The upcoming California general deer and bear seasons are some of the most popular hunting opportunities in the state. With weather cooling off and leaves starting to turn color, autumn in California is a great time to be in the wilderness. General season opening and closing dates vary by zone and can be found by following the links below.
Californians enjoy some of the widest ranges of habitat and hunting conditions in the nation. Hunters can pursue black bears in the redwood forests of Humboldt County, or mule deer in the high desert of San Bernardino County and everything in between. While California has its fair share of privately-owned land, there are vast swaths of national forest, timber lands, state wildlife areas and other lands accessible to the public that provide excellent hunting opportunities. CDFW also offers hunts on private lands through itsSHARE Program and Private Lands Management Program.
In addition to big game, fall upland game seasons include quail, pheasant, wild turkey and grouse. The California Fish and Game Commission also recently adopted regulations opening a year-round hunting season with no bag limit for the invasive Eurasian collared dove. Learn how to identify them here.
California also offers coveted pronghorn antelope, elk and bighorn sheep hunts through a drawing system. Hunting for wild pigs is growing in popularity and can be done year-round.
A valid California hunting license and appropriate tags for each species pursued must be obtained before entering the field. Buy a hunting license and tags online here or find a CDFW license agent here.
California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course, pass a comprehensive equivalency test, or provide a valid hunter’s safety certificate before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Each year approximately 30,000 students complete the state’s hunter education course. Find a classhere.
Hunters always have the responsibility to be familiar with state game laws before entering the field. Regulations can be found here.
Given the exceptionally dry conditions this year, it is even more important that everyone does their part to prevent wildfires. One less spark means one less wildfire. Learn more here.
CDFW would like to encourage Californians to get out and enjoy our state’s unmatched wild places. Whether just for a day hike on the coast, or a 10-day pack trip to hunt deer in the Trinity Alps, California offers some of the most diverse outdoor experiences anywhere. Be safe and have fun.