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Hunting Questions, Recommendations & Safety

Sacramento NWR Pit BlindIf 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. 


To see a list of Frequently-Asked Hunting Questions, click here 

How do I get in the lottery, "sweat-line" or make a reservation?

Reservations are through CDFW website and must be made at least 17 days in advance. They will notify you if your reservation was drawn via letter or check your login on their . For the lottery, check in with the check station between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. the night before you want to hunt. The lottery drawing will be posted at the check station after 8:00 p.m. The "sweat-line" or first-come, first-serve will be that morning after hunters with reservations and the hunters in the lottery are served. Visit our procedures page for more details.

What if I have questions about the Online License System or my waterfowl license?
Check the CDFW website for answers to common questions.

What blind, assigned pond, or free roam area should I hunt?
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.  

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.

Decoys 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.

What do I need to know for my first time?
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 frequently-asked questions above)

Do I need chest waders?
YES!! Water levels can vary in every pond. 

Can I stay overnight in the parking lot?

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.  

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).

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 information 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 (530)934-2801 or 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: Nov 16, 2014
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