26 California Small Game Regulations every Hunter Should Know Before Hunting

California rabbit hunting seasons for jackrabbit, including California Small Game Regulations

On this page, you’ll find a selection of California small game regulations and rules, which includes hunting seasons for rabbitssquirrels, and resident game birds. The source of these hunting rules are from the California Fish & Game Code and Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations.


California Small Game Regulations

California Fish & Game Code

  1. FGC § 2005 (a) generally prohibits lights when hunting game birds and game mammals; (b) prohibits lights (i) on a highway, woodland, or forest where mammals are commonly found or (ii) upon mammals while in possession of a weapon (e.g. firearm) that could be used to kill it; (c) prohibits “night vision equipment” to help take any bird or mammal; (d) exempts (i) landowners with permits to take mammals causing damage to people or property per Section 4180, (ii) certain hand-held flashlight unless attached to a weapon, (iii) certain lamps and lanterns, (iv) normal use of motor vehicle headlights, (v) agricultural landowners and employees; and (e) prohibits arrest by anyone besides a peace officer.
  2. FGC § 3002. Shooting from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, and airplane
  3. FGC § 3003.5. Pursuit with motorized water, land, or air vehicle (e.g. motor vehicle, airplane, powerboat, snowmobile)
  4. FGC § 3501. Driving game birds with motor vehicles
  5. FGC § 3950. Definition of game mammals
  6. FGC § 4181. Rabbits causing crop damage
  7. FGC § 4186. Rabbits causing crop damage

Title 14, California Code of Regulations

  1. 14 CCR § 250.1. Ban on lead ammo
  2. 14 CCR § 251. Driving, herding, taking from motor-driven land or air vehicles
  3. 14 CCR § 251.1. Harassment of animals
  4. 14 CCR § 251.5. Kill immediately and add to possession limit
  5. 14 CCR § 251.9. Computer-assisted remote hunting
  6. 14 CCR § 257. Definition of resident game mammal
  7. 14 CCR § 257.5. Bait restrictions
  8. 14 CCR § 307. Tree squirrel seasons, hunting zones, archery, and falconry
  9. 14 CCR § 308. Rabbit seasons, falconry, bag and possession limits, restricted areas
  10. 14 CCR § 309. Jackrabbit seasons, bag and possession limits
  11. 4186, Fish and Game Code
  12. 14 CCR § 310. Shooting hours resident small game
  13. 14 CCR § 311. Methods for taking resident small game (shotguns, muzzle loaders, falconry, bow and arrow, air rifle, pistols, rifles, box traps, dogs, decoys, crossbows)
  14. 14 CCR § 311.6. Pistol and rifle restriction in the Picacho and Providence Mountains State Recreation Areas
  15. 14 CCR § 311.7. No pistols or rifles for rabbits in Los Angeles County
  16. 14 CCR § 311.8. Restrictions from shooting from a boat [repealed]
  17. 14 CCR § 354. Archery and Crossbow
  18. 14 CCR § 401. Permit for gray squirrels causing property damage
  19. 14 CCR § 700. Possession of hunting license

Ca. Fish & Game Code

FGC § 3002 (California Small Game Regulations)

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FGC § 3003.5 (California Small Game Regulations)

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FGC § 3501 (California Small Game Regulations)

It is unlawful to use any powerboat, motor vehicle, or airplane to drive any game bird toward another person with the intent that the other person shall take the bird.


FGC § 3950 (California Small Game Regulations)

(a) Game mammals are: deer (genus Odocoileus), elk (genus Cervus), prong-horned antelope (genus Antilocapra), wild pigs, including feral pigs and European wild boars (genus Sus), black and brown or cinnamon bears (genus Euarctos), mountain lions (genus Felis), jackrabbits and varying hares (genus Lepus), cottontails, brush rabbits, pigmy rabbits (genus Sylvilagus), and tree squirrels (genus Sciurus and Tamiasciurus).

(b) Nelson bighorn sheep (subspecies Ovis canadensis nelsoni) are game mammals only for the purposes of sport hunting described in subdivision (b) of Section 4902.


Title 14, California Code of Regulations

Section 250.1 (California Small Game Regulations)

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Section 251 (California Small Game Regulations)

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14 CCR § 251.1 (California Small Game Regulations)

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14 CCR § 251.5 (California Small Game Regulations)

Game Birds, Game Mammals, Furbearers and Nongame Animals, Possession Of.

(a) Migratory game birds may not be held beyond the period provided by the federal regulations and in accordance with the daily bag and possession limits prescribed by these regulations. (See section 500.)

(b) Live mountain lions may be possessed only under terms of a permit issued by the Department pursuant to section 2150 of the Fish and Game Code or if the owner can demonstrate that the mountain lion was in his/her possession on or before June 6, 1990 under a permit issued pursuant to section 3200 of said code.

(c) Every game bird, game mammal, furbearer or nongame animal taken under the authority of a hunting or trapping license and reduced to possession by the hunter or trapper shall be immediately killed and become a part of the daily bag limit.


14 CCR § 251.9 (California Small Game Regulations)

Computer Assisted Remote Hunting.

(a) It is unlawful to take or assist in the taking of any bird or mammal in or from this state, by computer-assisted remote hunting.

(b) It is unlawful to establish or operate a computer-assisted remote hunting site for the purpose of taking any bird or mammal from or within this state.

(c) For the purposes of this section, “computer-assisted remote hunting” means the use of a computer or any other remotely controlled device, equipment, software, or technology, to remotely control the aiming or discharge of any weapon, including, but not limited to, any firearm, bow and arrow, spear, harpoon or any other weapon capable of killing or injuring any bird or mammal, for the purposes of taking any bird or mammal.

(d) For the purposes of this section, “computer-assisted remote hunting site” means any computer, internet site or web-based device or system, or other electronically operated site or system used to assist in the remote taking of any bird or mammal.


Section 257 (California Small Game Regulations)

“Resident small game” means the following resident game birds: Chinese spotted doves, Eurasian collared-doves, ringed turtle-doves of the family Columbidae, California quail and varieties thereof, Gambel’s or desert quail, mountain quail and varieties thereof, sooty grouse and varieties thereof, ruffed grouse, sage grouse (sage hens), white-tailed ptarmigan, Hungarian partridges, red-legged partridges, including the chukar and other varieties, ring-necked pheasants and varieties, and wild turkeys of the order Galliformes; and the following game mammals: jackrabbits and varying hares (genus Lepus), cottontail rabbits, brush rabbits, pigmy rabbits (genus Sylvilagus), and tree squirrels (genus Sciurus and Tamiasciurus).


14 CCR § 257.5 (California Small Game Regulations)

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Section 307 (California Small Game Regulations)

Tree squirrels may be taken only as follows:

(a) General Season and Areas:

The general season in the counties of Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo, Yuba, and that portion of Kern County lying east of Interstate 5 shall open on the second Saturday in September extending through the last Sunday in January.

(b) Archery and Falconry Tree Squirrel Season and Area: Tree squirrels may be taken with bow and arrow or raptors only during the general tree squirrel season and as follows:

(1) The season in the counties of Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Modoc, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, and Yuba; and that portion of Kern County lying east of Interstate 5 shall open on the first Saturday in August extending through the day before the general tree squirrel season.

(c) Bag and Possession Limit: Four squirrels per day, four in possession.

(d) Except as provided herein, tree squirrels may not be taken at any time in the balance of the state.


Section 308 (California Small Game Regulations)

Brush, Cottontail and Pigmy Rabbits, and Varying Hare (Snowshoe).

(a) General Season and Area: The general season shall open on July 1 extending through the last Sunday in January, and shall be open statewide except for that area described in (d) below.

(b) Falconry Rabbits and Hares. Brush, cottontail and pigmy rabbits and varying hare (snowshoe) may be taken with raptors only during the general rabbit and hare seasons and as follows: The season shall open on the first Monday following the close of the general season extending through the third Sunday in March, and shall be open statewide except for that area described in (d) below.

(c) Bag and Possession Limit in the Aggregate of All Species: Five per day, 10 in possession.

(d) The take of brush and cottontail rabbits is prohibited within the area described as follows: That portion of San Joaquin County generally located between Stockton and Tracy that is enclosed by the following lines: Beginning at the intersection of Stewart Road and Interstate 5; west along Stewart road to the intersection of Stewart Road and Old River; southwest along Old River to the intersection of Old River and Tom Paine Slough; south along Tom Paine Slough to the intersection of Tom Paine Slough and Sugar Cut; south along Sugar Cut to the intersection of Sugar Cut and Interstate 205; east along Interstate 205 to the intersection of Interstate 205 and Interstate 5; north along Interstate 5 to the intersection of Interstate 5 and Stewart Road.


Section 309 (California Small Game Regulations)

Jack Rabbits, Black-Tailed and White-Tailed.

(a) General Season and Area: The general season shall be open statewide all year.

(b) Bag and Possession Limit: No limit.


Section 310 (California Small Game Regulations)

Shooting Hours on Resident Small Game Mammals. The shooting hours for all resident small game mammals shall be one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.


Section 311 (California Small Game Regulations)

Methods Authorized for Taking Resident Small Game. Only the following may be used to take resident small game:

(a) Shotguns 10 gauge or smaller using shot shells only and incapable of holding more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined. If a plug is used to reduce the capacity of a magazine to fulfill the requirements of this section, the plug must be of one piece construction incapable of removal without disassembling the gun.

(b) Shotgun shells may not be used or possessed that contain shot size larger than No. BB, except that shot size larger than No. 2 may not be used or possessed when taking wild turkey. All shot shall be loose in the shell.

(c) Muzzle-loading shotguns.

(d) Falconry.

(e) Bow and arrow (see Section 354 for archery equipment regulations).

(f) Air rifles powered by compressed air or gas and used with any caliber of pellet, except that wild turkey may only be taken with a pellet that is at least 0.177 caliber.

(g) In addition to the methods listed in (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f) above, firearm rifles and pistols may be used for taking rabbits and squirrels only; except in Los Angeles County where rifles and pistols may not be used.

(h) In San Diego and Orange counties only, rabbits may be taken at any time during the open season by means of box traps. Such traps shall not exceed 24 inches in any dimension, shall be tended at least once every 24 hours, and shall show the name and address of the trap owner. All rabbits taken under this section shall be immediately killed and become a part of the daily bag limit.

(i) Electronic or mechanically-operated calling or sound-reproducing devices are prohibited when attempting to take resident game birds.

(j) Coursing dogs may be used to take rabbits.

(k) Archers hunting during any archery season may not possess a firearm while in the field engaged in archery hunting during an archery season.

(l) The use of live decoys is prohibited when attempting to take resident game birds.

(m)Pistols and revolvers may be used to take sooty and ruffed grouse in those counties only and for the season described in Section 300(a)(1)(E).

(n) Crossbows, except for provisions of Section 354(d) and (g).

(o) Dogs may be used to take and retrieve resident small game.


 Section 311.6 (California Small Game Regulations)

Prohibition of Rifles and Pistols in Picacho and Providence Mountains State Recreation Areas. The use of rifles and pistols to take any bird or mammal is prohibited in Picacho and Providence Mountains State Recreation Areas.


Section 311.7 (California Small Game Regulations)

Use of Rifles and Pistols in Los Angeles County. In Los Angeles County the use of rifles or pistols is prohibited in the taking of rabbits.


Section 311.8  (California Small Game Regulations)

Prohibition Against Shooting Resident Small Game from Boats. [Repealed]


Section 354 (California Small Game Regulations)

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14 CCR § 700 (California Small Game Regulations)

Hunting and Fishing Licenses, Possession.

(a) Possession of Sport Fishing License: Every person, while engaged in taking any fish, amphibian or reptile, shall have on their person or in their immediate possession a valid sport fishing license, except when diving as provided in Section 7145 of the Fish and Game Code.

(b) Possession of Hunting License: Every person, while engaged in taking any bird or mammal shall have on their person or in their immediate possession a valid hunting license.


While we try to fetch up all California small game regulations, we might miss a few or make a typo. If so, please leave a comment or question in the reply box below.

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