Waterfowl 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, pheasant, and turkey) 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 2020-21

    Hunt Page - newspaper silouette

    Updates will be posted here, as information becomes available to staff. 

    • Update Monday, Feb. 1, 2021: Check station parking lots will be open for overnight stay beginning Friday, Feb. 5, 2021 for the post season youth hunt and post season veteran and active duty military hunt. 
    • Hunting Pandemic Info: procedure information for pandemic procedures (pdf) at the check station this season. 
    • Post Season Veteran and Active Military Hunt: February 13-14, 2021; All participants must show identification including Veteran’s ID Card and/or Military ID Card for active duty, or a State issued driver’s license or Identification Card with Veteran Designation. Nonmilitary friends and family are not permitted to hunt but may accompany the hunter as a non-shooter. Goose hunting is not permitted during the post season veteran and active military hunt. Reservations and lottery will follow normal procedures. **Type-A pass will be required as per the state for hunters.
    • Are you new to hunting on the Complex? Staff put a video together to help new hunters. Visit this Facebook Program for information.
    • Junior and Youth Hunters ....see table for age-specific regulations and requirements **there are state changes this year
    • Sac Complex - # of Reservations and Quotas  (2020-21, pdf)
    • Waterfowl Hunting Regulation Booklet (2020-21, link to website) 
    • Sac Complex - Hunting Changes/Highlights (2020, pdf)
    • Find out more about other hunt areas  (CDFW) - see "Public Hunting Areas" on right side of page
    • 2020-21 Waterfowl Hunting Newsletter (website) (CDFW)
    • 2020-21 Shooting Times for Bird Hunting (CDFW) The Complex falls under the Colusa column
    • Info for Dog Owners about diseases in CA wetlands  
    • 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).           



  • Turkey Hunting

    Hunt Page turkey

    In September 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to announce the expansion of hunting opportunities to include wild turkey hunting on Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa, and Sutter NWR's. Beginning the fall of 2019, turkey hunting would be permitted in the free roam and pheasant only areas of Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa, and Sutter NWRs and open on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays concurrent with established CDFW fall turkey hunting season.

    Beginning in the spring 2020, turkey hunting will be available on Sacramento and Delevan NWRs on Saturdays and Sundays only. It would be a mentored hunt on alternate weekends. This was established to reach out towards first time hunters and individuals in the CDFW hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) program. During this first pilot season, it was determined that due to the high demand and limited spaces for hunting, lottery participants would be limited to the CDFW's Advanced Hunter Education Course which supports the R3 program.  

    See the documents below for more details.

    FONSI (pdf)
    Compatibility Determination (CD) (pdf) 
    Environmental Assessment (EA) (pdf)
    Hunt Plan (pdf)

  • 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
  • Weather

    symbols - weather

    View the live weather feed data collected on the Sacramento NWR. 

  • 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. A Disabled Hunter Working Group also supports the hunt program by providing feedback, ideas, and information about the mobility impaired blinds.

    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 sacramentovalleyrefuges@fws.gov

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