Sutter National Wildlife Refuge

On this page, you’ll find:USFWS

  1. General information about the Refuge
  2. Authorized activities (e.g. waterfowl hunting)
  3. Summary of general and Refuge-specific rules and regulations
  4. Maps of the hunting area, driving directions, parking lots, check stations, blinds, etc.
  5. Links to our summaries (e.g. definitions, regulations for Type A areas, waterfowl zones, seasons and limits for duck and goose hunting)
  6. Links to government webpages (CDFW, the Complex, USFWS, the Refuge)

General Info:

  • Administrator: Cal. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (“CDFW“)
  • Complex:  Sacramento NWR ComplexGoogle to Sutter
  • County: Sutter county
  • Directions: Google map and directions
  • Owner: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS“)
  • Phone Number:  530-671-9272 and 530-934-2801
  • Recreational Use: Type A
  • Refuge: Sutter NWR (map)
  • Waterfowl zone: Balance of State WF Zone (determines season and limits, which are summarized by CDFW)
  • Website: Sutter NWR

 I. Regulatory Summary

California rules and regulations for hunting ducks, geese, scaup, brant, Canada geese, dark geese, snow geese, white-fronted geese, specklebellies, white geese, and migratory game birds on national wildlife refuges, California wildlife areas, and California ecological reserves

Waterfowl hunting

A. General Regulations

Sutter is one of ten National Wildlife Refuges operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  There are both federal and State rules and regulations that apply generally to this Refuge, which are summarized in a separate page:

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B. Refuge-Specific Regulations

California rules and regulations for the use of boats while on national wildlife refuges, California state wildlife areas, and California ecological reserves while hunting for ducks and geese (scaup, brant, Canada geese, dark geese, snow geese, white-fronted geese, specklebellies, white geese); migratory game birds (doves, pigeon, snipe, waterfowl) resident small game birds (grouse, pheasant, ptarmigan, quail, turkey), resident small game (jackrabbit, rabbit, squirrel), big game (antelope, bear, deer, elk, pig, sheep), non-game (coyotes, crow, fox, raccoon) and fishing (bullfrogging, commercial fishing, crayfishing, crawfishing and sport fishing)

CA. Hunting Rules & Regulations

Beginning with Par. II below, you’ll find an alphabetical summary of legal topics that combine Refuge-specific rules and regulations from the following sources:

 Warning shot!!! There may be additional rules located at the Refuge (e.g. check station window, entry permit, information booth, signs, permits, reservations).

II. Authorized Activities

Duck hunting in California

Duck Hunting

Goose hunting in California

Goose Hunting

American Coot hunting in California

Coot Hunting

Moorhen hunting in California

Moorhen Hunting

California rules and regulations for hunting snipe on national wildlife refuge, California wildlife areas, and California ecological reserves

Snipe Hunting

Pheasant hunting in California

Pheasant hunting

 


III. Waterfowl and Snipe Hunting

Access: only by foot except mobility-impaired hunters to consult refuge manager (see “ADA access” below).

Accidents & injuries: report immediately to the check station or Complex headquarters

ADA access: there is a designated parking area and blind (6B)

Alcohol: open containers are NOT allowed

Bag limits: link to summaries for duck and geese limits for the “Balance of State” Waterfowl Zone

Bicycles: allowed during waterfowl season on roads or levees for transportation between parking lots and hunting areas [14 CCR § 551(j)].

Camping & overnight: ONLY allowed  in vehicles, motor homes, and trailers at the check station parking area–NO tents

Check Station: see our Google map and directions

      1. Sutter national wildlife refuge

        Check Station

        Check-in: Bring your hunting license, prepaid Type A Pass (1-day, 2 -day or season long), free HIP validation, signed federal duck stamp, and California duck stamp validation.  (Juniors are exempt from pass and stamp requirements) Warning shot!!!  Check stations do NO sell any of those items–they are available for purchase them from a CDFW license sales office, a license agent, or online

      2. Check-out: return “kill card” and permit prior to leaving the Refuge
      3. Hours: see below for Lottery, Permits, Reservations, and Waiting list
California rules and regulations for the use of decoys on national wildlife refuges, California wildlife areas, and California ecological reserves

Use of Decoys

Decoys: NO electronic or mechanically-operated spinning blade devices or wing decoys prior to December 1st

Dogs: to remain under control at all times, and  kept on a leash or within vehicle in check station parking areas (link to our summary of dog-specific regulations)

Enter/Exit: ONLY at designated locations

Fires: ONLY in portable gas stoves

Hunt area & capacity: Google map and directions

      1. Assigned Ponds: (a) there are six (6) assigned ponds with a maximum capacity of 36, excluding juniors. Hunting parties–ONLY (a) one party each in Ponds 4, 5, 15A, 15B and 15C; (b) one party in Pond 6D with at least one mobility-impaired hunter; and (c) three parties each in Ponds 15, 16 & 17.  Warning shots!!!  Hunt ONLY within the boundaries of your pond assignment–NO hunting from levees
      2. Free roam: maximum capacity of 28, including juniors. Use Parking Area A
      3. Waders: chest waders are highly recommended

Hunt days:  Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays

Hunt map: pictured right

Sutter national wildlife refuge

Hunt map

Hunt Results: generally posted online Tuesday and Friday mornings, or call (530)934-7774, ext. 43 after 1 p.m.

Juniors & Teens:

  1. Adults: may accompany no more than two juniors
  2. Junior hunting license: required for juniors under the age of 16 prior to July 1
  3. Non-shooters: adult non-shooters may establish his or her place in line
  4. Permits: are issued to juniors (a) with a junior hunting license and (b) accompanied by an adult, 18 years of age or older
  5. Supervision: while in the field, juniors must be accompanied by an adult, 18 years of age or older
  6. Teens: persons 16 or 17 years of age may hunt by themselves. Ref.551(h)(2) and CDFW webpage

Lottery: a random drawing is held for non-reservation hunters to establish the order of entry as space becomes available

      1. Check-station: register for the drawing between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday for Saturday and Sunday hunts and Tuesday for Wednesday hunts.
      2. Choices: you enter once for the Sutter NWR. In addition, you may enter the drawing for one of the following refuges: Sacramento, Delevan, or Colusa.  Warning shot!!! You will be disqualified for being listed on more than one lottery card for the same Refuge.
      3. Drawing: a random drawing is held at 8:00 p.m. at the check station on the evening before each hunt day (See “Check station” above)
      4. Location: enter the drawing at the check station
      5. Participation: Adults on the back of lottery cards and Juniors need not be present to receive a lottery number.  Warning shots!!! Hunters must be present and respond to checking station staff when their numbers are called or their names will be removed from the list.  Lottery numbers will be purged at 8:00 a.m.
      6. Party size: up to four (4) individuals per card, but not more than a combination of two juniors or non-shooters per adult
      7. Pheasant hunt: see “Pheasant hunting” below
      8. Procedures: posted at the check station and Complex website with links to “Process for Hunter Admission using Reservations/Lottery/First-Come First-Served” and “Process for Entering Lottery and Admission by Lottery, ” e.g. below
      9. Waiting list: hunters that miss the lottery will be assigned numbers in consecutive order to fill any vacancies on a first-come, first-served basis (see “Waiting list” below)

Medical marijuana cards: NOT valid on NWR’s

Migratory game birds: link to our summary of federal regulations for migratory game birds.

Permits: all hunters must get a permit from the check station before entering

      1. Deadline: NO permits will be issued after 3:00 p.m.
      2. Priority: permits are issued first to reservation holders, then lottery cardholders, followed by hunters on the waiting list (see “Lottery,” “Reservations” and “Waiting list”)
      3. Return: “kill card” and permit prior to leaving the Refuge

Reservations:

      1. Applications: available from CDFW and must be submitted at least 17 days before the desired hunt date
      2. Check station: begins calling reservations in numerical order at least two (2) hours before shoot time (see “Check station” above)
      3. Expiration: expire one (1) hour before waterfowl shooting time
      4. Parties: each reservation ensures entry of up to 6 people, consisting of no more than 3 adult hunters, each of whom may bring up to 2 junior or non-hunters, or one of each
      5. Procedures: posted at the check station and Complex website with links to “Process for Hunter Admission using Reservations/Lottery/First-Come First-Served
      6. Purge: check station staff will purge all names remaining on the lottery list at 8:00 a.m. and purge all those that do not respond (CDFW news letter, Aug. ed.)

Season: link to seasons and limits ducks and geese in the Balance of State Waterfowl Zone

Shells: 25 max while in the field

Shoot time: 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset.  Warning shot!!!  Daily shoot times are posted at the check station and in the “Colusa” column of CDFW’s table for Northern California

Shooting: NO shooting from or across access roads, parking areas, or into or from safety zones

Shotgun restrictions

Use of shotguns

Shot: 

      1. Size: No shot larger than BB except size T steel
      2. Type: ONLY steel or other non-toxic shot approved by the USFWS

Shotguns: only shotguns–no pistols or rifles

      1. Loading: To remain unloaded in parking areas
      2. Size: No larger than 12 gauge

Vehicles:

      1. No stopping between parking areas
      2. No parking except in designated parking lots
      3. No dropping off passengers
      4. No dropping off equipment

Waiting list: for the “sweat line” is available after reservations and lottery cards are processed and is used to fill any vacancies on a first-come, first-served basis

      1. Registration: sign-in at the check station for a number that will be called in consecutive order after reservations and lottery cards up to 3:00 p.m.
      2. Participation: Juniors need NOT be present for a first-come, first-served number.  Hunters must be present and respond to checking station staff when their number is called.
      1. Procedures: posted at the check station and Complex website with links to “Process for Hunter Admission using Reservations/Lottery/First-Come First-Served

IV. Pheasant Hunting

Pheasant hunting in California

Pheasant hunting

Access: ONLY by foot

Bicycles: NOT allowed

Camping and overnight: ONLY allowed  in vehicles, motor homes, and trailers at the check station parking area–NO tents

Dogs: to remain on leash within designated parking areas

Enter/Exit: ONLY in designated areas

Fires: ONLY in portable gas stoves

Hunt area: ONLY within free roam

Hunt days: Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during waterfowl season

Shells: 25 max while in the field

Shoot hours: 8:00 a.m. to sunset

Shot: ONLY steel or other non-toxic shot approved by the USFWS

Vehicles:

      1. No stopping between parking areas
      2. No parking except in designated parking lots
      3. No dropping off passengers
      1. No dropping off equipment

V. Rules and Regulations

Sutter National Wildlife Refuge

A. Migratory Game Bird Hunting. We allow hunting of goose, duck, coot, moorhen, and snipe on designated areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations subject to the following conditions:

1. You may possess only approved nontoxic shot while in the field.

2. You may possess no more than 25 shells while in the field.

3. Access to the hunt area is by foot traffic only. We do not allow bicycles and other conveyances. Mobility-impaired hunters should consult with the Refuge Manager for allowed conveyances.

4. No person may build or maintain fires, except in portable gas stoves.

5. You may enter or exit only at designated locations.

6. Vehicles may stop only at designated parking areas. We prohibit the dropping of passengers or equipment or stopping between designated parking areas.

7. We only allow overnight stays in vehicles, motor homes, and trailers at the check station parking area.

8. You must restrain dogs on a leash within all designated parking areas (see §26.21(b) of this chapter).

B. Upland Game Hunting. We only allow hunting of pheasant in the free-roam areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations subject to the following conditions:

1. You may possess only approved nontoxic shot while in the field.

2. Access is by foot traffic only. We do not allow bicycles and other conveyances. Mobility-impaired hunters should consult with the Refuge Manager for allowed conveyances.

3. You may possess no more than 25 shells while in the field.

4. No person may build or maintain fires, except in portable gas stoves.

5. You may enter or exit only at designated locations.

6. Vehicles may stop only at designated parking areas. We prohibit the dropping of passengers or equipment or stopping between designated parking areas.

7. Conditions A7 and A8 apply.

C. Big Game Hunting. [Reserved]

D. Sport Fishing. [Reserved]

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  • 14 CCR § 552(a)(8)

(a) The power to control entry on the federally owned areas listed in subsection 551(a)(2) is at the discretion of the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The following lands owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are open to hunting by the public under control of the California Department of Fish and Game.

***

(8) Sutter National Wildlife Refuge.

(A) Area Firearms Restrictions: Shotguns and steel or other nontoxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service only. A hunter shall not possess more than 25 shot shells while in the field.

(B) Hunt Days: Waterfowl, coots, moorhens, and snipe: Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays during open seasons. Pheasant: Waterfowl hunt days during the pheasant season.

(C) Authorized Species: Waterfowl, coot, moorhens, snipe, and pheasants.

(D) Camping and tents not allowed. No person may build or maintain fires, except in portable gas stoves.

(E) Bicycles: Not allowed.

(F) Hunters may enter or exit only at designated locations. Stopping vehicles between designated parking areas to drop off passengers or hunting equipment is prohibited.

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  • California rules and regulations for the use of boats while on national wildlife refuges, California state wildlife areas, and California ecological reserves while hunting for ducks and geese (scaup, brant, Canada geese, dark geese, snow geese, white-fronted geese, specklebellies, white geese); migratory game birds (doves, pigeon, snipe, waterfowl) resident small game birds (grouse, pheasant, ptarmigan, quail, turkey), resident small game (jackrabbit, rabbit, squirrel), big game (antelope, bear, deer, elk, pig, sheep), non-game (coyotes, crow, fox, raccoon) and fishing (bullfrogging, commercial fishing, crayfishing, crawfishing and sport fishing)

    CA. Hunting Rules & Regulations

    CDFW’s Hunting Regulations Booklet

2013-2014 Waterfowl and Upland Game Hunting & Department Lands Public Use Regulations

***

§552. REGULATIONS FOR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES WHERE HUNTING PROGRAMS ARE ADMINISTERED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME.

Note: In addition to the following State regulations, Federal regulations prohibit littering and the possession of alcohol while hunting on national wildlife refuges. The consumption or possession of an open container of alcohol, within public areas of the refuges, is prohibited. Medical marijuana cards are not valid on National Wildlife Refuges.

(a) The power to control entry on the federally owned areas listed in subsection 551(a)(2) is at the discretion of the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The following lands owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are open to hunting by the public under control of the California Department of Fish and Game.

***

(8) Sutter National Wildlife Refuge.

Type A Area

Location and Access: Area is twelve miles southwest of Yuba City. From Yuba City travel south on Highway 99 for 6 miles to Oswald Road, turn west, proceed for 5-1/2 miles to Schlag Road, turn south and proceed 1/2 mile, then turn left to the checking station. Caution: Chest waders are highly recommended.

Reservations: Available during the waterfowl and pheasant season.

Checking Station: During waterfowl season the checking station will open at least two hours before shooting time and begin issuing permits, in numerical order, to reservation holders. Reservations must be presented at the checking station, for processing, by one hour before waterfowl shooting time. Lottery Drawing: Non-reservation hunters may enter a drawing at the checking station between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on the evening before each hunt day. The drawing results will establish the order of entry permit sales, which fill existing vacancies in the hunter quota. The draw will be held at 8:00 p.m. Note: Non-reservation hunters may only enter the drawing for one of the following areas: Sacramento, Delevan, or Colusa Refuges, on any hunt date. Additionally, non-reservation hunters may also enter the Sutter Refuge draw. Each non-reservation hunter may not be listed on more than one lottery card, for the same refuge, on any single hunt day. Non-reservation hunters arriving after the 8:00 p.m. draw will be assigned numbers in consecutive order. Hunters must be present and respond to checking station staff when their number is called. Parking area gates and checking station will open at 6:00 p.m. the day before each hunt day. Lottery procedures are posted at the checking station and will be followed. Adults on the back of lottery cards and Juniors need not be present to receive a lottery number. Juniors need not be present for a first-come, first-served number.

Daily Hunter Capacity: 6 assigned ponds (Pond) with a maximum capacity of 36, not including juniors; and, a free roam area with a maximum capacity of 28, including juniors. Reservation Party Size: a party consists of up to 6 people; a party may consist of no more than 3 adult hunters; adult hunters may bring up to 2 junior or non-hunters, or one of each, so long as they do not exceed the party size of six and the adult to junior ratios (no more than 2 junior hunters per adult hunter) as defined in Section 551(h)(2). Lottery Party Size: up to four individuals per card and cannot exceed the adult to junior or non-shooter ratio as defined in section 552(h)(2). Quota: Two ponds (number 4 and 5): one party in each pond; three ponds (numbered 15, 16, and 17): up to three parties in each pond; and, Pond 6D: one party which must consist of at least one mobility impaired hunter. No entry permits will be issued after 3:00 p.m. For information call (530) 934-2801 or visit the Refuge website at http://www.fws.gov/ sacramentovalleyrefuges.

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Hunting Procedures, Regulations & Bag Limits

The open season for each of the species listed below is concurrent with the seasons established by the State of California. Hunting geese, ducks, coots, moorhens, snipe, and pheasant is permitted. Hunting is permitted in accordance with all applicable State and Federal regulations and is subject to special regulations. Hunters should consult the CDFW hunting regulations. Hunting is permitted on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays only.

Procedures

Before You Arrive…

Check Stations DO NOT sell any license items, validations or passes. Hunters must purchase any needed licenses, validations and passes prior to arrival at the Check Station; these can be obtained from a CDFW license sales office, a license agent, or online. Before your arrival, please verify that all members of your hunting party have the following items:

  1. California Hunting License
  2. Prepaid Type A Pass (not required for junior hunters) – Type A One-day, Two-day or Season Pass
  3. Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation (if hunting ducks, geese, coots or snipe)
  4. California Duck Stamp (not required for junior hunters; not required if only hunting pheasants)
  5. Federal Duck Stamp (required for all hunters age 16 or older; not required if only hunting pheasants)
  6. Upland Game Bird Stamp (required if hunting pheasants; not required for junior hunters)

Hunt Area Admission Process for Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa & Sutter…

There are 3 methods of admission to the hunt areas:

  1. Reservation. The daily quota of hunters is filled first by those holding advance reservations. You must apply for a reservation at least 17 days in advance of desired hunt day. You may apply for a reservation through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife or wherever hunting licenses are sold
  2. Lottery. You may enter a lottery drawing at the check station between 6:00-8:00pm the night before you want to hunt. Results will be posted at the check station after 8:00pm
  3. First-Come First-Served. You may wait in the “sweat-line” and will be allowed admission that morning after all reservations and lottery holders are admitted

***

Filling Vacancies – Vacancies occurring from no-show reservation hunters and from hunters leaving the area are filled in accordance with current CDFW procedures. If you do not get drawn for a reservation, you may enter a lottery the evening before the hunt. Non-reservation hunters may only enter the drawing for one of the following: Sacramento, Delevan, or Colusa Refuges, on any hunt date. ***Additionally, non-reservation hunters may also enter the Sutter Refuge draw. After all reservation and lottery number holders have been processed, hunters may enter on a first-come, first-served system.

Check Stations – The check stations at Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa and Sutter will open at 6:00pm Tuesdays and Fridays during waterfowl season.

Regulations

  1. Licenses – All hunters must posses a valid California State hunting license, and a HIP Validation. Hunters 16 years of age or older must also possess a California Duck Stamp, a signed Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp), and an Upland Game Bird Stamp (if hunting pheasants).  See “Before You Arrive” above.
  2. Pass required – All hunters must purchase a Type A Pass (one-day, two-day, or season) prior to their arrival at the Check Station. A daily fee is required of all persons 16 years of age or older. Junior hunters must be accompanied by an adult permittee.
  3. Check Station – All hunters must obtain a permit at the check station before entering the hunting area.
  4. Ammunition – Approved nontoxic shot is required on all refuges. No shot shell larger than 12 gauge and no shot size larger than T is permitted. A 25 shell limit applies.
  5. Dogs – In the check station parking area, dogs must be kept in autos or on a leash.
  6. Parking – Vehicle parking is allowed only in designated parking areas.
  7. Littering and Fires – Please take your refuse with you when you leave; littering is unlawful and can be fined. Open fires are prohibited.
  8. Alcoholic Beverages -The consumption or possession of an open container of alcohol, within public areas of the refuge, is prohibited. This does not apply to vehicles or trailers.
  9. Checkout – All hunters are required to check out at the check station, report hunting results, and return their permits before leaving the area.
  10. Bicycles – Access to the hunt area is by foot only. Bicycles and other conveyances are not permitted.
  11. Injuries and Accidents – Incidents involving injury or accident occurring on the refuge must be reported immediately to the check station or Complex headquarters at (530) 934-2801.

Sacramento and Delevan Spaced Hunting Area Special Regulations

Hunters are restricted to within 100 feet of their assigned blind or hunt site except for retrieving downed or crippled birds. Firearms must be unloaded while being transported between parking areas and spaced hunting areas.

Upland Game Special Regulations

Pheasant hunting is permitted during the pheasant season on waterfowl shoot days only. Shooting hours for pheasants are 8:00 a.m. to sunset. Approved nontoxic shot is required for hunting pheasants. Except for a special one-day hunt, the first Monday of pheasant season, pheasant hunting is not permitted in the spaced hunting area on Sacramento and Delevan NWRs.


  • Refuge Hunt Map

Sutter NWR

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