Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days will be held the weekend of Feb. 3 and 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 their 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 and Mendota did not fill by reservation and spaces will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
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 hunters must have a valid license and stamps as required by state and federal law. 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 and 24, and Sacramento and Delevan national wildlife refuges have held special junior hunts throughout the season where all blinds were reserved for young hunters.