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Hunting on the Complex

512 Hunter with decoys

The Sacramento Valley is historically known for its premier waterfowl hunting. Since 1950, portions of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex have been open to the public for hunting.

Please scroll down and read everything before calling the Complex with questions...

... we receive 100-300 calls/day, and with budgetary cutbacks we may not always be able to answer the phones.


This webpage is specific for Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa and Sutter NWRs. The Sacramento River NWR has migratory game bird, upland game, and big game hunting. Find out more about hunting on the Sacramento River NWR


General Information:

The Sacramento NWR Complex hunt program is administered by the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (see the "Sacramento NWR Complex's Hunt Plan" section below for more details).

Portions of the following refuges are open to waterfowl and upland game bird hunting (geese, ducks, coots, moorhens, snipe, and pheasant) in accordance with all applicable state and federal regulations and subject to special regulations:

  • Sacramento NWR
  • Delevan NWR
  • Colusa NWR
  • Sutter NWR (closed due to drought)

During the hunting season, these refuges are generally open to hunting on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Hunting on these refuges is regulated through the hunter check stations, and there are specific recreation fees, access regulations, and hunter quotas (see the "Procedures, Regulations and Bag Limits" section below). See the "NEW for the Season" section for information on the timing of the current/upcoming hunting season, and for special youth and pheasant hunts to be offered.


NEWS for 2014-2015:


Drought Information:
Learn more about the impacts of the drought.

  • Sacramento, Delevan, and Colusa NWRs will be receiving 75% of their water allocation, and will be open to hunting this fall/winter 2014-15.
  • Sutter NWR will not be receiving water within the Sutter Bypass, so Sutter will not open on time.
  • Wondering about the status of the State Wildlife Areas due to the drought? Visit CA Department of Fish and Wildlife's "Area Alerts" webpage for information.

Procedures, Regulations and Bag Limits:

Passes, stamps or any license items are not sold at the check stations. Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validations must be attained in advance and will not be available at the check stations. Check station procedures (including reservations), regulations, and bag limits are available on this site. 

Find out more


Common Questions, Recommendations, and Safety:

New to hunting on the Complex, want to know what to bring, or have questions? 

Find out more


Hunt Area Descriptions:

The hunting areas are divided into two portions -- a spaced hunting area (assigned ponds and/or assigned blinds) and a free roaming area. Find out the habitat type, water depth, percent of open water, and length of walk from parking areas. 

Find out more   


Accessibility:

Special accommodations exist on all five refuges that permit hunting. Visit this link for more information. 

Find out more


Junior/Youth Hunts:

The Complex offers extra waterfowl hunting opportunities for young hunters. 
What's the difference between a JUNIOR and a YOUTH hunt?  "Junior Hunts" are special events held for hunters that are age 16 and under.  "Youth Hunts" are special events held for hunters that are age 15 and under.  

  • In December, two IN-SEASON JUNIOR HUNTS are offered at Sacramento/Delevan NWRs:
  •  In February, a POST-SEASON YOUTH HUNT is offered by the state on Sacramento/Delevan/Colusa/Sutter NWRs:
    • Reservation applications are accepted through CDFW, using their online reservation system at least 17 days prior to the hunt date (2015 Post-Season hunt dates are Jan. 31 & Feb. 1, must be age 15 or younger).


Maps/Directions:

The latest hunt maps, location maps, driving directions to the check stations, and GPS coordinates. 

Find out more


Hunt Results:

Hunt results will be posted online Tuesday and Friday mornings (there is an overnight delay as the server is updated), with the exception of Federal holidays. The 24-hour hunt results line at (530)934-7774x43 is updated by 1 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays.

Find out more


Latest Waterfowl Surveys:

Find out more  


Sacramento NWR Complex's Hunt Plan:

Management of the hunt program is outlined in the Sacramento NWR Complex's Hunt Plan.  This document outlines how the refuges will provide safe, quality hunting opportunities while minimizing conflicts with other priority wildlife-dependent recreational uses.  When found to be compatible at a refuge, the USFWS considers hunting to be one of the six priority wildlife-dependent recreational uses (the other 5 priority uses include fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, and interpretation). The Hunt Plan and a Compatibility Determination can be found in the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (Appendices B and C), and determined hunting to be a compatible use at Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa and Sutter NWRs. The Complex's hunting objective is to implement a safe and high quality hunting program including opportunities for approximately 22,000 annual hunting visits on over 8,525 acres.

The Sacramento NWR Complex manages our lands, habitats and facilities, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife selects and processes the hunters and operates the hunter check stations. The hunt areas are physically separated from non-hunted lands and are open to migratory bird and upland game bird hunting during the appropriate seasons. These hunt program parameters help minimize conflicts with visitors engaged in other recreational activities. The Complex adopts harvest regulations set by the state, which uses concepts of density-dependent compensatory mortality and adaptive harvest management to ensure sustained game species populations.

A Refuge Hunting Program Working Group was established in 1991 to exchange ideas and information with the public regarding the Complex's hunting program.

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2014
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