Tom Trakes, from San Jacinto Wildlife Area, and the rest of the staff are looking forward to this coming weekend’s Junior Waterfowl Hunt. It is a great tradition and is a wonderful opportunity for the Junior Hunters to get in on some great hunting, a super breakfast before the hunt, and a wonderful lunch with some great raffle prizes after the hunt.
This year, DFW regulations changed in regards to Junior Hunter licensing. Anyone who was 18 at the beginning of the license year they can hunt on a Junior license for the season.
HOWEVER…. (big however)
The Junior Waterfowl Hunt is allowed under the federal waterfowl regulations. As many of you know the feds set waterfowl regulations for each flyway and the states then adopt them, sometimes modifying them a little, but the states are never allowed to make them more liberal then the federal regulations.
The big however here is that the feds define a Junior Hunter as someone who is under 16 years of age on the date of the hunt. So, if a Junior Hunter is 15 years, 364 days old on the date of the Junior Hunt they’re good to go, if they are 16 years and 0 days old on the date of the hunt, unfortunately, they aren’t allowed to participate.
Here’s a press release from the DFW regarding Junior Hunters:
“California Department of Fish and Wildlife News Release
Jan. 19, 2016
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988
Federal, State Rules Differ for Junior Hunters
California youth hunters have enjoyed a new benefit that took effect at the beginning of the 2015-16 hunting season, AB 1709, signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown in 2014, amended Fish and Game Code, section 3031, by extending the eligibility period for a junior hunting license by two years. This regulation change redefined a junior hunter from 15 years of age and under, to 17 years of age and under.
The change allowed for an extension of youth-specific hunting benefits including reduced fees, exemption from some endorsement requirements and access to special youth hunt opportunities. However, there remain special circumstances and exceptions to the new rule, which are particularly important to understand during waterfowl season.
The change to the age definition affected only California state code, and did not change the federal regulation definition. The federal definition of a youth hunter remains 15 years of age or younger.
Because waterfowl are migratory, the waterfowl hunting regulations fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. For this reason, waterfowl hunters 16 years of age and older must possess a federal waterfowl endorsement stamp.
In addition, the federal age definition remains the standard for some special hunt opportunities, particularly those hosted, held or sponsored by federal agencies or on federal lands, and all youth-only waterfowl hunting days. For the upcoming post-season youth hunt weekend and future youth-only waterfowl hunting days, participants must be 15 years of age or younger and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older.
CDFW is pleased by the new opportunities created for junior hunters with the change to the California state regulations, but reminds the public to be aware of and follow the federal regulations as well.”
(The entire press release from the DFW can be found here: https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/federal-state-rules-differ-for-junior-hunters-2/ )
Tom wanted me to get this info out there so that they, (hopefully), wouldn’t have to turn any of the 16+ junior hunters away at the check station at 0300 hours. Tom and the crew would like to include the “older” Junior Hunters but, unfortunately, in this case they have to go by the fed regulations in regards to the “older” Junior Hunters. Tom did tell me that the Wardens would be strictly enforcing this on Saturday’s hunt.
If you’d like to volunteer to assist at the Junior Hunt breakfast and/or lunch, or need any further info on that, or on the above federal regulations regarding Junior Hunters, you should contact Tom Trakes at (951)-236-3020.