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CDFW Special and Apprentice Hunts - Special and Apprentice Hunts FAQs

Apprentice Hunts

Q: What is an “Apprentice Hunt”?
A: These are educational events for hunters who are new to the sport and/or may have limited opportunities to hunt on their own. Apprentice Hunts are staffed by CDFW employees and trained volunteers who provide guidance and assistance to the hunters and ensure that good safety practices are followed. Apprentice Hunts include pen-raised pheasant hunts for women, families, juniors and mobility-impaired hunters
Q: Who can participate in an Apprentice Hunt?
A: Apprentice Hunts are open to anyone who has a valid and current California hunting license. Adult hunters must also have a valid upland game bird validation. Please note that Apprentice Hunts are designed to assist and educate new hunters and hunters who may need assistance in the field. The non-apprentice wild bird hunts are more appropriate for the more experienced hunter.
Q: How can I find out what opportunities are offered in my area?
A: The Apprentice Hunts Online Application System allows interested parties to see what hunts are offered, apply for hunts, and check back on the status of an application. In order to use the Online Application System, you must first create a profile and free account through the CDFW website.

Special Hunts

Q: What is a "Special Hunt"?
A: These are hunting opportunites that are availale to anyone who has a valid and current California hunting license.

Creating an Account for the Special and Apprentice Hunts Online Application System

Q: Who is eligible to use the Online Application system?
A: Anyone who is 18 years of age may create a web user account (hunters who are under the age of 18 must have a parent or responsible adult register for their own account and apply on the minor's behalf). In order to apply for a hunt, you must also have a valid hunting license with a unique GO ID number.
Q: How do I create a CDFW Web User Account?
A: To create a new account, you must provide your first and last name (as it is entered on your hunting license), mailing address (including city, state, and zip code) and a unique email address. A phone number is recommended, in the event that the Department needs to notify you quickly of an impending change regarding a hunt you have applied for, selected to participate in a hunt from a waiting list, or any problem with your application.
Q: I created a self-registered CDFW web account but forgot my password. When I tried to reset it, I could not complete the process. What should I do?
A: If you need to reset your password, click the "MyAccount" tab above, then click the "Forgot Password" link and instructions will be sent to your email. Be sure to add CDFW to your email so CDFW email does not go to your spam.

Applying For A Special or Apprentice Hunt

Q: I’ve found a hunt that I’d like to apply for. How do I get started?
A: In addition to your web account, you’ll need your GO ID number (which can be found on your hunting license). Click “login” at and follow the directions.
Q: I want to be able to hunt with my friends. Can I apply for my whole hunting party using the Online Application system?
A: Yes. Every hunt specifies a maximum hunting party size -- in most cases, that’s two hunters, but family hunts may include up to four people. When you apply for a hunt, you may include others, as long as your hunting party size is not greater than the maximum hunting party size specified for the hunt. (If your party is larger than the maximum number specified, you will have to split your party and have another party member apply on a separate application.) All party members must be added to the application and have valid GOID numbers.
Q: What if I don’t have enough hunters in my group to meet the “maximum hunt party size”?
A. You may always apply with fewer hunters in your party than the maximum hunt number specified.
Q: I’m not sure who I will be hunting with. Can I apply for a party of two without giving the name of my other party member?
A: No. CDFW staff must confirm in advance that all members of your hunting party are properly licensed and eligible. You must provide the name and GO ID number of everyone in your party on your application.
Q: Can I apply for a hunt more than once?
A: No, only one application per hunter, per hunt, may be submitted.
Q: May I apply for more than one hunt?
A: Yes, but you will only be drawn for one Apprentice pheasant hunt per season, unless you are an apprentice junior and have not used your Hunter Education Certificate number (priority validation), in which case you may be drawn for a second hunt by applying with a Priority Validation.
Q: If I am applying to a hunt with a friend, will our chances of being selected increase if we each apply separately as a hunt leader, listing the other as a companion?
A: No. Each hunter can only be entered in a lottery once, per hunt -- either as a hunt leader or as a companion. Duplicate entries will automatically be disqualified by the system.
Q: May my whole family use one email address?
A: If the number of family members does not exceed the maximum hunting party size, then yes. However, if you must split your party, each party leader must have a unique email address.
Q: What is a “priority validation”?
A: A: Upon successful completion of the mandatory hunter education course, every new hunter is issued a Hunter Education Certificate. The certificate number serves as a “priority validation” that ensures the hunter will be given a one-time priority for admittance to an apprentice hunt for beginners. All you have to do is enter the certificate number in the appropriate box on the hunt application and submit by the drawing deadline. You can only take advantage of the priority validation once.

After You Have Applied For A Hunt

Q: How are the applicants selected for the hunts?
A: Applicants are selected randomly through a computer-generated lottery.
Q: How will I be notified if I am selected to participate in a hunt?
A: On your application, you will be asked to specify a notification method (email or regular US post).
Q: Are there waiting lists for the hunts? How will I know if I am on one?
A: Waiting lists may be created at the time of the lottery, to allow for the refilling of slots vacated due to cancellation. You will not be notified if you are placed on a waiting list. You will only be notified if you have been selected from the waiting list to participate.
Q: I have been selected to participate in a hunt, but I will not be able to attend. What do I need to do?
A: Each hunt has a contact number for information. Please contact the hunt leader at this number and let them know that you are not able to attend.
Q: Can I change my application once I have submitted it?
A: No. If you have made a mistake, please call CDFW at (916) 445-3418. Your application must be deleted from the system before you can reapply.
Q: I am a disabled hunter. Which hunts may I apply for?
A: You may apply for any hunt, if successfully drawn contact the hunt leader listed in your confirmation letter to arrange for accommodations. There are also specific opportunities for disabled hunters listed in the Application System.

Other Hunts

Q: Which hunts are not drawn through the CDFW Special and Apprentice Hunts Online Application system?
A: Hunts that are currently administered by the CDFW License and Revenue Branch and are not handled by the CDFW Special and Apprentice Hunts Online Application system include: SHARE hunts, wild upland game bird hunts (pheasant, dove, chukar, quail and turkey) big game hunts (bear, elk, deer hunts, etc.) and some waterfowl To view and apply for these hunts, please go to