How to Get a Hunting License in California

How to Get a Hunting License in California

California, with its varied climate and topography, offers some of the best hunting on the West Coast. From doves and jackrabbits to deer and elk, there’s something to hunt all year round. But before packing up the tree stand and hunting bags, most hunters will need to follow the steps below to purchase a hunting license.

Take a Hunter Education Course

In order to apply for a hunting license, California gun laws state that applicants must obtain a California Hunter Education Certificate after completing a required Hunter Education course. This applies to every new applicant, with three exceptions:

  • Those who previously held a California hunting license 
  • Those who possess the certificate of completion
  • Those who have a current and valid hunting license in another state or one issued within the past two years

Everyone else, including children, seniors, and law enforcement, is required to complete the course, which teaches firearm basics, shooting and hunting skills, hunting safety, ethics, and more. 

How the Course Works

Courses can be taken in-person or as a hybrid of online and in-person instruction. Hunters who opt for the online work-at-your-own-pace instruction will also need to complete an additional four-hour course with a certified instructor to demonstrate safe firearm handling and take a test. Otherwise, the in-person course will be about 10 hours of instruction. As an alternative, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) offers an equivalency testing program, but anyone who fails will be required to take the course before being issued a license.

Apply for a Hunting License

After meeting the safety requirements, hunters can apply for the license. There are several different types to choose from, including Resident and Non-Resident licenses. (Active-duty military personnel and anyone living in California for six months or longer are considered residents.) Youth under age 18 who hunt birds or mammals can apply for the Junior Hunting License. Additional licenses are available for disabled veterans and recovering service members, and depending on the license type, they can be purchased for varying lengths of time, ranging from one day to lifetime.

Hunters can apply for their licenses through CDFW’s website, and once approved, it’s time to start hunting! But before heading out into the woods, you can stock up on all your firearms, ammunition, and gun accessories at River City Gun Exchange. Call us at (916) 428-0377 or check out our weekly ad to see what’s on sale, then visit River City Gun Exchange today!