Tag Archives: ammunition

Turkey Hunting with Pellet Rifles?

Spring tom turkeys in Northern California (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Spring tom turkeys in Northern California (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: While watching some videos on YouTube about turkey hunting with a pellet rifle, I noticed a guy from northern California stating he was using a nitro piston Remington air rifle which is not constant air or CO2 powered as your regulations state they must be. I believe people are thinking that any pellet rifle that is .177 caliber or larger is all right to use. This guy has videos of multiple hunts in which he is using illegal equipment, thus couldn’t he be considered “poaching” or at least taking game with illegal equipment? It’s sad to see people that are not completely understanding of the rules and regulations, but it also angers me to see people shoot these birds with equipment they should not be using. (Rob G., Folsom)

Answer: Thank you for taking the time to contact us about this and the use of the pellet rifle. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Chief Mike Carion, this topic was recently discussed among our law enforcement leaders, and the group’s consensus is that the regulation allows for “compressed air or gas.” Therefore, since the nitrogen-filled chamber is a compressed gas, it would meet the criteria of the regulations and therefore is not illegal.

This is another example of the regulations not being able to keep up with the advances in technology. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention and we will work to correct the writing of the language of these regulations.


Filleting halibut aboard my boat?
Question: If I catch a California halibut and want to fillet it aboard my boat and keep it as fresh as possible, what do I have to do? Someone told me that as long as I leave all of the skin still attached on one side, that would be legal. Is this correct? (Robert L., Long Beach)

Answer: Yes. For California halibut taken from or possessed aboard a vessel south of Point Arena (Mendocino County), fillets must be a minimum of 16 and three-quarter inches in length and shall bear the entire skin intact. A fillet from a California halibut (flesh from one entire side of the fish with the entire skin intact) may not be cut-in-half fillets. However, a fillet may be cut lengthwise in a straight line along the midline of the fillet where the fillet was attached to the vertebra (backbone) of the fish only if the two pieces of a fillet remain joined along their midline for a length of at least two inches at one end of the fillet (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.65(b)(6)).


How old to hunt in California?
Question: How old do you have to be to hunt in California? I know you have to be 12 to hunt big game, but are there any age limits to anything else? How old do you have to be to take the hunter safety class? (Zac S.)

Answer: A person must be 12 years old to apply for a big game tag and 16 to hunt bighorn sheep. There is no specified minimum age to hunt other game, but hunters must be accepted into and successfully complete the prescribed hunter education course. It’s up to the hunter education instructors as to what minimum age child they are willing to test, but most recommend 10 years old. The main thing is the child must be mature enough to successfully complete the hunter education course requirements and examination.


Bear spray
Question: What are the laws in regards to bear spray in the state of California? I moved from Alaska where it was almost necessary to carry bear spray as your first line of defense in order to eliminate the threat rather than resorting to a firearm. Can you please clarify what the law is here in California? I understand personal self-defense against humans is legal as long as its 2.5 ounces or less. But as far as bear spray I just don’t know the answer. I am concerned because I still have a can I brought from Alaska with me and would like to know if I am breaking any laws? (Paul P.)

Answer: Nothing in the Fish and Game Code or Title 14 regulations limit the amount of bear spray that may be possessed in California. However, depending upon the ingredients in the spray, there are likely Penal Code or Health and Safety Code provisions that apply. The use of bear spray is not allowed within National Parks found within California but is allowed in some parks in other states. CDFW recommends checking with the local sheriff’s office in the area you plan on carrying the bear spray.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

How to Handle Loaded Firearms around Wildlife Officers?

Game warden Nicole Kozicki checks a waterfowl hunter's hunting license

Wildlife Officer Nicole Kozicki checks a waterfowl hunter’s shotgun and hunting license

Question: What should a person do when approached by a wildlife officer for inspection? Should they put the gun onto their car so that it’s in plain sight? Should they tell the officer to wait while they unload the gun? Should they place the gun on the ground? What is the proper protocol in this type of situation? Please advise. (Rheannon O.)

Answer: First of all, placing a loaded long gun in or on a vehicle which is in a place open to the public is a violation of the law. Vehicles should automatically be considered a poor choice to place or to store a loaded firearm. When a wildlife officer approaches, the first thing you should do is follow the directions that the officer gives you. Absent any directions, here are some good options:

  1. Some people unload their firearm in a calm manner to show respect for what a loaded firearm can do and respect for the officer. This shows the officer you are handing him a safe unloaded firearm. If you are within talking distance, ask the officer if he/she wants you to unload the firearm. If directed to unload, make sure to control the muzzle away from anyone.
  2. Many folks simply hand the firearm to the officer, and that is also acceptable. If you do, make sure to tell the officer the gun is loaded.
  3. Setting the gun on the ground is acceptable so long as the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction, but depending on the terrain (mud, sand, etc), this may not be a prudent choice.

Transporting a friend’s lobsters after a multi-day trip
Question: There will be three of us going to Catalina to hoop for lobsters with a multi-day permit. One guy will only be able to hoop two of the three days and then will have to take the Flyer back to go to work. Can my friend and I transport this guy’s catch back for him as long as we have his license/report card with us without being in violation of limits? He will not be able to take his catch with him. (Larry H.)

Answer: No. Multi-day permits require that “All passengers must disembark at place of return as stated” on the permit (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.15(b)(5)). Your friend can “gift” you his lobsters, but they will count towards your overall take/possession limit. You and your friend are allowed to take/possess only your own limits. In this situation, your friend must go home with his catch or else all three of you are allowed to catch no more than a limit for two people.


Retaining just one claw when crabbing?
Question: Our fishing club is planning a fishing trip for local crab out of the Santa Monica Bay area. Some people in the group insist we should only keep one claw from each crab so they can be put back to grow another claw and still live. I know with lobsters we are instructed to leave them whole until they are ready for consumption to allow the wildlife officer to verify it’s a legal catch. Is it legal to keep only one claw or do we need the entire crab to allow the wildlife officer to verify? (Jerry E.)

Answer: You are required to take the whole legal-sized crab to prove your crab is of legal size. Possessing just claws would be a violation because the size of the crabs they came from cannot be determined (Fish and Game Code, section 5508). Crabs also carry a lot of meat in the body. Crab season for all crabs of the genus Cancer (except Dungeness crabs) is open all year. The size limit in Southern California is four inches and the part of the crab that we measure is the main body shell (edge of shell to edge of shell at the widest part).

While crabs may be able to regenerate lost claws under good conditions, crabs with only one claw have a far tougher time fending off predators than if they had both claws for protection. Predators will go after any weakened animal, so just removing a claw may be considered a waste of fish – also a state violation.


Minimum age to apply for a deer drawing?
Question: Can you apply for a deer drawing if you are only 11 but will be 12 before the hunt starts or do you have to be 12 before you put in for the drawing? (Jacob W.)

Answer: You must be 12 years old by July 1 to apply.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Can a Private Boat Owner Be Cited for a Passenger’s Violation?

California Spiny Lobsters at San Clemente Island (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: I have my own boat and take friends out lobster fishing with me. I always make sure each person has their license and report card. I also make sure each person has their own bag and keeps each lobster they catch separate as they catch them. My question is, if the game warden finds a short lobster in one of their bags, am I held responsible as the boat owner or would the owner of that bag be responsible? Also, do boat limits apply when fishing for lobster? (Jerry E.)

Answer: Lobsters may be brought to the surface of the water for measuring, but no undersize lobster may be brought aboard any boat or retained. All undersize lobsters must be released immediately into the water (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.90). If the bag or undersized lobster is claimed by any person aboard the boat, that person would most likely be issued a citation for possession of an undersized lobster.

If no one claims the lobster, the game warden can issue citations to everyone aboard the boat (joint possession). Or, since the boat is the property of the skipper, the skipper may be the only one cited because the undersized lobster is possessed aboard the skipper’s boat. Of course, prevention is the best solution, so if in doubt, set it free.

Sport fishing boat limits apply only to fin fish, not lobster. This means that once a lobster fisherman harvests the daily bag limit of seven, he or she may no longer fish for lobster.


Lead ammo for pistol in condor country?
Question: In the lead-free condor zone, can I carry a pistol that is loaded with lead ammo for self-defense, with the intention of NEVER using it for hunting purposes? The purpose of carrying it is for self-defense only. Of course I’ll be carrying lead-free ammo for my rifles, but I want to know about the side arm. Personally, I carry either a Glock 20 in 10mm or a Ruger 44mag. (Brandon C.)

Answer: You may not use or possess lead ammunition in the condor zone while hunting, even if you have no intention of using the lead ammunition to shoot wildlife. For more information on the non-lead requirements in condor country, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/condor/.


Selling sturgeon eggs from a legally-taken sturgeon?
Question: If I catch legal-sized sturgeons with eggs, can I sell the eggs because I don’t eat them? (Byron M.)

Answer: No. It is illegal to sell any portion of a sturgeon or any fish taken under the authority of a sport fishing license (Fish and Game Code, section 7121).


Grizzly bear tooth
Question: I received a grizzly bear tooth amongst some of my grandfather’s possessions after he passed away. My grandfather grew up here in California and was an amateur geologist and never hunted, so I think he either found or purchased the tooth, although I have no proof. I was wondering if it is legal to possess or sell the tooth here in the state of California. I don’t want to break any laws. (Laura J.)

Answer: It is legal for you to possess it but you cannot try to sell it. The sale or purchase of any bear part in California is prohibited (FGC, section 4758 (a)). Even offering it for sale over the Internet is a federal violation that could make you subject to prosecution under the Lacey Act. You may possess the tooth or give it away, but you may not sell it.

Sounds to me like you have an interesting piece of California’s history, as grizzly bears are extinct in the state — Enjoy it!


Retrieving hoop nets with rod and reel?
Question: Is it legal to use a rod and reel as a retrieval device for a hoop net? For instance, I would connect an 18-inch hoop net to the line of my rod and reel (without hooks) and this would allow me to cast the net in order to better fish for lobsters from a jetty. Is this OK? (Jeff C.)

Answer: Yes, you may use a rod and reel as a retrieval device for your hoop net. You are not required to pull your net by hand, nor are you prohibited from pulling it using a rod and reel.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.