- 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
- Counties: Siskiyou County and Modoc County
- Directions: see our Google map
- Location: Tulelake, CA 96134
- Phone Number: (530) 667-2231
- Refuge map: USFWS map
- Website: Tule Lake NWR
I. Regulatory Summary
A. General Regulations
Tule Lake 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:
Warning shot!!! There are general rules for the Complex and may be additional rules located at the Refuge (e.g. entry permit, information booth, signs, permits, reservations).
II. Summary of Refuge Hunting Regulations
A. Migratory Game Birds
Authorized species: ducks, geese, coot, moorhen, and snipe
- Afternoon hunts: there are up to six hunts authorized by the Refuge Manager
- Blinds: accessible to hunters with disabilities
- Fields: all fields are accessible to hunters with disabilities, including free roam and Lottery drawn field (see “Vehicles” below)
Waning shot!!! Disabled hunters are advised to hunt with a partner and contact the Refuge Manager for additional suggestions.
Blinds: only portable or temporary blinds
- ADA: see above
- Decoys: at least one dozen goose decoys are required
- Fields: no digging or pit blinds in the fields
- Lottery: registration required at the check station (see “Lottery” below)
- Vegetation: ONLY dead, downed or detached natural vegetation by be used for blinds
- Weapons: to remain unloaded except within 200 feet of established blind stakes, i.e. no shooting outside the blind site
Boats: allowed on all marsh areas open to waterfowl hunting (see “Hunt Area” below for map)
- Launching: is NOT allowed after 1:oo p.m.
- Propulsion: no air-thrust or inboard water-thrust (jet) boats
- Regulations: all State boating requirements are enforced, e.g. lighting (click here for boating law regulations).
Check-station: registration requirements–
- Blinds: check-in each morning
- Free roam: not required for free-roam, e.g. The League of Nations, Sump 1A, and a small portion of the southwest corner of the Refuge, see “Hunt map” below
Retrieving zones: not allowed (identified on the map with florescent green, see “Hunt map” below
- Spaced-blinds: at least a dozen goose decoys are required to hunt
Entry time: one and one-half (1 1/2) hour before shoot time, which is posted at the Refuge
Free roam: unrestricted—NO check-in or registration required for The League of Nations
Hunt map: pictured left
Hunt days: daily until Dec. 15, after which waterfowl hunting is only allowed on Wednesdays and Saturdays
- Controlled areas: Juniors (under 16) must be accompanied by a permit-carrying adult (18 and over)
- Afternoon shoots: Refuge Manager may designate up to six (6) afternoon shoots
Lottery: permits are selected by drawing at the beginning of each day for the (a) Spaced-blind areas,* (b) Sump 1B and (c) Frey’s Island
- Drawing: begins one-half (1/2) hour after the posted entry time and NO permits will be issued after 6:30 a.m.
- Location: held at the check station located on County Road 103 (link to our map for directions)
Warning shot!!! Additional Spaced-blind information is available at the check station
Opening weekend: a special draw permit is required for opening weekend of waterfowl season. Applications are available online.
Pass: an annual recreation pass is required for hunting anywhere on the Complex
Permits/Passes: (a) for the first 2 days, permit required—except for Juniors; (b) apply in advance through the lottery; and (c) see “Pass” above
Reservation: advance reservation required only for first 2 days of season
Shooting: prohibited (a) outside 200 feet of assigned blind stake, (b) from access routs or (c) parking areas
Shoot hours: ends at 1 p.m. (CA side) except there are (a) up to six afternoon hunts for Juniors and/or disabled hunters and (b) up to three afternoon hunts for general public after November, both of which correspond with State shooting hours.
Shotguns: to remain unloaded (a) more than 200 feet from established blind stakes, (b) while on vehicle access roads, and (c) in posted retrieving zones while traveling to hunt areas
- Access routes: allowed ONLY on hunter access routes except waterfowl hunters may drive into field to set out or pick up decoys in all Hunt Areas (see above). Warning shots!!! Routes may be closed during parts of the season
- Four-wheel drive: recommended
- Liability: off-roading is at your own risk
- Line-ups: vehicles may NOT line up at any hunt entrance prior to midnight
- ATV’s and OHV’s: allowed inside drivable units, but NOT allowed on roads or dikes
- Parking areas: park only in designated parking areas except at The League of Nations
- Property damage: the Refuge disclaims responsibility for damage to vehicles or equipment
B. Upland Game Hunting
Authorized species: pheasant
Hunt area: only within free-roam (see map)
Shooting hours: corresponds with State regulations
Shotguns: to remain unloaded (a) on vehicle access roads and (b) when passing through posted retrieving zones
II. Regulatory Text
Tule Lake 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. We require entry permits in the controlled waterfowl hunting area 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 reservation 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 six 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. We do not allow possession of any loaded firearms more than 200 feet (60 m) from the established blind stakes. You select blind sites by lottery at the beginning of each hunt day. You may shoot only from within your assigned blind site.
4. 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.
5. We do not allow you to set decoys in retrieving zones.
6. We do not allow air-thrust and inboard waterthrust boats.
7. You may possess only approved non-toxic shot while in the field.
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 Tule Lake Refuge in accordance with State regulations. During the regular State season, approximately 40% of the refuge is open daily to waterfowl hunting, although all hunting ends at 1:00 p.m. Several special youth hunts are scheduled each season. 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 hunting maps and other related information.*
* USFWS is in the process of updating the page
Hunt Area Descriptions
Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in northern Siskiyou and Modoc counties, California, 25 miles south of Klamath Falls, Oregon. Waterfowl and pheasant Hunting occurs 7 days per week during the normal California seasons, but shooting ends every afternoon at 1 pm. Tule Lake hunts consist of two large marsh units accessible by boats, a spaced-blind hunt in dry fields, and open free-roam areas offering field hunts over harvested grain and smaller marsh units. Opening weekend hunts are under a draw-permit system.
NOTE: A Recreation Pass is required for all hunting on the refuge. See general regulations for more information.
All hunters are required to have in their possession all necessary state licenses and duck stamps and permits.
Ducks are the most commonly hunted species on Tule Lake Refuge. Most duck hunting takes place on the large Tule Lake Marsh and is accessible only by boat. Water is very shallow in the marsh. Goose hunting for Canada, White-fronted, Snow/Ross’, and Cackling Canada ranges from good to fair on Tule Lake Refuge. White-front hunting can be good in the early season as well as a good number of Ross’s/Snows in the late season. As with all areas, Tule Lake goose numbers can vary greatly from year to year.
The Tule Lake fields hunting area is divided into two sections: restricted space blind fields, and an unrestricted free-roam area known as the “League of Nations”. There are 60 to 65 space blinds available that are issued by random drawing each morning 2 hours before shoot time. You must check in and register to hunt these fields. As each group is called randomly, they then choose their “blind”…a numbered post in the field. One dozen goose decoys are required to hunt these fields. No digging of pit blinds in these stubble fields.
League of Nations
This area of the refuge does not require check in, and you may drive into these fields to set up.
Note: depending upon the growing season, some of these fields may be not be harvested and unavailable early in the hunt season.
See our current refuge maps for more information
General Hunting Opportunities
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.
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.
Opening Weekend Draw
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
Waterfowl Hunting for Juniors and Ladies
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.
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)