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Information sought on waterfowl habitat, hunting blinds
California Outdoors 5-1-24
Cal out 5-1
This California Department of Fish and Wildlife photo shows waterfowl habitat.

Habitat for Waterfowl

Q: As a duck hunter, I’m curious how the California Waterfowl Habitat Program works?

A: Also known as the Presley Program, named for the state senator who established the program, the California Waterfowl Habitat Program encourages private landowners to manage their land in accordance with management plans that are cooperatively developed between CDFW biologists and landowners and designed to benefit waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species of wildlife. In turn, those landowners get a personal wetland consultant for 10 years, and are paid $30 or $60 per acre per year for successfully managing habitat ($30 for habitat that’s flooded during the fall and winter, $60 for habitat that’s flooded during the spring and summer). This program helps provide habitat for both birds that spend their winters in California, and birds and other wildlife that spend their entire life cycle in and around California’s wetlands.

“There’s a lot that goes into managing wetland habitat each year,” said CDFW Private Lands Biologist Andrew Greenawalt. “Spring and summer flooded wetlands require constant maintenance. In addition, fall and winter-flooded units need to be drawn down or dewatered at specific times and rates in the spring to provide habitat for staging migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. They also need to be irrigated in the spring and summer to boost the carrying capacity or number of birds those wetlands can support, and flooded up at the right time and depth during the winter to ensure those resources are available to birds when they need them. Presley is designed to offset some of those management costs for landowners.”

It was the voter-approved Proposition 68 in 2018 that continued funding for the California Waterfowl Habitat (Presley) Program, and it continues to be extremely popular with landowners. Over 70 properties are currently enrolled in the program throughout the state, and well over 100 more are on the waiting list to apply for the program the next time the Department has a solicitation. Since 1987 the Presley Program has boosted habitat in the Central and Sacramento valleys by more than 50 thousand acres.

More information on the California Waterfowl Habitat Program is available at Private Lands Incentive Programs.


Hunting Blinds

Q: Is it legal to set up and hunt mule deer from a hunting blind in California?

A: Yes, it is lawful to hunt deer from a blind. Setting up a hunting blind for deer hunting is a common strategy, whether a ground blind or a tree-stand. A hunting blind is a tent-like construction that camouflages the hunter and allows the animal to come into view and, eventually, within range for a clear shot. Hunting blinds take many forms, and some are permanent while others are portable. Some are on the ground, while more expensive blinds are elevated with legs, and require a ladder to enter. Hunters are encouraged to be considerate of their surroundings and remove any blind that’s been built or brought to the area when their hunt is completed. The full set of regulations for deer and all mammal hunting can be found at mammal hunting.


Muzzleloader Hunting

Q: What’s the attraction of hunting with a muzzleloader?

A: Muzzleloaders are single shot firearms where each round is manually loaded through the barrel. There are no rounds or casings, and instead primers, powder, a slug and wadding are used. The main attraction for many hunters using muzzleloaders is the challenge of the hunt, the experience of using a less common firearm and the potential of having additional hunting opportunities through the various muzzleloader tags available. Because the effective range of muzzleloaders is considerably less than modern rifles, this form of hunting requires a hunter to stalk closer to their quarry.

CDFW offered nearly a dozen specific muzzleloader deer hunts in 2023. Because of the challenge of this hunting technique, it’s often easier to draw muzzleloader tags than a similar rifle tag. The schedule for 2024 hunts is available at California Big Game Digest.


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