Hunting in the Eastern Sierra

Deer are a popular animal to hunt in Inyo and Mono counties. PHOTO BY TOM KOERNER/USFWS


There are many hunting options throughout the year along the Highway 395 corridor in the Eastern Sierra. Much of the area is public land, and much of that land is open to hunters.

The Owens Valley near Bishop, for example, offers deer, bear, elk, bighorn sheep, upland birds, waterfowl, rabbits, and varmint hunting.

Further north, Mono County offers deer and bear, duck, desert bighorn sheep, upland birds, and small game at various points of the year.

In the Owens Valley, deer hunting is very popular, and the area is managed with zones that have a limited number of permits. The zones of X9A, X9B, and X9C sell out every year and generally require points to be drawn. The drawing is held in early June.

Hunting in these areas takes place in fall starting in September and ending in November. These areas lend themselves to spot and stalk hunts, road hunting and wilderness hunting. There are limited tags for hunting elk and bighorn sheep in the Owens Valley area. If your name is drawn for one of the tags, contacting one of the local guides will ensure your best opportunity for success in the pursuit of these game animals. Bear hunting is allowed in Inyo County. It coincides with the opening of deer season.

There are lots of bird hunting opportunities around Bishop. Starting Sept. 1, dove season is opened for 15 days. In Inyo County there is not much opportunity to hunt doves in the second season. Depending on feed conditions dove hunting can be fabulous to nonexistent.

Mountain quail and grouse (blue, ruffed) are the next to open after dove season. Then general quail season and chucker open in October. The hunter willing to put in the effort to hike and scout will have success. Waterfowl season starts in October with the balance of the state opener. Hunters will have success jump shooting and decoying the ponds and rivers of the Owens Valley. Access to vast amounts of public lands makes it easy to hunt rabbits and varmints like coyotes. Before heading out to hunt, a stop at one of the local sporting goods store will give you insight into where to pursue the game you want to hunt.  

In Mono County, for mule deer and American black bear, archery season begins the second Saturday in August for three weeks, and rifle season begins the third Saturday in September for three weeks. Seasons vary -- visit the California Fish and Game website at for accurate dates. Popular areas for this large game in Mono County include Green Creek, Buckeye, and Lobdaell Lake.



Tule Elk, although not a native species, have been brought to Inyo County and have done well there. There are limited tags available for hunting elk. PHOTO DAVID JORDAN VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS


Duck season (teals and mallards) begins the first Saturday in October and runs until the last Sunday in January – again, check the California Fish and Game website to ensure dates have not changed before you go. Popular areas for ducks include Bishop Reservoir, East Walker River, Crowley Lake, Owens River, Hot Creek, Alkali Ponds, and Lee Vining Creek.

Desert bighorn sheep in Mono County are typically found in the White Mountains. Few tags are issued for these – if you get one, reserve a guide early.

Upland game birds are in season the third Saturday in October to last Sunday in January. Mourning doves and California quail are found in the high plains, springs, and creeks, while chukar are in the higher elevations such as the White Mountains.

Sage grouse are by permit only during the second weekend in September.

For updated popular areas, call 760-872-1171.

For small game, jackrabbits are in season year-round, while other rabbits and hares are in season from July 1 to the last Sunday in January.

In addition to updated hunting season dates, the latest information on regulations can be found on the California Fish and Game website at

Information from Bishop Chamber of Commerce and Mono County Tourism.