Merced 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 Merced NWR. 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 Merced NWR subject to the following conditions or as may otherwise be posted.

  • At the Merced NWR hunters may possess not more than 25 federally approved nontoxic shotgun shells per day.
  • The Merced NWR is open to hunting only on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the waterfowl hunting season.
  • Shooting hours at the Merced NWR are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon.
  • 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.

For additional information, contact:
Jack Sparks, Outdoor Recreation Planner: