California Big Game Hunters Drawing Deadline is Near

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Hunters applying for premium deer, elk, antelope or bighorn sheep tags have only a few weeks left to turn in an application. All big game drawing applications must be received at the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) License and Revenue Branch in Sacramento by 5 p.m. on June 2. Drawing results will be available by phone and online on June 24.

Information about the drawing and hunting regulations is available in the 2009 California Hunting Digest Big Game book. The book is free and available from all DFG license sales offices and independent license agents.

The most important change to the California hunting regulations this year is the reclassification of several deer hunts. Deer hunts are now classified based on the date the tag quota was met the previous license year. As a result, several deer hunts have been reclassified as "unrestricted," meaning tags can be purchased immediately with a Second Deer Tag Application. These zones include 13 "D" zone hunts and six archery-only hunts.

"These hunts typically do not sell out," said Maria Melchiorre of the DFG License and Revenue Branch. "The regulation change will allow hunters to purchase tags over the counter without having to wait until August for the tag."

Hunters should also be aware that two proposed regulation changes described in the 2009 California Hunting Digest Big Game book were not adopted by the Fish and Game Commission, following publication of the book:

  • * Zones C, D12, and D17 are notable exceptions to the new deer hunting regulations. There will be no change in the way these three zones are classified in 2009. Hunters may still purchase these tags over the counter using a First Deer Tag Application.
  • * The bear hunting regulations remain unchanged from last year. There will not be a bear hunting season in San Luis Obispo County this fall, and the in-season closure mechanism remains in place.

Any licensed hunter over the age of 12 is eligible to apply for the chance to participate in more than 200 big game hunts statewide (hunters applying for bighorn sheep tags must be 16 years of age or older). Applications to hunt antelope, elk and bighorn sheep are $7.50 each. Deer tag applications for California residents are $27.55 for the first tag, and $34.40 for the second tag and are available through DFG license sales offices and independent license agents.

This season, DFG continues to offer hunting opportunities for young hunters. Apprentice Hunt instruction is offered at various skill levels. Instruction includes a pre-hunt safety orientation and expert direction and hands-on oversight in the field. Apprentice hunt participants also are typically accompanied by a non-hunting adult. Participants in any Apprentice Hunt must still be in possession of a valid Junior Hunting License.

For more information on how to apply for a special hunt, please pick up a free copy of DFG's California Hunting Digest Big Game book or sign up electronically to regularly receive the publication at publications@dfg.ca.gov. Hunters can also find a mail order form to purchase a license and tag applications at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/hunting/hunting.html.