Opening Day

With National Hunting and Fishing Day right around the corner, we bring you some national wildlife refuges we think are the perfect place to start your hunting season

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in Siskiyou County. Credit: USFWS

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in Siskiyou County. Credit: USFWS


By Rebecca Fabbri
September 18, 2019

Hunting is both a wildlife management tool and an outdoor tradition in the United States. With opening day right around the corner, did you know a multitude of national wildlife refuges offer hunting opportunities? If you’re based out of California, Nevada or near the Klamath Basin, we’ve got some primo opportunities for you.

 

Delevan National Wildlife Refuge: Colusa County, California
Delevan Junior Hunt. Credit: Mike Peters/USFWS

Delevan Junior Hunt. Credit: Mike Peters/USFWS

Nestled in the heart of the Sacramento Valley and known for its premier waterfowl hunting, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays during waterfowl season. Hunters have a variety of options from free-roam, pit-blinds or assigned ponds and will need a type-A pass to check in via a California Department of Fish and Wildlife check station. More information: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Sacramento/visit/hunting.html

 

Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge: Butte County, California
Two young hunters. Credit: Lora Haller/USFWS

Two young hunters. Credit: Lora Haller/USFWS

With over 5,350 acres on 21 different units stretched across 80 miles of the Sacramento River from Red Bluff to Colusa, the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge provides excellent hunting of upland game (turkey, quail and pheasant), big game (black-tailed deer and feral pig) and migratory game birds (goose, duck, coot, moorhen, dove and snipe). Most areas are boat access only via the Sacramento River keeping the number of hunters limited. As a type-C area, no check station nor entry permits or passes are needed. More information: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Sacramento_River/Hunting.html

 

Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge: Santa Clara County, California
Various wading waterfowl. Courtesy photo: Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group

Various wading waterfowl. Courtesy photo: Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group

The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located along the southern edge of San Francisco Bay in Silicon Valley. Although this refuge is set in an urban area with millions of residents and near well-known companies such as Facebook and Google, it provides more than 10,000 acres of waterfowl hunting in salt ponds and tidal areas. The refuge also supplies critical migratory and wintering habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl. More information: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Don_Edwards_San_Francisco_Bay/hunting.html

 

San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge: Sonoma County, California
Canvasbacks at San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Don Brubaker/USFWS

Canvasbacks at San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Don Brubaker/USFWS

The San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located in Northern California along the northern edge of San Pablo Bay. Although San Pablo Bay is minutes from the cities of Petaluma, Sonoma, Napa and Vallejo, you get a sense of solitude once on the refuge. This area consists of lush pickleweed marsh, restored tidal areas and open bay. More information: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/San_Pablo_Bay/activities.html

 

San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex: Merced County, California
Flying pintails. Courtesy photo: Gary R. Zahm/USFWS

Flying pintails. Courtesy photo: Gary R. Zahm/USFWS

Located in the heart of California's Grasslands Ecological Area -- one of the most pristine waterfowl hunting regions of the United States -- the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex provides diverse opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen seeking high-quality experiences. The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge features waterfowl hunting from fixed blind sites, free roam areas, exclusive zones, assigned ponds and boat access waterways. The Merced National Wildlife Refuge, often the most successful public waterfowl hunt land in the Grasslands in terms of harvest, offers assigned blinds in flooded mixed marshes, dry field goose pits, as well as exclusive zones. Visit and enjoy the outdoor wildlife experience! More information: https://www.fws.gov/sanluis/

 

Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge: Churchill County, Nevada
Tundra swans taking off. Credit: Marie Nygren/USFWS

Tundra swans taking off. Credit: Marie Nygren/USFWS

Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge is a desert oasis that attracts the highest concentration of migrating canvasback ducks and is the number one location for tundra swan harvest in Nevada. There are over 20 other species of waterfowl that use the refuge and hunters can expect good numbers of mallard, gadwall, northern shoveler and teal. When fully flooded, there are over 20,000 acres of huntable marsh that can be accessed by boat or on foot depending on the unit. There are also hunting opportunities for deer and upland game such as quail. Deer and swan tags are awarded annually by a state lottery, and hunting on the refuge is in accordance with state regulations, seasons and bag limits. More information: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Stillwater/visit/visitor_activities.html

 

Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge: Klamath County, Oregon
Mule deer buck. Credit: USFWS

Mule deer buck. Credit: USFWS

Within the Klamath Basin, there are countless outdoor recreation activities to choose from but one very popular activity is deer hunting. The Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge offers good opportunities for walk-in deer hunting for all ages. With easy access, it is a great area for youth hunters. Many youth hunters are mentored by family and friends where they learn ethical harvest practices and a lifelong land ethic that they will carry with them for the rest of their life. Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge is closed to the public with the exception of deer hunting in the fall from August through October. Hunting of all types has a long tradition in the Klamath Basin and when managed correctly, can be a major asset to wildlife conservation. More information: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Bear_Valley/wildlife_and_habitat/hunting.html

 

Today, more than 370 refuges and many other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands are open to the public for hunting – seasonally and in accordance with state regulations. Find them here: https://www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting/

Rebecca Fabbri

Rebecca Fabbri

About the writer...

Rebecca Fabbri is a public affairs specialist for the Pacific Southwest Region's external affairs office located in Sacramento, California. A UC Davis graduate, she enjoys spending time with her friends and riding her horse. Popular on Instagram, Rebecca's followers include Paris Hilton.

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