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 and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management.
2023-2024 Waterfowl Season Update:
With the increased water allocation the Kern NWR has received this year, we do plan on having the waterfowl hunting opener on October 21, 2023. Due to staff shortages, Kern NWR will no longer be posting hunt results on this website. Hunt results will be posted on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website. See link below under "Additional Information." A printout of the latest hunt results will be available in the hunter check station. Kern NWR will continue to update hunter quotas and areas that are open to hunting on this website.
Waterfowl Hunting Overview
The Kern National Wildlife Refuge has offered waterfowl hunting since 1960 and is the only public waterfowl hunt area in this portion of the Southern San Joaquin Valley. Hunting is permitted on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the waterfowl hunt season starting in October and ending in late January. For authorized species check the State of California Department of Fish and Wildlife Regulations. The refuge has a total of 23 hunting blinds, assigned ponds, and 2 wheelchair accessible or ADA compliant blinds spread throughout over 1000 acres of moist soil wetlands. A maximum of four hunters are allowed per blind. Kern Refuge also provides up to 1,953 acres of free roam hunt area. The maximum hunter density in this area in one hunter per 20 acres. Under ideal conditions when water is available, the refuge can provide hunting opportunities for up to 160 hunters. Contact the refuge for specific quota numbers assigned to free roam units.
2023-2024 Hunt Zone and Hunter Quotas
Hunter Quota: 107
Free Roam: 1, 2A
Assigned Ponds: AP2, AP4, AP25
Space Blinds: 6, 10, 16, 19, 20, 27
ADA Blinds: ADA1, ADA2
Reservations Issued: 13
Youth Waterfowl Hunting
Kern National Wildlife Refuge offers youth hunters age 16 and under on July 1, with an opportunity to hunt waterfowl after the regular waterfowl hunting season has closed. This special hunt is one of the most anticipated of the year and has been a highlight for young hunters at the Refuge for many years. The special hunts take place in the Southern San Joaquin, Southern California, and Balance of the State Zones. Youth hunters who are interested in participating in the special event may hunt wherever they have legal access, whether private or public lands. A non shooting adult age 18 or older must accompany the youth hunter. Many state wildlife areas and federal wildlife refuges will be open for hunting through the normal reservation system in addition to walk-on's. Youth hunters who applied for regular season hunts using a season-long application must apply separately for these special hunts.
Mobility Impaired Hunters
Depending upon water availability, a total of three wheelchair accessible blinds are available for disabled hunters. If these blinds have not been taken by reservation holders, the blinds will be filled by hunters meeting the applicable requirements and that participate in the lottery drawing held 2 hours before shoot time.
Assigned ponds will allow hunters to move around within the levees of the assigned pond and are not restricted to the island blinds. Hunting parties will be able to spread out throughout the assigned pond, or stay grouped up. There is no hunting within 100 feet from the assigned pond levees or roads. For more information about hunting party combinations please scroll down to the Hunting Party Combinations section.
Space Blind Sites
Each blind site will be marked by a numbered post. All persons assigned to a blind must remain within 100 feet of the numbered post. All shooting shall be done from this location except when pursuing cripples. This means that it is illegal to shoot at free-flying birds from outside of the 100 foot limit. No hunting within 100 feet from the levees or roads.
Allows unrestricted hunter movement, with variable hunting locations. It requires the hunter to have a knowledge and understanding (most often based on specific refuge experience) of the refuge habitats and corresponding cover types, bird use, and flight patterns given certain weather conditions, in order to be successful. No hunting within 100 feet from the levees or roads.
Licenses, Reservations, Stamps, and Regulations
No purchases will be made at the Kern NWR check station. To hunt on Kern NWR please have the following licenses and validations: Hunting License, Federal Duck Stamp (required for hunters over the age of 16), California Duck Validation (not required for junior license holders), Hunting Information Program Validation (no cost), and Type-A Hunting Pass (either one day pass, two day pass, or season pass). Junior hunters are exempt from permit requirements. The daily quota of hunters shall be filled first by those holding advance reservations, which are issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Hunters with reservations must present their reservation at the hunter check station on the refuge 2½ hours before local shoot time. Vacancies occurring from no show reservation holders and from hunters leaving the area shall be filled according to the order established in the stand by drawing which occurs 2 hours before shoot time, the day of the hunt, and is performed at the refuge's hunter check station. It is up to the hunter to know when legal shoot time is. Hunters are permitted to enter only the assigned blind site, assigned pond, or free roam unit for which the hunting permit is issued. All hunters are required to check out at the refuge hunter check station, report hunt results, and return their permits before leaving the area.
Hunting Party Combinations
Adults (18 years or older) may supervise up to 2 minors.
- Space Blinds: A reservation shall assure entry for up to 4 persons total. The following combinations are only allowed; 1 adult hunter, 2 adult hunters, 3 adult hunters, 4 adult hunters, 1 adult hunter and 2 juniors, 2 adult hunters and 2 juniors, 3 adult hunters and 1 junior, 1 adult hunter and 2 nonshooters, 1 adult hunter and 3 nonshooters, 2 adult hunters and 2 nonshooters.
- Free Roam: A reservation shall assure entry for up to 6 persons. The following combinations are only allowed; 1 adult hunter, 2 adult hunters, 1 adult hunter and 2 juniors, 1 adult hunter and 1 nonshooter, or 2 adult hunters and 4 juniors.
- Assigned Ponds: Assigned ponds will allow hunters to move around within the levees of the assigned pond and are not restricted to the island blinds. Hunting parties will be able to spread out throughout the assigned pond, or stay grouped up. There is no hunting within 100 feet of the assigned pond levees. Only one hunting party will be allowed in the assigned ponds. A reservation shall assure entry for up to 4 persons total. The following combinations are only allowed; 1 adult hunter, 2 adult hunters, 3 adult hunters, 4 adult hunters, 1 adult hunter and 2 juniors, 2 adult hunters and 2 juniors, 3 adult hunters and 1 junior, 1 adult hunter and 2 nonshooters, 1 adult hunter and 3 nonshooters, 2 adult hunters and 2 nonshooters.
Non Hunt Days
On days when hunting is not permitted, please remain on the designated tour routes and trails. Access to the hunting zone is only allowed on authorized hunt days with a valid permit.
For more information regarding hunting regulations, shooting hours, daily bag limits, etc...please click on the following link for the California Hunting Regulations
California Waterfowl Hunting Information