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Frequently-Asked Questions & Safety Tips

Sacramento NWR Pit Blind

If you have questions about hunting on the refuges, most answers can be found here on our website. Please read through all the information before contacting the refuge.

This webpage is specific for Sac, Delevan, Colusa and Sutter NWRs.
To find information about hunting on the Sacramento River NWRclick here.

Frequently-Asked Questions:


Hunt Area Admission Questions:


  • Q: How late can I get there and still have my reservation be valid?
    A: Sacramento NWR - reservations must be presented no later than 1 ½ hours before shoot time; Delevan/Colusa/Sutter NWRs - reservations must be presented no later than 1 hour before shoot time
  • Q: What time is the Lottery?
    A: Check stations open at 6:00 pm the night before the hunt day; Lottery entries are accepted between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm Tue, Fri, Sat; Lottery numbers are drawn and posted at 8:00 pm Tue, Fri, Sat
  • Q: Do I need to be present during the Lottery?
    A: no
  • Q: Do all members of my hunting party need to be present to put in for the Lottery?
    A: no - one person from your hunting party can put everyone into the lottery as long as he/she has everyone's hunting info (name, Go ID #s)   
  • Q: Can I put in for the Lottery at more than one refuge?
    A: yes
  • Q: When is the Lottery list purged? (purge: a point at which hunters who have a Lottery #, but are not present, are removed from the list)
    A: A Lottery purge will be conducted the morning of the hunt at 8:00am by check station personnel.
  • Q: Can I bring a non-hunter with me?
    A: yes, up to 2 per adult hunter, but they will count towards your party total of 4 persons
  • Q: When do they stop hunter refills?
    A: No entry permits are issued after 3:00pm  

Junior/Youth Hunter Questions?

 Mobility-Impaired Hunter Questions?

Other Common Questions:

  • To see a list of Frequently-Asked Hunting Questionsclick here.

  • Q: How do I get in the lottery, "sweat-line" or make a reservation?
    A: Visit the Hunt Area Admissions webpage for detailed information.
  • Q: What if I have questions about the Online License System or my waterfowl license?
    A: Check the CDFW website for answers to common questions.
  • Q: How many reservations are drawn?
    See the current reservations and hunter quotas.
  • Q: What blind, assigned pond, or free roam area should I hunt?      
    A: Every day and every hunter is different! Each day brings different weather, different waterfowl, and different hunters with different skills and abilities. First, determine what refuge you want to hunt and what type of area is right for you (blind, assigned pond, or free roam). Next, check the hunt area habitat descriptions and the hunt results. Detailed hunt results are posted at the check station. Go early to the check station and talk with other hunters and the check station staff. Check station staff are willing to help you find a great spot to hunt for the day.    
  • Q: What To Bring and Take Out
    Cover for the blinds and hunt sites becomes very sparse late in the season due to the high use. It is recommended that hunters bring and take out additional camo material. Note that when considering bringing in vegetation for cover, it is unlawful to bring nonnative plants (arundo, bamboo, etc) on to a refuge (Title 50 Code of Federal Regulations 27.52).
    Tule stools
    are highly recommended to make it more comfortable and successful to hide in the vegetation in the free roam areas and around Delevan's hunt site islands.

    ecoys and calls should be used to bring birds into ideal shooting range. When setting out decoys, place the outer decoy at 40 yards from the blind. This will help you judge when to shoot and result in fewer cripples.

    A good dog
    will retrieve your game and lessen disturbance to birds and other hunters in the area.
  • Q: What do I need to know for my first time?
    A: Be sure to have a valid license, Federal Duck Stamp signed, state duck stamp, HIP validation, and a hunting pass. Nothing is sold at the check stations. These can be purchased at local sporting good stores and other businesses. Federal Duck Stamps can be purchased at many sporting good stores, post offices, or at the Complex headquarters during business hours. (see Permits, Regulations and Shoot Times page)
  • Q: Do I need chest waders?
    A: YES!! Water levels can vary in every pond.  
  • Q: Can I stay overnight in the parking lot?
    A: Yes, hunters are permitted to stay in their personal vehicles or RVs in the check station parking lots overnight. No tents are permitted. No alcohol or open flames are permitted. All vehicles and RVs must be removed at the end of the hunt day.   

Safety Tips:

Be Safe!!
Exercise caution when pursuing downed and crippled waterfowl. Irregularities in pond bottoms can make wading hazardous. A good dog will retrieve your game and lessen disturbance to birds in the area. While walking trails/levees use a flashlight to avoid tripping over hazards. Mountain lions are in the Sacramento Valley and are frequently seen on the Sacramento River NWR Units and one was spotted on Sutter NWR in 2012. Firearms must be unloaded while in the parking area and while being transported between parking areas, spaced hunting areas, and assigned ponds.

Be aware of the locations of nearby hunters when shooting at crippled birds, especially across large areas of open water.

Be a good sportsperson and respect the rights of other hunters afield. When entering or leaving the field, try to avoid flaring birds which are working another hunter's setup.

Our wildlife is a valuable resource. Laws and regulations are intended to protect them, while allowing for some consumptive use. Hunters are encouraged to report any violations they may encounter to a state or federal employee (see below).

Information for Dog Owners:
There are several uncommon, but potentially serious diseases that dogs may encounter in California wetlands through ingestion or open wounds.  Find out more.... 

While driving:
1. Use CAUTION....slow down so you have time to read the small road signs and to make a safe turn.
2. Plan additional driving time when there is foggy or rainy weather.
3. Review the driving directions, location map, and GPS coordinates BEFORE you begin driving - PLAN AHEAD! Visit the Hunting Maps and Directions page.

Report Accidents and Incidents
Incidents involving injury or accident occurring on the refuge must be reported immediately to the check station or refuge headquarters. Phone (530)934-2801. 

Report violations on the refuge headquarters by calling (530)934-2801 or in person to the staff at the check station. Report violations off refuge lands to CDFW at 1-888-DFG-CALTIP (1-888-334-2258). 

Page Photo Credits — USFWS
Last Updated: Oct 29, 2015
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