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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2019: California Deer and Antelope

2019 CA application strategy

California's 2019 deer and antelope application overview


Main writer: Jordan Christensen of The Draw

Jump to: New for 2019 State Information Draw System Mule Deer Breakdown Columbia Blacktail Deer Breakdown Antelope Breakdown

The Golden State is not a typical state to bring up when discussing all the opportunities to hunt deer or antelope in the West. This is likely due to the lower than average success for harvesting deer. However, all things considered, California is very much an opportunity driven state when it comes to managing their deer herds and, given the limited number of antelope residing in the state, there is a very limited number of permits available, making the demand much higher than the supply. Planning a deer hunt in California is as easy as choosing a location and going aside from a few exceptions. Drawing an antelope permit, on the other hand, takes a serious number of years or possibly a miracle, especially if you are a nonresident as there is only be one successful nonresident hunter per year.

California does not have a nonresident quota for deer so residents and nonresidents have exactly the same odds each year.

An applicant is required to front the cost of the deer permit during the application period, but the state 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; however, you will need to submit a request for this refund in writing prior to the earliest opening date of the hunt.

Note: The application deadline for all species in California is June 2, 2019 at midnight PST. You can apply online here.


Why California for deer and antelope in 2019

Late application deadline

By the time you are required to apply for a hunt in California, most of the other western states have released their draw results, which makes this a solid back up plan for the years you have not found luck 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.

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 so, with a little planning, you can hunt each year for deer. Bighorn sheep are considered a once-in-a-lifetime permit if you are successful in the draw.

State raffles

If purchasing the expensive nonresident hunting license is not something you are interested in doing, but would still like a chance to hunt bighorn sheep, elk, deer or antelope, then, for as little as $6.48, you can submit a chance in the fundraising drawing applications. You’ll likely have very similar odds of drawing—especially during the first year—without purchasing the hunting license required for the standard state applications.


New for 2019

Special application available for the opening week of rifle season at Knoxville wildlife area

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for a limited, lottery draw deer hunt for the opening week of the A-Zone general deer season on the Knoxville Wildlife Area in Napa County. The 21,000-acre Knoxville Wildlife Area is located approximately 1.5 miles north of Lake Berryessa. This special lottery draw deer hunt is to limit the number of hunters on a popular public hunting area during the opening week of the season and improve the quality of the experience. Only 120 hunt permits will be issued for this special lottery draw deer hunt. The hunting permit is valid for the single hunt period, Aug. 10 to 16, 2019. The Knoxville Wildlife Area will be closed to all other users during the hunt period.

  • For more information and to apply for the lottery draw, click here.
  • Applications will be selected through a random draw and applications will be accepted through June 20, 2019.

Reduced price for resident junior bear, elk, antelope and bighorn sheep tags

Assembly Bill 2151 reduced the fees for a bear, elk, antelope and bighorn sheep tags for resident junior hunting license holders. Beginning with the 2019 license year, resident junior hunters may purchase a bear tag for $26.18. Junior hunters who are successful in drawing a tag for elk, antelope or bighorn sheep will also pay a reduced price for the tag(s). The fee for an elk and antelope tag will be $21.60; a bighorn sheep tag will be $20.60.

Deer Tag Classification Changes

For the 2019 deer hunting season, the following deer tags have changed classifications.

From restricted deer tag to premium deer tag:

  • D6 – tag quota filled on 7/2/18

From premium deer tags to restricted deer tags:

  • A18 – tag quota filled on 7/16/18
  • A22 – tag quota filled on 7/17/18

From premium deer tag to unrestricted deer tag:

  • A19 – tag quota filled on 8/4/18

From restricted deer tags to unrestricted deer tags:

  • B – tag quota filled on 8/16/18
  • A32 – tag quota filled on 8/22/18

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

Nonlead ammunition required statewide

As of July 1, 2019, all hunters must use nonlead ammunition when taking any wildlife in California, except when hunting with a pellet rifle for approved species. Check out this recent goHUNT article here for more information.

  • CCR T14 250.1(d)(3) Effective July 1, 2019, it shall be unlawful to use or possess any firearm capable of firing, any projectile(s) not certified as nonlead when taking any wildlife for any purpose in this state.
  • CCR T14 475(f) The take or attempted take of any nongame bird or nongame mammal with a firearm shall be in accordance with the use of nonlead projectiles and ammunition pursuant to Section 250.1 of these regulations.

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 bonus 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, 2019 at midnight PST.
  • You can apply online here.
  • Draw results will be posted on June 17, 2019.
  • The deadline to purchase antelope, elk and desert bighorn tags is July 17, 2019.
  • Leftover premium deer tags are available (first deer tag) July 2, 2019.
  • Leftover premium deer tags are available (second deer tag) August 2, 2019.

Drought and snowpack in California

California—like many of the western states this year—is seeing a huge comeback regarding moisture levels across the state. As you can see with the year over year comparison below, there is very little of the state in what is considered drought conditions any longer—only 5.97% is even registering within the parameters and that portion is actually only considered abnormally dry, meaning that there isn’t any portion of the state in actual drought conditions. This is big news, especially for the southern end of the state. Exception antler growth and the potential for a higher fawn survival rate this spring means that this should be a small step in the right direction for the Golden State.

2019 CA drought monitor

 

Source: May 14, 2019 Source: US Drought Monitor
 
California drought monitor status as of May 15 2018
 
Source: May 15, 2018 Source: US Drought Monitor

Deer population estimates

California deer population estimates - updated 2019

California deer population estimates by hunt zone - 2019


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. There is also a random drawing for applicants who have less than the maximum number of points.

All applicants are required to show proof of a hunter’s education course prior to applying. This can be done in 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 for residents and nonresidents.

Here is the list of qualifying licenses and their costs:

  • Adult resident: $49.94
  • Adult nonresident: $174.45
  • Junior resident or nonresident: $13.22

Disabled veteran and recovering service member: $7.82 (Refer to California Big Game Hunting Digest for qualifications regarding these licenses.)

Deer has no quota for nonresidents so, essentially (although it is very unlikely), every deer tag in the state could go to a nonresident right down to the last one. You are required to submit the full cost of the deer permit at the time of the application. If you are not successful in a 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 prior to anyone’s second or third choice being considered. Using Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds, you can quickly identify hunts that have been going 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 on any given year. If you are in a maximum point status for the hunt that you applied for, then there is no luck required; 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 its 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 tag available.

First deer tag

  • A first deer tag may be used to obtain the following:
  • Restricted deer hunt tags
  • Unrestricted deer hunt tags
  • Leftover premium deer hunt tags issued on July 2, 2019

If any premium deer hunt tags remain after the big game drawing, first deer tag applicants may apply for any leftover premium deer hunt tags starting at 8:00 a.m. on July 2, 2019.

Second deer tag

  • A second deer tag may be used to obtain the following:
  • Unrestricted deer hunt tags
  • Restricted deer hunt tags
  • Leftover premium deer hunt tags issued on August 2, 2019.

Second deer tag applicants may obtain any restricted deer hunt tag at any time if they do not have a pending first deer tag drawing application or have not been issued a premium or restricted deer tag as a first deer tag. Starting at 8:00 a.m. on August 2, 2019, all second deer tag applicants may apply for any remaining deer tag regardless if you have been issued a premium or restricted deer tag already.


Fundraising and random tags

Given the odds of drawing, particularly for nonresident elk, antelope and bighorn sheep tags in California, a much more affordable opportunity is available in the fundraising and random tags program in California. As rough as the odds are, during any given year, they are no worse or better when applying for these opportunities. The biggest difference is that you are not required to purchase a state hunting license to get your name in the hat. If you are successful in the drawing, then you would at that time be required to purchase the qualifying hunting license.

Here are a few of the details you need to know in order to get involved:

  • You will need to build a user profile on the state of California’s website and receive your GO ID # in order to apply.
  • Any resident or nonresident who will be 12 or older as of July 1, 2019, may apply for the deer, antelope and elk tag.
  • Any resident or nonresident who will be 16 or older as of July 1, 2019, 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.
  • Apply up until midnight on June 2, 2019, 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 has increased slightly this year to $6.48 per entry per species.

The 2019 Fundraising random drawing tags are:

One Open Zone Deer Tag

The tag allows the hunter to hunt during the authorized season dates of any hunt, using the specific method and meeting any special conditions of the tag for that hunt.

One Northeastern California Pronghorn Tag

The tag allows the hunter to hunt in any of the Northeastern pronghorn zones, (Mount Dome, Clear Lake, Likely Tables, Lassen, Big Valley and Surprise Valley) with any legal method. The hunt dates are from August 3, 2019 to September 22, 2019.

One Grizzly Island Bull Zone Elk Tag

The Grizzly Island Bull Elk Tag is valid in the Grizzly Island hunt zone, with any legal method. Only one elk may be harvested. The hunt dates are from August 3, 2019 to September 1, 2019.

One Cady Mountains Desert Bighorn Sheep Tag

The tag is valid only in the Cady Mountains hunt zone. Season dates are from November 2, 2019 through February 2, 2020. If awarded the tag the hunter must attend a mandatory orientation to receive the tag. Note: This tag will be available pending adoption of new regulations by the Fish and Game Commission on May 16, 2019. Hunters interested in applying for this tag, will need to contact their local CDFW license sales office and apply once it is available.


California's 2019 mule deer breakdown

Mule deer can be found in almost every corner of the Golden State except the far northwest corner starting at San Francisco and staying west of Interstate 5 as you head towards the Oregon border. However, there are many areas of the state that have some mixed blood with the Columbian blacktails in the northern portion of the state and the deer you find in the southern deserts are more of the desert mule deer category similar to the deer found in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Determining where to hunt, the style of the hunt the ecosystem and overall conditions are important since solid bucks can really come out of any unit in the state. Yet, the X-Zones and, particularly, the ones located in the northeast corner have the strongest track records of producing above-average deer in the state. Given the fact that you can hunt in so many different units across the state with your second permit, it’s worth considering swinging for the fence on these top-shelf units while having a solid back-up plan in a unit that you can hunt regularly.

If you are a resident and are open to the idea of hunting out-of-state, considering that with only a few points you can hunt some incredible destinations across the West with very few points, you may consider applying for a restricted deer permit with your first application and an unrestricted deer permit with your second application. This will ensure lots of reasons to be in the field each year in your home state while applying for top-shelf destinations in other states for your chance at a giant buck. Using Filtering 2.0 and being a goHUNT INSIDER makes this process easier than ever.

There have not been optimum conditions for the past four hunting seasons in California. If you are up for rolling the dice you may choose to burn your points this year because the conditions have to line up at some point. The age class of bucks that are in the mountains 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. To let a 170”+ mule deer walk 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 its 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 Nevada’s took 350 less deer this past season and this will continue for another one year. Long story short: in a couple of 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 prior years. However, after surveying the unit, the state could decide to increase the tags and, over the next three years, knock the age class back down. 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 is dropping at a rather alarming rate. In 2016 and 2017, 282,813 deer were counted in Zones C, D and X, which was a drop of 48,111 deer from the 2016 survey, bringing the decline to a total of 72,174 less deer in these zones based upon the 2015 count. There have not been any additional numbers added to these statistics for 2018 or 2019 at this time, but given that just this year we are seeing a major change in drought conditions, it’s safe to assume that the downward trend continued in 2018. This year, with the current moisture levels across the state, there is a chance that we could potentially see a small step in the right direction.

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 isn’t too difficult in the Golden State as there are so many options to consider in both the restricted and unrestricted deer units across the state. If you simply want to ensure that you have at least one deer permit in your pocket this fall, then you need to consider applying your second deer application for an unrestricted area. Using Filtering 2.0 will help you filter through potential trophy quality as well as success rates and amount of public land to name a few. Locating one of these under-the-radar hunts has never been easier. Finding areas with higher amounts of private land as well as the more physical areas of the state tend to deter many hunters. Using your OnXMaps and planning accordingly for these types of areas can be a lethal combination in an area that many hunters choose to avoid.


Boone & Crockett (B&C) entry trends for California mule deer

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 Typical mule deer B&C all time entries 2019

Top B&C typical mule deer locations since 2015 - California 2019 app strategy

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 nontypical mule deer B&C all time entries 2019

Top B&C nontypical mule deer locations since 2015 - California 2019 app strategy


Managing points and expectations

The preference point race

2019 maximum preference points for deer: 17

California deer preference point totals going into the 2019 draw

California deer preference points going into 2019 table version

Find your draw odds

Residents and nonresidents are entered into the same bucket of raffle tickets when applying for deer in California so the odds of drawing are the same for both groups. 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. Otherwise, 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 and, possibly, in the same unit, still go hunting each year.

Also, if you do not select a premium unit with your first application, which typically would only make sense for residents, you can submit your second application for a restricted or unrestricted hunt to ensure a better chance at having these permits in your pocket instead of waiting for your chance to buy them over the counter on Aug. 2. It really boils down to what your ultimate goal is: go hunting as often as you can or go hunting in areas with a better track record as often as you can even if it means slim pickings for desirable hunts when you are able to purchase a permit OTC.

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 nonresidents:

As of 2018, there were seven different hunts that drew with 100% odds for applicants who had zero points. Many of these are archery hunts while others allow the hunter to hunt during the 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 would be great options as 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. 30 to Dec. 15, 2019
C-1, C-2, C-3,
C-4
(two different hunt options)
120"+ 16% 32%* Archery A1 tag
Aug. 17 to Sept. 1, 2019
Rifle C Zone tag
Sept. 21 to Oct. 20, 2019
D-9
(one hunt)
120"+ 9% 51% Archery/rifle D9 Zone tag
Aug. 17 to Sept. 8, 2019 (Archery)
Sept. 28 to Oct 27, 2019 (Rifle)
D-11 110"+ 5% 48% Archery A31 tag
Sept. 28 to Dec. 31, 2019
X-9b 160"+ 14% 99% Archery A17 tag
Aug. 17 to Sept. 8, 2019

* 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 nonresidents:

It’s decision time in California: do you choose to continue to swing for the fence at this point even though it will be many more years before it’s your turn to hunt the most difficult hunts in the state to draw? Here are a couple of above average hunts to consider with your current point total. 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 permits in five years because, often, there will be point creep in these areas, which could extend your wait exponentially. You currently have enough points to draw the most available tags in the state short of approximately 20 different options that are generally considered the prime season dates. However, there are a number of options to consider that do have prime rut dates, which should give a hunter the best chance at the oldest bucks in the unit.

Available hunts with 6 points and 160"+ trophy potential
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
4pt or
better %
Public land
%
Season
X-2 170"+ 55% 75% Archery X-2 Zone tag
Aug. 17 to Sept. 8, 2019
X-6b 170"+ 36% 76% Rifle X6b Zone tag
Oct. 5 to 20, 2019
X-9a 170"+ 19% 92% Rifle X-9a Zone tag
Sept. 21st – Oct. 14th, 2019
X-9b 160"+ 14% 99% Rifle X9b Zone tag
Sept. 21 to Oct. 14, 2019

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 nonresidents:

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 you are still many years away from drawing any of these 10 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 during these specific dates, hopefully, you have been building points for all 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% Muzzleloader
Oct. 26 to Nov. 10, 2019
X-6a 170"+ 36% 76% Muzzleloader
Nov. 16 to 24, 2019
D-6 160"+ 16% 53% Rifle
Nov. 23 to Dec. 1, 2019
X-9a 170"+ 19% 92% Rifle
Oct. 26 to Nov. 10, 2019
X-9b 160"+ 14% 99% Rifle
Dec. 7 to Dec. 22, 2019

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, although 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 2019 Columbian blacktail deer breakdown

Hunting Columbian blacktail deer in California is exceptional with many above average deer taken in the state each year. If you are looking to take a B&C qualifying Columbian blacktail deer, you will need to hunt in Zone B or the northern portions of Zone A, specifically north of the east and south borders of Santa Clara County, along the south border of Santa Cruz County and along the edge of Monterey Bay because the different subunits found in Zone B and these northern counties in Zone A are the only ones within the set B&C boundaries. Regardless, there are many areas of the state that afford a hunter a great chance to be successful with this incredible deer. There are currently 10 different options to consider when looking to hunt blacktail deer 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 could also pick up a Zone B tag as a second tag currently 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, 2019 at 8:00 a.m.

Current Columbian blacktail deer herd condition

Columbia blacktail deer in California have been on a downward trend for a number of years. The last year that there was a survey with a total population published was 2017. This survey shows that there are 217,601 deer in Zones A and B, which is a decrease of 23,991 deer that were surveyed in 2016 and a 70,188 decrease in deer from the 2015 survey. 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 winter and spring, we will see better fawn recruitment this year.


Top units to consider for 120"+ or better Columbian blacktail deer
(not in order of quality)

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

How to uncover hidden gem blacktail deer units

Locating a hidden gem in California when it comes to hunting and older age class of deer often means that you will need to be hunting in areas with a large amount of private property. Using a landownership map, it’s possible to find an under-the-radar area that has limited, but some public access. The idea is that you may find an older age class deer in an area like this instead of other areas. Using Filtering 2.0 to study success rates and trophy potential will ensure that when you find this area, that historically you are heading into an area with a good track record and, with all the pieces of the puzzle complete, the odds of something special happening will have absolutely increased.


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
Mendocino 28 A-NorthB-1B-4
Humboldt 27 B-1B-2B-4
Trinity 22 B-1B-2B-5
Tehama 6 B-2B-3B-5C-4
Shasta 5 B-2B-5C-2C-3C-4X-1X-4

Map of California's Typical Columbia blacktail deer B&C all time entries 2019

TOP B&C COLUMBIAN BLACKTAIL DEER LOCATION ENTRIES ALL-TIME (TYPICAL) - California 2019

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

County No. of
entries*
Zones found within county
Trinity 6 B-1B-2B-5
Shasta 4 B-2B-5C-2C-3C-4X-1X-4
Humboldt 3 B-1B-2B-4

* Four other counties with one entry.

Map of California's Nontypical Columbia blacktail deer B&C all time entries 2019

TOP B&C COLUMBIAN BLACKTAIL DEER LOCATION ENTRIES ALL-TIME (NONTYPICAL) - California 2019


Managing points and expectations

The preference point race

2019 maximum preference points for deer: 17

See the preference point graphics in the mule deer section above.

Currently, there are only 10 hunts in California to consider when looking to hunt Columbian blacktail deer if entering this deer in a B&C record book is the ultimate goal. This is because the boundary that is set by B&C segregates a large portion of the state that is known to have blacktails because the chance to have mixed bloodlines is too high and, in an effort to keep the record books as accurate as possible, the boundary has been established. These hunts that fall outside of the qualifying area have great deer hunting and the chance to harvest a world class deer are absolutely there. If simply having a quality hunt is the main objective, then do not rule these areas out.

The bulk of the hunts that are primarily in areas of the state with Columbian blacktail deer are relatively easy to draw and there are many of them. With so many options to consider, including either OTC or a second choice hunt, it may be worth considering applying for your dream hunt even if it’s for 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

Columbian blacktail deer hunts in California that require an application
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
Public land
%
2018 points
required to have 100%
draw odds
Weapon/season
A-North 120"+ 17% <3pts Archery A25
Oct. 5 to 28, 2019
B-1 120"+ 47% <6 pts Archery A30
Nov. 9 to 24, 2019
C-1, C-2C-3C-4 120"+ 32% 0 pts Archery A1
Aug. 17 to Sept. 1, 2019
D-4 110"+ 26% 5 pts Shotgun/archery/crossbow G19
Sept. 29 to Dec. 31, 2019
X-1 110"+ 63% <3 pts Archery A3
Aug. 17 to Sept. 8, 2019
B-1 120"+ 47% <14 pts Muzzleloader M11
Nov. 9 to 24, 2019
C-1, C-2C-3C-4 120"+ 32% 0 pts Rifle C Zone
Sept. 21 to Oct. 27, 2019
C-4 110"+ 38% <1 pts Rifle G1
Oct. 26 to Nov. 3, 2019
X-1 110"+ 63% <3 pts Rifle X1 Zone
Oct. 5 to 20, 2018
D-3 110"+ 40% 3 pts Shotgun G12
Sept. 21 to 29, 2018

OTC opportunities

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


California's 2019 antelope breakdown

In 2018, there were 27,134 applications submitted in California to hunt antelope. With only 245 total permits available, it doesn’t take a mathematician to see that drawing an antelope hunt in the Golden State takes an obscene amount of luck! Out of those 245 permits issued, 243 hunters submitted their harvest surveys, showing that there was an overall 82% success rate for hunters who were lucky enough to draw the permit. Two of the four apprentice hunts had a 100% success rate while the Zone-4 Lassen archery hunt came in the last place with only a 40% (2:5) success rate last year. Overall, this is a growing herd of antelope that is doing quite well and, with any luck, we may see an increase in the number of available permits once we are past this current three-year cycle.

Current antelope herd condition

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

The hit list for California antelope in 2019

Hit list for California antelope
(not in order of quality)

Zone Trophy
Potential
Public land
%
Zone 1 - Mount Dome 75"+ 51%
Zone 2 - Clear Lake 75"+ 82%
Zone 3 - Likely Tables 75"+ 65%
Zone 4 - Lassen 80"+ 59%
Zone 5 - Big Valley 75"+ 54%
Zone 6 - Surprise Valley 75"+ 58%

How to uncover hidden gem antelope units

With only six different units and a total of 17 different options to choose from—and four being apprentice tags—there really is no hidden gem for antelope in California. In 2018, the archery hunt in Zone 3 drew with four less than the maximum number of points. Facts and information like this and more can be found in Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds, which 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 1% in the random drawing. If you are a resident, use Filtering 2.0 to see the total number of applicants for each hunt so you can apply for a hunt that is getting very little attention compared to others in the state.


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 10 3-Likely Tables4-Lassen5-Big Valley6-Surprise Valley
Modoc 5 2-Clear Lake3-Likely Tables5-Big Valley6-Surprise Valley

Map of California&#39;s Antelope B&amp;C all time entries 2019

Top B&amp;C antelope locations since 2015 - California 2019 app strategy


Managing points and expectations 

The preference point race

2019 maximum preference points for antelope: 17

California antelope preference point totals going into the 2019 draw

California antelope preference points going into 2019 table version

Find your draw odds

Residents

Residents who have less than the maximum number of 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 a 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 have another chance to draw among other maximum point holders that applied for your same hunt choice. Below is a breakdown of some different scenarios with regard to the number of tags available on any given hunt choice.

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

Nonresidents

There is only one antelope permit allotted for nonresidents applying for antelope in the Golden State. Once that nonresident permit has been drawn, all other nonresidents are no longer eligible. That makes this a very hard application to get excited about submitting. Really, what it boils down to is simple. If you are investing in the hunting license in California for any other reason, for only $8.13, you can throw your name in the hat and, for that cost, why not? At a minimum, if you were to be the successful nonresident applicant, you would be on the next ballot for the application warrior hall of fame, if there actually was one that is.

Find your resident antelope draw odds with 0 points here

Find your nonresident antelope draw odds with 0 points here

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