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California Hunting License Regulations and Costs

Fishing and Hunting License Acquisition Details

  • Licenses for the upcoming season can be purchased online or at any California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) License Sales Office or authorized License Agent.
  • The licenses are valid from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024.

Residency and "Take" Definitions as Per Fish and Game Code:

  • Resident Definition:

    • As per Section 70, a "Resident" includes:
      • Individuals who have lived in California for a continuous six-month period before applying for a license or permit.
      • Active duty military members serving with the U.S. Armed Forces or its auxiliary branches.
      • Individuals enrolled in the Job Corps as per Section 2883 of Title 29 of the United States Code.
  • Definition of "Take":

    • Fish and Game Code Section 86 specifies "Take" refers to:
      • The activities of hunting, pursuing, catching, capturing, or killing wildlife.
      • Also includes attempts to engage in these activities.

License Fees and Additional Costs:

  • All license fees encompass a 3% nonrefundable application fee, with the maximum charge capped at $7.50 for each item.
  • Purchases made through license agents will be subject to a 5% nonrefundable handling fee.

Hunting Licenses

Title Fee Description
Resident Hunting License $58.58 Residents who are 16 years of age or older must obtain a hunter's permit to hunt birds or mammals.
Nonresident Hunting License $204.69 Individuals aged 16 years and above who are not residents must obtain a permit to hunt birds or mammals.
Junior Hunting License $15.38 To legally hunt birds or mammals, individuals under 16 years of age, whether residents or nonresidents, must obtain a hunter's license. This requirement applies to hunters who are under 16 years of age at the beginning of the license year, which commences on July 1st.
One-Day Nonresident Hunting License $28.08

This license is exclusively available for nonresidents who intend to hunt resident and migratory game birds on Licensed Game Bird Clubs, while also necessitating an Upland Game Bird Validation. Additionally, it applies to hunting activities on Licensed Domesticated Migratory Game Bird Shooting Areas, for which a Federal Duck Stamp and California Duck Validation are mandatory.

This license is only available for purchase online or at any CDFW License Sales Offices.

Two-Day Nonresident Hunting License $58.58 Commencing with the 2023-2024 hunting license year, the Two-Day Nonresident Hunting License caters to nonresidents aged 16 and above. It grants the privilege to hunt resident and migratory game birds, resident small game mammals, wild pigs, nongame mammals, and furbearers for a consecutive two-day period. It is important to note that additional validations and tags may be necessary for certain species. However, it is crucial to recognize that this license is not valid for hunting deer, bear, elk, pronghorn antelope, or bighorn sheep.
Disabled Veteran Reduced Fee Hunting License $9.01 at CDFW Offices
$9.46 from License Agents

This license is accessible to honorably discharged disabled veterans, both residents and nonresidents, with a service-connected disability of 50 percent or greater. Once qualified for the first Disabled Veteran Reduced Fee Hunting License, eligible individuals can subsequently purchase this license from any authorized license vendor.

Recovering Service Member Reduced-Fee Hunting License $9.01 at CDFW Offices$9.46 from License Agents This license is open to any recovering service member, which includes members of the armed forces, National Guard, or Reserve, who are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy as outpatients due to a serious injury or illness related to their military service. Once prequalified for the Recovering Service Member Reduced-Fee Hunting License, individuals are eligible to purchase this license from any authorized license vendor.
Recovering Service Member Reduced-Fee Hunting License
Duplicate Hunting License $12.96 Available Online, at any CDFW License Sales Offices and License Agents.

 

Big Game Drawing Applications

More information

 

Title Fee Description
Resident First-Deer Tag or First-Deer Tag Drawing Application $38.62

Hunters are eligible to obtain two deer tags per license year. Individuals must be at least 12 years of age as of July 1 of the current license year or at the time of purchase, if after July 1. It is important to note that a First-Deer Tag Drawing Application or First-Deer Tag must be acquired before or at the same time as a Second-Deer Tag Drawing Application (for junior hunters only) or Second-Deer Tag. For more detailed information, refer to the Big Game Hunting Digest.

Resident Second-Deer Tag or Second-Deer Tag Drawing Application $48.09
Nonresident First-Deer Tag or First-Deer Tag Drawing Application $343.25
Nonresident Second-Deer Tag or Second-Deer Tag Drawing Application $343.25
Elk, Pronghorn Antelope and Bighorn Sheep Tag Drawing Applications $8.13 per application

Visit the Big Game Hunting Digest for further details regarding the Big Game Drawing.

Big Game Tags

Title Fee Description
Bear Tag $30.81 Resident Junior $56.98 Resident $361.90 Nonresident Hunters who are licensed residents or nonresidents and are 12 years of age or older as of July 1 of the current license year may purchase one bear tag per license year.
Elk Tag $25.41 Resident Junior $554.80 Resident
$1,700.35 Nonresident
Licensed resident and nonresident hunters aged 12 or older as of July 1 of the current license year are eligible to enter a drawing for the Elk Tag. Each individual may submit only one Elk Tag Drawing Application per license year.
Pronghorn Antelope Tag $25.41 Resident Junior $186.84 Resident
$571.60 Nonresident
Resident and nonresident licensed hunters who are 12 years of age or older as of July 1 of the current license year are eligible to participate in a drawing for the Pronghorn Tag. Each individual is allowed to submit only one Pronghorn Tag Drawing Application per license year.
Bighorn Sheep Tag $532.75 Resident
$1,977.05 Nonresident
Resident and nonresident licensed hunters, age 16 or older as of July 1 of the current license year, may enter a drawing for this tag. Each person may submit only one Bighorn Sheep Tag Drawing Application per license year. Hunters can not apply as a party. Applicants can not apply if they have previously been issued a California Bighorn Sheep Tag through the Big Game Drawing.
Wild Pig Tag $28.08 Resident
$94.22 Nonresident
Resident and nonresident licensed hunters, who are 12 years of age or older at the time of application, are permitted to purchase an unlimited number of Wild Pig Tags. It is important to note that these tags are nonrefundable and nontransferable.

Bird Hunting Validations

Title Fee Description
California Duck Validation $37.29 All individuals intending to take waterfowl, with the exception of juniors hunting under the authority of a Junior Hunting License, are required to fulfill this mandate.
Upland Game Bird Validations $23.25 Anyone engaging in the hunting of upland game bird species, except juniors hunting under the authority of a Junior Hunting License, is obliged to meet this requirement.
Federal Duck Stamp $25.00 All individuals hunting waterfowl are required to have a Federal Duck Stamp, except for hunters under 16 years of age who are exempt from this requirement. It's important to note that Federal Duck Stamps are not available for purchase at CDFW offices, but can be obtained at numerous post offices and select license agents. For additional details about the Federal Duck Stamp, refer to the information provided by the USFWS.
Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation NO FEE For hunting ducks, dove, gallinules, geese, band-tailed pigeon, black brant, coots, and snipe, individuals are required to possess a HIP Validation. This validation is provided at no cost to hunters who complete the Harvest Information Program (HIP) Survey. The HIP Validation is obtainable at locations where hunting licenses are sold and is imprinted on the hunting license document upon completion of the HIP Survey questions. It is essential to ensure that the HIP Validation is present on the hunting license when hunting migratory game birds. The HIP Survey is instrumental in providing wildlife biologists with essential data for wildlife management decisions and the development of hunting seasons. More information about HIP

Passes for State-Owned Hunting Areas

Title Fee Description
Type A One-Day Pass $26.49 Licensed hunters have the privilege of hunting on a Type A State-operated Wildlife Area for one day, subject to availability. This provision does not apply to junior hunters, who are exempt from permit requirements.
Type A Two-Day Pass $42.38 The Type State-operated Wildlife Area pass offers two options for usage:

It can be used by one person for any two authorized shoot days.
Alternatively, it can be used by two persons on any one authorized shoot day.
Notably, junior hunters are exempt from pass requirements.
Type A Season Pass $198.98 Licensed hunters are granted unlimited season access to Type A and Type B State-operated Wildlife Areas, subject to space availability. Notably, junior hunters are exempt from permit requirements.
Type B Season Pass $66.70 Licensed hunters have unlimited season access to Type B State-operated Wildlife Areas for one person, contingent upon space availability. Notably, junior hunters are not required to obtain a pass for access.

Reservation Applications for State-Owned Hunting Properties

Title Fee Description
Reservation Application $1.34 per application Licensed hunters have the opportunity participate in reservation drawings to secure hunting access on State-operated Wildlife Areas.

Lifetime Hunting Licenses

Title 2023 Fee 2024 Fee Description
Ages 0-9 $644.50 $679.75 Residents who can provide evidence of completing hunter education training are eligible for the Lifetime Hunting License, which entitles licensees to receive an annual hunting license every year for life. In order to obtain a Lifetime Hunting Package, individuals must make the initial purchase from a CDFW License Sales Office. For detailed information, refer to the Lifetime License application and information provided.
Ages 10-39 $1,054.25 $1,112.00
Ages 40-61 $949.75 $1,001.75
Ages 62+ $644.50 $679.75
Lifetime Bird Hunting Privilege Package $374.25 $394.50 If lifetime licensees opt to purchase the Lifetime Bird Hunting Privilege Package, they will receive Upland Game Bird and California Duck Validations each year for life.
Lifetime Big Game Hunting Privilege Package $784.50 Lifetime licensees who invest in the Big Game Hunting Privilege Package will be provided with a One-Deer Tag Application and five Wild Pig Tags each year for life.

Permits and Licenses for Hunters with Disabilities

Title Fee Description
Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License Application NO FEE Mobility Impaired Disabled Hunter EligibilityThis provision is available to both residents and nonresidents who are mobility impaired disabled hunters requiring the use of a motor vehicle to pursue game. Eligible individuals must be permanently or fully confined to a wheelchair, a single or double amputee above the knee, or a double amputee below the knee, or need the assistance of a walker, crutches, etc. to walk. Certification from the hunter's physician is an essential requirement.

The license is only available from the CDFW's License and Revenue Branch.

Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License (PDF Form).
Visually Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit NO FEE Qualification: This permit is available to both resident and nonresident hunters who are visually impaired and experience a permanent loss, significant limitation, or diagnosed disease or disorder that substantially impairs their vision, preventing them from viewing and aligning the sights of a muzzle-loading rifle with the target for deer hunting.

Scope Usage: A visually disabled hunter may use a scope of no more than one power while hunting under the conditions of a muzzle-loading deer hunt tag.

Certification: Certification from the hunter's physician or optometrist is required annually. However, if the physician or optometrist indicated on the initial application that the hunter's disability is permanent, the hunter can renew the permit by providing a copy of their previously issued Visually Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit. The permit is only available from the CDFW's License and Revenue Branch.

Visually Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit Application (PDF Form).
Disabled Archer Permit NO FEE Eligibility: This permit is available to both resident and nonresident hunters who have a permanent loss, significant limitation, or diagnosed disease or disorder that substantially impairs one or both upper extremities, preventing them from drawing and holding a bow in a firing position.

Usage: The permit allows the hunter to use a crossbow or other device to draw and hold a bow in a firing position under the conditions of an archery tag or during archery season.

Certification: An annual certification from the hunter's physician is required, unless the physician indicated on the initial application that the hunter's disability is permanent, in which case the hunter can renew the permit by providing a copy of their previously issued Disabled Archer Permit. The permit is exclusively available from the CDFW's License and Revenue Branch.
Disabled Archer Permit Application (PDF Form).

Duplicate Fees

Title Fee Description
Duplicate Hunting License $12.96 Takes the place of a lost or stolen hunting license.
Duplicate Hunting Validation $3.50 California Duck and Upland Game Bird Validation Replacement

Purpose: This service is designed to replace lost or stolen hunting validations for California Duck and Upland Game Bird.
Duplicate Big Game Tag $12.96 To replace lost or stolen big game tags, visit designated CDFW license sales offices. Please note that this service is exclusively available at these locations. Duplicate Big Game Tag Affidavit (PDF Form)
Duplicate Hunter Education Certificate $8.13 Replacement of Lost or Stolen Hunter Education Certificate

If you need to replace a lost or stolen Hunter Education Certificate, please follow the specific procedures provided by your local hunting or wildlife agency.

Eligibility for Reduced-Fee and Disabled Veteran Hunting Licenses

  • Disabled Veteran Hunting License - Cost: $9.46
    • Honorably discharged veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 50% or greater are eligible.
    • Steps to obtain the license:
      • Submit a letter from the Veteran’s Administration confirming an honorable discharge and a disability rating of 50% or more.
      • Upon verification of eligibility, the CDFW updates the applicant's customer record.
      • Following the update, the applicant receives a notification from the CDFW.
      • After the notification, the applicant may purchase the reduced-fee disabled veteran sport fishing license and/or hunting license from any authorized location.

Recovering Service Member Hunting License Information

  • Fee: $9.46
    • Available to recovering service members belonging to the Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves who are receiving medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy in an outpatient status due to a serious injury or illness related to military service.

Steps to Obtain the License:

  • Submit a verification letter from either a commanding officer or a military medical doctor stating your status as a recovering service member, including the expected date of recovery.
  • Once the Department receives this letter and verifies eligibility, your customer profile will be updated, allowing you to renew the license up to the recovery date indicated without additional verification.

Process for Prequalification:

To prequalify for either a Disabled Veteran or a Recovering Service Member Hunting License:

  1. Provide the Following by Mail, Fax, or Secure Document Upload:

    • A photocopy of identification which can be:
      • A GO ID from a previous ALDS-issued license, or
      • Another valid form of ID such as a driver's license or military ID showcasing address, height, weight, eye color, hair color, gender, and date of birth.
    • A letter documenting eligibility (from the Veteran’s Administration for Disabled Veterans, or commanding officer/military doctor for Recovering Service Members).
  2. Supply Contact Information:

    • Include your telephone number.
    • Provide an email address for faster issuance (optional).
  3. Proof of Hunter Education to Accompany Hunting Licenses:

    • Required unless a California hunting license was issued after 2011, in which case the CDFW has this on file.

Contact Methods for Document Submission:

  • Mail: Send to designated CDFW license sales offices.
  • Fax: Fax documentation to (916) 419-7585.
  • Secure Document Upload:
    • Request a link for a secure upload by emailing LRB@wildlife.ca.gov.
    • Use the provided link to securely upload your documents—do not send sensitive information via regular email.

Disability Accommodations for Hunting Licenses and Permits

Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle Hunting License - Fee: $0

  • Eligibility Criteria:
    • Open to both residents and nonresidents who are mobility impaired and require a vehicle to hunt.
    • Applicable to those permanently confined to a wheelchair, amputees (above or below the knee), or individuals reliant on walkers or crutches.
    • Physician certification is mandatory.

How to Apply:

Visually Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit - Fee: $0

  • Eligibility Criteria:
    • Available for residents and nonresidents with significant vision impairment or disorders that prevent proper alignment of muzzle-loading rifle sights with the target.
    • Permit allows the use of a scope up to one power during muzzle-loading deer hunts.
    • Annual certification from a physician or optometrist is required, unless indicated as permanent on the initial application.

How to Apply:

Disabled Archer Permit - Fee: $0

  • Eligibility Criteria:
    • For hunters with permanent disabilities or conditions severely affecting one or both upper extremities, hindering the ability to draw and hold a bow.
    • Permitees can use crossbows or similar aids during archery tag seasons.
    • Annual physician certification required unless disability is confirmed as permanent in the initial application.

How to Apply:

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.