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Hunting on the Complex

Pintail Courtship Flight

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. 

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.

This webpage is specific for Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa and Sutter NWRs.

To find information about hunting on the Sacramento River NWR, click here.
  • About the Hunt Program

    The Sacramento NWR Complex Hunt Program is administered by the US Fish & Wildlife Service in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (see the 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

    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 permits, fees, and regulations.

  • NEWS for 2016-2017

    Hunt Page - newspaper silouette

     Info for Dog Owners about diseases in CA wetlands 
    • Junior Hunters ....see table for new age regulations 
    • Sac Complex - # of Reservations & Quotas 
    •  Sac Complex - opening day water maps 
    • Sac Complex - Hunting Changes/Highlights 
    • Find out more about other hunt areas (CDFW)  
    • 2016 Waterfowl Hunting Newsletter (CDFW)  
    • 2016-17 Shooting Times for Bird Hunting (CDFW) The Complex falls under the Colusa column


    • ATTENTION: The top parking lot (west of the J levee) of the Capay Unit will be open to vehicle access beginning Saturday, April 1. County Rd 23 is still closed east of the J levee keeping the other two parking lots closed to vehicle access. The Capay Unit will still be open to boat access. 


    • ATTENTION: As of July 1, 2015, LEAD SLUGS are no longer permitted on the Sacramento River NWR Units or state Wildlife Areas for big game. For more information about Non-lead Ammunition in California, visit the CDFW's website (look under Frequently-Asked Questions).          

  • Admission Procedures

    Hunt Page - Check Station Entry Procedures Silouette

    • How to get a hunting spot?
           • Reservation
           • Lottery
           • First-come-First-served
    • What's the process for letting hunters on?
    • What time, how many people, etc?
    • Check Station information

    Learn More
  • Permits, Regulations & Shoot Times

    Hunt Page - Rules and Regs Silouette

    • What licenses/passes/permits do you need?
    • Rules of hunting on the Complex
    • Shoot Times
    • Bag Limits

    Learn More
  • Frequently-asked Questions

    Hunt Page - Questions Silouette

    Questions? Find the answers, along with important safety tips!

    Learn More
  • Junior & Youth Hunting

    Hunt Page - Youth Hunter Silouette

    The Complex offer extra hunting opportunities for young hunters.

    Learn More
  • Mobility-Impaired Hunting

    Hunt Page - Disabled Hunter Silouette

    Special accommodations exist on all five refuges that permit hunting.

    Learn More
  • Hunt Area Descriptions

    Hunt Page - Blind Descriptions Silouette

    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.

    Learn More
  • Maps/Directions

    Hunt Page - Maps Silouette

    Find the latest Hunt Area Maps, and Driving Directions to the check stations with GPS coordinates.

    Learn More
  • Hunt Results

    Hunt Page - 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.

    Learn More
  • Waterfowl Surveys

    Hunt Page - Waterfowl Survey Silouette

    Find the results of our latest Waterfowl Surveys

    Learn More
  • Sacramento NWR Complex 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.

    An annual Brush Up Day occurs every year in September to allow the public assist in cleaning up the Sacramento and Delevan NWRs. Volunteers are an essential part of the refuge and this day gets a lot of work completed! Contact the refuge for more information or see above under "news" if the event is coming up.

    Comments about the hunt program can be submitted via the comment boxes posted on the hunter check stations, via phone, or via email

    Hunt program volunteers are needed! Contact Garrett Spaan if you are interested to see how you can assist. 530-934-2801 or

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2017
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