On this page, you’ll find information about California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons.
- Bag and possession limits
- Hunting hours
- Upland Game Bird Stamp
- Hunting license
- Hunting areas
- Hunting methods
- Possession and transport
- Hunting forum and blog
During the California ptarmigan hunting seasons, the white-tailed ptarmigan is the only species that you can hunt.
When hunting ptarmigan, you have to follow hunting rules for not only ptarmigan but also for the following categories:
To hunt white-tailed ptarmigan during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons, you must have a Hunting License from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (“CDFW”), formerly known as “DFG.” See FGC § 3031 and 14 CCR § 700(b). There are also licenses for disabled hunters, hunting with a falcon, guides and outfitters, hunting clubs, and junior hunters.
If you’re a disabled hunter and want to hunt white-tailed ptarmigan, you can apply for a Recovering Service Member Hunting License, Disabled Veteran Hunting License, or Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle License.
If you’re going to use a falcon to hunt white-tailed ptarmigan during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons, you have to have a Falconry License.
Guides and Outfitters
If you’re a commercial guide or outfitter that offers white-tailed ptarmigan hunting, you have to get a Guide License.
If you’re a Junior and want to hunt white-tailed ptarmigan, you have to get a Junior Hunting License.
Upland Game Bird Stamp Validation
In general, you need an Upland Game Bird Hunting Validation to hunt upland game birds, including white-tailed ptarmigan during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons. The only exception is for Juniors hunting with a valid Junior Hunting License.
Warning shot!!! You have to carry your license and validation with you while hunting. See 14 CCR § 313.
There are several California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons, which depend on where and how you’re hunting them. When a season is open, you can only hunt in the white-tailed ptarmigan hunting zones established by the CDFW: Alpine County and in Mono County lying N and W of the intersection of Hwy 203 and the Madera County line; E on Hwy 203 to Hwy 395; and N on Hwy 395 to the Nevada state line.* See 14 CCR § 300(a)(1)(F), (a)(2)(F), and (a)(3)(E).
* Proposed Regulation: for the 2016-2017 season, there’s a proposal to delete the hunting zone restriction and make it open statewide.
The general California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting season includes shotguns, muzzleloaders, air rifles, and crossbows. The season is from the second Saturday in September, extending for nine consecutive days (9/12 – 9/20, 2015.
The California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting season for archery is the same as the general season.
The California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting season for falconry is from the third Saturday in August, extending through the last day in February (8/15 – 2/29, 2016).
In general, shooting hours for all upland game birds, including ptarmigan during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons, are from one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise until sunset. Warning shot!!! Shoot times may be further restricted on public land, e.g. Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves, and there are exceptions are for pheasant and spring turkey seasons. See 14 CCR § 310.5.
Hawking hours during the falconry season for ptarmigan are from sunrise to sunset. See 14 CCR § 300(a)(3)(E).
CDFW Timetables (2015-2016)
Bag & Possession Limits
The daily bag limit for white-tailed ptarmigan, during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting season, is two (2) white-tailed ptarmigan of either sex.
Possession & Season Limit
The possession limit and season limit is two (2) white-tailed ptarmigan.
White-tailed ptarmigan hunting during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons is allowed, but only with the following hunting methods and restrictions: air rifles, archery, bait, boats, bow and arrow, calls, computers, crossbows, decoys, dogs, falconry, harassment, lights, motor vehicles, muzzleloaders, pistols, rifles, and shotguns.
In general, you can use an air rifle to hunt resident small game, including ptarmigan during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons. While you can use any caliber of pellet (except for turkey), the air rifle can only be powered by air or gas. See 14 CCR § 311(f).
Bait and Baited Areas
Boats, Kayaks, and Canoes
There used to be a prohibition against shooting resident small game from boats, but the regulation was repealed. While you can shoot ptarmigan from a boat, it’s illegal to use a motorboat, powerboat, airboat or sailboat to pursue, drive, or herd any bird or mammal in California. When hunting, the the motor has been shut off, all momentum has ended, and the boat is either drifting, beached, moored, resting at anchor, or is being propelled by a paddle, or or pole.
Warning shots!!! There may be area-specific restrictions when hunting on public land, like Wildlife Areas. There are exceptions related to agriculture, landowners, tenants, and depredating animals. See our summary of rules for hunting on navigable waters, FGC § 3002, 14 CCR § 251, and 14 CCR § 311.8 [repealed].
Bow and Arrow
In general, Bow and Arrows are allowed for hunting white-tailed ptarmigan in California. Any type of arrow can be used except arrows with (1) lighted nocks with a beam of light, (2) an explosive head, (3) tranquilizers, or (4) poison. See 14 CCR § 311(e) and (k) and 14 CCR § 354(c)-(i) and “Crossbows” below.
Your bow has to be capable of killing the bird from at least 130 yards.
In general, you’re not allowed to have a firearm while hunting white-tailed ptarmigan during any archery season.
Don’t put a bow in your vehicle if it’s nocked or the end of an arrow is fit to the notch.
NOTES: You only have to use flu-flu fletching for migratory game birds and pheasant. In general, archery isn’t allowed on Type A or Type B Wildlife Areas during pheasant (or waterfowl) seasons. The only exception is at the Los Banos Wildlife Area and only as authorized in Section 551(u). See 14 CCR § 550(cc)(4)(F)].
Calling “devices” are NOT allowed for hunting white-tailed ptarmigan (or any other resident small game). This includes: “Electronic or mechanically-operated calling or sound-reproducing devices.” See 14 CCR § 311(i).
Computer-Assisted Remote Hunting
In general, you can hunt resident small game, including ptarmigan, with a Crossbow (which is a type of “firearm”). Any type of crossbow bolt can be used except crossbow bolts with (1) lighted nocks with a beam of light, (2) an explosive head, (3) tranquilizers, or (4) poison.
Your crossbow has to be capable of casting a legal arrow at least 130 yards.
In general, you’re not allowed to have a firearm during archery season or with an archery-only tag (the only exception is with a Disabled Archer’s Permit).
Don’t put a crossbow in your vehicle if it’s nocked or the end of an arrow is fit to the notch.
Live decoys are NOT allowed for hunting white-tailed ptarmigan or any other resident game bird. See 14 CCR § 311(l).
In general, you can use dogs to Take and retrieve ptarmigan during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons. Click here for California hunting dog laws, including rules for specific hunting locations.
In general, you can use a falcon to hunt white-tailed ptarmigan. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 311(d).
In general, Animal Harassment is illegal and includes any disruption of the animal’s normal behavior patters (e.g. breeding, feeding, sheltering). There is an exception for landowners and tenants trying to prevent property damage. See 14 CCR § 251.1.
In general, it’s illegal to use artificial lights to hunt game birds, mammals, and fish.
While in possession of a firearm or weapon, it’s also illegal to use spotlights, headlights, or other lights (1) on a highway, (2) in a field, woodland, or forest where they are commonly found, or (3) on the animal or fish itself–even if you don’t shoot at it.
It’s also illegal to use or possess night vision equipment to help you take any mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, or fish (e.g. infrared and binoculars).
There are exceptions for sport fishing, commercial fishing, animals causing property damage, three-volt flashlights, lamps, lanterns, and farmers).
See 14 CCR § 2005.
In general, it’s illegal to pursue, drive, or herd any bird or mammal with a motorized vehicle (e.g. airplane, motor vehicle, powerboat, sailboat, snowmobile). This includes driving them toward another person for the purpose of taking them. Likewise, it’s illegal to shoot any game bird or mammals from from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, or airplane. The only possible exceptions are with a permit from the CDFW and landowners / tenants to prevent private property damages. See FGC § 3002, FGC § 3003.5, and FGC § 3501; and 14 CCR § 251. Also see “Boats, Kayaks & Canoes” above.
In general, you can use to muzzle-loading shotguns to hunt white-tailed ptarmigan during the general California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting season. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 311(c).
Rifles and Pistols
Rifles and pistols are NOT allowed for hunting white-tailed ptarmigan. (For resident small game, they’re only allowed for hunting squirrels and rabbits everywhere except in Los Angeles County.) See 14 CCR § 311(g).
In general, you can use a shotgun to hunt white-tailed ptarmigan, during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting season. However, there are restrictions for the shell capacity and type of gauge, plug, and shells. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 311(a) and (b).
In general, no shotgun larger than a 10-gauge may be used to hunt ptarmigan in California. However, no shotgun larger than a 12-guage may be used on, over, or adjacent to the waters of Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County. Warning shot!!! There are similar restrictions at California Wildlife Areas. See 14 CCR § 311(a).
If a plug is used to reduce the shell capacity, the plug has to one piece that can’t be removed without taking the gun apart.
Shotguns must be incapable of holding more than three (3) shells in the magazine and chamber combined.
Whether you can use lead shot depends on your location, what you’re hunting for, and the date. As of July 1, 2015, it has been illegal to use or possess anything other than non-toxic shot at any California Wildlife Area, Ecological Reserve, and the Condor Range.
Beginning July 1, 2016, you’ll only be able to use non-toxic shot for hunting any upland game bird (except for dove, quail, snipe, and any game bird taken at a licensed game bird club), resident small game mammal, furbearing mammal, nongame bird or mammals, or any wildlife with a depredation permit).
As of July 1, 2019, it will be illegal to use lead for taking all wildlife in California. See 14 CCR § 205.1.
You can only use shell shot that is “No. BB” or smaller. Warning shot!!! Don’t even take larger shells with you.
Possession & Transport
After you kill any bird in California, including ptarmigan, it has to be identifiable by the CDFW until it reaches your Personal Abode or Commercial Preservation Facility, or is being prepared to eat it right away. To be “identifiable,” the general rule is that you either have to keep a fully feathered wing or head attached. One exception is that for doves, you have to keep a fully feathered wing attached. See 14 CCR § 251.7(b).
During the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons, there are a lot of great hunting opportunities on public and private land, including: BLM property, ecological reserves, hunting clubs, national forests, national parks, wilderness areas, and wildlife areas. Warning shot!!! Follow the links below for any restrictions on hunting days, shoot times, hunting areas, etc.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Property
White-tailed ptarmigan hunting is authorized at the following BLM properties during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons (also see “Wilderness Areas” below):
White-tailed ptarmigan hunting is authorized in the following national forests during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons:
In general, white-tailed ptarmigan hunting is allowed on all Type C Wildlife Areas during the California white-tailed ptarmigan hunting seasons. The CDFW emphasizes white-tailed ptarmigan hunting on the following areas:
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