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Deer hunting season opens in A zone starting August 13


The first of the fall’s big game hunting seasons will open this coming Saturday, August 13, in the giant A-zone which covers the entire coast from Ventura County to Mendicino County. It is the state’s largest deer hunting unit with a tag quota of 65,000 tags, a quota which has never been filled.

While much of the zone is private property, the Los Padres National Forest provides hunters in the southern part of the state with nearly 3,000 square miles (1.75 million acres) of public land in the coastal mountains. While the hunting on these public lands is more difficult than private lands, the A-zone boasts one of the highest hunter success rates of any hunting zone in the state with 32 percent of tag holders killing a buck -- that’s over 4,500 deer going into hunters’ freezers from this zone.

Many hunters who get deer tags through the drawing in other hunting zones also pick up an A-zone tag on their second-tag application, extending their field time. The A-zone rifle season runs Aug. 13 through Sept. 25. When this zone closes, most other deer hunt zones are just opening and they continue into October or early November.

As of Friday morning, there were still 48,452 A-zone deer tags available to hunters. These tags may be purchased with a first-deer or second-deer application -- or both if a hunters wants two tags for this zone.

Many other deer hunting zones still have tags. The number of tags available is as follows:

There are 1,683 B-zone rifle season tags available (valid in all B-zones), 16,086 D3-5 tags, 625 D7 tags, 5,340 D8 tags, 330 D10 tags, 4,285 D11 tags, 3,156 D13 tags, 202 D14 tags, 1,248 D15 tags, 428 D19 tags. For archer deer hunters, there are still 61 tags available for A18 (Zone X9C), 12 for A19 (Zone X10), and 41 tags for A32 (Ventura/Los Angeles late season).

You can get information (updated every week day) on available tags remaining at this direct link:

The DFW also has a very good beginner’s guide to deer hunting available. The guide is researched and written by well-known California outdoor writer, John Higley. It is published as PDF file on the DFW’s website at this link:

Each year there are nearly 150,000 hunters who buy deer tags in California. Only 60 percent of deer hunters in California get deer tags annually, with 40 percent buying tags from one to four times during the last five years. Over 70 percent of all deer hunters think the deer population is too low in the zones where they hunt, and 80 percent believe the deer population has decreased or stayed the same over the past five years. Of those, 85 percent believe that predators are to blame for the declines, but nearly 60 percent also believe there has been a decline in habitat quality.

APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR SAGE GROUSE HUNT AUGUST 10: Bird hunters who would like to participate in California’s one, 30-permit sage grouse hunt in Mono County the weekend of September 10-11 need to apply on-line no later than August. 10.

Normally, there are two permit-only hunts in Mono County and two in Lassen County, but continued drought and poor survival of young (along with wildfires destroying habitat in Lassen County) has led to the cancellation of three of the four hunts again this year.

To apply for a sage grouse permit, hunters need to go to the DFW’s website ( and then go to “Licenses and Permits” page where you can access the Online License Service.

SURPLUS TROUT FROM MOJAVE FISH HATCHERY GO NORTH: Approximately 10,000 pounds of surplus trout from the Mohave Fish Hatchery in Victorville were planted in Lake McSwain and the Merced River just below the Lake McSwain this week.

Unlike nearly all waters in Southern California, water conditions were cool enough so trout could be planted in the Merced area.

The Mohave Hatchery had excellent survival of fish this year, meeting all of its stocking goals in Southern California. If not stocked out now, the DFW would have continued to feed these trout for several months until stocking resumed in this region. This would have been expensive and taken up room in the hatchery needed for trout being raised for stocking later this year.

Public land bird hunting

seminar on August 20

There will be a dove, quail, and chukar hunting seminar from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, August 20 at Mike Raahauge Shooting Enterprises in Corona. The seminar will focus on helping upland hunters find more public land places to hunt. Cost is $50 for all members of a household.

Southern California outdoor writer Jim Matthews is conducting the 2 1/2-hour seminar. Matthews said the session will cover five things: First, learning how to find public lands where it is legal to hunt. Second, the importance of water sources on these public lands and how to find them, especially man-made guzzlers. Third, you will hear Matthews’ four keys to successful quail and chukar hunting. And, fourth, he will provide hunters with detailed information on the best places in the southern half of the state to hunt doves, quail, and chukar.

The $50 cost of the seminar includes a special two-issue trial subscription to Matthews’ Western Birds where-to-go hunting newsletter. For more information on the seminar and Matthews’ Western Birds newsletter go to Registration forms are available on that site. You can also call Matthews office at 909-887-3444 or e-mail him at with questions.


[Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 909-887-3444.]

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