According to the California Department of Fish and Game, and contrary to what you might have read or heard elsewhere, there are no free-ranging white-tailed deer in the Golden State. This isn’t to say there never have been whitetails in California. DFG records indicate there have been occasional sightings of whitetails in the northeast part of the state many years ago. However, the last confirmed sighting of a whitetail deer was in the late 1940s.
Today, California is home to about 540, 000 deer, which live scattered across 56 percent of the state’s land mass. The population includes six variations of mule deer, and the Columbian black-tailed deer. Blacktails are the most abundant deer species in the state, followed by the California Mule Deer. The state sells more than 150,000 deer licenses annually, and deer hunters annually generate approximately $445 million in economic activity. Although prime hunting is conducted on private land, there is abundant public hunting land in the state; those dates and permits processes are handled by the Bureau of Land Management. Hence, you won’t find many hunters taking to tree stands. This type of hunting is almost strictly spot-and-stalk.
It is also interesting to note that California has a large base of archery enthusiasts. These bowhunters are well known for traveling to nearby states to chase deer and other big-game animals.