Deer Hunting in Mount Pinos, California

by Cicely A. Richard

Mount Pinos is located in Los Padres National Forest, California's third largest national forest. The Mount Pinos Ranger District borders Ventura and Kern counties, as well as a small part of Santa Barbara County. Deer hunting in California takes place from late summer to early winter. Columbia black-tailed deer and California mule deer live among Mount Pinos' pines and conifer trees. Deer hunters in Mount Pinos must adhere to California Department of Fish and Game regulations.

California Hunting License

Los Padres National Forest requires California big game hunting licenses of both residents and nonresidents who wish to hunt deer in Mount Pinos. The department provides different licensing options, including junior licenses and disabled veterans reduced fee licenses. Residents and nonresidents must be 16 years old or older to get a license for big game hunting. Junior hunting licenses are for residents and nonresidents who are younger than 16 accompanying licensed adults.

Deer Tags

California requires the purchase of deer license tags before hunting in Mount Pinos. Applicants must be 12 years old or older by July 1 of the year in which they are applying. The Department of Fish and Game does not allow hunters to exchange premium deer tags; however, restricted and unrestricted tags can be exchangeable under certain conditions. These conditions may exist if the deer hunting season has not opened, the exchange quota has not been filled, tags for a particular hunting zone are still available or hunters add a nonrefundable payment to the processing fee. Once a hunter kills a deer, they must completely fill out the tag, including the date of the kill, and attach it to the animal's antler or ear.


The Department of Fish and Game prohibits the use of lead ammunition for hunting big game near condor habitats, including those found in the Mount Pinos Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest. The national forest also wants to prevent lead poisoning in other area wildlife, including its deer. The fish and game department defines non-lead ammunition as projectiles and bullets that contain less than one percent lead. The fish and game department provides a list of certified non-lead ammunition manufacturers. Game wardens have the authority to inspect weapons and seize them if lead is present.


The Mount Pinos Ranger District offers tent and RV campsites for deer hunters staying in the park overnight. McGill Campground offers tent and RV camping from mid-April to mid-November, featuring 78 family campsites and two group campsites. Family campsites have picnic tables and fire rings. One group campsite allows up to 60 occupants, while the other accommodates up to 80 campers. McGill has primitive restroom facilities, and campers must bring their own water to this campground. Open year-round, Aliso Park Campground offers 10 overnight shaded tent and RV campsites with cooking facilities. Aliso has two pit toilets, allotted park areas and water.

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