Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days will be held the weekend of Feb. 3-4, providing young licensed hunters an extra weekend to hunt after the regular season ends. Each year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) opens many of its wildlife areas for these youth hunt days, as allowed under federal regulations.
The majority of state areas will be open throughout all California Waterfowl Hunting Zones with the exception of the Northeastern Waterfowl Zone, which held a youth hunt days prior to the start of the regular waterfowl season. In the Central Valley, Yolo, Little Dry Creek and Gray Lodge wildlife areas in addition to Delevan, Colusa and Sacramento national wildlife refuges are scheduled to be open for both hunt days while Sutter National Wildlife Refuge is open only on Sunday. The Howard Slough and Llano Seco units of Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area and Joice Island will be closed.
While many areas will have openings for hunters to sign in and immediately go out and hunt, some areas are filled by reservation. Each of these hunt areas are part of the CDFW reservation system which takes applications 17 days in advance and issues reservations by random drawing. Gray Lodge, Yolo, Grizzly Island and Mendota did not fill by reservation and spaces will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. In addition, youth hunters can take advantage of spaces made available at other wildlife areas when reservation holders do not show up.
Federal regulations require that hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older to participate. All youth hunters must have a valid junior hunting license and Harvest Information Program Stamp. A Federal Duck Stamp is required for hunters 16 years of age and older. The daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2017-18 waterfowl season. The regulations can be found online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.
“This is a great opportunity for young hunters to have the fields and marshes to themselves, learn skills and techniques from their mentors and share a wonderful experience,” said Melanie Weaver, an environmental scientist with the CDFW Waterfowl Program.
The upcoming Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days will be the last youth opportunity for the 2017-18 season. The Northeastern California Zone Youth Waterfowl Hunt days were held Sept. 23-24, and Sacramento and Delevan national wildlife refuges have held special junior hunts throughout the season where all blinds were reserved for young hunters.
While the time period for making reservations is over for this season, CDFW encourages youth hunters to utilize the reservations system for the 2018-19 season. Reservations are available for many state-operated wildlife areas and are issued by random drawings. You can apply for waterfowl reservation drawings through the Online License Service, at any CDFW License Agent or CDFW License Sales Office. The fee is $1.34 per hunt choice. The deadline to apply is 17 days before each hunt.