Hunting on the Chimineas Ranch and the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve
Please see the General Access page for basic information about accessing the property.
The Chimineas Ranch is part of the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve, located in San Luis Obispo County, owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). CDFW sets the regulations for public access and use of the land. The information provided here is for general guidance only. For specific information, please check out the CDFW link at https://wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/Places-to-Visit/Carrizo-Plains-ER or contact CDFW directly at 805-594-6152. A CDFW access map is provided below.
The CPER has 3 units that are open for hunting: the North Chimineas Unit, the South Chimineas Unit, and the American Ranch Unit. The North and South Chimineas units combined make up what are commonly referred to as the Chimineas Ranch. (See attached map)
Each unit of the CPER has different access and hunting regulations. The Chimineas Ranch Foundation provides the information here as an informal guide to help hunters identify opportunities available on the property. Nothing contained is this guide has any legal authority and every hunter should consult the CDFW regulations for appropriate laws and regulations prior to hunting.
Only those species specifically listed below are permitted to be hunted on the CPER. Hunting other species is prohibited. The hunts are subject to all applicable general hunting regulations and may be subject to temporary closures. All licenses, tags and stamps are required as applicable under state regulations.
Prohibited activities: Target shooting, ATV riding, mountain biking, horseback riding, and camping
Prohibited species to hunt: On the North and South Chimineas units only all species not listed below, including coyote and ground squirrel, are prohibited.
Ammunition: All ammunition must be non-lead.
Dogs: Visitors may use dogs for hunting during an open season for authorized species. Hunting dogs must be leashed while in the parking lot. While hunting, dogs may be off leash but must be under voice control of the hunter.
Access Permits: Access permits for the South Chimineas Unit are required for all visitors. These free permits are available at the main entrance kiosk at the parking lot off Highway 166 or can be downloaded ahead of time from CDFW’s website at https://wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/Places-to-Visit/Carrizo-Plains-ER#956390-recreation. Scroll down to Recreational Opportunities and click on Chimineas Access Permit (PDF). The permits must be deposited in the kiosk box at the end of the hunt. These permits provide data for CDFW on public use and hunter take
Directions to the South Chimineas Unit: San Luis Obispo County, Hwy 166, 45 miles east of Santa Maria and 20 miles west of New Cuyama. Parking lot and entrance gate are at mile marker 45 on the north side of the highway.
Pig hunting is open on the American Ranch Unit at any time otherwise legal to hunt. No access permit is needed.
Pig hunting is open on the North Chimineas Unit only during the drive-on upland game hunt for which you must be drawn. See the Upland Game section. Pigs are generally not found on the South Chimineas Unit but may be taken if you come across one and have a pig tag during the walk-on or drive-on hunts.
Apprentice hunters who have drawn for the sponsored deer or elk hunts may be allowed to hunt pigs if all deer or elk tags have been filled before the hunt schedule is completed. This is determined on a case by case basis by CDFW during the hunt. The apprentice hunter must have a valid state issued pig tag.
Deer hunting is open on the American Ranch Unit during the A-zone deer season under the usual regulations. No access permit is required. The Chimineas units are closed to deer hunting except for the apprentice hunt which is by draw. Apprentice applicants must be 12 years old by July 1st of the hunt year and may not be older then 17.
For information on the Apprentice Deer Hunt see the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov and go to Hunting, then Deer, then Special Hunts, then Carrizo Plains Apprentice Deer Hunt. This hunt is NOT listed in the normal deer tag section of the Big Game Booklet.
All elk hunts are by draw through the CDFW website. The La Panza hunt zone covers a large area of public and private lands which includes the CPER. The hunt codes are listed in the yearly Big Game Booklet published by CDFW. All elk hunters must attend an orientation prior to their hunt. During the La Panza hunt orientation, 3 hunters are drawn from the attendees and are given permission to hunt the Chimineas units. See the CDFW website www.wildlife.ca.gov, go to Elk Hunting and scroll down to find the La Panza unit tags.
The hunt code for the tule elk apprentice tag is 464, La Panza Period 1 Antlerless Apprentice Hunt. For all other La Panza tule elk tags the hunt codes are 417, 418, 419, and 420.
Upland game hunting (quail, dove, and rabbit) is open on the American Ranch Unit at any time otherwise legal to hunt. No access permit is needed.
For the Chimineas units, there are two ways to get access to hunt upland game and wild pigs.
Walk-on hunts: Walk-on hunting is permitted on the South Chimineas Unit for the upland gamebird season on Wednesdays and Saturdays only, September 1 - 15 and December 1 - January 31. Access is off Highway 166 from the parking lot at mile marker 45. There is a kiosk inside the gate with information and free permit forms you must fill out and carry with you while on the CPER and must return to the kiosk box when leaving. Note that walk-on hunting is closed the opening weekend of the deer and elk seasons.
Drive-on hunts: There are 3 drive-on hunts each year during the upland game season, one on the North Chimineas Unit in September and two on the South Chimineas Unit in December and January. These hunts are by draw through the CDFW website. For information and the application go to www.wildlife.ca.gov, then Hunting, then Upland Game Birds, then Special Hunts, then Upland Wild Bird Hunts, then Quail. Scroll down to find the information for the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve. Besides the general draw, there is also a separate draw for mobility impaired hunters. Application information can be found on a separate tab.
Junior only quail hunt: This hunt is by draw through the CDFW website. Ten juniors are drawn for the October hunt. This is a challenging hunt and is not recommended for first time hunters. Hunting dogs will be provided. See the CDFW website information above for information and application.
Questions about the Upland Game hunts should be directed to CDFW at (559) 243-4005, ext. 132.
In 2021, the Chimineas Ranch Foundation installed a new kiosk for the public at the Hwy 166 entrance to the property. A property map and CDFW regulations are posted and the free access permits are available in the attached boxes.