Statewide Waterfowl Season Kicks Off This Weekend

CDFW Photo by Travis VanZant. Pintail in flight at CDFW's Little Dry Creek Unit, Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area.

by California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Waterfowl season will officially be open across all of California soon. California’s Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California Waterfowl Zones open Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, and the Colorado River Zone opens Sunday Oct. 23, 2022. These zones will remain open through Jan. 31, 2023. The Northeastern Zone opened Oct.1, 2022, and will close Jan. 11, 2023.

California offers fine waterfowl hunting opportunities during the season at state-operated wildlife areas and refuges throughout the state. Reservations are available for many of these areas and are issued by random drawings. Hunters can apply for waterfowl reservation drawings at a license agent or through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Online License Sales and Services web page. The deadline to apply is 17 days before each hunt. CDFW will mail reservation letters and send email notifications to hunters when they are drawn for a reservation at least seven days prior to each hunt. Reservation winners may also download and print their reservation letters online.

Hunters without reservations may apply for lottery or first-come, first-served opportunities at the wildlife area they wish to hunt. Entry procedures vary by area and hunters are advised to call ahead in preparing for their hunt. For more information, refer to the Waterfowl Reservation Information table. (PDF)

Hunters are responsible for knowing their bag and possession limits as well as waterfowl hunting regulations for the zone they are hunting in. Season dates for scaup vary by hunting zone and are sometimes different than general duck seasons. Please know the scaup season dates for the zone you will be hunting. To find more information on zones, limits and additional regulations, please visit the CDFW website.

Waterfowl hunters are required to possess a valid California hunting license, a Federal Duck Stamp (required for all hunters 16 years of age or older), a California Duck Validation (not required for Junior Hunting License holders), and a Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation. Hunters wishing to hunt waterfowl on Type A or Type B state-operated wildlife areas must also possess the appropriate wildlife area hunting pass. Wildlife area hunting passes are not required for Junior Hunting License holders.

To purchase your 2022 hunting license, validations, and wildlife area hunting passes, visit a license agent near you or CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services web page.

Hunters are reminded nonlead ammunition is required for hunting waterfowl and taking wildlife anywhere in California with a firearm.

If you’d like to get involved in waterfowl hunting or to learn more, visit CDFW’s R3 webpage for resources to get started! For additional information, CDFW’s Advanced Hunter Education (YouTube) program has video resources available as well.

Updates about wildlife area and refuge closures will be posted to CDFW’s Emergency Closures webpage frequently. For detailed information about hunter quotas, please contact the wildlife area or refuge you wish to hunt.

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