Hunting
at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex

 

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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.

Click here to find information about hunting at the Sacramento River NWR

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 waterfowl hunting season, these refuges are generally open to hunting on WednesdaysSaturdays and Sundays.

Hunting on these refuges is regulated through the Hunter Check Stations, and there are specific permits, fees, and regulations.
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News for 2022-23

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

NEWS on DROUGHT IMPACTS - 2022-23

Due to drought conditions at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, waterfowl hunting season opener is delayed and other recreational opportunities may potentially be impacted. 

CHECK HERE FOR UPDATES TO VISITOR USE AREAS AND ACTIVITIES...we will post information as soon as it becomes available:

  • FALL FLOOD-UPS =
    • Sacramento, Delevan and Colusa NWRs are anticipated to be able to flood 50% of their total wetlands this year.  Flood-ups have started and should be done by mid-November.  Water availability, wind, temperature, and precipitation will affect our ability to flood up, and changes to our best-laid plans are LIKELY.  Please be patient as we do our best with the conditions at hand.
    • Sutter NWR = it is unknown at this time if/when Sutter will receive water.  We will provide information as soon as it is available.
    • Steve Thompson North Central Valley WMA - Llano Seco Unit is anticipated to be able to flood 100% of their total wetlands this year.  Flood-ups will begin October 1 and should be done by mid-November.
  • HUNTING =
    • Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa NWRs are anticipated to open to hunting at a reduced quota once the refuges reach the mark of 50% flooded (mid-November)
    • Sutter NWR = it is unknown at this time if/when Sutter will be open to hunting.  We will provide information as soon as it is available.
    • Sacramento River NWR = the hunting areas of Sacramento River NWR will remain open
  • AUTO TOURS = the auto tours at Sacramento and Colusa NWRs are anticipated to remain open at this time
    • Many, but not all, of the ponds along the auto tours are anticipated to be flooded  
      • The ponds at the beginning of the Colusa auto tour are anticipated to remain DRY, including the pond at the observation deck, due to insufficient water in the canal that supplies the lift pump for this section of the refuge (everything to the northeast of the Colusa Basin Drain)
  • TRAILS = the trails at Sacramento NWR, Colusa NWR, Sutter NWR (spring trails), Sacramento River NWR and the Llano Seco Unit are anticipated to remain open at this time
  • PHOTOGRAPHY BLINDS =
    • Photo Blinds #1 and #2 at Sacramento NWR are anticipated to be available
    • Photo Blinds #3 and #4 at Colusa NWR and Delevan NWR will NOT be available due to lack of water
    • Reservation applications will be received for Photo Blinds #1 and #2 from September 15 - October 15 (2 weeks later this year)
  • **CLOSURES** = due to drought conditions, it is unknown what impacts will be to wildlife health, concentrations and distribution.  We will be monitoring waterfowl populations and disease outbreaks (avian botulism, avian cholera and avian influenza) closely, and MAY DEEM IT NECESSARY AT ANY POINT TO CLOSE OR REDUCE PUBLIC USE to minimize disturbance and reduce waterfowl concentrations.

  • Click here to view the News Release
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MORE NEWS......

  • Sacramento River NWR - Butte City Bridge at Sul Norte/Codora Units....starting March 14, 2022, CalTrans will began construction on the new Butte City Bridge at the Sul Norte and Codora Units.  A new bridge and causeway is being constructed adjacent to the existing structures, after which the old structures will be demolished.  The Sul Norte and Codora Units will continue to be open to the public through the current parking lot, although road and trail access may be temporarily re-routed to accommodate construction activity.
  • Sacramento River NWR - Dairy Fire at La Barranca/Mooney Units....the Safety Closure Area due to the 2021 Dairy Fire has re-opened to public access. The area that was closed in June 2021 due to the Dairy Fire has been re-opened after hazard tree removal has been completed.  The Dairy Fire affected the southern portion of the La Barranca Unit, the western portion of the Todd Island Unit, and the northern portion of the Mooney Unit.  Please continue to use caution when visiting this area as tree health may continue to change over the upcoming months.
  • Sac NWR Complex - Hunting Changes/Highlights...see our Annual Hunt Program Changes page
  • Sac NWR Complex - Special Hunts, including veteran and junior hunts...see our Annual Hunt Program Changes page
  • Sac NWR Complex - we will continue to follow the Pandemic check station procedures for 2022-23.
  • Sac NWR Complex - New to hunting on the Complex? Watch this video for new hunters (link to Facebook)
  • CDFW's Waterfowl Hunting Regulation Booklet (2022-23)
  • CDFW's 2022-23 Shooting Times for Bird Hunting (CDFW) The Complex falls under the Colusa column
  • CDFW Find out more about other hunt areas  (CDFW) - see "Public Hunting Areas" on right side of page
  • Info for Dog Owners about diseases in CA wetlands.      
  • LEAD SLUGS - 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).
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Admission Procedures and Quotas

Admission Procedures Click here to see our Admissions Procedures page and find information about....

• 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?
• # Reservations/Blinds/Assigned Ponds/Quotas per refuge
• Check Station information

Permits, Regulations, and Shoot Times

Permits and Regulations page Click here to see our Permits and Regulations page and find information about....

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

Annual Hunt Program Changes

Annual Hunt Program Changes Click here to see our Annual Hunt Program Changes page and find information about....

• Delays in season openers due to water availability
• Quota adjustments due to water availability
• Check station operations during holidays
• Special hunts
• Changes on hunt areas
• Habitat conditions on hunt areas

Frequently-Asked Questions

FAQ and Safety Tips Click here to see our Frequently-Asked Questions page and find information about....

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

Junior & Youth Hunting

Junior and Youth HuntING  Click here to see our Junior and Youth Hunting page and find information about....

• What licenses/passes/permits/fees do young hunters need?
• Rules/ages/accompaniment for young hunters on the Complex
• Special hunting opportunities for young hunters on the Complex

 

Mobility-Impaired Hunting

Mobility Impaired HuntING Click here to see our Mobility-Impaired Hunting page and find more information about...

• Link to mobility-impaired reservation/admission procedures
• Descriptions/photos of mobility-impaired hunter facilities and accommodations

Hunt Area Descriptions

Hunt Area Descriptions  Click here to see our Hunt Area Descriptions page and find more information about....

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.

Maps/Directions

Hunt Area Maps/Directions Click here to see our Hunt Area Maps/Directions page and find more information about....

• Hunt Area Maps
• Driving Directions to the check stations with GPS coordinates

Beginning fall 2022, weekly fall flood-up maps will no longer be available online.  Stay tuned for future posting information.

Hunt Results

Beginning January 1, 2022 Sacramento NWR Complex hunt results will be published through CDFW's website.

Click on the following links to find Hunt Results for the Sacramento NWR Complex:

Turkey Hunting    

In September 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was pleased to announce the expansion of hunting opportunities to include wild turkey hunting on Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa, and Sutter NWR's. Beginning in 2019, fall turkey hunting was 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 2020, spring turkey hunting became available on Sacramento and Delevan NWRs on Saturdays and Sundays only. This is a mentored hunt available on alternate weekends. This program was established to connect with first-time hunters and individuals in the CDFW hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) program. During the 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.  

Weather

live weather feed Click here to 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 us if you are interested to see how you can assist. 530-934-2801 or sacramentovalleyrefuges@fws.gov.