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Big Game Hunting Tags

January 8, 2020

General Tag Information

Q: What is the maximum number of tags I can purchase per season? A: A person can obtain no more than: Bear – one tag per year. Bighorn Sheep – one tag per lifetime (excludes auction tags). Bobcat – five tags per season. Deer –two tags per year. Refer to the Big Game Hunting Digest for restrictions. Elk – one tag per year (excludes Private Lands Management Area tags). Pronghorn Antelope – one per year (excludes Private Lands Management Area tags). Wild Pig – there is no limit on the number of pig tags a person may purchase. Q: How can I replace a lost tag? A. To replace a lost or destroyed big game tag, hunters must complete a Duplicate Big Game Tag Affidavit (PDF form) and submit it to any CDFW License Sales Office with a duplicate tag fee. CDFW license sales office will verify that a tag was issued to you and will reissue you a duplicate tag for the same zone. A maximum of one duplicate big game tag will be issued per year.

Deer Tags

Bear Tags

Big Game Drawing

Q: When is the deadline to submit applications for the Big Game Drawing? A: Applications for premium deer, elk, antelope, and bighorn sheep tags must be submitted through the Automated License Data System (ALDS) online, at any CDFW License Sales Offices and License Agentsor by telephone sales at (800) 565 – 1458. To qualify for the big game drawing, the application must be submitted and the sales transaction completed before midnight on June 2 of each license year. Q: When are hunting licenses and big game drawing applications available to purchase at local license agents and CDFW license sales offices for this year’s Big Game Drawing? A: On April 15 of each license year you may purchase your hunting license and big game application(s) for the Big Game Drawing online, at any CDFW License Sales Offices and License Agents or by telephone sales at (800) 565-1458. Q: How does the Big Game Drawing work? A: CDFW will run the draw within 10 business days of the application deadline. After the application deadline, when all applicant information has been entered, the computer assigns each person (or party) a unique random number. Hunters who apply as a party receive the same random number as the party leader. Deer party applications are not split to meet the tag quota if the number of party members exceeds the number of available tags (Section 708.15(a)(2), Title 14 of the CCR). Therefore, when there are fewer tags available than the number of members in a party, the computer bypasses the party and draws the applicant with the next lowest random number to fill the tag quota. Elk and antelope party applications are split to meet the tag quota. The party leader will be drawn as the successful tag holder, the party member will be drawn as the first alternate. The preference point value for party applications entered in the Big Game Drawing is determined by averaging all party members’ preference points for each species (total preference points of the party divided by the number of party members). Preference point averages are not rounded up or down (Section 708.14(e), Title 14 of the CCR). Just prior to the drawing, the computer sorts all applications according to first tag choice, preference point totals, and random number. The computer begins awarding first tag choices to applicants with the most preference points, in random number order (starting with the lowest random number to the highest random number). After the preference point round is completed, unsuccessful applications are resorted by hunt choice and random number order (starting with the lowest random number to the highest random number), and the computer begins awarding tags based on applicant’s first-choice without consideration of accumulated points, until all draw-by-choice tag quotas fill or until all applications have been processed. For deer, where hunters may make up to three hunt choices – all remaining unsuccessful applications are then sorted by second tag choice, in random number order (starting with the lowest random number to the highest random number). The computer conducts a second round of drawings for any zones and hunts with tags remaining without consideration of accumulated points. If tags remain after second tag choices have been processed, applications are sorted once again by third tag choice, in random number order (starting with the lowest random number to the highest random number), and any remaining tags are awarded without consideration of accumulated points. For applications not drawn in the third round hunters will be notified of available tags so they may reapply. Q: What are the Tag Quota Splits? A: Premium Deer Tags (Excluding Apprentice Deer Tags) (Section 708.15(a)(3), Title 14, of the CCR) Ninety percent (90%) of the individual zone or hunt tag quota shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing. Ten percent (10%) of the individual zone or hunt tag quota shall be awarded using a Draw-by-Choice drawing. For zones or hunts with quotas less than 10 tags, one tag shall be awarded using a Draw-by-Choice drawing. Apprentice Deer Tags (Section 708.15(3)(E), Title 14, of the CCR) Fifty percent (50%) of the hunt tag quota shall be awarded through a Preference Point drawing. Fifty percent (50%) of the hunt tag quota shall be awarded through a Draw-By-Choice drawing. Elk, Pronghorn Antelope and Bighorn Sheep Tags (Section 708.15(b),(c) & (d), Title 14, of the CCR) For quotas of one, the tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.For quotas of two, one tag shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing, and one tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing. For quotas of three, two tags shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing, and one tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing. For quotas of four or more, seventy-five percent (75%) of the quota shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing. The remaining portion of the quota shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing. Q: Why can’t I submit the same hunt choice more than once on my deer tag drawing application? A: If you were not drawn for a tag in a previous round, then there were no tags remaining at the end of that round; therefore, there is no chance of being drawn for that tag in the next round of the drawing. Q: How and when can I find out find out if I was drawn for a tag in the Big Game Drawing? A: Drawing results will be available ten business days after the June 2nd drawing application deadline. Applicants my view the drawing results online or by contacting CDFW License Sales Offices. Note: Hunters may also view pending drawing applications by logging in online and selecting ‘View My Drawing Results’ link from the top of page. Any successfully submitted drawing applications will be displayed, including the hunt choices.

Preference Points

Q: What is a Modified Preference Point System Drawing? A: Under a Modified Preference Point System drawing, tag quotas for each hunt are split into two portions: one portion awarded by preference point drawings; the other portion awarded in draw-by-choice drawings. Quota splits vary, depending on the species, total number of available tags, or other special criteria (such as those for junior deer hunts). Q: What is the maximum number of preference points for the 2019 Big Game Drawing? A: Going into the 2019 Big Game Drawing the maximum number of preference points a hunter can have for any species is 17. Q: When did CDFW start tracking preference points? A: CDFW started tracking preference points in 2002. Q: How do I earn preference points? A: You may earn one preference point per year, per species, as follows: Deer – earn one preference point if you apply for the premium deer tag drawing but are not drawn for your first tag choice. Elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep – earn one preference point for each species if you apply for the drawing for that species but do not receive a tag. Q: When do I lose preference points? A: You lose all accumulated preference points for a species, as follows: Deer – You lose all accumulated preference points when you are drawn for a premium tag as your first choice. Elk, Pronghorn Antelope and Bighorn Sheep – You lose all accumulated preference points for a species if you receive a tag for that species. You also lose all accumulated preference points for any species if you do not participate in the drawing for that species for five (5) consecutive years. Q: I moved out-of-state. Will I lose my preference points? A: No. Q: Can I transfer my preference points from one species to another? A: No Preference points are earned for a particular species and cannot be transferred to any other species (link opens in new tab or windowSection 708.14(c), Title 14, of the CCR). Q: Can I transfer my preference points to another hunter? A: No. Preference points are not transferrable to another person (link opens in new tab or windowSection 708.14(c), Title 14, of the CCR). Q: How will CDFW notify applicants if they earned a preference point? A: Once the drawing results are available, preference point totals are also updated. Hunters may view their preference point totals online. Hunters will need to enter your name, date of birth and GO ID exactly as it appears on the hunting license or drawing receipt. Select the ‘Drawing Results’ link at the top right side of the web page and then select the ‘Preference Points’ tab from the drawing results. If you have questions regarding your preference point totals you must contact the License and Revenue Branch, 1740 N. Market Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95834 in writing or email them to LRB@wildlife.ca.gov. Q: How does CDFW track my preference points? A: CDFW tracks preference points for current and future drawings using your GO ID. For CDFW to accurately track your preference points, you must use the same GO ID number to apply in the drawing each year. If you have changes or corrections to your name, mailing address, date of birth or identification number, such as a driver’s license number, in writing, notify CDFW in writing at License and Revenue Branch, 1740 N. Market Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95834 or by email to LRB@wildlife.ca.gov (link opens in new tab or windowSection 708.14(g), Title 14, of the CCR). Q: I do not wish to apply for a premium deer tag this year. How can I earn a preference point? A: Purchase an annual California hunting license and the First Deer Tag Drawing Application at a license agent, CDFW license sales office, online or by telephone sales at (800) 565-1458. Inform the sales clerk the code to earn a preference point for deer is PD. If applying online, select the hunting tab for the upcoming license year and “add to the cart” an annual California hunting license and in the “Drawing” menu (left side of the page), add the First Deer Tag Drawing Application to your cart and enter the preference point code PD to earn a point for deer. To earn the preference point, the sales transaction must be completed before midnight on June 2. Q: If we apply as a party and are unsuccessful in the drawing, do we each earn a preference point? A: Yes. Each party member will earn one preference point. Q: I am a junior hunter. If I submit two applications for premium deer tag drawings, how are my preference points earned or lost? A: Junior hunters will earn one preference point if they are unsuccessful for their first choice hunt on both applications (only one preference point will be awarded, not one preference point for each application). Junior hunters will lose all their deer preference points if they are drawn for their first tag choice on either their first-deer or second-deer application. Q: If I am successful in the premium deer drawing for my second or third choice, do I earn a preference point? A: Yes. If you are not drawn for your first choice premium tag, you earn one preference point, even if you are drawn for a premium tag as your second or third choice. Q: I am unable to hunt this year. Can I still earn a preference point for elk, pronghorn antelope or bighorn sheep? A: Purchase an annual California hunting license and drawing application through the license sales terminal at a license agent, CDFW license sales office, online or by telephone sales at (800) 565-1458. Inform the sales clerk you are also applying for the Big Game Drawing and provide the correct preference point only code for elk, pronghorn antelope or bighorn sheep. If applying online, select the hunting tab for the upcoming license year and “add to the cart” an annual California hunting license and in the “Drawing” menu, add the Elk Tag Drawing Application, Pronghorn Antelope Tag Drawing Application or Bighorn Sheep Tag Drawing Application and enter the correct preference point code for each species. To earn the preference point, the transaction must be completed before midnight on June 2. Q: Do I earn a preference point if my application is received after the deadline? A: No. You will not earn a preference point after the deadline. If it is after midnight on June 2, the sales items: First Deer Tag Drawing Application, Elk Tag Drawing Application, Pronghorn Antelope Tag Drawing Application and Bighorn Sheep Tag Drawing Application will not be available in the menu screen to purchase and apply for the drawing. Q If I am drawn for my first choice tag for a premium zone or hunt that does not fill in the drawing, do I still lose my preference points? A: Yes. If you are drawn for your first choice premium tag, you lose all your deer preference points, whether or not the tag quota fills for that zone or hunt. Q: If I am successful in the premium deer tag drawing for my first choice and I am unable to hunt, can I return my tag and have my preference point reinstated? A: Any applicant who was drawn for the applicant’s first deer tag choice in the big game drawing and can not hunt for any reason may submit a written request to retain the accumulated preference point total and earn one preference point for deer for that year. Applicants shall return the tag to the department’s License and Revenue Branch before the season starts for which the tag is valid for the department to consider the request. If the request is granted the applicant shall retain the preference point total the applicant accumulated prior to the big game drawing and earn one preference point for deer. The department shall not refund the fees paid for a resident deer tag application. Q: If I am drawn for an elk, pronghorn antelope or bighorn sheep tag, pay for the tag but I am unable to hunt, what happens to my preference points? A: Any applicant who was awarded an elk, antelope, or bighorn sheep tag in the big game drawing and can not hunt for any reason may submit a written request to retain the accumulated preference point total and earn one preference point for elk, antelope or big horn sheep for that year. Applicants shall return the tag to the Department’s License and Revenue Branch before the season starts for which the tag is valid for the department to consider the request. The applicant shall submit the nonrefundable processing fee with the request. If the request is granted the applicant shall retain the preference point total the applicant accumulated prior to the big game drawing and earn one preference point for elk, antelope or big horn sheep. The department may refund the tag fee. Q: If I am drawn for an elk, pronghorn antelope or bighorn sheep tag but do not purchase the tag, do I lose my preference points for that species? A: No. If you do not purchase the tag, you will not lose your preference points for that species. Q: My sales transaction could not be completed by the deadline and I was not entered into the Big Game Drawing, will I lose my preference points from the previous years? A: No. Hunters who miss the application deadline will not earn a preference point for the current year and will not lose preference points earned from previous years. However, a hunter’s preference points are reduced to zero when they have not applied for five (5) consecutive years (link opens in new tab or windowSection 708.14(h), Title 14, of the CCR).

Applying as a Party for Deer Tags

Applying for Antelope, Elk and Sheep Tags

Fund-Raising Random Drawing Tags

Private Land, Military and Cooperative Hunting Permits

Q: How do I apply for a PLM tag or find out more information about the PLM program? A: If you would like information about hunting on PLM areas or making your land a part of the PLM program, contact the CDFW’s Wildlife Branch at Victoria.Barr@wildlife.ca.gov. Q: What are cooperative deer hunting areas? A: Provisions of link opens in new tab or windowSection 554, Title 14, of the CCR, allow an owner/ title holder of not less than 640 acres of critical deer habitat within a deer quota zone which requires a drawing to apply for a cooperative deer hunting area permit. Applications must be submitted to the appropriate CDFW Regional Office prior to the first Friday in August. Q: Does the Department offer special deer hunting opportunities for military personnel? A: In cooperation with military installations, CDFW offers a limited number of tags for the public and military personnel in additional hunts G8 (Fort Hunter Liggett Antlerless) and J10 (Fort Hunter Liggett Junior Either-sex). The public tags are issued through CDFW’s Big Game Drawing and military personnel must apply by sending their applications directly to the Base. G7 (Beale Air Force Base Either-Sex Hunt), G10 (Camp Pendleton Air Force Base Either-Sex Hunt), and G11 (Vandenberg Air Force Base Either-Sex Hunt) are for military personnel only and must apply by sending their applications to the Base. There are no public tags for these hunt.

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