California’s 2016 general deer season will open in zones B1-B3, B5, B6, C1-C4, D6, D7, X9A, X9B and X12 on Saturday, Sept. 17. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds hunters to pay close attention to the occurrence of wild fires in their favorite hunting spots. Current information on forest closures can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.
In addition to monitoring forest closures, CDFW recommends hunters scout potential hunting areas prior to the day of the hunt. Deer can sometimes be difficult to locate, and pre-existing knowledge of deer feeding and bedding areas will provide valuable insight and help maximize chances of success.
Hunters are reminded that as of July 1, 2015 nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. Lead ammunition may still be used to hunt deer on Bureau of Land Management (BLM), national forest and private lands until July 1, 2019.
Deer tags are still available for many of the state’s most popular zones. Hunting licenses and tags can be purchased online, at one of CDFW’s license sales offices or through a license sales agent. For more information on deer hunting zones and seasons, see the 2016 Big Game Hunting Digest. Specific zone maps and information are also available online.
Every purchaser of a deer tag must report their harvest, even if they were unsuccessful. For successful hunters, the report must be made within 30 days of harvesting a deer or by Jan. 31, whichever date is first. Unsuccessful hunters, and those who purchased a tag but did not hunt, must report by Jan. 31. Harvest reports may be submitted online or by U.S. mail to CDFW Wildlife Branch, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002.
Hunter harvest numbers are an important component of CDFW’s annual population analysis, and are key to ensuring sustainable deer populations and hunting opportunities for future generations. Studies have shown that the most accurate harvest estimates are obtained from hunter-generated reports. Yet historically, only 30 percent of hunters have submitted mandatory harvest reports.
In order to improve hunter reporting rates and collect better hunter harvest data, non-reporting fees were instituted in 2016. Tag holders who fail to report will be charged a non-reporting fee of $21.60, which will be added to license purchases beginning with the 2017-2018 season.
The sale of hunting licenses and tags provides approximately $25 million every year to CDFW to fund research and management of California’s wildlife, including the enforcement of fish and wildlife laws, crucial habitat conservation, post-wildfire forest restoration and wildlife migration and population studies.