Age Change For Junior Hunting License

Photo Credit: Courtesy of CDFW

by California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Question: How do you explain taking hunting opportunities away from 16- and 17-year-olds with the new age limitations on Junior Hunting Licenses to those 15 and younger? I was looking forward to enjoying two more years of youth hunting opportunities with my son. Now that’s not possible. (Marcus)

Answer: The law allowing youths up to 18 years old to purchase a Junior Hunting License has changed. Per Fish and Game Code, section 3031, a California resident or nonresident now must be under 16 years of age on July 1, 2020, in order to be eligible for a 2020-21 Junior Hunting License. If your child turns 16 on or before July 1, he or she is not eligible to buy the junior hunting license, even if they would be purchasing it before July 1.

We understand your frustration with the age change. Not only are Junior Hunting Licenses available at a significantly reduced price – $13.53 compared to $51.02 for an adult Resident Hunting License – but the Junior Hunting License qualifies kids for many special youth hunting opportunities for big game, upland game birds and waterfowl throughout the year. These high-quality hunts are sponsored by CDFW, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and several nonprofit wildlife conservation groups.

The change to the Junior Hunting License age occurred in the State Legislature – not with CDFW or the California Fish and Game Commission. In 2014, state legislation was signed into law that increased the Junior Hunting License age eligibility from youths under 16 to those under 18, granting kids and their families two extra years of discounted licenses and opportunities for special youth hunts. That legislation, however, included a five-year sunset provision that expired with the 2019-20 license year. Efforts to extend the Junior Hunting License age failed in the Legislature last year and eligibility reverted back to those under 16 for the 2020-21 hunting seasons.

Legislation has been introduced once again to increase the eligibility age for a Junior Hunting License back to those under 18. We are hopeful the issue will be addressed particularly in light of our well-received efforts to recruit, retain and reactivate (R3) hunters and anglers of all ages in California.

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