- General information about the Refuge
- Authorized species for hunting
- Summary of general regulations for the Refuge, plus those specific to hunting
- Maps of hunting areas, Refuge boundaries, driving directions, etc.
- Links to legal summaries (e.g. regulations for seasons, bag limits and waterfowl zones)
- Links to federal and state government webpages
- Administrator: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS“)
- CDFW Region: Region 1, Northern California
- Complex: Klamath Basin NWR Complex
- County: Siskiyou County
- Directions: see our Google map
- Location: Dorris, CA 96023
- Phone Number: 530-667-2231
- Refuge map: USFWS map
- Waterfowl Zone: Northeastern WF Zone
- Website: Lower Klamath NWR
- Office Details-Lower Klamath
I. Regulatory Summary
A. General Regulations
Lower Klamath is owned and operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. In addition to our summary of Refuge-specific regulations, link to our summary of general regulations from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
B. Refuge-Specific Regulations
Beginning with Par. II and III below, you’ll find an alphabetical summary of legal topics that combine Refuge-specific rules and regulations from the following sources:
II. Summary of Hunting Regulations
A. All Hunting
ATV’s: NOT allowed
Bicycles: allowed ONLY on designated public access routes and NOT on trails or roads closed to public vehicles
Hunt area: is comprised of free roam fields and marshes and there is no spaced blind area that requires hunters to check in.
Hunt days: DAILY during open season
Pass: an annual recreation pass is required and good from the date of purchase
- Fee: the pass is $25 or half price (a) with an interagency pass and (b) for full-time students
- Possession: hunters must carry the pass while hunting
- Purchasing: passes (and duck stamps) may be purchased at the Visitor Center. Warning shot!!! Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validations and other state licenses must be purchased in advance from the CDFW either online, at a sales office, or from a license agent
Refuge hours: sunrise to sunset (link to shooting hours for Northern California)
Shells: unlimited number
- Line-up: NOT allowed before midnight
- Overnight: NOT allowed
- Parking: allowed ONLY in designated lots (except there are no parking restrictions in the Oregon Straits hunting area)
- Speed limit: 25 mph
Weapons: subject to State law (click here to download a booklet on firearms regulations in California)
B. Migratory Game Bird Hunting
Authorized species: (for pheasant hunting, see Par. C below)
ADA: there are two (2) boat-in hunt blinds available for mobility impaired hunters (for information and reservations, call the Refuge and see our map).
Also see “Shooting hours” below
- ADA: see above
- Launching: NOT allowed after 1:00 p.m.
- Motors: In units 4b and 4c only, only non-motorized boats and those with electric motors are allowed before December, after which motorboats are allowed
- Propulsion: Air-thrust and water-thrust boats are prohibited
- Regulations: all State boating regulations are enforced (click here for boating law regulations)
- Unit 6B-1: ONLY electric motors
Blinds: only portable and temporary blinds are allowed
- ADA: see above
- Digging: NOT allowed in the fields
- Pit blinds: located in Stearns and 9D are first-come, first-served
- Vegetation: ONLY dead, downed or detached vegetation may be used to construct temporary blinds
Decoys: may not be placed in posted retrieving zones
Drawing/Lottery: held only for the opening 2 days of season
Entry hours: one and one-half (1 1/2) hour before shoot time unless posted otherwise (also see “Vehicles” below)
Free-roam: no refuge-specific conditions
Hunt area: designated areas only, areas restricted to waterfowl, areas restricted to waterfowl and pheasant and pit blinds. (For a map of pheasant hunting areas, see, Par. C below)
- Stearns: see “Blinds” above
- Unit 6B-1: see “Boats” above
- Unit 9D: see “Blinds” above
Hunt days: DAILY
Juniors: youth under the age of 16
- Permits: permit required for opening 2 days of the season
- Supervision: controlled areas, Juniors must be accompanied by a permit-carrying adult, ≥18
Also see “Shooting hours” below
Opening Weekend: an advanced Reservation* and entry Permit is required on opening day of waterfowl season except–
- Juniors: 16 and under
- Free roam areas: see “Hunt Areas,” above
* Click here to download an application
Oregon-side: requires Oregon hunting license
Pass: annual recreation pass required for all hunting
Permit: see “Opening weekend” above
Reservation: see “Opening weekend” above
Shoot time: on the California side only,* shoot time ends at 1:00 p.m. except State-regulated shooting hours apply for–
- General hunts: after December 1st, there are up to three (3) afternoon hunts per week
- Special hunts: there are six (6) afternoon hunts for Juniors and disabled hunters
* State-regulated shooting hours apply on the Oregon side
Shotguns: to remain unloaded on hunter access routs accessible by vehicle or when taking them through posted retrieving zones
Units 4b and 4c: only non-motorized boats and boats with electric motors are allowed before December, afterwards which motorboats are allowed
- Decoys: vehicles may be driven into fields to set out or pick up decoys in all hunting areas. Warning shot!!! Driving off access routes is at your own risk!!!
- OHV’s: allowed ONLY inside drive-in field and are NOT allowed on roads or dikes
- Parking: park only in designated parking areas except for Orems (1-3) and the Oregon Straits
- Property damage: the Refuges is not responsible for property damage, including vehicles and equipment
C. Pheasant Hunting
Authorized species: pheasant
Hunt Area: ONLY within the free-roam area
Pass: an annual recreation pass is required for hunting anywhere on the Complex
Shooting hours: state-regulated shooting hours apply
II. Regulatory Text
Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge
A. Migratory Game Bird Hunting. We allow hunting of geese, ducks, coots, moorhens, and snipe on designated areas of the refuge subject to the following conditions:
1. In the controlled waterfowl hunting area, we require entry permits for the first 2 days of the waterfowl season for all hunters 16 years of age or older. An adult with a permit must accompany hunters under the age of 16 hunting in the controlled area. We require advance reservations for the first 2 days of the hunt.
2. Shooting hours end at 1:00 p.m. on all California portions of the refuge with the following exceptions:
a. The refuge manager may designate up to 6 afternoon special youth or disabled hunter waterfowl hunts per season; and
b. The refuge manager may designate up to 3 days per week of afternoon waterfowl hunting for the general public after December 1.
3. You may carry only unloaded firearms on hunter access routes open to motor vehicles or when taking them through posted retrieving zones when traveling to and from the hunting areas.
4. You may not set decoys in retrieving zones.
5. We do not allow air-thrust and inboard waterthrust boats.
6. You may possess only approved non-toxic shot while in the field.
7. You may use only nonmotorized boats and boats with electric motors on units 4b and 4c from the start of the hunting season through November 30. You may use motorized boats on units 4b and 4c from December 1 through the end of hunting season.
B. Upland Game Hunting. We allow hunting of pheasant on designated areas of the refuge subject to the following conditions:
1. You may possess only approved non-toxic shot while in the field.
2. You may carry only unloaded firearms on hunter access routes open to motor vehicles or when taking them through posted retrieving zones when traveling to and from the hunting areas.
C. Big Game Hunting. [Reserved]
D. Sport Fishing. [Reserved]
USFWS Refuge Profile
Hunting opportunities for waterfowl and pheasant are provided on Lower Klamath Refuge in accordance with State regulations. During the regular State season, approximately 40% of the refuge is open daily to waterfowl hunting. All hunting ends daily at 1:00 p.m. Buy a Federal Duck Stamp, available at refuge headquarters. Duck Stamp dollars are used to purchase wetland habitat for inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Required of all waterfowl hunters over age 16, it is also a valuable collector’s item. Contact refuge headquarters for maps and other information*
* NOTE: the page is being updated by the USFWS
Refuge Rules & Regulations
The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset. Roads throughout the refuge are graveled and visitors must maintain the posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour. Parking is allowed in designated parking areas only. No overnight parking is allowed on the refuge.
Hiking is allowed in designated areas only. Wildlife observation and photography are encouraged. Please stay out of closed areas to minimize disturbance to plants and animals. Bicycling is allowed only on designated public access routes. It is not allowed on trails or roads closed to public vehicles.
Firearms and other weapons are subject to state law. At all times, persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on the refuge must comply with all provisions of state law. Firearms may only be discharged in accordance with refuge hunting regulations, i.e., only during the lawful pursuit of game during legal seasons.
Other prohibitions on the refuge are dogs off-leash; off-road vehicles; and collecting of plants, animals, minerals, antlers and artifacts.
General Hunting Opportunities
Hunting Opportunities on Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Deer hunting is allowed only on one section of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge complex, Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge which is located in Southern Oregon. For more information on deer hunting on Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge please contact the refuge headquarters at Tule Lake by calling (530) 667-2231.
Waterfowl hunting is allowed on Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Clear Lake Refuge and Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuges.
Pheasant hunting is becoming more and more popular on the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge along with Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
Description of the Lower Klamath Hunt Area
Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is located 25 miles south of Klamath Falls, Oregon. The Refuge straddles the OR/CA state line. The majority of the Refuge is in California and offers a mix of marsh hunting for both boat and walk-in hunters and field hunting for geese and pheasant in both grain stubble and areas of standing grain. Approximately 5000 acres of harvested grain fields in the Oregon portion of the Refuge is known as the Oregon Straits Unit. It is open to both waterfowl and pheasant hunting with goose hunting the primary pursuit. Opening weekend hunts on the California portions of Lower Klamath Refuge are under a draw permit system.
Hunting is 7 days per week during the normal state season, however, shoot time ends at 1:00 pm on the California portion of the Refuge.
Hunters are required to be in possession of the proper state licenses and duck stamps when hunting in either CA or OR.
Note: A Recreation Pass is required for hunting on Lower Klamath Refuge. See the general hunt regulations for more information.
Ducks are the most commonly hunted species on Lower Klamath Refuge. To stimulate productivity, marsh units are rotated from year to year on Lower Klamath and depths vary greatly. Hunting success is usually excellent the first weekend of the season with good to excellent hunting after that. Although most of the units are open to motor boats, some motor-less and walk in areas are also available. Unit 4a and 6a are great for walk-in access. Decoy hunting is suggested. Some geese are also taken in the marsh units (Canada, white-front, snow, and cackler) but usually as an unexpected bonus. Primary species taken are: mallard, pintail, wigeon, gadwall, and shoveler.
The Oregon portion of Lower Klamath Refuge is primarily grain stubble hunting for geese with some ducks taken early in the season or late November/December when some of the fields are flooded. Hunting generally improves during windy weather providing some excellent late season hunting. Decoys are almost essential for a successful hunt in the Straits Unit stubble fields. Cackling Canada geese are taken sporadically and hunters should be aware of limits on this species.
Goose hunting in the field units of the California portion ranges from excellent to fair and varies greatly from year to year. Field units with standing grain are most popular producing some excellent Canada and white-front hunting early in the season and some excellent Canada hunting after Christmas. Interior field units can also produce some excellent but sporadic mallard hunting as a bonus. Decoys…the more the better!
Refuge Hunting Brochures
Waterfowl Hunting on Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Refuge recreation passes and duck stamps are sold at the visitor center office which is located at 4009 Hill Rd, Tulelake California. Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validations and other state licenses must be attained in advance and will not be available at the check stations or visitor center offices. Check station procedures, regulations, and bag limits are available on this site.
A yearly hunt fee is required to hunt Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Refuges. Hunters may pay in person at Refuge Headquarters or in advance with a credit card by phoning refuge headquarters (530)-667-2231. All fees collected are kept at the Klamath Basin Refuges and are used to improve the hunt program. Annual Recreation Pass: $25.00 NOTE: Pass must be carried at all times in the field
Golden Age and Golden Access Passport holders: ½ off Student Pass (full time): ½ off
15 years & under: FREE
Licenses & Permits
All hunters must carry valid state hunting licenses and all required state and federal stamps and refuge passes. During the first two days of waterfowl season, all hunters 16 years of age or older must carry a valid entry permit for the controlled unit in which they are hunting. Hunters under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a permitted adult. Permits are issued in advance of waterfowl season to applicants selected by a lottery draw.
Only geese, ducks (including mergansers), coots, moorhens, snipe, and pheasants may be hunted on the Refuges. All other wildlife species are protected!
The public is allowed on the refuges only during the times posted at refuge entrances. Camping and overnight parking are not permitted on the refuges. However, several campground/trailer parks are located nearby.
Hunting is permitted 7 days per week during the normal season. Legal waterfowl shooting hours end at 1:00 PM on the Tule Lake Refuge and the California portion of Lower Klamath Refuge. Waterfowl shooting hours for the Oregon portion of Lower Klamath correspond to state regulations. Pheasant hunting hours on all refuge areas correspond to state regulations. Beginning Dec. 15, waterfowl hunting will be permitted all day on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Boats may be used on all areas open to waterfowl hunting. Air-thrust and inboard water-thrust (jet) boats are prohibited. Unit 6B-1 on Lower Klamath Refuge is motorless, or electric motors only areas until December 1st. Starting December 1st, unit 6B-1 will be open to motorboat use. Boat launching is not permitted after 1:00 PM. State lighting requirements are enforced by refuge officers.
Retrieval zones are NO hunt zones. Possession of firearms in retrieving zones is prohibited, except unloaded firearms may be taken through the zones when necessary to reach hunting areas. Decoys may not be set in retrieving zones. Restrictions apply to both waterfowl and pheasant hunting.
It is illegal to shoot from or across any access route or parking area. Motor vehicles are allowed only on designated access routes. It is illegal for hunters to carry loaded firearms on hunter access routes open to motor vehicles. These roads may be closed during parts of the season.
Waterfowl hunters may drive off access routes only to set out or pick up decoys in field units of The League of Nations, the Panhandle, and all Spaced -blinds on Tule Lake Refuge, and Sheepy East, Sheepy West, Miller Lake, the Orem/Sterns Units, Unit 4G, Unit 9D and the Oregon Straits sections of Lower Klamath Refuge. Due to the variety in habitat and weather conditions, driving off access routes is at your own risk. The Refuge takes no responsibility for damage to vehicles or equipment.
Vehicle access is NOT permitted on dikes unless the dike is marked open to vehicle traffic.
All decoys, boats, and other personal property must be removed from waterfowl hunt areas by 2:30 PM and from the refuges at the close of each day. Hunters are responsible for removing all trash including shot shell hulls when leaving hunting areas.
All accidents and injuries occurring on the refuges must be immediately reported to the refuge manager: Klamath Basin NWR’s, 4009 Hill Road, Tulelake, CA 96134. Phone (530)-667-2231
Weapons and Ammunition
No person may possess any weapon or ammunition in the field that may not be legally used for taking waterfowl or pheasants on these refuges. Nontoxic (steel) shot must be used to hunt ALL huntable species including ducks, geese, coots, moorhens, snipe, and pheasant on the Klamath Basin Refuges.
Alcohol use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited.
Only portable blinds and temporary blinds built of natural vegetation are permitted. Digging or pit blind construction in fields is not permitted.
The refuge has a list of commercial hunting guides authorized by permit to conduct guided hunts on the Refuges. No other guides are allowed to conduct commercial business on the Refuges.
Mobility Impaired Hunters
The Refuge Complex typically offers a variety of hunting habitats to hunters with mobility impairments. Lower Klamath Refuge, offers two boat-in blinds. One in Unit 1 and one in Unit 5. These blinds are available by reservation only through the Refuge Visitor’s Center. Opening of these blinds is based on water availability each season. The drive in field units (Sheepy East, Sheepy West, Orems 1, 2 , 3; and 9D) are all accessible for field hunting.
On the Tule Lake NWR all field hunt areas including the Spaced-blinds are drive-in units, allowing accessibility for those hunters with mobility impairments.
The Refuges cover a variety of habitats which include rough, uneven terrain, deep waters, dense stands of bulrushes (tules), stubble fields, ditches, and others. Rainfall can make roads and fields muddy and slippery, making them more difficult to negotiate. Hunting difficulty varies by area and hunters should examine their own abilities and limitations before using the refuges. Disabled persons should hunt with a partner. Consult the refuge manager for suggestions for hunting the area safely.
Opening Weekend Draw
Thank you for your interest in the opening weekend waterfowl hunt drawing. In order to hunt Tule Lake and Lower Klamath (CA side) Refuges during the first two days of the hunt season, you must apply and be successfully drawn. Each year approximately 3000 hunters apply for the limited number of openings. This Drawing takes place in August of each year, please read the following instructions for more information prior to submitting an application.
Download opening weekend application and instructions here!
Applying for Opening Weekend:
PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS
Please use the attached application. Post cards or information written on other than this current application will not be accepted.
A non-refundable application fee of $3.00 for each hunter application must be enclosed. Please submit a single check or money order for all members of your group. Make check or money order payable to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Please DO NOT send cash.
Parties may consist of up to four (4) adult hunters. Juniors are welcome and encouraged to participate, however, are not required to complete an application.
All party member applications must be received together in one envelope or will be considered a separate party.
Incomplete and illegible applications will not be accepted.
Make sure all addresses and other information is correct.
Hunters may be named on one application only.
Hunters may NOT apply for the Klamath Basin Refuge Hunts if they have also applied for the first weekend hunt on the Modoc Refuge.
Please indicate one applicant as the party leader. This person may include a hunting license number in order to obtain draw results online. This person will also be the point of contact for the draw result packet.
Drawing results will be posted and mailed the second week of September. Please DO NOT call for results prior to this date.
Opening weekend permits, Annual Recreation Passes and Golden Age/Access Passports must be carried in the field. Please check expiration dates on Recreation Passes and renew if necessary. Recreation Passes are sold at the Refuge Visitor’s Center and at several businesses in the local area. At this time passes are not available on-line. To qualify for Golden Age or Golden Access discounts, hunters must provide evidence that they possess these cards. No refunds will be given to hunters who fail to obtain these documents prior to purchasing their Annual Recreation Pass.
Junior hunters (15 years of age and under) will not be charged a fee, but must be accompanied by a permit holder over 18 and must have a Junior Hunter License (license must be carried in the field).
Hunters drawn for the first weekend hunt must hunt the areas for which they were drawn.
Hunters who qualify and wish to hunt the disabled blinds on Lower Klamath must be drawn first. Once drawn, may then reserve one of these blinds. Blind availability is based on water conditions each season.
Please print out and read the application instructions carefully
Send applications to:
Klamath Basin NWRC
Opening Weekend Drawing
4009 Hill Road
Tulelake, CA 96134
Applications will be accepted from August 1st to August 15th ONLY
PLEASE ALLOW AT LEAST TWO WEEKS FOR APPLICATION PROCESSING
Permits and Passes
The annual recreation pass is needed if you are planning on hunting or reserving a photo blind on any part of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The pass is 25$ ($12.50 per person for those with a Senior Interagency Pass, an Interagency Access Pass or for full time students) and is good for one year from the date of purchase. If you wish to purchase your recreation pass over the phone please call (530) 667-2231.The annual recreation pass is needed if you are planning on hunting or reserving a photo blind on any part of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The pass is 25$ ($12.50 per person for those with a Senior Interagency Pass, an Interagency Access Pass or for full time students) and is good for one year from the date of purchase. If you wish to purchase your recreation pass over the phone please call (530) 667-2231.
A series of passes covers the entrance and standard amenity fees charged for using federal recreational lands – including national wildlife refuges.
Existing Golden Eagle Passports and National Parks Passes with an expiration date will be honored until they expire. Paper versions of the Golden Age or Golden Access Passports should be exchanged for the new Senior or Access passes. However, plastic Golden Age or Access passes are valid for the pass holder’s lifetime and do not need to be exchanged.
The Senior and Access passes are good for the lifetime of the holder and make available (to the pass holder only) 50 percent discounts on some expanded amenity fees.
For the first time, decals and hangtags are available: decals for those who park open-topped vehicles (like Jeeps) or motorcycles at unstaffed federal recreation sites, and hangtags for those who anticipate parking closed vehicles at unmanned facilities.
Please visit the National Wildlife Refuge System Web site for more information about passes.
Waterfowl Hunting for Juniors and Ladies
KBNWRC Youth Waterfowl Hunting
The Klamath Basin Refuges hunt program is pleased to offer special hunts for the education of our youth. These hunts are held on both the California and Oregon portions of the Complex. Youth hunts are open for youth 15 and under to hunt ducks and geese. Only licensed youth hunters will be allowed to carry firearms in the field. All areas normally open to waterfowl hunting on Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Refuges will be open for youth hunts with the following exception: Un-harvested fields with standing grain or other crops will not be open even if in areas normally open to hunting. The spaced-blind area of Tule Lake Refuge will be open as a free roam area during these hunts. Youth hunters and accompanying adults will not be charged hunting fees.
Pre-season Youth Hunt: This hunt is a two day event offered to youth two weeks prior to the opening of the regular waterfowl season (September 21 & 22). Entry time onto the Refuges is 5:00 a.m. and shoot times correspond to State regulations. The Cal-Ore Wetlands and Waterfowl Council will be hosting a free Bar B-Q for youth hunters and adult companions from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. All youth hunters will receive a gift and have the chance to win prizes in a complimentary raffle. The Bar B-Q and raffle will be held at the State Line RV Park located on Highway 161 between the two Refuges.
Season Youth Hunts: Three additional youth hunts take place on the second and third Saturday’s of the regular waterfowl season and the Saturday after Thanks Giving. These hunts begin at 1:00 p.m. to the end of State regulation shoot time.
For additional information contact the Refuge Headquarters (530) 667-2231 or visit the Refuge website at https://fws.gov/klamathbasinrefuges.
Ladies waterfowl hunt
The second Saturday of the waterfowl season (October 12th)
Lower Klamath and Tule Lake Refuges will be opening from 1:00 pm to the end of State regulated shoot time for ladies and youth to hunt waterfowl. If you are a woman or youth who would like to hunt but do not have equipement or experience please contact the hunt program coordinator and they will put you in contact with a guide or volunteer who would be more than happy to assist you. (Guides may charge a fee for services)