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

California snipe hunting seasons.

Here, we fetch up California snipe hunting seasons, laws, and locations on public and private land.

Topics

    1. Seasons.
    2. Bag and possession limits.
    3. Shooting hours.
    4. Harvest Information Program Survey.
    5. Hunting license.
    6. Federal Duck Stamp [Migratory Bird Hunting & Conservation Stamp].
    7. State Duck Stamp [not required].
    8. Upland Game Bird Stamp.
    9. Hunting areas.
    10. Hunting methods.
    11. Possession and transport.
    12. Regulations.
    13. Hunting forum.

Regulations

Regulations for California snipe hunting seasons.
Regulations for California snipe hunting seasons.

Snipe are migratory game birds, which means they fly across state lines and are often hunted for sport and as a food source.  In general, snipe are fully protected under federal law unless when CDFW opens a California snipe hunting seasons, which it currently does. When that happens, snipe hunting is regulated under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“Act”), which is a federal law.  Under the Act, though, California is allowed to make tougher restrictions.  In California, there is a hunting season for the snipe (__). Rules for BirdsGame BirdsMigratory Game Birds, and snipe (“jacksnipe”) apply.

Warning shot!!!  These rules on this page supplement or further restrict those under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Also see 50 CFR § 20.11(a)(5) [list of migratory game birds], FGC § 3683(b)(1) [list of migratory game birds], FGC § 3500(b)(3) [list of migratory game birds], and 14 CCR § 509 [concurrence with federal law except where less restrictive].

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HIP Survey

Before you can get your hunting license to hunt during the California Snipe Hunting Season, you gave to take the Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey. The survey is taken wherever you buy your hunting license.  You’ll have to give them your contact info, date of birth, and identify yourself as a migratory game bird hunter. You’ll have to tell them whether you intend to hunt Snipe during the current season. See 50 CFR § 20.20.


Hunting License

In general, to hunt Snipe during the California Snipe hunting seasons, you have to have a Hunting License from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), formerly known as “DFG.” (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 huntersWarning shot!!! You have to have your license with you while hunting.

Disabled Hunters

If you’re a disabled hunter and want to hunt Snipe, you can apply for a Recovering Service Member Hunting LicenseDisabled Veteran Hunting License, or Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle License.

Falconry

If you’re going to use a falcon to hunt Snipe during the California Snipe hunting seasons, you have to have a Falconry License.

Guides and Outfitters

If you’re a commercial guide or outfitter that offers Snipe hunting, you have to get a Guide License.

Hunting Clubs

If you’re a commercial hunting club that offers Snipe hunting, you have to get a Commercial Hunting Club License. See FGC § 3031(a)(5).

Juniors

If you’re a Junior and want to hunt Snipe, you have to get a Junior Hunting License.

Warning shot!!! You have to have your license and stamps with you while hunting.  See FGC § 303114 CCR § 700(b), and Upland Game Bird Stamp below.

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Migratory Bird Hunting & Conservation Stamp

Federal ducks stamp for California snipe hunting seasons.
Migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp for California snipe hunting seasons.

In the past, hunters needed a Federal Duck Stamp t0 hunt waterfowl. Today, it’s called a Migratory Bird Hunting & Conservation Stamp.  The stamp is required to hunt all migratory game birds, including Snipe. It has to be validated by your signature written in ink across the face of the stamp before hunting. See 14 CCR § 509(c).


State Duck Stamp

State duck stamp for California snipe hunting seasons.
State duck stamp for California snipe hunting seasons.

A state duck stamp is required to take some migratory game birds, but NOT jacksnipe, band-tailed pigeons, coots, gallinules, western mourning doves, or white-winged doves. See FGC § 3700.1.


Upland Game Bird Stamp

Upland game bird stamp for California snipe hunting seasons.
Upland game bird stamp for California snipe hunting seasons.

In general, you need an Upland Game Bird Validation from the CDFW to hunt migratory game birds, including snipe, and resident game birds. The only exception is for juniors hunting with a valid Junior Hunting License.

Warning shot!!! You have to carry your license and validation with you while hunting. See 14 CCR § 313.

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Seasons (General, Archery & Falconry)

The California Snipe hunting seasons are the same for the general, archery, and falconry seasons. The seasons are from the third Saturday in October, extending for 107 days (October 15 – January 29, 2017).

See 50 CFR § 20.103 and 14 CCR § 300(b)(1)(C) [snipe seasons, limits, and hunting zones]. Warning shot!!! It’s illegal to take birds outside of the established seasons. See FGC § 2001.

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Shooting Hours

In general, shooting hours for migratory game birds, including snipe, start at one-half hour before sunset and end at sunset. However, shoot time over and around the Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County begins at 7:00 a.m.

Warning shot!!! Shoot times may be further restricted on public land, e.g. Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves. See 14 CCR § 506 and 14 CCR § 551(q)(12).

Timetables for California snipe hunting seasons
Shooting timetables for Northern California snipe hunting seasons.
Shooting times for California snipe hunting seasons.
Shooting timetables for Southern California snipe hunting seasons.

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Bag and Possession Limits

Daily Bag Limits

The daily bag limits during the California Snipe hunting seasons is eight (8) snipe. See 14 CCR § 300(b)(1)(C).

Possession Limits

The possession limit limit during the California Snipe hunting is triple the daily bag limit. See 14 CCR § 300(b)(1)(C).

Warning shots!!! 

Over the Limit

In general, it’s illegal to possess more than the bag and possession limit of any bird. There are exceptions for transportation, cleaning, storage, shipment, and taxidermy of game birds taken by another hunter if they are properly identified or tagged.  For migratory game birds, like snipes, you have to keep a fully feathered wing or head attached until you clean them for immediate consumption, get them home, or get them to a professional (e.g. preservation facility, meat processor, cold storage. Remember, only one possession limit of migratory game birds can be possessed by an individual after the close of season for that species.

Violations of the bag and possession limits can result in a misdemeanor with a fine up to $40,000 and/or one year in jail. See FGC § 12013[violation] and  FGC § 2001 [violation], 14 CCR § 251.7.

Possession After Season

It’s illegal to exceed the daily bag or possession limits for birds. To possess game birds outside of the season, you need a hunting license and any required tags of the person who killed them. There is an exception for donations and charities.  See FGC § 3080 and 14 CCR § 251.5 [migratory game birds].

Racing Snipes

It’s a crime to intentional take a racing snipe. It’s not a violation if you do it accidentally. See FGC 3680.

See 14 CCR § 300(a)(1)(H) and (I), (a)(2)(H) and (I), (a)(3)(H) and (I), and (b)(1)(B),

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Hunting Methods

Firearms and shotguns for California snipe hunting seasons.
Methods of take for California snipe hunting seasons.

Snipe hunting during the California Snipe hunting seasons is allowed, but only in accordance with the following hunting methods and restrictions related to: air rifles, boats, bow and arrow, calls, contestscrossbows, decoys, dogs, falconry, lightsmuzzleloaders, pistols, riflesshotguns, and vehicles.

Air Rifles

While air rifles are allowed for Upland Game Birds, they are NOT one of the authorized methods for hunting Snipe during the California Snipe. See 14 CCR § 507(a)(2)

Baited Areas

It’s illegal to take migratory game birds, including snipe, by baiting or on or over baited areas. See 50 CFR 20.21(i) and our summary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Boats, Kayaks, and Canoes

In general, boats may not be used to pursue, drive, or herd any bird or mammal in California, including Snipe. However, you can hunt migratory game birds, including Snipe, but only if the motor has been shut off and all momentum has ended and is either drifting, beached, moored, resting at anchor, or is being propelled by a paddle, or or pole.  See FGC § 300214 CCR § 251 and 14 CCR § 507.5.

Warning shots!!! These restriction also apply to airboats, sailboats, or other watercraft. There are exceptions related to agriculture, landowners, tenants, and depredating animals. Link here for additional regulations for hunting California Snipe on navigable waters. There may be area-specific rules for Snipe hunting in California on BLM, Snipe hunting in California national forest, California Snipe hunting on preserves, and other public land.

Bow and Arrow

Archery for California snipe hunting seasons.
Archery California snipe hunting seasons.

In general, a bow and arrow may be used to hunting Snipe in California.  For migratory game birds and pheasant, you have to use arrows with flu-flu fletching. Otherwise, you can use any type of arrow except arrows with (1) lighted nocks with a beam of light, (2) an explosive head, (3) tranquilizers, or (4) poison. See 14 CCR § 354(d) and (g) and  See 14 CCR § 507(a)(2).

Warning shots!!!

    1. Don’t shoot arrows from or across any highway, road, or place open to the pubic for vehicles.
    2. Your bow has to be capable of killing the bird from at least 130 yards.
    3. In general, you’re not allowed to have a firearm while hunting Snipe during archery season.*
    4. Don’t put a bow in your vehicle if it’s nocked or the end of an arrow is fit to the notch.
    5. It is illegal to possess a firearm while in the field Snipe hunting.*

* Proposed Regulation: there is a proposal to delete the part of 14 CCR § 507(a)(2) that says “Archers hunting during any archery season may not possess a firearm while in the field engaged in archery hunting.”

See 14 CCR § 507(a)(2), and our summary of archery season regulations.

Calls

Electronic or mechanically-operated calling or sound-reproducing devices are NOT allowed for hunting Snipe in California. See 14 CCR § 507(c).

Contests

In general, it’s illegal to offer an award to take game birds in California.  The only exceptions are when the award is less than $500 or with a permit from the CDFW. See FGC § 2003.

Crossbows

Crossbows for California snipe hunting seasons.
Crossbows for California snipe hunting seasons.

A Disabled Archer Permit is required for hunting snipe in California.  While hunting snipe, only crossbows bolts with flu-flu fletching are allowed. Other than that, the rules are the same as for bow and arrows (“see above”).  See 14 CCR § 354(d) and (g), and 14 CCR § 507(a)(2), and our summary of California archery regulations.

Decoys

Live decoys are NOT allowed for hunting migratory game birds, including snipe. See 14 CCR § 505 and 14 CCR § 507(d).

Dogs

In general, you can use dogs to take and retrieve snipe during the California snipe hunting seasons. See 14 CCR § 507(b).

Falconry

Falconry for California snipe hunting seasons
Falconry California snipe hunting seasons.

In general, you can use a falcon to hunt Snipe during the California Snipe hunting seasons. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 507(a)(1).

Lights

In general, it’s illegal to use artificial lights to take a game bird, including snipe.  See FGC § 2005.

Muzzleloaders

Muzzleloaders for California snipe hunting seasons
Muzzleloaders for California snipe hunting seasons.

In general, you can use to muzzle-loading shotguns to hunt Snipe during the general California Snipe hunting season. See 14 CCR § 507(a)(3).

Rifles and Pistols

Warning shot!!! Rifles and pistols are NOT allowed for hunting Snipe. (For resident small game, they’re only allowed for hunting squirrels and rabbits everywhere except Los Angeles County.) See 14 CCR § 507.

Shotguns

Firearms for the California snipe hunting seasons
Shotguns for California snipe hunting seasons.

In general, you can use a shotgun to hunt snipe, during the California snipe hunting season. However, there are restrictions for the shell capacity and type of gauge, plug, and shells. The same is true for all migratory game birds.

Gauge

In general, you only use shotguns that are 10 gauge or smaller (e.g. 12 gauge).

For migratory game birds, including Snipe, you can only use shotguns that are 12-guage or smaller on, over, or adjacent to the waters of Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County.  Warning shot!!! There are similar restrictions at California Wildlife Areas.

See 14 CCR § 507(a)(4) [migratory game birds].

Plugs

If a plug is used to reduce the shell capacity, the plug has to one piece that can’t be removed without taking the gun apart. See 14 CCR § 507(a)(4) [migratory game birds].

Shell Capacity

Shotguns must be incapable of holding more than three (3) shells in the magazine and chamber combined. See 14 CCR § 507(a)(4) [migratory game birds].

Shell Capacity

Shotguns must be incapable of holding more than three (3) shells in the magazine and chamber combined. See 14 CCR § 507(a)(4) [migratory game birds].

Shell Shot

Shell shot requirements for California snipe hunting seasons
Shotgun shell shot restrictions for California snipe hunting seasons.

Whether you can use lead shot depends on your location, what you’re hunting for, and the date.  As of July 1, 2015, it has been illegal to use or possess anything other than non-toxic shot at any California Wildlife AreaEcological Reserve, and the Condor Range.

Beginning July 1, 2016, you’ll only be able to use  non-toxic shot for hunting any upland game bird (except for Snipe, quail, snipe, and any game bird taken at a licensed game bird club), resident small game mammal, furbearing mammal, nongame bird or mammals, or any wildlife with a depredation permit).

As of July 1, 2019, it will be illegal to use lead for taking all wildlife in California. See 14 CCR § 250.1.

Shell Size

For migratory game birds, including migratory Snipe, you can only use or possess lead that is “No. BB” or smaller or non-toxic shot that is “T shot” or smaller (e.g. steel). All shot must be loose  in the shell. See 14 CCR § 507(a)(4).

Vehicles

California Snipe Hunting Seasons for vehicles and ATV / OHV
Motor vehicles for California snipe hunting seasons.

In general, it’s illegal to pursue, drive, or herd any game bird or mammal with a motorized vehicle (e.g. airplane, motor vehicle, powerboat, sailboat, snowmobile).   This includes bird driving them toward another person for the purpose of taking them. Likewise, it’s illegal to shoot any game bird or mammals from from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, or airplane. The only possible exceptions are with a permit from the CDFW and landowners / tenants to prevent private property damages.

See “Boats, Kayaks & Canoes,” FGC § 3002FGC § 3003.5FGC § 3501, and 14 CCR § 251.

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Possession and Transport

After you kill any game bird, including Snipe, it has to be identifiable by the CDFW until it reaches your “personal abode” or “commercial preservation facility,” or is being prepared to eat it right away.  So you either have to keep a fully feathered wing or head attached.

Indian Preservations

There are unique rules for transporting game birds off Indian reservations. See 14 CCR 251.8.

Preservation Facilities

Plucking and cleaning for California snipe hunting seasons
Preservation facilities for California snipe hunting seasons.

In general, it’s illegal to deliver a migratory game bird to a preservation facility.  Under federal law, there’s an exception for doves and Snipe. Under State law, though, See 50 CFR § 20.43.

See 14 CCR § 251.7(b) [game bird possession, transport, and import].

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Hunting Areas

CDFW regions for California snipe hunting seasons.
Public hunting for California snipe hunting seasons.

There are many opportunities to hunt snipe, during the California Snipe hunting seasons, on public and private land. In general, snipe hunting is authorized on all Wildlife Areas unless prohibited in Section 551(q), 551(s) or 551(t)Reservations are available for Type A Wildlife Areas and may be required for the opening weekend [14 CCR §§ 551(e) and 550.5(a)(1)].

The following Areas either highlight snipe hunting as an authorized activity or have snipe-specific restrictions. Click here for maps and follow the links below for area-specific regulations. For convenience, we’ve sorted them by the six regions of the CDFW. Warning shot!!!  Follow the links below for any restrictions on hunting days, shoot times, hunting areas, etc.

    • Region 1: Northern California Snipe Hunting
    • Region 2: North Central California Snipe Hunting
    • Region 3: Bay Delta California Snipe Hunting
    • Region 4: Central California Snipe Hunting
    • Region 5: South Coast California Snipe Hunting
    • Region 6: Inland Desert Snipe Hunting

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Region 1

Northern California Snipe Hunting

CDFW Region 1 for California snipe hunting seasons
CDFW Region 1 for California snipe hunting seasons
    1. Alturas (lands near Alturas)
    2. Ash Creek Wildlife Area
    3. Butte Valley Wildlife Area
    4. Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuge
    5. Eel River Wildlife Area: restricted only to waterfowl, coots, snipe, and pheasant only [14 CCR § 551(t)(4)].
    6. Elk River Wildlife Area: restricted only to waterfowl, coots and snipe [14 CCR § 551(t)(5)]
    7. Fay Slough Wildlife Area: restricted only to waterfowl, coots, and snipe [14 CCR § 551(t)(6)]
    8. Grizzly Island Wildlife Area: restricted only to waterfowl, snipe, coots, moorhens and pheasants and ONLY on Saturdays, Sunday, and Wednesdays during opening seasons [14 CCR § 551(t)(7)]
    9. Harry Merlo State Recreation Area: authorized species [14 CCR § 260.5]
    10. Honey Lake Wildlife Area
    11. Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge
    12. Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
    13. Lake Earl Wildlife Area: restricted only to waterfowl, coots, snipe, and moorhens [14 CCR § 551(t)(10)]
    14. Lake Mendocino
    15. Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge
    16. Mad River Slough wildlife area:  restricted only to waterfowl, coots, and snipe [14 CCR § 551(t)(13)]
    17. Madeline Planning Unit
    18. Modoc National Forest
    19. Modoc National Wildlife Refuge
    20. Mouth of Cottonwood Wildlife Area
    21. Sacramento River Bend Outstanding Nature Area
    22. Shasta Valley Wildlife Area: only on waterfowl hunt days [14 CCR § 551(p)(9)]
    23. South Spit Wildlife Area: restricted only to waterfowl, coots, and snipe [14 CCR § 551(t)(25)]
    24. Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge
    25. Willow Creek Wildlife Area

Region 2

North Central California Snipe Hunting

CDFW Region 2 for California snipe hunting seasons
CDFW Region 2 for California snipe hunting seasons
    1. Colusa National Wildlife Refuge: snipe may be taken on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays during open season. See 50 CFR § 32.24 and 14 CCR § 552(a)(1).
    2. Delevan National Wildlife Refuge: snipe may be taken on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays during open season.  Warning shot!!! NOT allowed in spaced blinds___ [50 CFR § 32.24 and 14 CCR § 552(a)(2)(C)]
    3. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area
    4. Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge: allowed only on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays during open season.  Warning shot!!! NOT allowed in spaced blinds except on the special Monday pheasant and snipe hunt. [50 CFR § 32.24 and 14 CCR§ 552(a)(5)(B)]
    5. Sacramento River National Wildlife Area (Type C): only on designated areas.  Warning shots!!!  Only shotguns are allowed.  [50 CFR § 32.24 and 14 CCR. § 552(a)(6)(E)]
    6. Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
    7. Sutter National Wildlife Refuge: allowed on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays during open seasons [50 CFR § 32.24 and 14 CCR. § 552(a)(9)(B)].

Region 3

Bay Delta California Snipe Hunting

CDFW Region 3 for California snipe hunting seasons
CDFW Region 3 for California snipe hunting seasons.
    1. Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area: restricted only to waterfowl, coots, moorhens, snipe, rabbits, quail, pheasants, and dove [14 CCR § 551(t)(16)]
    2. Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

Region 4

Central California Snipe Hunting

CDFW Region 4 for California snipe hunting seasons.
CDFW Region 4 for California snipe hunting seasons.
    1. Inyo National Forest
    2. Kern National Wildlife Refuge (Type A): snipe hunting is NOT allowed [14 CCR. §§ 551(p)(4) and 552(a)(3)(C)]
    3. Los Banos Wildlife Area
    4. Mendota Wildlife Area
    5. Merced National Wildlife Refuge (Type A): snipe hunting is NOT allowed [14 CCR § 552(a)(4)(D)]
    6. North Grasslands Wildlife Area
    7. San Luis National Wildlife Refuge: only within the San Luis Unit free roam area, and only on waterfowl shoot days when the area is open to hunting by adult license holders [50 CFR § 32.24 and 14 CCR. § 552(a)(7)(C)]
    8. Volta Wildlife Area

Region 5

CDFW Region 5 for California snipe hunting seasons
CDFW Region 5 for California snipe hunting seasons.

South Coast California Snipe Hunting


Region 6

Inland Deserts California Snipe Hunting

CDFW Region 6 for California snipe hunting seasons
CDFW Region 6 for California snipe hunting seasons.
    1. Bishop Field Office (Inyo National Forest)
    2. Buttermilk Wildlife Area
    3. Cibola National Wildlife Refuge
    4. Havasu National Wildlife Refuge
    5. Imperial National Wildlife Refuge
    6. Imperial Wildlife Area: in the Wister Unit, snipe may only be taken on waterfowl and pheasant hunt days [14 CCR § 551(p)(3)]
    7. Inyo National Forest
    8. San Jacinto Wildlife Area: only in designated areas within the Davis Road and PotreroUnits. [50 CFR § 32.24 and 14 CCR. § 551(o)(51) and (52)]
    9. Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge (Type A): snipe hunting is NOT allowed [50 CFR § 32.24 and 14 CCR § 552(a)(8)(C)]

California Snipe Hunting Forum

To participate in our forum, leave a comment or reply below about the California Snipe hunting seasons.

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While we try to fetch up all California snipe 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.

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