California Fire Closures May Affect Deer Hunters

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The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) reminds hunters that wild fires can alter hunting plans. Fire restrictions can limit a big game tag holder's access in certain zones depending on conditions.

"Each year some of California's hunters face the possibility that a devastating fire season may impact their planned hunting trips," said Craig Stowers, DFG's Deer Program Coordinator. "Hunters should consider shifting their plans and focusing on another site within the zone they selected if localized restrictions are in place."

Last year, only a few of the 179,169 deer tags holders were affected by fire restrictions, Stowers said, and some hunters requested refunds. A refund request for unused big game tags must be submitted prior to the earliest hunting season for which the tag is valid. Refunds will be considered for unused deer (for zones A, B, C, D, AO#1, and AO#2), bear, antelope, elk, and bighorn sheep tags. There are no refunds or exchanges for premium deer tags due to fire closures. The refund policy for all unused deer tags can be viewed at

The general deer season in the A zone - covering all or part of 29 counties from Mendocino to Los Angeles - opens Saturday, Aug. 11. Several fire closures are currently in effect. Other big game seasons opening over the next two months may also face restrictions. Updated fire information is available at or by contacting national forests directly. Maps of hunting zones can be found at .

Access restrictions can be especially frustrating to deer hunters with hard-to-draw premium permits. DFG recommends all hunters consider scouting and hunting more than one specific location when planning hunts in areas with traditionally high fire danger. Keep in mind weather and moisture conditions can change allowing the reopening of an area for hunting, so check area forest closure information regularly.

DFG sets the deer hunting season based on deer biology, not on weather variations or predictions. Season dates are based primarily on consideration for breeding season and seasonal herd movements. During unusually dry years, access to some areas may be closed because of fires or fire danger by private or public land managers.

Funds raised from the sale of deer tags are used to conduct surveys and research, perform habitat maintenance and improvement projects necessary to allow for all hunting seasons.