Frequently Asked Questions

Hunting Regulations Icon California Hunting

License Requirements

Q. Why do I need to show identification when purchasing a license?

A. When you purchase a license you are required to provide identification or a previously issued ALDS license. This ensures CDFW will have an accurate record of your license history and help CDFW serve you better in:

  • Tracking customer preference points for CDFW’s annual Big Game Drawing.
  • Purchasing duplicate licenses.
  • Wildlife management efforts, such as harvest reporting.

CDFW does not share or sell customers’ personal information.

Q. I tried to purchase my hunting license online, but the online sales system says ‘Evidence of Hunter Education Required’. I have purchased a hunting license through the ALDS before, so why is it not on file?

A. You have created a second customer profile (another GO ID) that is not connected to your license history and hunter education record. Log out of the online license sales system and find a previously issued ALDS hunting license or drawing receipt and log in again. Enter the last name, GO ID, and date of birth as it is printed on your license document. Once you have logged into the account that has your hunter education, you will be able to purchase a hunting license and enter the drawing. If you are unable to resolve this issue yourself, contact CDFW’s Internet Sales Help Desk at (916) 928-6882 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, between 8:00 am to 5:00 pm) for assistance.

Important: To be included in the Big Game Drawing, submit your application by midnight on June 2. If it is June 2 and you are unable to resolve this issue, go to a license sales agent. Provide your proof of hunter education and customer information for the license sales agent and apply for the Big Game Drawing there.

Q. What can I hunt for with a 2-Day Nonresident California Hunting License?

A. The 2-Day Nonresident California Hunting License is only valid 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.

Q. Do I still need to have my license in possession when hunting or fishing?

A. Under California law you are required to carry your license, validation, report card, or tag with you when you are hunting or fishing.

Q. Do I still have to punch tags and fill out report cards?

A. Yes. All requirements for tagging, identifying and verifying take still apply. Now, you may either report your harvest online at: www.wildlife.ca.gov/tagreporting or mail in the harvest report cards.

Q. What will happen if I do not report my deer tag(s) or report my tag(s) late?

A. All deer tag holders who do not report their deer tag(s) by the regulatory deadline of January 31 of the current license year or report them late will be assessed a non-reporting fee of $21.60 when purchasing their deer tag drawing application or deer tag the following year.

NOTE: Mandatory reporting applies to all deer tags issued. Hunters who are issued two deer tags and report one but not the other will still be assessed the non-reporting fee.

Lifetime Licenses

Q. How do I claim my lifetime hunting license online?

A. You may claim your license online at: www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales. Log in using your last name, date of birth and GO ID (from your previous hunting license). Select ‘Purchase Licenses’ from the menu at the top of the page. Select the ‘2018 Hunting’ tab from the left side of the page and select ‘Add to Cart’ your lifetime hunting license and any other privileges you wish to claim (or purchase). After you have made all your selections, click on ‘Check Out’ and complete the transaction. There will be a zero dollar balance at the end, but you will need to select the ‘Complete Transaction’ icon. The transaction is not complete until you do this step. After this you will receive a notice that the transaction is complete and your license will be mailed to you.

Big Game Drawing

Q. Why is the B zone deer tag a restricted deer tag for the 2018 hunting season?

A. Regulations state when a deer tag quota fills on or before the first business day after August 1, the deer tag is classified as a restricted deer tag the following year (CCR T14-708.1(a)(2)(A)(1)). In 2017, the B zone deer tag quota filled on July 17, 2017.

Q. I heard that some hunters were drawn for C zone on their second choice, but I was not. What were my chances of being drawn for a C zone tag as my second choice in 2017?

A. 9,097 hunters applied for C zone as their second choice and there were 1,463 C zone tags available for the second choice drawing. Some of the second choice applicants may be drawn for their first choice already, so there is approximately a 20 percent chance of drawing the C zone tag as a second choice tag.

Q. Why did I get drawn for a premium deer tag when I only wanted to apply for a preference point?

A. To apply for a deer preference point, you must tell the license sales clerk that you want to apply for the code PD (Point Deer). You do not need to indicate a hunt code when applying for a preference point only. Preference points are earned for the species and not a particular zone or hunt.

Q. I want to apply for a deer preference point in the Big Game Drawing, but I was issued my first deer tag at the license agent. Will I still earn a preference point?

A. No. If you were issued a first deer tag at the license agent then you were not entered into the Big Game Drawing. You will need to go back to the license agent and tell the sales clerk to cancel the transaction and re-sell you a First Deer Tag Drawing Application with the code PD (Point Deer). The license agent only has four hours to cancel any sales transaction. If it has been more than four hours, contact CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch prior to the June 2 deadline at LRB@wildlife.ca.gov.

Q. How can I apply for a deer preference point and get an unrestricted or restricted deer hunt tag?

A. Submit a First Deer Tag Drawing Application with a first choice of PD (Point Deer); and a second choice of an unrestricted or restricted deer tag. If your second choice deer tag is available when the Big Game Drawing is conducted, it will be processed in the second round of the drawing. Please see ‘How the Drawing Works’ on Big Game Drawing Information for more information on the second choice tags.

Q. How can we apply as a party for drawing tags?

A. There are two ways to apply as a party. Members of a party can apply in the same sales transaction or in separate transactions at any CDFW license sales office, license agent, online or by telephone sales. See Big Game Drawing Information for details on the party application process.

Q. I am the party leader, where can I find my Party Number to give to members of my hunting party so they can join me?

A. The Party Number is located above your hunt choice(s) on your Drawing Receipt for each species for which you applied. Make sure you give the correct Party Number to the correct party members of each species.

Q. I don’t have my party leader’s Party Number. Will the license agent be able to join us together?

A. No. You must have the Party Number to join another hunter’s party. This is done to ensure that only hunters the party leader allows may join his/her party. CDFW license sales offices and license agents cannot provide you with another hunter’s Party Number, only the party leader or members of the party can provide you with their Party Number.

Q. Can a junior hunter apply for a premium deer zone and an Apprentice Hunt on the same application?

A. Yes. Junior hunters who wish to apply for an Apprentice Hunt and a premium deer hunt on the same application must use a First-Deer Tag Drawing Application. Either the Apprentice Hunt or Premium deer hunt will be your first choice (which ever you want the most) and the other as your second choice. You will be issued a preference point if you are unsuccessful in receiving your first choice and your second choice tag will be processed in the second round of the drawing (if the hunt you chose has not filled by the second round of the drawing). If the junior hunter applies for an Apprentice Hunt on the First-Deer Tag Drawing Application, they cannot submit a Second-Deer Tag Drawing Application.

Q. My daughter is a junior hunter. We want to apply together for an X zone tag. Can she apply with me for an X zone tag and still apply for an Apprentice Hunt?

A. Yes. You both can apply as a party for the X zone tag using your First-Deer Tag Drawing Application. Your daughter can apply for the Apprentice Hunts using her Second-Deer Tag Drawing Application.

Q. Will a junior hunter earn two deer preference points if he/she is unsuccessful for both deer tag applications for a premium deer hunt and an Apprentice Hunt tag?

A. No. Hunters may only earn one preference point per species (CCR T14-708.14(c)). Junior hunters submitting two applications in the drawing will earn one preference point if they are unsuccessful in their first choice tag on both applications. If they are successful in their first choice tag on either application their preference points will be reset to zero.

Q. If a junior hunter applies for a premium deer hunt on a First-Deer Tag Drawing Application and an Apprentice Hunt on a Second-Deer Tag Drawing Application, how are the tag choices processed in the drawing? Which application has a higher priority?

A. Neither deer tag application has a priority. The computer assigns each deer tag application a unique random number. The preference point value for each application is calculated the same way, the success or non-success of one application does not affect the other application.

Q. What does a Drawing Receipt look like?

A. Every applicant will receive a Drawing Receipt (DRA for deer, ELA for elk, ANA for pronghorn and SHA for sheep – printed at the upper right hand corner) for each species submitted. If you were not issued a receipt as pictured, you may not have been entered into the Big Game Drawing and you will not earn a preference point or be drawn for a premium deer tag.

Note: Online sales customers will not receive them in the mail, you may print your drawing receipt at the end of the sales transaction. Telephone sales customers will receive them in the mail.

Q. How will I know that my tag choices for the drawing were entered correctly?

A. Verify that your tag choices are printed correctly on your Drawing Receipt. You may also verify your tag choices and view all your license items by accessing your customer profile online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales. Once you are signed in, you will select the ‘View My Drawing Applications/Preference Points’ link at the top of the page.

Q. When do I lose preference points?

A. You lose all accumulated preference points for a species, as follows:

  • Deer – You lose all accumulated preference points when you are drawn for a premium tag as your first choice.
  • Elk, Pronghorn and Bighorn Sheep – You lose all accumulated preference points for a species if you are drawn for and pay for the tag.
  • You also lose all accumulated preference points for any species if you do not participate in the drawing for that species for five (5) consecutive years.

Q. I did not apply in the Big Game Drawing and it is now past the deadline; will I still be able to earn a preference point for this year?

A. No. You will not earn a preference point for this year and you will not lose your previously accrued preference points. However, a hunter’s points are reduced to zero when they have not applied for five (5) consecutive years. A missed application deadline is considered as not applying.

If it is after midnight on June 2, the drawing applications for deer, elk, pronghorn and bighorn sheep will not be available in the “Drawings” list to purchase and apply for the drawing

Q. I cannot hunt this year. How can I earn a preference point for deer, elk, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep?

A. At a license agent, CDFW license sales office or by telephone sales at (800) 565-1458, you will need to purchase a California hunting license and inform the sales clerk you are applying in the Big Game Drawing. You will need to indicate to the sales clerk, which drawing application(s) you want to apply for; such as: deer, elk, pronghorn or bighorn sheep. To earn a preference point for deer the code is PD, elk is 499, pronghorn is 799 and bighorn sheep is 599.

If applying online, select the “2018 Hunting” tab and “add to the cart” a California hunting license and in the “Drawing” menu, “add to the cart” the drawing applications you want to apply for and enter the corresponding preference point code as indicated above.

To earn the preference point(s), the transaction must be completed before midnight on June 2, 2018.

Q. How can I check my preference point totals in ALDS?

A. Your preference point totals are printed on your Drawing Receipt(s). The receipt will include the applicant’s name, hunt choice(s), and accumulated preference points. You can also check your preference points by logging on to your customer profile at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales and click on the link “View My Draw Application/Preference Points” at the top of the page.

Q. How will CDFW track my preference points?

A. CDFW tracks preference points for current and future drawings using your GO ID. To accurately track your preference points, you must use the same GO ID number to apply in the drawing each year. If you have changes or corrections to your mailing address, you may log into your customer profile and update at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales. If you have changes or corrections to your name, identification number, such as a driver’s license number or date of birth, you must notify CDFW in writing at:

License and Revenue Branch

1740 N. Market Blvd.

Sacramento, CA 95834

or email: LRB@wildlife.ca.gov

Fund-Raising Random Drawings for Big Game Tags

Q. Do I need to purchase a 2018-19 hunting license to apply?

A. Applicants are not required to possess a valid 2018-19 California hunting license at the time of entry. However, the successful tag holder must possess a valid 2018-19 annual California hunting license before the tag is issued.

Q. What is the deadline to apply?

A. The application must be submitted and the sales transaction completed before midnight on June 2, 2018.

Q. Is there a limit on the number of times I can apply?

A. No. You may apply as many times as you want for each tag.

Q. If I am drawn for a Fund-raising Random Drawing tag, will I lose my preference points?

A. No. Preference points are not part of the fund-raising random drawing tag process. Preference points are only earned and applicable towards the general big game tag drawings.

Q. If I am drawn, what are the tag fees for the Fund-raising Random Drawing tags?

A. If you are drawn for a Fund-raising Random Drawing deer, elk, pronghorn or bighorn sheep tag, the tag will be provided at no additional charge.

Q. If I apply in the Big Game Drawing and receive a premium deer zone tag, can I still receive the Fund-raising Random Drawing Open Zone deer tag?

A. Yes, you would receive the Fund-raising Random Drawing Open Zone deer tag as your second deer tag.

Q. If I apply for the Open Zone Deer Fund-raising Random Drawing and win, but already have two deer tags, can I still get the Fund-raising Random Drawing tag?

A. Yes, however, hunters are restricted each year to no more than two deer tags. In this case you would have to surrender either your First-deer or Second-deer tag prior to issuance of the Open Zone Deer Fund-raising tag.

Oobtaining Hunting Maps

Q. Where can I obtain hunting maps for deer zones?

A. General maps detailing individual zone or deer hunt boundaries can be found at CDFW’s website: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Deer.

Additional maps are also available from:

  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS) online at www.fs.fed.us/visit/maps/;
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834, Sacramento, CA 95825, by phone at 916-978-4400 or online at www.blm.gov/california;
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) from sporting goods, backpacking or engineering stores or by contacting the Rocky Mountain Mapping Center, Branch of Information Services, Box 25286, Denver, CO 80225, by phone at 888-ASK-USGS or online at www.usgs.gov/products/maps/overview.


Q. What should I do if I harvest a bear with a GPS collar?

A. If you harvest a bear with a GPS collar, please return the collar to your local CDFW Regional Office. The collar contains important information regarding CDFW’s bear aversive condition study in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

For more Frequently Asked Questions on hunting you may visit our web site at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Hunting/Big-Game.