San Luis NWR Hunt Program

Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage. Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciate of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs.

As practiced on refuges, hunting does not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances is necessary for sound wildlife management. Hunting programs can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System.

The hunting program is cooperatively administered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. A daily permit is required to hunt at the Complex. Information about seasons and bag limits, license and stamp requirements can be found in annual federal and state regulation guides.



General Information:
Goose, duck, coot, and moorhen hunting is permitted on designated areas of the Refuge Complex subject to the following conditions or as may otherwise be posted. In addition, pheasant and snipe hunting is allowed on designated portions of the San Luis NWR.

  • Hunters may possess not more than 25 federally approved nontoxic shotgun shells after leaving parking lot (the Merced NWR is 25 shells per day).
  • Vehicles may stop only at designated, assigned parking areas. The dropping of passengers or equipment or stopping between designated parking areas is prohibited. All permits must be returned to the check-stations immediately upon completion of your hunt, before using any tour routes or leaving the refuge vicinity.
  • Use or possession of alcoholic beverages while in the field is prohibited.
  • Hunters must possess valid hunting licenses, stamps, and area permits while in the field.
  • Access to individual blinds and zones may be limited to those holding location-specific permits. This includes Kesterson and Freitas pheasant zones, pond assignments within West Bear Creek, East Bear Creek, Lonetree, the San Luis River Unit, and within the spaced blind areas of Merced, Blue Goose, and Kesterson Units. Hunters are restricted to their assigned blind or zone, except to retrieve downed birds, place decoys, or to travel between the blind and the assigned hunter parking area.
  • Loaded weapons are prohibited outside of assigned blinds within the spaced blind areas. At all times on the refuge, weapons must be unloaded (no ammunition in the magazine or chamber) when in a boat under power, in a vehicle, or on a bicycle.
  • Within the free roam area, hunters may use only portable blinds, temporary blinds constructed of natural materials, or existing concrete barrel blinds. The construction of permanent blinds is prohibited. The cutting/breaking of woody vegetation is prohibited. All portable blinds, decoys, and other personal equipment must be removed from the refuge each day.
  • The North Freitas and South Freitas hunt units are accessed via boat only from the Fremont Ford Boat Launch (North Freitas) and South Freitas Salt Slough Boat Launch.  The northern and southern hunt boundaries of these units are sign-posted on the ground.  To further assist hunters in locating these boundaries, below are the latitude-longitude coordinates, which can be entered into GPS units or smartphone mapping applications.
    • North Freitas Hunt Zone northern boundary:  37°17.65920' N, 120°55.06560' W
    •  North Freitas Hunt Zone southern boundary:  37°15.055' N, 120°51.504' W
    •  South Freitas Hunt Zone northern boundary:  37°14.571' N, 120°50.643' W
    •  South Freitas Hunt Zone southern boundary:  37°13.140' N, 120°50.057' W

These additional regulations are specific to individual units:

  • For Kesterson blinds 28 - 31 accessed via a one-way road: No new permits will be issued after start of shoot time. No refills will be issued for these blinds.
  • At the North and South Freitas units, hunting is allowed 7 days per week. On Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays permits are required and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife check station regulations and procedures are in effect. The area is closed (no access allowed) from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Access to the Freitas Unit is via boat only, with a maximum speed of 5 mph. Inboard water thrust and air-thrust boats are prohibited (jet skis, air boats, inboard jet boats). All State and Coast Guard boating regulations apply.
  • At the South Freitas Unit boat launch parking lot on Highway 165, vehicles must park in marked stalls, and on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, vehicles must display a parking pass obtained at the check station.

For additional information, contact:

Jack Sparks, Outdoor Recreation Planner:

Sean Brophy, Assistant Refuge Manager: