California Squirrel Hunting Seasons, Laws, and 94 Hunting Locations

California squirrel hunting seasons

Here, we fetch up California squirrel hunting seasons, laws, and 94 hunting locations.


    1. Seasons.
    2. Species.
    3. Hunting hours.
    4. Bag and possession limits.
    5. Hunting license.
    6. Hunting methods.
    7. Hunting opportunities.
    8. Live squirrels.
    9. Violations.
    10. Forum and blog.

California Tree Squirrel Species

California squirrel hunting seasonsDuring the California squirrel hunting seasons, you can only hunt tree squirrels (genus Sciurus and Tamiasciurus). The most common tree squirrels include various species of fox squirrels and gray squirrels, plus the American red squirrel.  Rules for Mammals, Game Mammals, Resident Small Game, and tree squirrels apply.

Note: Ground squirrels are not game, but are classified as “wild rodents.” See FGC § 2575 [wild rodents], FGC § 3950 [list of game mammals] and 14 CCR § 257 [list of resident small game].

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Hunting License

A valid Hunting License from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is required to take tree squirrels. If you’ve never had one, you’ll have to first complete and pass a Hunters’ Education / Safety Course. There are also licenses for disabled huntershunting with a falconguides and outfitters, and junior hunters.

Disabled Hunters

Accommodations for disabled hunters during the California squirrel hunting seasonsIf you’re a disabled hunter and want to hunt tree squirrels, you can apply for a Recovering Service Member Hunting LicenseDisabled Veteran Hunting License, or Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle License.


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

Guides and Outfitters

If you’re a commercial guide or outfitter that offer hunting for tree squirrels, you have to get a Guide License.


If you’re a Junior and want to hunt tree squirrels, you can get a Junior Hunting License.

Warning shot!!! When hunting, you have to have your license in your immediate possession. See 14 CCR § 700.

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Methods of Take

Firearms for the California squirrel hunting seasonsSquirrel hunting during the California squirrel hunting seasons is allowed only in accordance with the following hunting methods for: air rifles, archery, bait, boats, bow and arrowscomputers, crossbows, dogsfalconry, harassment, lights, motor vehicles, muzzleloaders, pistolsproperty damage, riflesshotguns, and traps.

Air Rifles

In general, you can use an air rifle to hunt tree squirrels during the California squirrel hunting seasons. While you can use any caliber of pellet (except for turkey), the air rifle can only be powered by air or gas. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 311(f).


See “Bow and Arrows” and “Crossbows” below.

Bait and Baited Areas

In general, it’s illegal to take any resident game mammal, including tree squirrels, within 400 yards of a Baited Area. See 14 CCR § 257.5 for any applicable exceptions.

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 tree squirrels from a boat, you cannot use a powerboat or sailboat to pursue, drive, or herd any bird or mammal in California. You can use boats, 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.

Also see “Motor Vehicles” below, our summary of hunting rules on navigable watersFGC § 300214 CCR § 251, and 14 CCR § 311.8 [repealed].

Bow and Arrows

Archery for California squirrel hunting seasons.In general, Bow and Arrows are allowed for hunting tree squirrels. 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.

Warning shots!!!

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 tree squirrels during 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.

See 14 CCR § 311(e) and (k) and 14 CCR § 354(c)-(i) and “Crossbows” below.

Computer-Assisted Remote Hunting

It’s illegal to hunt tree squirrels with a Computer-Assisted Remote or to operate a Computer-Assisted Remote Hunting Site. See 14 CCR § 251.9.


Crossbows for California squirrel hunting seasons.In general, you can use a Crossbow to hunt tree squirrels.  However, you can’t use it to kill any game bird or game mammal during archery seasons without a Disabled Archer Permit from the CDFW. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 311(n) and 14 CCR § 354(d) and (g).


In general, you can use dogs to Take and retrieve tree squirrels during the California squirrel hunting seasons. See 14 CCR § 311(o).


In general, you can use a falcon to hunt tree squirrels. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 311(d).


In general, Animal Harassment is illegal and includes any disruption of the animal’s normal behavior patters (e.g. breeding, feeding, sheltering). There is an exception for landowners and tenants trying to prevent property damage. See 14 CCR § 251.1 and “Property Damage” below.


In general, it’s illegal to use artificial lights to hunt game mammals, (including tree squirrels), game birds, or game fish.

While in possession of a firearm or weapon, it’s also illegal to use spotlights, headlights, or other lights (1) on a highway, (2) in a field, woodland, or forest where they are commonly found, or (3) on the animal or fish itself–even if you don’t shoot at it.

It’s also illegal to use or possess night vision equipment to help you take any mammal (including squirrels), bird, reptile, amphibian, or fish (e.g. infrared and binoculars).

There are exceptions for sport fishing, commercial fishing, animals causing property damage, three-volt flashlights, lamps, lanterns, and farmers).

See 14 CCR § 2005.

Motor Vehicles

California Squirrel Hunting Seasons for vehicles and ATV / OHVIn general, it’s illegal to pursue, drive, or herd any 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. (Also see “Boats, Kayaks & Canoes” above.”  See FGC § 3002FGC § 3003.514 CCR § 251, and 14 CCR § 251.2 [permit exception].


Muzzleloaders for California squirrel hunting seasonsIn general, you can use to muzzle-loading shotguns to hunt tree squirrels during the general California squirrel hunting season. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 311(c).

Property Damage

If gray or red fox squirrel are damaging your land or property, you can apply to the CDFW for a permit to kill them.  For details, see FGC § 4152 [red fox squirrels], FGC § 4181 [gray squirrels] and 14 CCR § 401 [gray squirrels].

Rifles and Pistols

In general, rifles and pistols are allowed for hunting tree squirrels. Rifles and pistols are not allowed in: (1) Los Angeles County, (2) the Picacho State Recreation Area, or (3) the Providence Mountains State Recreation Area . See 14 CCR § 311(g) and 14 CCR § 311.6. Warning shot!!! There may be further restriction on public lands.


Firearms and shotguns for California squirrel hunting seasons.In general, you can use a shotgun to hunt tree squirrels, during the California squirrel hunting season. However, there are restrictions for the shell capacity and type of gauge, plug, and shells. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 311(a) and (b).


You can only use shotguns that are 10 gauge or smaller (e.g. 12 gauge). Warning shot!!! Some public hunting areas, like California Wildlife Areas, only allow 12-gauge and smaller.


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.

Shell Capacity

Shotguns must be incapable of holding more than three (3) shells in the magazine and chamber combined.

Shell Shot

Shell shot requirements for California squirrel hunting seasonsWhether 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 resident small game mammal, dove, quail, snipe, and any game bird taken at a licensed game bird club), furbearing mammal, nongame bird or mammals, or any wildlife with a depredation permit). For more information, see our page for Depredation Permits.

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

You can only use shell shot that is “No. BB” or smaller.  Warning shot!!! Don’t even take larger shells with you.


See “Motor Vehicles” above.


California squirrel hunting seasons and trapping laws.In general, it’s illegal for any person to use a steel-jawed leg hold trap (even if padded) to capture any game mammal (including tree squirrels), fur-bearing mammal, nongame mammal, protected mammal, or any dog or cat. The only exception is in extraordinary cases by certain government officials for the purpose of protecting health and safety of others. See FGC § 3003.1

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Seasons, Limits & Hunting Zones

Tree squirrels may only be taken during the California squirrel hunting seasons ,and only within designated Hunting Zones and the daily bag and possession limits:

General Season

The general California squirrel hunting season is from the second Saturday in September, extending through the last Sunday in January (9/10 – 1/29, 2017).

Hunting zone: within 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.

See 14 CCR § 307(a).

Archery and Falconry

Falconry for California squirrel hunting seasonsThe California squirrel hunting seasons and hunting zone for archery and falconry are the same as the general season.

Hunting zone: 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.

See 14 CCR § 307(b).

Daily Bag and Possession Limits

The daily bag limit is four squirrels per day.

The possession limit is four squirrels.

See 14 CCR § 307(c).

Warning shot!!!

If you take possession of any game mammal, including tree squirrels, you have to kill it immediately and add it to your daily bag limit. The same is true for every game bird, furbearer, and nongame animals. See 14 CCR § 251.5.

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Shooting Hours

The shooting hours for resident small game mammals, including tree squirrels during the California squirrel hunting seasons, are from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.  See 14 CCR § 310.

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Live Squirrels


In general, it’s illegal capture from the wild any game mammal [including tree squirrels], game bird, nongame bird, nongame mammal, or furbearer, or hold it in possession or confinement. There are exceptions for temporary confinement for the purpose of treatment for an injury or disease. Warning shot!!! Call you local animal shelter. See FGC § 3005.5.


In general, it’s illegal to “import, transport, or possess” live squirrels. The only exception is with a permit from the CDFW. Warning shot!!!  Cities and counties may have further restrictions and requirements. See  14 CCR § 670.1(a) and (c)(1)(I)-(J)

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There are stiff penalties for poaching,illegal sale, and other activities related to wildlife in California. Fines range between $400 and $10,000, depending on the species, and up to one year in jail.

If you get charged with a violation, contact our attorney immediately.  See FGC § 500, 2582, 2583, and 14 CCR § 747.

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Hunting Areas

CDFW regions for California squirrel hunting seasons.
CDFW Regions 1 – 6

There are many opportunities to hunt tree squirrels during the California squirrel hunting seasons on public land and private land, including BLM property, ecological reserves, forests, recreation areas, wilderness areas, and wildlife areas.  For you’re convenience, we’ve organized them by the six geographical regions of the CDFW: Region 1 (Northern Cal.), Region 2 (North Central Cal.), Region 3 (Bay Delta), Region 4 (Central Cal.), Region 5 (South Coast), and Region 6 (Inland Deserts).

Warning shots!!!

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Region 1 (Northern)

  1. CDFW Region 1 for California squirrel hunting seasons.Jackson Demonstration State Forest (CAL FIRE)
  2. King Range National Conservation Area (BLM)
  3. Klamath National Forest (USFS)
  4. Lacks Creek Area (BLM)
  5. Lake Mendocino Recreation Area (USACE)
  6. Lassen National Forest (USFS)
  7. Latour Demonstration State Forest (CAL FIRE)
  8. Modoc National Forest (USFS)
  9. Mouth of Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area: per CDFW webpage (shotgun and archery only)
  10. Paynes Creek Recreation Area (BLM)
  11. Red Mountain Management/Recreation Area (BLM)
  12. Sacramento River Management Area (BLM)
  13. Shasta Management Area (BLM)
  14. Shasta – Trinity National Forest (USFS)
  15. Sheepy Ridge Wildlife Area
  16. Six Rivers National Forest (USFS)
  17. Tehama Wildlife Area (CDFW)
  18. Trinity Management Area – Tunnel Ridge and North of Trinity River (BLM)
  19. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (NPS)

Region 2 (North Central)

  1. CDFW Region 2 for California squirrel hunting seasons.Antelope Valley Wildlife Area: per CDFW webpage
  2. Auburn State Recreation Area (DPR)
  3. Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest (CAL FIRE)
  4. Coon Hollow Wildlife Area: webpage
  5. Consumnes River Ecological Reserve (CDFW)
  6. Consumnes River Preserve Wildlife Area (BLM/CDFW)
  7. Cow Mountain Recreation Area (BLM)
  8. Crocker Meadows Wildlife Area: webpage
  9. Daugherty Hill Wildlife Area: webpage
  10. Eldorado National Forest (USFS)
  11. Feather River Wildlife Area: per CDFW webpage
  12. Heenan Wildlife Area: webpage
  13. Hope Valley Wildlife Area: webpage
  14. Indian Valley Recreation Area (BLM)
  15. Indian Valley Wildlife Area: webpage
  16. Jenkinson Lake (USFS)
  17. Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (DPR)
  18. Mendocino National Forest (USFS)
  19. Oroville Wildlife Area: per CDFW webpage
  20. Plumas National Forest (USFS)
  21. Red Lake Wildlife Area: per CDFW webpage
  22. Sacramento River Wildlife Area (CDFW)
  23. Spenceville Wildlife Area: webpage
  24. Stanislaus National Forest (USFS)
  25. Sutter Bypass Wildlife Area (CDFW)
  26. Tahoe National Forest (USFS)
  27. Toiyabe National Forest (USFS)
  28. Truckee River Wildlife Area: webpage (CDFW webpage tab says “Sutter Bypass”)
  29. Warner Valley Wildlife Area: webpage

Region 3 (Bay Delta)


  1. CDFW Region 3 for California squirrel hunting seasonsCedar Roughs Wildlife Area: per CDFW webpage
  2. Knoxville Recreation Area (BLM)
  3. Knoxville Wildlife Area: webpage
  4. Putah Creek Wildlife Area: per CDFW webpage
  5. Rector Reservoir Wildlife Area: webpage

Region 4 (Central)

Warning shot!!!  Portions of the “No Hunt” Zone are located in west Kern County (see map above).


  1. CDFW Region 4 for California squirrel hunting seasonsCarrizo Plains Ecological Reserve: prohibited on the North and South Chimineas units. [14 CCR § 630(d)(11)]
  2. Chimney Peak Wilderness (BLM)
  3. Domeland Addition Wilderness (BLM)
  4. Fort Hunter Liggett (US Army)
  5. Hunter Valley Recreation Area (BLM)
  6. Kiavah Wilderness (BLM)
  7. Kinsman Flat Wildlife Area (CDFW): see CDFW webpage
  8. Los Padres National Forest (USFS)
  9. Mariposa Planning Unit (BLM)
  10. Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest (CAL FIRE)
  11. New Melones Lake RA/Peoria Ridge WA (BLM & USBR)
  12. Owens Peak Wilderness (BLM)
  13. Pine Flat Reservoir (USACE)
  14. Pleasant Valley Ecological Reserve (CDFW)
  15. Red Hills Recreation Area (BLM)
  16. Sacatar Trail Wilderness (BLM)
  17. Sequoia National Forest (USFS)
  18. Sierra National Forest (USFS)
  19. South Fork Wildlife Area (CDFW): see USDA webpage
  20. Stanislaus National Forest (USFS)
  21. Tuolumne Planning Unit (BLM)

Region 5 (South Coast)


Region 6 (Inland Deserts)

Warning shot!!! The following areas are presently in the “NO HUNT” Zone (see map above)


  1. CDFW Region 6 for California squirrel hunting seasonsBridgeport Management Area (BLM)
  2. Humboldt – Toiyabe National Forest, Bridgeport Ranger District (USFS)
  3. Inyo National Forest and BLM Bishop Field Office
  4. Long Valley Management Area (BLM)
  5. Owens Lake Management Area (BLM)
  6. Perris Reservoir State Recreation Area
  7. Slinkard-Little Antelope Wildlife Area (CDFW)
  8. West Slinkard Valley Management Area (BLM)
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Hunting Forum and Blog

To participate in our forum and blog for tree squirrel hunting during the California squirrel hunting seasons, just leave a comment or question below.

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While we try to fetch up all California squirrel 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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