Apr 6, 2021

CWA SURVEY: Hunters speak out on 2020-21 season

Hunters generally reported a lower harvest for the 2020-21 waterfowl season in California, according to the results of CWA's annual end-of-season survey.

Hunters were divided over whether to continue a policy instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to limit hunters to putting in for only one lottery per hunt day on Type A and B wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges. Roughly one-third wanted to keep the policy, one-third wanted to ditch it, and one-third had no opinion.

They also split over the best timing for the new Veteran Hunt Weekend, with roughly equal numbers saying it should be held at the same time as Youth Hunt Weekend or concurrent with the late goose season.

California Waterfowl conducts its End of Season Survey to gauge opinions about current issues and to learn about hunters' experiences each year. The organization's advocacy team uses the survey results when seeking policy or regulatory changes.

This survey was distributed through email and social media, with results collected online.

Archive: 2020 survey
Archive: 2019 survey

Detailed survey results

Regulations and hunt programs
-Pintail limits
-Klamath refuges/NE zone
-Central Valley refuges


What region of the state do you live in?

Southern California: 11.1%
San Joaquin Valley: 12.7%
Central Coast: 2.6%
Bay Area: 32.9%
Sacramento Valley: 29.5%
North Coast: 2.1%
Northeastern California: 2.2%
Other: 5.2%
No response: 1.2%

What regions of the state do you hunt waterfowl in? (Check all that apply)

Southern California: 10.7%
Tulare Basin: 6.0%
Grasslands: 30.8%
Delta/Bay Area (includes Suisun and Napa/Sonoma marshes): 27.3%
Sacramento Valley: 64.9%
North Coast (includes Humboldt Bay): 2%
Northeastern California: 16.3%
Other: 4.7%


Where did you hunt waterfowl during the 2020-21 season?

Exclusively on private land: 44.4%
Exclusively on public land: 16.9%
A mix of public and private land: 29.9%
Did not hunt waterfowl: 7.5%
No response: 1%

If applicable, check all types of private land you hunted on:

Leased rice blind, as leaseholder: 27.3%
Leased rice blind, as guest/client: 24.1%
Natural marsh club as owner: 22.1%
Natural marsh club as guest/client: 39%
Other (e.g., ranches), as owner: 5.9%
Other (e.g., ranches) as guest/client: 23%

Check all types of public land you hunted on in 2020-21:

Waterfowl refuges (state wildlife areas or national wildlife refuges): 46.7%
Public lakes, rivers and sloughs: 16.9%
Other public land: 7.6%
Didn't hunt public land: 47.3%

How many days did you hunt waterfowl in 2020-21?

0-5: 13.8%
6-10: 12.6%
11-15: 13.7%
16-20: 16.2%
21 or more: 35.6%
No response: 7.8%

Did you hunt more or less in 2020-21 than the previous season?

More: 27.2%
Less: 31.8%
Same: 32.7%
No response: 8.1%


Was your 2020-21 waterfowl harvest higher or lower than the previous season?

Higher: 28.4%
Lower 46.2%
Same: 16.3%
No response: 8.8%

How many times did you hunt with licensed guides in California in 2020-21?

Never: 77.3%
Once or twice: 12.9%
Three times or more: 2.2%
No response: 7.5%

How many times did you hunt waterfowl out of state in 2020-21?

Never: 77.8%
Once or twice: 9%
Three times or more: 5.3%
No response: 7.7%

What other kinds of game do you hunt? (Check all that apply.)

Deer/elk/antelope: 60.2%
Pig: 36.1%
Turkey: 49.7%
Dove: 76.8%
Quail: 42.4%
Pheasant: 63.5%
Other: 10.9%



(Note: Check out our Pintail page to see what CWA is doing to liberalize pintail limits within the bounds deemed prudent by science.)

Should the harvest strategy for pintail be modified to allow for a 3 or greater pintail bag limit in good pintail production years (under a liberal framework), recognizing that in poor pintail production years there may be an increased likelihood of 1 or 0 pintail bag limit?

Yes: 78.6%
No: 17.4%
No response: 3.8%

Would you support a 3-pintail bag limit in exchange for a shorter pintail season?

Yes: 45.1%
No: 50.9%
No response: 3.9%

Should 3-1/2 inch shells be prohibited for use on Type A and B public areas?

Yes: 46.1%
No: 48.4%
No response: 5.3%


The Tule Lake NWR Spaced Blind/Sump B draw was changed to 4 p.m. the day before each hunt. Do you prefer the draw the afternoon before the hunt or the morning of the hunt?

The afternoon before the hunt: 17.5%
The morning of the hunt: 7.6%
I do not hunt this area: 69.8
No response: 4.9%

Currently, the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath NWRs open to afternoon hunting on the Wed. or Sat. after Dec. 15. Would you like to see that date moved up to Dec. 1?

Yes: 21%
No: 7.1%
I do not hunt this area: 66.5%
No response: 5.3%

Should the Veteran Hunt Days in the NE Zone occur the weekend after the end of duck season? If not then, when?

Yes: 31.6%
No: 4.6%
I do not hunt NE Zone: 57.9%
No response: 5.7%


At Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area (Howard Slough, Little Dry Creek and Llano Seco) should one person be able to enter the lottery on behalf of other members of his/her hunt party, similar to what is allowed at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex?

Yes: 39%
No: 15.3%
I do not hunt this area: 40.3%
No response: 5.2%

Should the Howard Slough Unit of the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area be open for the post season Youth Hunt Days?

Yes: 54.7%
No: 3.1%
I do not hunt this area: 36.8%
No response: 5.3%

Do you support opening the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge for hunting?

Yes: 65.3%
No: 2.1%
I do not hunt this area: 26.9%
No response: 5.4%

Would you support taking two hunt days from the early Canada goose season in the Balance of State Zone and putting them during the opening weekend of the late white/whitefront goose season?

Yes: 51.6%
No: 8.3%
No opinion: 35.1%
No response: 4.8%


This last season, because of COVID issues, DFW only allowed hunters to enter one lottery the night before the hunt on public areas. Should this practice continue, or should hunters be able to enter multiple lotteries as in previous non-COVID years?

Yes, this should continue. Only one lottery: 33.5%
No, multiple lotteries: 27.6%
No opinion: 32.3%
No response: 6.4%

Should the DFW reservation system be modified? If yes, please explain in comment field.

Yes: 18.1%
No: 17.5%
No opinion: 57.5%
No response: 6.7%

Should the reservation system prevent hunters from being drawn for more than one hunt on any given day?

Yes: 44%
No: 26.8%
No opinion: 23%

No response: 6%

In the BOS Zone for the 2020-21 season, the post-season hunts were staggered a week apart beginning with the Youth Hunt Days, then the Veteran Hunt Days and finally the Late Season Goose Hunt. Recognizing that the Youth and Veteran Hunt Days can only be conducted up to two weeks after the regular season, should the dates of these hunts be changed and if so, how?

Holding Youth and Veteran Hunt Days on the same weekend after the regular season: 32.4%
Holding Veteran Hunt Days during the regular season: 9.5%
Holding the Veteran Hunt Days and Late Season Goose Hunt on the same weekend: 27.8%
Holding the Veteran Hunt Days before the regular season: 6.5%
No response: 23.6%

Would you approve modifying state law to allow for the taking of non-native mute swans, which are apparently expanding their population and range in California?

Yes: 64.8%
No: 12.6%
No opinion: 16.7%
No response: 5.7%

Should duck hunting season in the BOS, Southern San Joaquin and Southern California zones always run as late as possible (i.e. January 31st)?

Yes: 72.4%
No: 4.5%
No opinion: 16%
No response: 6.9%

California currently has a 60-day dove season. If the Western Management Unit (which includes CA) was granted additional hunt days, should those be added to the early season, late season or equally divided between both of those seasons?

Early season: 31.9%
Late season: 6.1%
Equally divided between both early & late seasons: 35.7%
No opinion: 19.6%
No response: 6.4%

We know getting reservations to hunt Type A and B refuges has become more difficult based DFW draw statistics. How should the refuge managers address this issue?

Increase overall hunt acreage (take hunt acreage from sanctuary areas): 38.7%
Increase free roam acreage: 10.1%
Increase first-come, first-served access: 11.5%
Increase lottery access: 21.5%
No response: 18.1%

Should public areas stop refilling earlier, say at 2 p.m. (rather than 3 p.m.) in order to lessen disturbance to hunters already in the field?

Yes: 42.2%
No: 19.9%
No opinion: 30.3%
No response: 7.4%%

What are the biggest challenges facing public hunters? (Ranked among 7 choices.)

1: Limited access to optimal habitat areas that are attractive to ducks
2: Hunters setting up too close in free roam areas
2: Water/habitat management on refuges
3: Enforcement of refuge rules/bad hunter behavior
4: Too much sanctuary vs. available hunt acres on refuges
5: Significant quota restrictions on refuges
5: No refill opportunities in productive waterfowl areas