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Upland Game Hunting Regulations

California Bird Hunting

Upland Game Bird, Small Game Mammal, and Crow Hunting

Upland Game Regulation Changes: 2018-2019

  • Greater sage-grouse hunting is closed for the 2018-2019 season. In 2017, the Fish and Game Commission adopted quotas of zero for all sage grouse hunting zones due to declining population estimates conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which are based on lek counts. On June 21, 2018, the Commission decided to maintain the quotas of zero from 2017 for all sage grouse hunting zones.

Drawing Process for Special Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts

Drawing application for the specially managed wild upland game bird hunt may be purchased online, at license agents, at CDFW license sales offices or by calling (800) 565-1458.

To apply hunters must have a valid California hunting license. Adult hunters must also purchase an Upland Game Bird Validation to hunt upland game birds. Hunters may select their top three choices and may only apply once for each available hunt date for each area. Hunters must be successfully drawn through this random drawing application to participate in pheasant, chukar, quail, wild turkey and dove special hunts. For additional information and hunting opportunities go to http://wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Upland-Game-Birds/Hunts.

The Apprentice Pheasant Hunts for beginning hunters will continue to be applied at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/ApprenticeHunts/Default.aspx.

§257. Resident Small Game Defined.

“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 (blue) grouse, ruffed grouse, sage grouse , 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).

§310.5. Shooting Hours for Upland Game Birds.

The shooting hours for all upland game birds, except for pheasants and the spring wild turkey season, shall be from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. The shooting hours for pheasants shall be from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. The shooting hours for the spring wild turkey season shall be from one-half hour before sunrise to 5:00 p.m.

§311. Methods Authorized for Taking Resident Small Game.

(Refer to Section 507, Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, for authorized methods of take for migratory game birds, i.e. MOURNING DOVES, WHITE-WINGED DOVES, BAND-TAILED PIGEON, AND SNIPE .)

The take or attempted take of any resident small game with a firearm shall be in accordance with the use of nonlead projectiles and ammunition persuant to Section 250.1.

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);

(e) (1) It shall be unlawful to take wild turkey by use of hunting arrows and crossbow bolts unless fitted with a broad head type blade which will not pass through a hole seven-eighths inch in diameter. Mechanical/retractable broad heads shall be measured in the open position.

(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 use or possess a firearm while in the field engaged in archery hunting during an archery season except as provided in subsection (1).

(1) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the lawful possession of a concealed firearm by an active peace officer listed in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code or a retired peace officer in lawful possession of an identification certificate issued pursuant to Penal Code Section 25455 authorizing the retired officer to carry a concealed firearm. Nor shall this section prohibit the lawful possession of a concealed firearm pursuant to a concealed carry permit issued pursuant to Penal Code Section 26150 or 26155.

(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.