California Hunting License | Helpful Guide

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The Golden State is more than just Sun City strips and beaches. It offers one of the best hunting grounds with over a million acres under the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). All you need is a hunting license, and you have access to animals like deer, elk, bear, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn antelope.

Some of the things that you may want to know in regards to the hunting license are:

  • Types of licenses
  • How long the license lasts
  • Where to buy the license
  • How much the license costs
  • Current hunting season in California

Types of Licenses

The following are the available hunting licenses that allow you to hunt, pursue, capture, catch, or kill birds or mammals within the state.

Resident Hunting License

If you have been living continuously in California for the past six months or are in the military service, you need a resident hunting license to hunt within the state. You need to be 16 years or older at the time of application for the license.

Nonresident Hunting License

A non-resident hunting license is available for those who don’t live within the state and are at least 16years of age at application.

Junior Hunting License

You can get a junior hunting license for your child who is under 16 years of age at the beginning of the licensing year. It covers both residents and non-residents.

One Day Resident Hunting License

Hunting resident or migratory birds and game in Game Bird Clubs that are licensed or Licensed Domesticated Migratory Game Bird shooting areas require that you have a one-day resident hunting license.

Two Day Nonresident Hunting License

This license is for nonresidents aged at least 16 years who intend to hunt game birds, small game mammals, furbearers, and nongame mammals. It lasts for two consecutive days.

Disabled Veteran Reduced Fee Hunting License

If you are a disabled veteran who was honorably discharged, you qualify for this license regardless of whether you are a resident or nonresident. Your disability needs to be at least 50% and service-connected.

Recovering Service Member Reduced Fee Hunting License

Service members who have undergone medical treatment after a serious injury related to their service qualify for the reduced fee-hunting license.

Duplicate Hunting License

You can obtain a duplicate of your hunting license from the authorized sources at a fee.

How Long the License Lasts

A California hunting license lasts for one year. Therefore, you will need to renew it annually. A hunting year lasts from July of the current year to the end of June of the following year. For instance, a hunting license you purchase at this time is valid from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.

Some licenses, however, are limited to a short period, for instance, those that are valid for one or two days. The one-day resident and the two-day nonresident hunting licenses are examples in this group.

You can also opt for a lifetime hunting license. You will pay a higher amount but will never have to renew your license annually. It may be the best option if you hunt often.

Where to buy the license

There are three places you can buy your hunting license. Pick whatever choice is more convenient for you.


The easiest and most convenient option is to purchase your hunting license online from the official CDFW website. It is the most recommended even by the department itself. It’s a straightforward process where you enter your details, make the payment, and are given your hunting license.

CDFW License Sales Offices

Another option is to head down to a license sales office near you. You can find the details of the location of these offices from the official website here.

License Agent

Getting your hunting license from an authorized license agent is also another great choice. It is convenient, and the agent will get you the best deal to meet your hunting needs. However, you will pay slightly more, which is their handling fee.

How Much the License Costs

Each type of license has a different cost. Before looking at individual prices, you need to note two things. One, a 3% nonrefundable application fee applies but does not exceed $7.50 per item. Two, you will need to pay a 5% nonrefundable handling fee if you apply through a licensed agent.

California hunting licenses valid from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, are priced as follows:

  • Resident hunting license: $51.02
  • Nonresident hunting license: $178.20
  • Junior hunting license: $13.53
  • One day resident hunting license: $24.33
  • Two-day nonresident hunting license: $51.02
  • Disabled Veteran reduced-fee hunting license: $7.73 in CDFW offices and $8.13 from licensing agents
  • Recovering service member reduced-fee hunting license: $7.73 in CDFW offices and $8.13 from licensing agents
  • Duplicate hunting license: $11.37

The lifetime hunting licensing packages vary depending on the age of the applicant at the time of application. Pricing is as follows:

  • 0-9years: $562.25
  • 10-39years: $919.00
  • 40-61years: $828.00
  • 62+ years: $562.25
  • Lifetime Bird Hunting Privilege Package: $326.75
  • Lifetime Big-Game Hunting Privilege Package: $684.00

Current hunting season in California

It’s currently wild turkey hunting season in California. The archery-only spring turkey season and junior spring turkey season are on until May 17, 2020. You can, therefore, head out and hunt some turkeys before the season closes.

Additionally, you can hunt several game animals throughout the year, as they have no season limits. These game animals include wild hogs, coyote, and jackrabbits. If you feel like heading out for a hunt, then they are the best options. However, you will need to use hunting methods that conform to the hunting regulations and current season regulations.


California offers limitless opportunities when it comes to hunting. A hunting license allows you access to all these opportunities. The new hunting year is around the corner, and it might be a good idea to get your license around now. If you love, hunting and often do it, consider the lifetime license if you can afford it. However, the annual package is more than enough to let you get the best out of every hunting season

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