The state of California has arguably the most diverse and beautiful landscape in the country. From cliff edges spilling into blue water, and trees that are two thousand years old, to snow-capped mountains, and deserts that stretch for miles throughout, California is a magnificent place. With such diversity in terrain comes a great deal of species diversity, many of them being game animals. 

Hunting In California

California Deer Species

Even the most experienced hunters are typically unaware that California is home to six subspecies of deer. These include whitetail, California mule deer, rocky mountain mule deer, southern mule deer, Columbian black-tailed deer, and a mule deer black-tail hybrid. This assortment of deer species is unique to California, and gives even the most experienced hunters a chance at something new. On top of this, the variety of terrain each of these species occupies offers even more opportunity for a truly one of a kind hunt. Tags are allotted through a draw process in the usual western big game fashion, but the price of a base license and deer tag is extremely low by western standards, giving hunters a chance to chase these big game animals without breaking the bank. Alternatively, if you are a thrill seeker that loves chasing potentially dangerous game, you won’t want to miss out on California’s black bear season.

California Black Bear Hunting

California’s black bear population tops off at just under 40,000 individuals that are spread throughout much of the state. This number continues to grow as well, due to good habitat management and a sharp drop in bear harvest numbers due to the controversial banning of hunting with hounds. With so many bears, and a need to manage them, there is no time like the present to apply for a bear tag for this upcoming fall. Tags are a bit on the expensive side for western standards, but are still less than most deer and elk tags in comparison. However, if you prefer tasty meat to dangerous game, you will want to look into California Elk hunting.

California Elk Hunts

Arguably the most sought after big game animal on the planet is the mighty elk, and California is home to three species of them. These include the Rocky Mountain Elk, Roosevelt Elk, and Tule Elk, with Tules being unique in that they can only be found in California. Isolated pockets of these rare elk are spread throughout the state and are typically found on the grassy hills and marshes feeding on the plant that gives them their name. Tag prices are on the very high end of the spectrum for all three species, but the opportunity to hunt the rare Tule elk makes up for the extra cost. Alternatively, if an elk tag is a bit out of your price range, you may be interested in a California pronghorn hunt.

California Pronghorn Hunts

The pronghorn is the hidden gem of California big game hunting. This is due to the state’s potential to produce truly giant bucks, with those scoring 80 inches or greater not uncommon. They are typically hunted in a spot and stalk fashion, where hunters use binoculars or a spotting scope to find a target from a long way off before they can sneak in close enough for a shot. This can prove difficult however, as the terrain does not offer much cover to hide in. Luckily, these hunts typically offer many opportunities and can be an exciting way to hone your stalking skills while trying to fill the freezer. However, if you love to chase highly coveted animals with difficult to draw tags, you will definitely be interested in Bighorn Sheep.

California Bighorn Sheep Hunting

There is no doubt that Bighorn Sheep are the pinnacle of big game hunting. Hunts for these animals are typically 10-14 days, and will test both your physical and mental strength. Bighorn Sheep live on the steepest slopes of the highest peaks, and are usually surrounded by awful weather. However, if you are the type of hunter that loves to push themselves, a sheep hunt is about as tough as it gets. Going with the current theme, sheep tags are extremely difficult to draw. The tags are also once-in-a-lifetime, meaning you can only draw them once, so the pressure is on to not go home empty handed. Tags are expensive, but it is impossible to put a dollar amount on such a rare opportunity. With the odds stacked against you on such a hunt, you need to be looking for any advantage you can get. Because of this, it is recommended that you go with an experienced guide who knows the area and the animal in order to better your chances of not going home empty handed. We recommend looking at our list of expert guides here at to help tip the odds in your favor. On the other hand, if you are looking for something a little more casual, a hog hunt may be just the right experience.

California Hog Hunts

Wild pigs, also known as hogs, have taken the country by storm over the last century. With an extremely quick gestation period and large litters, the population is very difficult to control. Couple this with the destructive nature of their feeding habits on crops and landscaping, and you have a serious problem. Because of this, hunting for them is highly encouraged as a management tool. Hunters typically have many opportunities at pigs on any given hunt, and are allowed to harvest as many as they have tags for, which also happen to be inexpensive.

Book Your Next California Hunt

Whether you are looking to brave the mountains and take down a world class sheep, harvest a one of a kind bull elk, or simply help manage the wild hog population, California has plenty of options for hunters of all skill levels and interests. Check out our catalog of expert Guides and Outfitters at, and book a hunt that is second to none!

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