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General Information

Hunting Regulations Icon California Hunting

For complete regulations, please visit the Fish and Game Commission website at www.fgc.ca.gov.

Hunting License Requirements

First time applicants applying for a hunting license through CDFW’s ALDS must present one of the following as evidence of hunter education when applying for a California hunting license:

  • An annual California hunting license issued in any prior year;
  • A 2-Day Nonresident California Hunting License issued after the 1999/2000 license year;
  • A California certificate of hunter education completion or equivalency with a unique number imprinted on it ex: (AA00000) or a California hunter education certificate with no unique number imprinted and a California hunter education validation stamp affixed;
  • A certificate of successful completion of a California-approved hunter education course from any state or province; or
  • A current hunting license or a hunting license issued in either of the two previous years from any state, province, European Union country or South Africa.

Applicants that have previously purchased a hunting license through CDFW’s ALDS will already have the required proof of hunter education evidence in their customer profile. To ensure the appropriate customer profile is retrieved at a license agent, CDFW recommends hunters provide the license agent with a previously issued ALDS license.

Validation of License

To be valid, every California hunting license shall be signed by the licensee. Proof of identification must be presented at the time of initial purchase. In addition, the license must contain the following information about the licensee: true name, residence address, date of birth, height, weight, color of eyes, color of hair, and sex.

Acceptable proof of identification:

  • Any license document or GO ID number previously issued via ALDS
  • A valid driver’s license or identification card issued to him or her by the Department of Motor Vehicles or by the entity issuing driver’s licenses from the licensee’s state of domicile
  • U.S. Birth Certificate
  • U.S. Certificate or Report of Birth Abroad
  • Tribal Identification Card, as defined by each sovereign tribal nation
  • Birth Certificate or passport issued from a U.S. Territory
  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Military Identification Cards (Active or reserve duty, dependent, retired member, discharged from service, medical/religious personnel)
  • Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship
  • A foreign government-issued photo identification

Applicants who are less than 18 years of age may provide any form of identification previously described or a guardian’s identification (parent or legal guardian identification listed).

License Provisions

A valid California hunting license is required to take any bird or mammal. Hunters must carry licenses and be prepared to show them upon request to any peace officer. Guns and other equipment used in hunting must be shown upon request.

A 2-Day Nonresident California Hunting License is valid only for taking resident and migratory game birds, resident small game mammals, fur-bearing mammals and non-game mammals. A 2-Day Nonresident California Hunting License is not valid to hunt big game.

Junior Hunting License Eligibility

To qualify for a junior hunting license, a hunter must be less than 18 years of age as of July 1, of the license year for which they are applying.

Reduced Fee Hunting Licenses

CDFW offers reduced fee hunting licenses to the following qualifying applicants. Hunting tags and validations must be purchased at the full fee. Contact your nearest CDFW license sales office or visit our web site at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Hunting.

Disabled Veterans

Honorably discharged disabled veterans (resident or nonresident) with a 50 percent or greater service-connected disability are eligible for a reduced fee hunting license. First time applicants must provide certification from the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs and evidence of meeting California’s hunter education requirements to a CDFW license sales office. After the initial qualification is approved and the license is issued by a CDFW license sales office, future licenses may be purchased at any CDFW license sales office, license agent, online or by telephone sales.

Recovering Service Members

Recovering service members are entitled to a reduced fee hunting license while undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, and are in an outpatient status while recovering from a serious injury or illness related to the member’s military service. Applicants must submit a letter from their commanding officer or military medical doctor stating they are a recovering service member and evidence of meeting California’s hunter education requirements to a CDFW license sales office. After the initial qualification is approved and the license is issued by a CDFW license sales office, future licenses may be purchased at any CDFW license sales office, license agent, online or by telephone sales.

Upland Game Bird and California Duck Validation

Any person (except junior hunters) must have an Upland Game Bird Validation when hunting pheasant, dove, turkey, quail, grouse, ptarmigan, snipe, band-tailed pigeon, partridge or chukar. A California Duck Validation authorizes any person to hunt waterfowl in California (along with the Federal Duck Stamp and free HIP Validation). CDFW knows that many hunters collect the physical stamps, hunters who purchase these validations can claim their collectible stamp online at the address printed on their 2018 hunting licenses. Stamps will be mailed at the end of the license year (after July 1, 2019).

Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation Requirement

If you plan to hunt migratory game birds in 2018-19 (ducks, geese, coots, dove, band-tailed pigeon, snipe, gallinules or black brant) you must complete a Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey. To take the survey you must request a HIP validation at any CDFW license sales office, license agent, or online. There is no charge for the HIP validation. Hunters may be cited for hunting migratory game birds without a HIP validation in their immediate possession.

Duplicate Licenses

Your customer record contains a history of all your license purchases. If you lose your license or additional validations, you can go to any CDFW license sales office, license agent, online or by telephone sales and purchase a duplicate license and validations.

Disabled Entitlements

CDFW offers the following free disabled entitlements to any resident or nonresident hunter that meets the qualifications. These entitlements must be certified by a licensed physician and submitted to CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch. Hunters that qualify for these entitlements must also have a valid California hunting license in possession while hunting.

Disabled Archer Permit

A disabled archer permit is available to any hunter who has permanent loss, significant limitation, or diagnosed disease or disorder, which substantially impairs one or both upper extremities preventing the hunter from drawing and holding of a bow in a firing position. The Disabled Archer Permit authorizes the disabled archer to use a crossbow or device which holds a string and arrow in the firing position, to assist in the taking of birds and mammals under the conditions of an archery tag or during archery season.

Certification from a licensed physician is required. If the physician indicates on the initial application that the disability is permanent, hunters may renew the permit every year at any CDFW license sales office, license agent, online or by telephone sales.

If the disability is temporary, the physician is required to enter the end date of the disability on the application. Temporary permits may be renewed at any CDFW’s license sales office, license agent, online or by telephone sales every year until the temporary disability end date; once the end date has passed re-certification is required.

Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit

A disabled muzzleloader scope permit is available to any visually impaired hunter having a permanent loss, significant limitation, or diagnosed disease or disorder, which substantially impairs the vision of a hunter, preventing the hunter from viewing and aligning the sights of a muzzleloader rifle with the target in order to hunt deer. The Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit allows the hunter to use a 1X scope on a muzzleloader rifle while hunting under the conditions of a muzzleloader deer hunt tag. Hunters must renew the permit each license year, but hunters may provide a copy of their previously issued permit to CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch to renew annually.

Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License

A Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License is available for any mobility impaired disabled hunter who must use a motor vehicle to pursue game. The Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License allows a hunter to discharge a firearm from a vehicle that is stopped and its engine turned off. To qualify, a person must be either permanently or fully confined to a wheel chair, a single or double amputee above the knee or double amputee below the knee, or depend upon the aid of a walker, crutches, etc. to walk. Certification from a licensed physician is required. The license is only available from CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch.

Hunter Education

Class Options

Hunter education classes include instruction in firearms safety and handling, sportsmanship and ethics, wildlife management and conservation, archery, black powder, wildlife identification, game care, first aid, and survival. Classes are offered in two formats:

1. Traditional (minimum of 10 hours of classroom, homework, and field instruction) or

2. Online course and follow-up class. For more information or to register for a class, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunter-Education.

Hunter Education Equivalency Exams

Hunter education equivalency exams are given by appointment only at CDFW regional offices for a fee. In some states, the California equivalency certificate may not be accepted as evidence of hunter education. For more information on the hunter education equivalency exam, contact your nearest CDFW regional office.

Duplicate Hunter Education Certificates

Duplicate hunter education certificates can be issued to any person who completed and passed a hunter education class. If the class was completed prior to 1989, CDFW does not have records before this date; the hunter should contact the original instructor, club, or organization where the course was taught to obtain a duplicate. If the hunter is unable to obtain a duplicate through these means, they will have to repeat the course. Visit the hunter education web page at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunter-Education for more information.

Advanced Hunter Education

Advanced Hunter Education Clinics are species specific or skill specific. Learn how to field dress a deer, call in a mallard, find your way out of the woods, process and prepare your game for the table, plus much more! For additional information, including clinic dates and locations, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunter-Education/Advance.

Bowhunter Education Class

Although bowhunter education training is not required in California, many states do require it for all bowhunters. CDFW’s bowhunter education program meets the requirements of all states. For more information or to register for a class, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunter-Education.