, does California not have an archery only and black powder only season currently?
We have an Archery-Only early season that is zone by zone where hunters are limited to a particular zone but can participate in the early archery season and/or the general season. There's also an Archery-Only tag, which allows hunters to hunt any non-premium zone (all A, B & D zones) so long as they only use only archery as a method of take. There is currently no muzzleloader season but there are a very few muzzleloader lottery hunts. So other than these lottery tags, there is no separate muzzleloader season. You can, of course, use a muzzleloader during the general season. But the vast majority of hunters won't do that when the success rates are usually less than 10% in the non-lottery zones.
AO tags are likely to increase in popularity out here because, for the last 2 years, we're dealing with USFS fire closures where entire zones can be closed for the season. An AO tag holder has the option of going to the next zone over, which isn't far to go and still getting out to hunt somewhere. But zone-specific tag holders are SOL unless they have access to private land. It's the USFS that closes their lands, not CDFW. So private landowners can hunt but the vast majority of the zone is public land. My idea is to have a similar method of take restriction, primitive/traditional only, that would allow hunters the ability to move to the next zone & adapt to the fire conditions we're going to have for a while. But with a similarly restrictive method of take so that the take wouldn't be impacted much -- longbow/recurve during the archery season and traditional muzzleloaders during general.
In constructing my proposal, I figured it would be good to do some homework on primitive weapons seasons, like flintlock-only, to see how it's all done and what issues we're likely to face. I'm chatting with some folks at CDFW about this. But the decision ultimately rests on our state Fish and Wildlife Commission, a group of political appointees.