While most California duck and goose hunters will hang up their waders and stow their shotguns a final time following the close of waterfowl seasons Jan. 31, a few lucky groups get to extend their hunting seasons into February.
The Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days, the Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days, and some late-season goose hunts take place in February (and in some cases extend into March). For those able to participate, these special, post-season opportunities are some of the most anticipated hunts on the calendar.
Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days, Feb. 5-6, 2022
Licensed hunters 17 and younger get a weekend of waterfowling all to themselves without having to compete with adults for birds or places to hunt. These young hunters must be accompanied by a non-shooting adult 18 or older. Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days take place Saturday Feb. 5 and Sunday Feb. 6, 2022, in the Balance of the State, Southern San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California zones on both public and private property.
Many of California’s most popular and productive public waterfowl hunting areas will reopen for the youth hunt days. For Type A public hunting areas, young hunters and their mentors can access these properties with a reservation, through an onsite lottery or first-come, first-served list. These state and federal wildlife areas and refuges typically have plenty of room to accommodate all the youth hunters who turn out.
Many California private duck clubs also will also open their doors to welcome the next generation of waterfowlers for the youth hunt weekend to help ensure the kids and their mentors have a safe and memorable time.
In addition to a valid California hunting license, all hunters will need a current Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation. Those hunters 16 and older will need a signed, federal duck stamp in their possession (an electronic stamp option is also available). Hunters who are 17 and hunting with an adult license will need a California Duck Validation. Any 17 year old with an adult license hunting on a Type A or B state-operated wildlife area or federal wildlife refuge also will need the appropriate Type A or B area pass.
Junior Hunting License holders do not need the California Duck Validation and are exempt from having to purchase a wildlife area pass. Accompanying adult mentors are likewise exempt from needing an area pass.
Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days, Feb. 12-13, 2022
One weekend after the youth waterfowl hunt, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) welcomes veterans and active military personnel for a special hunt weekend Saturday, Feb. 12 and Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022. Nearly two dozen of the state’s most popular waterfowl hunting areas will reopen for the hunt. The Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days take place throughout the Balance of the State, Southern San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California zones on both private and public land for eligible hunters.
There are abundant opportunities for Veterans on CDFW managed properties, federal refuges, private duck clubs and areas managed by conservation organizations like California Waterfowl.
Waterfowl hunters are advised to check with the individual property they are planning to hunt for specific entry procedures, details and other regulations.
Any person participating in these hunts must possess and present upon demand verification of eligibility. Acceptable verification includes: a Veterans ID Card, military ID card for active-duty personnel, or a state-issued driver license or ID card with veteran designation. Qualifying veterans are those defined in Section 101, Title 38, of the United States Code. Absence of verification may subject the hunter to citation.
Those hunting on a Type A or B state-operated wildlife areas or federal wildlife refuges will also need the appropriate Type A or B area pass in addition to a valid hunting license, federal duck stamp and necessary validations.
Late Season Goose Hunts
Thriving populations of wintering geese allow for some additional, late-season hunting opportunities in various Waterfowl Zones and other parts of the state that can extend into March in some cases. Many of these late-season goose hunts were initiated to reduce crop damage on private farm fields and move geese to public land. Consequently, public hunting opportunities can be very limited during these late-season hunts. These late-season goose hunts include:
Balance of State Zone
A five-day, late-season hunt for white geese and white-fronted geese runs from Feb. 19-23, 2022. Regular season daily and possession limits apply.
A late-season hunt for white geese and white-fronted geese opens Feb. 6 and runs through March 10. Regular season daily and possession limits apply.
North Coast Special Management Area
A late-season hunt for Canada geese opens Feb. 19 and runs through March 10, 2022. Daily bag and possession limits apply – with the exception of large Canada geese, which are closed during the late season.
Imperial County Special Management Area
Three, late-season hunts for white geese take place within Imperial County from Feb. 1-4, Feb. 7-11, and Feb. 14-22. Regular season daily and possession limits apply.