251.

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California Rabbit Hunting Seasons and Limits

Warning shot!!!  Rabbit seasons and bag limits depend on the species and location where you’re hunting, plus the method you’re using to hunt them.

Rabbits

General Season

In general, rabbit season is from July 1 through the last Sunday in January (7/1 – 1/29, 2017). See “Hunting Area” below and 14 CCR §§ 308(a).  As of August 2, 2016, the CDFW website has not been updated.

Hunting Area

In general, you can hunt rabbits anywhere in California. However, it’s illegal to shoot brush rabbits and cottontail rabbits in San Joaquin County, generally located between Stockton and Tracy. See 14 CCR §§ 308(d) for boundaries.

Daily Bag Limit

In general, you can’t shoot more than five (5) rabbits per day (see “Hunting Area” above). See 14 CCR §§ 308(c).

Possession Limit

It’s illegal to possess more than ten (10) rabbits of all species combined (see “Hunting Area” above). See 14 CCR §§ 308(c).

Falconry Season

In general, falconry season for rabbits is from the first Monday following the “General Season” through the third Sunday in March (1/30 – 3/19, 2017). (See “General Season” and “Hunting Area” above.)

Jackrabbits

Season

You can hunt jackrabbits all year long.

Hunting Area

You can hunt jackrabbits anywhere in the State.

Limits

California rabbit hunting seasons for jackrabbit.
Bag limits for California rabbit hunting seasons.

There are no bag or possession limits for hunting jackrabbits in California. [14 CCR § 309]

Theses rules for California rabbit hunting seasons are located at 14 CCR §§ 308(d) and 309.

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Shooting Hours

Begin

You can start shooting rabbits one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise.

End

You have to stop shooting rabbits one-half (1/2) hour after sunset.

Theses rules for California rabbit hunting seasons are located at 14 CCR § 310.

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Hunting Areas

Click here for public rabbit hunting locations.

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California Rabbit Hunting Forum and Blog

To participate in our California rabbit hunting forum, leave a comment or reply below.

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While we try to fetch up all California rabbit hunting seasons, laws and locations, we might miss a few or make a typo. If so, please leave a comment or question in the reply box below.

8 thoughts on “California Rabbit Hunting Seasons, Laws, and Locations on Private and Public Land”

      1. None yet, a newbie seeking info. I recently moved to Kern Co. and would like to find a place to unwind around sunset, take a walk, and maybe bring home a few rabbits for cooking purposes. I’m in the Tehachapi area.

      2. Hello, I’m interested to do some Jackrabbit hunting. I live in Hayward, California. Any suggestions where I can hunt Jackrabbits around my area? Thank you.

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