Become an INSIDER to gain access to this article

Join now

APPLICATION STRATEGY 2018: California Deer and Antelope

2018 California deer and antelope application strategy article

California's 2018 deer and antelope application overview

Jump to: New for 2018 State Information Draw System Mule Deer Breakdown Columbia Blacktail Deer Breakdown Antelope Breakdown

California is not a state that hunters usually include when planning a trip out West, but there are a few things that might change your mind when planning your yearly application strategy. If you are only looking to hunt the premier units in the state then California should be considered a long-term goal because this is another preference point state and although they do set aside 10% of the tags in premium deer hunts for a random draw, the odds are long and without some serious luck you are in for a very long wait. However, there are a number of hunts for both mule deer and Columbian blacktail deer that either don’t take many points or, in some cases, any at all. You could plan on hunting these areas year in and year out. California does not have a nonresident quota for deer so residents and nonresidents have exactly the same odds each year. Antelope, on the other hand, only offers one nonresident permit each year that is set aside for a random draw.

California requires you to front the cost of the deer permit during the application period, but does not require this for any other species. If you are unsuccessful in the draw you are eligible to receive a refund for the cost difference of a nonresident deer permit to a resident deer permit, which is $245.79, but you will need to submit a request for this refund in writing. Yes, you just read that correctly. Even if you are unsuccessful you will still need to submit a request for this refund.

Note: The application deadline for all species in California is June 2, 2018, at Midnight. You can apply online here.



Why California for deer and antelope in 2018

Lots of options with little or no points at all for deer

Between draw hunts that have 100% odds of drawing with even zero points and many different over-the-counter (OTC) options, it is very easy to obtain a deer permit in California as long as you are not looking to hunt one of the few areas of the state managed for a higher trophy quality.

No waiting period

California does not have a waiting period for deer, elk or antelope. With a little planning, you can hunt each year for deer. Bighorn sheep is considered a once-in-a-lifetime permit if you are successful in drawing.

Late application deadline

By the time you are required to apply for a hunt in California, the majority of the other western states have already released their draw results, making California a solid backup plan for the years you have been lucky in any other states. Once you have committed to purchasing the hunting license it would be a shame to not apply for any species of interest as the application fee is only $8.13 per species.



New for 2018

A new law on poaching California's Trophy Class Wildlife

FGC 12013.3 increased the punishment for a conviction of poaching a trophy class animal out of season, spotlighting, baiting, waste of meat or take without a tag. The fine for a poaching conviction related to trophy deer, elk, antelope or bighorn sheep ranges between $5,000 and $40,000. If the conviction involves a wild turkey, you can be fined $2,000 to $5,000. Convictions can also include imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year. Recently, a massive blacktail buck was poached in California that was one of the first deer poaching cases to utilize the new trophy penalty enhancement. You can read more about that poaching story here.

DEER TAG CLASSIFICATION CHANGES

For the 2018 deer hunting season, the following deer tags have changed classifications.

From restricted to premium deer tags:

  • A22—tag quota filled on June 15, 2017

From unrestricted deer tags to premium deer tags:

  • A18—tag quota filled on June 14, 2017
  • A19—tag quota filled on June 20, 2017

From premium deer tag to restricted deer tag:

  • D6—tag quota filled on July 5, 2017

From unrestricted deer tags to restricted deer tags:

  • B—tag quota filled on July 17, 2017
  • D14—tag quota filled on July 13, 2017
  • A32—tag quota filled on July 17, 2017

Please refer to the state regulations for more details on these changes.

Lead-free ammunition changes coming in 2019

Lead-free ammunition will be required statewide starting on July 1, 2019.

2018 INSIDER enhancement — Female draw odds

For 2018, goHUNT offers antlerless draw odds for California and many other states. If your ultimate goal is to fill the freezer, an antlerless permit may be just the ticket.

To review antlerless draw odds, log into your INSIDER account > hover over the INSIDER icon > select the “Draw Odds” link > select California and then your residency > scroll to select the antlerless species you are interested in near the bottom right portion of the page.

Antlerless mule deer draw odds

Find your resident antlerless mule deer odds here

Find your nonresident antlerless mule deer draw odds here

Antlerless Columbian blacktail draw odds

Find your resident antlerless blacktail draw odds here

Find your nonresident antlerless blacktail draw odds here



State information

To view important information and an overview of the California rules/regulations, the draw system and preference points, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map, check out our State Profile. You can also view the California Deer Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.

California State Profile Mule Deer Profile Columbian Blacktail Deer Profile Antelope Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • You may begin applying now.
  • The deadline to apply is June 2, 2018, at Midnight PST.
  • You can apply online here.
  • Draw results will be posted on June 19, 2018.
  • The deadline to purchase drawn antelope, elk and desert bighorn sheep tags is July 17, 2018.
  • Leftover premium deer tags are available (first deer tag) July 2, 2018.
  • Leftover premium deer tags are available (second deer tag) August 2, 2018.

Drought and snowpack in California

California is experiencing some level of drought in approximately half of the state. However, the areas most hunters are targeting, which fall within the northern half of the state, are in excellent condition. Snowpack across the tops of the Sierra Nevadas is currently between 50” to 75”. Overall, conditions this winter and spring have been fantastic and California should see this not only in antler growth, but also in good fawn recruitment as well.

California drought monitor status as of May 15 2018

Image date: May 15, 2018 Source: US Drought Monitor


The impact of wolves and other predators

California wolf activity map May 2018

California wolf activity map May 2018. Source: CDFW

There are currently two different established wolf packs that are monitored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The Shasta pack, which was first discovered in August 2014 by trail camera pictures, has bred at least once, producing a litter of pups, in the spring of 2015. Since then, it appears that the pack has moved on into another area. There have only been reports of one male, probably from that spring litter, moving to and from that area.

The other pack is an active pack dubbed the Lassen pack, which roams western Lassen and northernmost Plumas counties. This pack was first reported in August of 2015. The male is from the Rogue pack in Oregon and the female does not have any genetics linking her to a known pack. These two wolves had a litter of four pups in the spring of 2017. Three of these pups are still known to be alive as of this last March; another black wolf seems to come and go from the pack at different times. There has been three incidents of livestock depredation since last October, resulting in one confirmed calf that was killed, another probable calf mortality, and an adult cow most likely injured by a wolf. Overall, there are not many wolves located in California and the ones that have made it do not seem to be growing the population very quickly. However, based upon livestock damage and other reports, they are making their presence known quickly.



The California draw system

Understanding the draw

California’s draw system has a number of twists and turns, depending on the species you are focusing on. The state operates on a modified preference point system so whoever has the most points on any given hunt code will draw the tag.

All applicants are required to show proof of a hunter’s education course prior to applying. This can be done multiple different ways. For a full list of these options click here

All applicants are required to purchase an annual hunting license prior to applying for any big game hunt. Once you have purchased your license you will also have an application fee of $8.13 per species.

There are no nonresident quotas for deer, which means, while very unlikely, every deer tag in the state could go to a nonresident right down to the last tag. You are required to submit the full cost of the deer permit at the time of the application. If you are not successful in drawing and would like a refund you are required to submit a request for your refund to the state. Once processed, you will receive a refund of the difference between a resident and nonresident deer permit, which is approximately $246. You are allowed to apply with up to six party members on a deer application and list up to three choices. All applicants’ first choices will be considered before anyone’s second or third choice is considered. Using Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds, you can quickly identify hunts that have been undersubscribed on the first draw and would be good options to consider for second and third choices. You will only lose your points if you draw your first choice.

When applying for premium deer, 90% of the tags are allocated to whoever has the most points for any given unit in any given year. If you are in a maximum point status for the hunt that you applied for there is no luck required and you will simply be issued the tag. If you are not in the group of maximum point holders there is still a small chance of drawing as the state sets aside 10% of the permits for a random drawing. What this means is that your accrued points carry no value and, essentially, each applicant will have one ticket in the bucket so to speak for the available random tags. There is no quota for nonresidents when applying for deer, giving each applicant an equal chance to draw right down to the last application.

Elk and antelope have an identical system; residents with the most points will receive 75% of the permits while 25% will be issued on a random basis. This does not apply to nonresidents and there will only be one elk and one antelope permit issued to nonresidents through the draw. What this means is if any antelope permit or any elk permit (including a cow elk) is drawn and awarded to a nonresident, all other nonresident applications will be rejected for these species. This makes the odds of drawing in California some of the toughest odds in the country for these species. Resident applicants may apply with one other applicant for antelope and elk. If your party draws the last available permit, the party leader will be awarded the permit and the other applicant will be placed on an alternate list. No party applications are ever rejected, but California is different than most states; there is potential for one member of your party to draw, but not the other. With only one permit available there are no party applications allowed for either species for nonresidents.

Desert bighorn sheep awards up to 10% of their permits to nonresidents, but, due to overall numbers, only 17 permits were allocated this year, which means there will be only one permit issued to nonresidents this year. No party applications are allowed for desert bighorn sheep for residents or nonresidents.

Fundraising and random tags

With the odds of drawing so difficult and the cost of the annual hunting license so high another option to consider for some of the premier hunts in the state is to apply for the fundraising permits that are issued each year. There are four individual permits available in this state-run raffle program: one permit for deer, antelope, elk and bighorn sheep. The winner is required to purchase an annual hunting license if successful, but there is no charge for the cost of the permit. Here are a few of the details you need to know in order to get involved:

  • Any resident or nonresident who will be 12 years old or older as of July 1, 2018 may apply for the deer, pronghorn and elk tag.
  • Any resident or nonresident who will be 16 years old or older as of July 1, 2018 may apply for the bighorn sheep tag.
  • There is no limit on the number of applications you can submit.
  • It does not use or affect your preference points.
  • Winners are awarded a tag at no additional cost.
  • A hunting license is not required to apply, but must be purchased if drawn.
  • You can apply from April 15, 2018 through June 2, 2018 at license agents, CDFW license sales offices, online here or by telephone at (800) 565-1458.
  • Tags are awarded by random lottery, which is run within 10 business days of the deadline. Winners are notified by phone.
  • The cost to apply is $5.97 per entry per species.


California's 2018 mule deer breakdown

Luke Griffiths with a successful mule deer hunt

INSIDER member Luke Griffiths with a successful California mule deer.

Although California isn’t considered a premier destination for trophy mule deer, there are consistently a few big bucks taken in the state each year. With many of the opportunities taking only a few years to draw, you never know—there could be a hunt that aligns perfectly with your goals. The best mule deer are found on the northeastern side of the state and are likely the result of better management in adjacent states like Nevada and Oregon as well as a mix of some private land that help to slow down the harvest of middle-aged bucks. Overall, the best mule deer come from hunts that are conducted and happen during the major migrations in the highest portions of the Sierra Nevadas every year. The migrations are very weather dependent and, if the conditions are not just right, plan for a very long and frustrating hunt. For the past three hunting seasons, there have not been optimum conditions and, if you are up for rolling the dice, it is bound to happen at some point. The age class of bucks that are in the mountains now are higher than they typically are because the seasons are over by the time the weather has hit and pushed them into the lower elevations where they are more vulnerable. A 170”+ mule deer still walking in California no matter the unit or season takes a lot of guts; outside of an airtight plan for a well patterned local buck, it is probably a mistake.

Current mule deer herd condition

California manages their species on a three-year cycle. This means that if a management initiative has been passed there will not be any changes to that initiative for three years. With the number of tags available for deer in the state, this can make a major difference in the caliber of deer you find in any given unit from year to year. For example, the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevadas took 350 less deer this past season and this will continue for another two years. Long story short, in a couple more years, there is a high probability to have bucks in the two and three years older age class than what you would have normally found in years past. However, the state, after surveying the unit, may increase the tags and, over the following three years, knock the age class back down, but if you jump on a hunt just right, the stage will be set for you to get the most out of that particular unit—even if it means it could be years before its worth investing your time again. Overall, the number of mule deer in the state has been dropping at a rather alarming rate over the last two years with 282,813 deer surveyed in Zones C, D, and X—a decrease of 48,111 deer since the 2016 survey. This brings the decline to a total of 72,174 less deer in these zones based upon from the 2015 count. The drought has played a major role in this decline and will likely continue to majorly impact the southern half of the state.

California deer population estimates - updated 2018

California deer population estimates by hunt zone - 2018


Top units to consider for 160"+ or better mule deer
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
4pt or
better %
Public land
%
D-6 160"+ 16% 53%
X-2 170"+ 55% 75%
X-5b 160"+ 54% 74%
X-6b 170"+ 36% 76%
X-9a 170"+ 19% 92%
X-9b 160"+ 14% 99%

 



How to uncover hidden gem mule deer units

Finding a hidden gem in California is easier than you think. There are opportunities to hunt with either rifle or archery equipment even if this is the first year you are looking at California to hunt. Some of these opportunities are even in the units that, historically, have some of the better trophy potentials. Remember that the best deer are taken during different migrations. This is very weather dependent, but, by targeting these units and getting as familiar with them as possible (even if it means you are not hunting the later seasons), it will help you tremendously when the day comes and you secure a late season permit. Look towards areas that would border higher elevations and pray for some early snow. Using Filtering 2.0 so you can learn many different things about the history of a particular unit. This, along with logistics and other helpful information like where to camp, nearest gas stations, and the physicality to expect, will ensure that when you arrive you will be able to hit the ground running.

Archery units to consider with 100% resident and nonresident draw odds at 0 points for mule deer
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
4pt% Public land
%
Harvest
%
A-South 100"+ 8% 18% 12%
12%
C-1 120"+ 19% 24% 12%
C-2 120"+ 17% 47% 12%
C-3 120"+ 20% 18% 12%
C-4 120"+ 16% 38% 12%
D-11 110"+ 5% 48% 6%
D-6 160"+ 9% 51% 9%
D-9 120"+ 9% 51% 9%
X-9b 160"+ 14% 99% 10%

If you reach the unfortunate situation where you are not successful in the hunt draws, remember that California can still be a state to consider for OTC opportunities. Many hunters can spend a lifetime waiting on their holy grail tag and miss out on vital hunting experience in the years in between. California has OTC opportunities for hunters of every background and can provide some excellent hunting memories as well as the necessary preparations you need when your name is finally pulled out of the hat.



B&C entry trends for California mule deer

Beyond Filtering 2.0 another backdoor asset to carefully examine is Boone & Crockett (B&C) entry trends for different counties throughout the state. Look for units that may be adjacent to some of the top units in the state to find hidden gem areas that may hold better draw odds or OTC opportunities.


Zones listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Zones in this table are included if any part of the zone is found within the county. Data provided below courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club.

California's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for typical mule deer

County No. of
entries
Zones found within county
Modoc 1 X-1X-2X-3aX-3b
Tuolumne 1 D-6

Map of California's top producing B&C typical mule deer counties all time - updated 2018

Total number of Typical B&C mule deer entries since 2000 - California 2018

California's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for nontypical mule deer

County No. of
entries
Zones found within county
Plumas 1 X-6a, X-6b, X-7a, C-4, D-3

Map of California's top producing B&C nontypical mule deer counties all time - updated 2018

Total number of Nontypical B&C mule deer entries since 2000 - California 2018


Managing points and expectations

The preference point race

2018 maximum preference points for deer: 16

California deer preference point totals going into the 2018 draw

California deer preference points going into 2018 table version

There was also 9,551 applicants who applied for a preference point only.

Find your draw odds

Remember that when applying in California there is no nonresident quota, meaning that a nonresident has the exact same chance at drawing a deer permit right down to the last tag. Everyone’s first choice will be considered prior to anyone’s second or third choice. If you are a nonresident and would like to only hunt the premier areas, plan on applying for many years. There are a number of hunts that you could draw on your second or third choice that will not affect the points you have accrued. In many circumstances you could apply for one of the hardest to draw hunts as your first choice, hoping to get lucky while applying for a hunt that typically goes undersubscribed with your second or third choice—possibly in the same unit—and still go hunting each year. Remember you will not receive your refund if unsuccessful unless you request it from the state.

I have 0 mule deer preference points. What can I expect?

Residents and nonresident:

As of 2017, there were seven different hunts that drew with 100% odds for applicants that had zero points. Many of these are archery hunts while others allow the hunter to hunt during an archery season and then return to the unit for a rifle hunt if unsuccessful during the archery hunt. If you are interested in hunting every year, these are a great option because an applicant can select to apply for these choices as your second or third choice while still swinging for the fence on some of the harder to draw areas.

Available hunts with 0 points
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
4pt or
better %
Public land
%
Season
A-South
(two different hunt options)
100"+ 8% 18% Muzzleloader/Archery MA3 tag (All of Santa Barbara County)
Muzzleloader/Archery MA1 tag (Portion of San Luis Obispo County within Los Padres National Forest)
Nov. 24 to Dec. 9, 2018
C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4
(two different hunt options)
120"+ 16% 32%* Archery A1 tag Aug. 18 to Sept. 2, 2018
Rifle C Zone tag Sept. 15 to Oct. 14, 2018
D-6
(one hunt)
110"+ 5% 48% Archery/Rifle D6 Zone tag
Aug. 18 to Sept. 9, 2018 (Archery)
Sept. 15 to 28, 2018 (Rifle)
D-9
(one hunt)
160"+ 16% 53% Archery/Rifle D9 Zone tag
Aug. 18 to Sept. 9, 2018 (Archery)
Sept. 15 to 28, 2018 (Rifle)
D-11 120"+ 9% 51% Archery A31 tag
Sept. 22 to Dec. 31, 2018
X-9b 160"+ 14% 99% Archery A17 tag
Aug. 18 to Sept. 9, 2018

* Average across all four units

Find your resident mule deer draw odds with 0 points here

Find your nonresident mule deer draw odds with 0 points here

I have 5 to 6 mule deer preference points. What can I expect?

Residents and nonresident:

Now that you have been applying for a few years it truly is decision time as you are about to enter no man’s land. You will have more than enough points for a number of hunt options; however, you are still a number of years away from the higher demand hunts. A decision to wait out these higher demand areas could take more years than it seems at first glance. For example, if you are currently five points shy of drawing the tag you are hoping for, this does not necessarily mean that you will draw that permit in five years as, most of the time, there will be point creep in these areas, which could extend your wait exponentially. You currently have enough points to draw most available tags in the state short of approximately 20 different options that are generally considered the prime season dates. There are a number of options to consider that do have prime rut dates, which should give the hunter the best chance at the oldest bucks in the unit.

Available hunts with 6 points and 150"+ trophy potential
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
4pt or
better %
Public land
%
Season
X-3a 150"+ 32% 53% Rifle X3a Zone tag
Oct. 6to 21, 2018
X-3b 150"+ 27% 63% Rifle X3b Zone tag
Oct. 6 to 21, 2018
X-6a 150"+ 34% 49% Rifle X6a Zone tag
Oct. 6 to 21, 2018
X-6a 150"+ 34% 49% Muzzleloader M8 tag
Oct. 27 to Nov. 4, 2018
X-6b 170"+ 36% 76% Rifle X6b Zone tag
Oct. 6 to 21, 2018
X-9c 150"+ 22% 91% Rifle X9c Zone tag
Oct. 20 to Nov. 11, 2018

Find your resident mule deer draw odds with 6 points here

Find your nonresident mule deer draw odds with 6 points here

I have 9 to 10 mule deer preference points. What can I expect?

Residents and nonresident:

The good news with 10 points is that you have enough points to draw all but 10 different hunts offered by the state. The bad news is that you are still many years away from drawing any of these ten hunts. With point creep always an issue, you will feel close to drawing for many years without gaining much or any ground at all. If your goal is to hunt one of these premier units, hopefully, you have been building points for all of the other species in California and you are taking advantage of other deer hunting opportunities as well as black bear.

Hardest to draw hunts for mule deer in California
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
4pt or
better %
Public land
%
Season
X-2 170"+ 55% 75% Archery A27 tag
Oct. 27 to Nov. 11, 2018
X-6a 150"+ 34% 49% Archery A26 tag
Nov. 17 to Dec. 9, 2018
X-2 170"+ 55% 75% Muzzleloader M9 tag
Oct. 27 to Nov. 11, 2018
X-5b 160"+ 54% 74% Muzzleloader M5 tag
Oct. 27 to Nov. 4, 2018
X-6b 170"+ 36% 76% Muzzleloader M3 tag
Nov. 17 to 25, 2018
D-6 160"+ 16% 53% Rifle G37 tag
Nov. 24 to Dec. 2, 2018
D-8 150"+ 12% 47% Rifle G6 tag
Dec. 1 to 9, 2018
X-5b 160"+ 54% 74% Rifle X5b tag
Oct. 6 to 21, 2018
X-9a 170"+ 19% 92% Rifle G39 tag
Oct. 27 to Nov. 11, 2018

Find your resident mule deer draw odds with 10 points here

Find your nonresident mule deer draw odds with 10 points here

OTC options

California offers OTC hunts in many different units across the state and there is one archery only (AO) permit that allows the hunter to hunt in the A, B and D Zones. The remaining hunt options covering Zone A as well as most of Zone D allow the hunter to hunt during the early archery season and, if unsuccessful, return for a rifle hunt later in the fall. For more information about these hunts click here.



California's 2018 Columbian blacktail deer breakdown

If you are looking to take a Boone and Crockett (B&C) qualifying Columbian blacktail deer, you will need to be hunting in Zone B or the northern portions of Zone A, specifically around the northeast and south borders of Santa Clara County, the south border of Santa Cruz County, the edge of Monterey Bay and the different subunits found in Zone B and these northern counties in Zone A, which are the only ones within the set boundary by B&C. However, there are also a number of other areas in the state that offer a great chance to harvest some exceptional blacktails, even though they may not qualify for the record books. There are currently ten different options to consider when looking to hunt blacktails in California, but most of these options are outside of the primary blacktail areas of California. All but two hunts in Zone B tags are listed as restricted and are available OTC for both archery and rifle hunts. You are also allowed to pick up a Zone B tag as a second tag if you have not applied for or have been successful in the first drawing of the year. You may also purchase a Zone B tag as a second tag if you wait until August 2, 2018, at 8:00 a.m.

Current Columbian blacktail deer herd condition

The Columbian blacktail deer herd in California is currently in a downward spiral. Although the 2017 survey found 217,601 deer in Zones A and B, this is a decrease of 23,991 deer based upon the 2016 survey and a 70,188 decrease in deer based upon the 2015 survey. The drought has—and continues to have—a major impact on the deer herd closest to the coast. Hopefully, with the moisture that has been received this spring, we will see a better fawn recruitment this year.


Top units to consider for 110"+ or better Columbian blacktail deer
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
4pt or
better %
Public land
%
Controlled/OTC
A-North 120"+ 12% 17% Both
B-1 120"+ 15% 47% Both
B-2 120"+ 14% 74% OTC
B-4 120"+ 15% 23% OTC
D-5 120"+ 18% 30% OTC

 



How to uncover hidden gem blacktail deer units

Finding a hidden gem for blacktails in California often comes down to having access to private property. Year in and year out, the biggest bucks come from one piece of private or the other. If hunting private property either with an outfitter or by some other means is out of the question, use Filtering 2.0 to help you learn about a unit. Consider including how much public land is in each unit as well as different ways of accessing public land when considering the logistics of any given area.



B&C entry trends for California Columbian blacktail deer

Beyond Filtering 2.0 another backdoor asset to carefully examine is Boone & Crockett (B&C) entry trends for different counties throughout the state. Look for units that may be adjacent to some of the top units in the state to find hidden gem areas that may hold better draw odds or OTC opportunities.


Zones listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Zones in this table are included if any part of the zone is found within the county. Data provided below courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club.

California's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for typical Columbian blacktail deer

County No. of
entries
Zones found within county
Humboldt 27 B-1B-2B-4
Mendocino 27 A-NorthB-1B-4
Trinity 18 B-1B-2B-5
Tehama 6 B-2B-3B-5C-4
Shasta 4 B-2B-5C-2C-3C-4X-1X-4

Map of California's top producing B&C typical Columbia blacktail deer counties all time - updated 2018

Total number of Typical B&C Columbia blacktail deer entries since 2000 - California 2018

California's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for nontypical Columbian blacktail deer

County No. of
entries*
Zones found within county
Shasta 4 B-2B-5C-2C-3C-4X-1X-4
Trinity 4 B-1B-2B-5
Humboldt 3 B-1B-2B-4

* Three other counties with one entry.

Map of California's top producing B&C nontypical Columbia blacktail deer counties all time - updated 2018

Total number of nontypical B&C Columbia blacktail deer entries since 2000 - California 2018


Managing points and expectations

The preference point race

2018 maximum preference points for deer: 16

See the bonus point table in the mule deer section above for a breakdown of applicants by point level.

There are only ten different choices when looking to hunt Columbian blacktail deer in California. If successful in any of these areas, other than the two options in Zone B and one in Zone A, your buck will not qualify for B&C record books as these draw areas are not within the species boundaries that are predetermined by B&C. The risk of having impure bloodlines is too great in these areas and could damage the integrity of the record book. All things considered, the blacktail hunting in these units can be very good and offer you a fantastic hunting experience.

With so many options to consider that could lead up to a very good blacktail hunt either OTC or as a second choice, it may be worth considering to apply for your dream hunt even if it’s a hard to draw mule deer area with your application’s first choice. This way you will be getting the most value out of your hunting license, build some points and who knows? You could hit a home run in the random draw.

Find your draw odds

Available hunts with 0 points
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
4pt or
better %
Public land
%
2018 points
required to have 100%
draw odds
Season
A-North 120"+ 12% 17% <3pts Archery A25
Oct. 6 to 29, 2018
B-1 120"+ 15% 47% <6 pts Archery A30
Nov. 10 to 25, 2018
C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4 120"+ 18%* 32% 0 pts Archery A1
Aug. 18 to Sept. 2, 2018
D-4 110"+ 20% 26% <4 pts Shotgun/Archery/Crossbow G19
Sept. 22 to Dec. 31, 2018
X-1 110"+ 26% 63% 2 pts Archery A3
Aug. 18 to Sept. 9, 2018
B-1 120"+ 15% 47% 13 pts Muzzleloader M11
Nov. 10 to 25, 2018
C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4 120"+ 18%* 32% 0 pts Rifle C Zone
Sept. 15 to Oct. 14, 2018
C-4 110"+ 16% 38% <1 pts Rifle G1
Oct. 27 to Nov. 4, 2018
X-1 110"+ 26% 63% <3 pts Rifle X1 Zone
Oct. 6 to 21, 2018
D-3 110"+ 16% 40% 3 pts Shotgun G12
Sept. 15 to 23, 2018

* Average between all four units.

I have 0 Columbian blacktail deer preference points. What can I expect?

Residents and nonresident:

As of 2017, there were four different units that drew with 100% odds for both resident and nonresident applicants that had zero points. Many of these are archery hunts while others allow the hunter to hunt during an archery season and then return to the unit for a rifle hunt if unsuccessful during the archery hunt. If you are interested in hunting every year, these are a great option because an applicant can select to apply for these choices as your second or third choice while still swinging for the fence on some of the harder to draw areas.

Available hunts with 0 points and 100% odds
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
4pt or
better %
Public land
%
Harvest
%
C-1 110"+ 19% 24% 12%
19%
C-2 110"+ 17% 47% 12%
19%
C-3 110"+ 20% 18% 12%
19%
C-4 110"+ 16% 38% 12%
19%

Find your resident blacktail deer draw odds with 0 points here

Find your nonresident blacktail deer draw odds with 0 points here

I have 5 to 6 Columbian blacktail deer preference points. What can I expect?

Residents and nonresident:

Now that you have been applying for a few years it truly is decision time as you are about to enter no man’s land. You will have more than enough points for a number of hunt options; however, you are still a number of years away from the higher demand hunts. A decision to wait out these higher demand areas could take more years than it seems at first glance. For example, if you are currently five points shy of drawing the tag you are hoping for, this does not necessarily mean that you will draw that permit in five years as, most of the time, there will be point creep in these areas, which could extend your wait exponentially. You currently have enough points to draw most available tags in the state short of approximately 20 different options that are generally considered the prime season dates. There are a number of options to consider that do have prime rut dates, which should give the hunter the best chance at the oldest bucks in the unit.

Find your resident blacktail deer draw odds with 6 points here

Find your nonresident blacktail deer draw odds with 6 points here

I have 9 to 10 Columbian blacktail deer preference points. What can I expect?

Residents and nonresident:

The good news with 10 points is that you have enough points to draw at 100% in nine different units. The bad news is that you are still many years away from drawing any of the other hunts. With point creep always an issue, you will feel close to drawing for many years without gaining much or any ground at all. If your goal is to hunt one of these premier units, hopefully, you have been building points for all of the other species in California and you are taking advantage of other deer hunting opportunities as well as black bear.

Find your resident blacktail deer draw odds with 10 points here

Find your nonresident blacktail deer draw odds with 10 points here

OTC options

If you are looking to take a qualifying Columbian blacktail deer, the OTC options may be more aligned with your goals. The archery permit allows the hunter to hunt in all six of Zone B’s subunits while unit specific tags allow the hunter to hunt during the archery season and return during the rifle season if unsuccessful. Zone A offers an archery permit that allows the hunter to hunt in Zone A, C and D. Also, just like in Zone B, if you would like you can select a unit specific tag in Zone A this would allow you to archery hunt and then return for the rifle hunt if unsuccessful.



California's 2018 antelope breakdown

With a total of 245 antelope permits available in the California draw—regardless of whether you are a resident and especially if you are a nonresident (only one tag)—applying for one of these permits is a real head-scratcher. With endless amounts of opportunity in other western states, really, the only reason you should consider applying is if you are purchasing your annual hunting license for some other reason. For only $8.13 it is a very affordable application and, although your points carry no value until you are in a maximum point status if you are a resident, it makes sense to apply for any available species in your home state. There are 6 different units to consider when applying. There are also apprentice either sex tags, which require the applicant to be younger than 18 as of July 1. There are five archery buck only options as well as eight different general rifle options. These hunts are conducted primarily in August with two different rifle hunts happening during the first nine days of September. The success rates for all of the rifle hunts are very high with last year’s apprentice tags going 100% across the board. Three of the archery areas only offer one permit and all three hunters were unsuccessful last year.

Current antelope herd condition

California antelope population is limited to the northeast corner of the state and covers six different hunt areas. The current condition of the herd is stable. Based off of tooth data gathered in 2016, the average age class of the antelope taken in each zone was:


Top hunts to consider for California antelope
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
Public land
%
Harvest
success
Zone 1 - Mount Dome 75"+ 51% 50%
Zone 2 - Clear Lake 75"+ 82% 0% - archery
77% - rifle
Zone 3 - Likely Tables 75"+ 65% 20% - archery
77% - rifle
64% - rifle
Zone 4 - Lassen 80"+ 59% 60% - archery
94% - rifle
86% - rifle
Zone 5 - Big Valley 75"+ 54% 0% - archery
80% - rifle
Zone 6 - Surprise Valley 75"+ 58% 0% - archery
90% - rifle

 


How to uncover hidden gem antelope units

With only six different units and a total of 13 different options to choose from, plus a few apprentice tags, there really is no hidden gem for antelope in California. In 2017, the archery hunt in Zone 3 drew with one less than the maximum points allowed and the archery hunt in Zone 5 had the fewest number of applicants with only 78. Facts and information like this and more can be found on Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds and can help when looking for the subtle things that make the difference when setting your sights on a specific hunt or unit. Unless you are in the maximum point pool your odds of drawing are close to or less than one percent in the random.

Top considerations for archery antelope
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
Public land
%
Harvest
success
Number of
applications
Zone 4 80"+ 59% 60% 404
Zone 2 75"+ 82% 0% 93
Zone 3 75"+ 65% 20% 411
Zone 5 75"+ 54% 0% 78
Zone 6 75"+ 58% 0% 105

 

Top considerations for rifle antelope
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
Public land
%
Harvest
success
Number of
applications
Zone 4 80"+ 59% 94%
86%
4,103
2,744
Zone 1 75"+ 51% 50% 386
Zone 2 75"+ 82% 77% 1,146
Zone 3 75"+ 65% 77%
64%
2,908
2,413
Zone 5 75"+ 54% 80% 983
Zone 6 75"+ 58% 90% 1,108

 



B&C entry trends for California antelope

Beyond Filtering 2.0 another backdoor asset to carefully examine is B&C entry trends for different counties throughout the state. Look for units that may be adjacent to some of the top units in the state to find hidden gem areas that may hold better draw odds or OTC opportunities.


Zones listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Zones in this table are included if any part of the zone is found within the county. Data provided below courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club.

California's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for antelope

County

No. of
entries
Zones found within county
Lassen 8 3-Likely Tables4-Lassen5-Big Valley6-Surprise Valley
Modoc 5 2-Clear Lake3-Likely Tables5-Big Valley6-Surprise Valley

Map of California&#39;s top producing B&amp;C antelope counties all time - updated 2018

Top 10 B&amp;C antelope locations since 2010 - California 2018 app strategy


Managing points and expectations 

The preference point race

2018 maximum preference points for antelope: 16

California antelope preference point totals going into the 2018 draw

California antelope preference points going into 2018 table version

Find your draw odds

Resident

Residents who have less than maximum points have a chance at drawing 25% of the available tags each year. This random drawing takes place prior to the preference points drawing each year. This way, every applicant is in the hat for the random drawing. Essentially, if you are the maximum point holder you get an extra chance to draw as you could come out of the hat during the random drawing and if not, you will again have a chance to draw among only the other maximum point holders that applied for your same hunt choice. Below is a breakdown of some “what if” scenarios in regards to the number of tags available on any given hunt choice.

  • For quotas of one, the tag will be awarded at random.
  • For quotas of two, one tag will be awarded using a preference point drawing and one tag will be awarded at random.
  • For quotas of three, two tags will be awarded using a preference point drawing and one tag will be awarded at random.
  • For quotas of four or more, 75% of the quota will be awarded using a preference point drawing. The remaining portion of the quota will be awarded at random.

Nonresidents

Nonresidents are only allotted one antelope permit each year. As soon as a nonresident comes out of the hat then all other nonresident applications are rejected. However, don’t let silly things like odds get in your way. If you are going to purchase a hunting license in California it is only a measly $8.13 to get your name in the hat and there is no doubt if you draw the nonresident antelope tag in California, this is a guaranteed spot at the cool kids’ table wherever you eat lunch.

Find your resident antelope draw odds with 0 points here

Find your nonresident antelope draw odds with 0 points here

Comments

Save up to 50% on Hunting Gear in GOHUNT's Summer Event!
THE Hunting App
Get all 50 States with Explorer - The Ultimate Hunting Maps