Tag Archives: photography

Protecting Wildlife via Highway Fences

Game fences are installed primarily installed just along traditional migratory routes (USFWS photo of Tule elk bulls)

Game fences are primarily installed along traditional deer and elk migratory routes (Tule elk photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: I have been hunting deer and elk out of state for years. Every western state I have hunted has installed game fencing adjacent to highways where big game frequents and/or migrates. Why in the heck doesn’t California do this? I live in Grass Valley and Interstate Highway 49 is always being widened, but never does the work include game fencing or game “underpasses.” I have never seen or read any information coming from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommending game fencing along California highways. (Sven O.)

Answer: We do install game fencing but don’t do it everywhere. Because game fences are expensive, they are primarily installed just along the major migration routes. If designed incorrectly, they can do much more damage than good. Keep in mind that California has more than 2.3 million miles of paved road and it would be impossible to fence all of that no matter how much funding we had available.

According to CDFW Game Program Manager Craig Stowers, CDFW has instead focused primarily on routes that migratory deer move through as they are highly traditional and tend to move through the same areas year after year. Then once we identify where those areas are (mostly by finding road kills, but we can also identify through tracks in the snow and/or telemetry data), we work with CalTrans to mitigate those losses. CDFW has found lots of traditional migratory route areas in the state.

Some good examples of this kind of game fencing work include the miles of fencing and under crossings on I-395 from Bordertown up to the Inspection Station just south of the intersection of 395/89, fencing and undercrossings on I-395 in the Bass Hill Wildlife Area just south of Susanville, the work done in the Loyalton-Truckee deer herd area and the work we completed last year in the I-280 area (in conjunction with Caltrans and UC Davis). Our job on that one was simply to catch the deer, which we did. Caltrans engineers and wildlife experts from UC Davis analyzed the movement data of those deer in an effort to modify roadside fencing and existing undercrossings to cut down the number of deer hit on I-280. Regardless of location, it is a very expensive and time-consuming effort, not only to determine where to install the fencing and/or undercrossings, but also to build them.


Underwater camera to find trout?
Question: Is it legal to use an underwater camera to look for trout that may be hiding underneath the creek/river bank? Does it matter if it’s used while engaged in the actual activity of trout fishing or when not in possession of a fishing pole? (Jim B., Elk Grove)

Answer: An electronic viewing device, such as an underwater camera, would be legal but a non-electronic viewing device (such as goggles, scuba mask, etc.), would be prohibited for taking fish (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.09). There’s an exception, though, under the provisions of spearfishing (CCR Title 14, section 2.30).


Keeping a skunk for a pet?
Question: I live in Alameda and want to know if it is legal for me to keep a pet skunk? We will, of course, have the stink glands removed for obvious reasons. (Beatrice V.)

Answer: No. Wildlife must remain wild and cannot be owned. Generally, animals found in the wild in California can never be kept as pets. Only people who qualify for a restricted species permit may possess wild animals, like skunks. Keeping wildlife is prohibited by Fish and Game laws (CCR title 14, section 671) and California health laws due to a high incidence of rabies in skunks in California. All wildlife, even skunks, belong to the citizens of California and cannot be held, domesticated…or have their scent glands surgically removed!


Trolling for salmon?
Question: This last weekend while fishing/trolling with my husband for salmon, we had three fish on board and needed one more for the two of us to have limits. My question is – do we need to fish/troll with just one rod as one of us has a limit, or may we fish with two rods until we catch one more fish? (Donna S.)

Answer: You can use two rods until you catch your final fish because boat limits apply in ocean waters. Boat limits are defined as: “When two or more persons that are licensed or otherwise authorized to sport fish in ocean waters … are angling for finfish aboard a vessel…, fishing by all authorized persons aboard may continue until boat limits of finfish are taken and possessed aboard the vessel”.(CCR Title 14, section 27.60(c)).

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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.

Should Anglers Release Lingcod Females?

Lingcod (photo courtesy of Matt Elyash)

Lingcod (photo courtesy of Matt Elyash)

Question: Last year before the end of rockfish season, I went on a charter boat out of Berkeley. Some of the lingcod caught were females with eggs. When do lingcod spawn and can keeping these females hurt the fishery in the future? Should we as anglers release females like we do for striped bass? I’m glad to see the size limit dropped and the season longer, but I don’t want to be back to where we were before. (Jason Green)

Answer: Lingcod and other groundfish are federally managed. Harvest management plans and stock assessments take into account the removal of both males and females when setting quotas, so fishery managers do factor in the take of females, too.

According to the latest assessment, the lingcod stock has fully recovered from their overfished status. Lingcod don’t get the bends (no swim bladder), so females can be released if handled properly.

In northern and central California, the primary reason for the current closed seasons for lingcod in late fall, winter and spring for boat-based anglers is to protect mature females that have moved inshore to spawn, and to protect the mature males that guard the egg nests.

Lingcod are a species that if handled properly can often be successfully caught and released. However, unless regulations prohibit keeping the fish (e.g. bag and minimum size limits) or the angler is releasing all fish, if it turns out the fish has been improperly handled or is bleeding and may not survive, the fish should be kept. Releasing bleeding females that may not survive in order to keep males instead just wastes fish and is not a good conservation method.

Lingcod generally spawn from November through February. Females do take longer to mature and they grow to a larger size than males. By some estimates, males only grow to 24-26 inches. Females are legal to keep, so keeping an egg-laden female would be up to that fisherman’s personal ethics.

Bottom line … female lingcod are legal to take and so it’s up to the fisherman to decide whether or not they want to.


Can kids under 16 fish alone without a license and an adult present?
Question: Can children under the age of 16 fish without a license, and alone without a licensed adult present? (Jennifer P.)

Answer: Yes. Although no license is required, keep in mind that no matter their age, everyone who fishes must know what the fishing regulations are that apply to the type of fishing they are doing, and have the good judgment to abide by them.


Using SCUBA to photograph abalone divers?
Question: I would like to photograph abalone divers diving but I need to use an air tank to obtain the imagery I want. How can I go about this without getting in trouble with a game warden? (Andrew B., Salt Lake City, UT)

Answer: It is legal for you to photograph abalone freedivers while you are using a tank, as long as you observe a couple of regulations.

The use of SCUBA gear or surface-supplied air while taking abalone is prohibited (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(e)). Therefore, if you are using a tank while photographing abalone freedivers, you cannot assist them with taking abalone. You also cannot help them pop abalone off the rocks or spot abalone for them, or do anything else that could be construed as giving assistance in taking abalone.

In addition, under this section the possession of abalone is prohibited aboard a vessel that also contains SCUBA gear or surface supplied air. This means you will have to use a separate boat – you cannot board the same boat the abalone freedivers are using while you are using SCUBA gear.


What to do with a full-size Cheetah / Leopard mount?
Question: My uncle recently passed away and left me in charge of his estate. One of the items he left is a full size Cheetah/ Leopard taxidermy. Is it legal for me to sell it? If not what do you recommend that I do with it? (Michael C., Modesto)

Answer: You are allowed to give it away but you are not allowed to sell or trade it (California Penal Code, section 653o). You might want to contact a museum, service club or local school to see if they may have a use for it.


Crabbing overnight at the beach?
Question: I enjoy crabbing and want to go crabbing overnight at the beach. Is this legal? (Ann N.)

Answer: Yes, as long as the beaches don’t have any city, county or beach curfews, it is legal to go crabbing overnight from most beaches. (CCR Title 14, section 29.05(a)).

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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.

Remote-Controlled Electric Aircraft in California Reserves?

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Question: I am a conservation advocate and an avid wildlife photographer. Over the last several years, I have been photographing birds and landscape views of Southern California’s wildlife areas. I am interested in expanding this documentation with video, and in particular aerial video taken from a remote-controlled electric helicopter. While I am very aware of the need to not disturb or harass local wildlife, I am wondering if there are regulations that restrict or prohibit the use of RC-aircraft in or around the perimeter of ecological reserves and conservation areas? (Bill K.)

Answer: There is no general prohibition against using radio-controlled “vehicles” in wildlife areas (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 550). However, in ecological reserves, prohibitions against: 1) disturbing any bird, mammal, etc.; 2) operating vehicles; and 3) operating any type of aircraft or hovercraft without permission may apply (CCR Title 14, sections 630(a)(1) & (a)(4) and (a)(17)). There is also a provision that prohibits the use of any motorized, hot-air, or unpowered aircraft or other device capable of flight or any earth orbiting imaging device to locate or assist in locating big game mammals beginning 48 hours before and continuing 48 hours after any big game hunting season in the same area (CCR Title 14, section 251(a)). In addition, a permit could be required if there are concerns your aircraft will “ … herd or drive… or disrupt animal’s normal behavior patterns, which includes, but is not limited to breeding, feeding or sheltering …”

Under federal regulations, this may be illegal if you are using the video for any commercial purpose.  “Under current federal aviation rules, using unmanned aircraft — what commonly are referred to as drones — for commercial purposes is prohibited in the United States.”

Please contact the Regional Manager for the area you intend to visit for information on the application of these laws. For a list of contact numbers available, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/regions/.


Serving abalone at a fund-raiser?
Question: My husband and I are residents of both Humboldt and Sutter counties. We occasionally dive for abalone in Humboldt where we live. If we don’t consume them right away, we freeze them whole in the shell as the local game warden advised us years ago. I also work for a nonprofit hospice in Sutter County and they are having a fundraiser in May at a private house, where many of our staff will prepare appetizers for 100 guests. I want to prepare abalone appetizers from three abalone that we already have tagged and frozen from last season. The event is being professionally catered for the meal and dessert and so they are selling tickets, but no one is paying for or making money from the abalone I want to cook. The abalone is such a minuscule part of the meal. I just want to make sure I am allowed to bring it to an event like this and I was not able to find anything specific about that in the regulations. Please advise. Thank you. (Amy M., RN)

Answer: Sport-taken abalone may not be bought, sold, bartered or traded (Fish and Game Code, section 7121.) If sport-taken abalone are used for a non-profit fundraising dinner, then the cost of attending the dinner must be advertised as a requested donation to the organization putting on the dinner. In your situation, if you are just providing a few abalone for an appetizer, and as long as the dinner is not advertised to contain abalone in order to sell more tickets to the fund-raising dinner, then I think that would be ok. However, you should contact your local game warden where you will be having the dinner to confirm they are in agreement.


Running dogs with GPS for pigs and coons?
Question: Since bear and bobcat hunting with hounds is now banned in the state of California, can we still use GPS collars on hounds for hunting pigs, coons, etc.? (Dean C.)

Answer: You may use dogs to hunt raccoons and pigs, however, the use of GPS collars is prohibited (CCR Title 14, section 265(d)(2)).


Poke poling – need a license?
Question: Do I need a fishing license to poke pole for monkey-faced eels? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, the only exceptions are if you are 15 years old or younger or if you are fishing from a public pier or the most seaward jetty of a public harbor. Otherwise a fishing license is required and all regular fishing regulations 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.

Lights at night to monitor wildlife behavior and movement?

You never know what you might capture with a trail camera. These porcupines were caught by Adam Miller from Sheffield, PA (Photo courtesy of Cuddeback Digital)

Question:Is it legal to use lights to monitor wildlife if you do not have any guns in your possession? Watching wildlife at night is a very interesting way to educate kids to be on the lookout for and gain an interest in wildlife. I’ve always wondered if using lights to do this would be considered harassment somehow and not be allowed? (Bill T.)

Answer: It is not illegal to shine lights since you won’t have a “method of take” with you, but your activities could alert a game warden who might think you are using the spotlights to poach game at night. Be aware that there are vehicle code laws that prohibit shining a hand-held spotlight from a motor vehicle, and another provision that requires “off road” lights to be covered while traveling on a public roadway or highway.

(Photo by Nathan Borgmeyer of Apex, N.C and courtesy of Cuddeback Digital)

Instead, you might consider using a trail cam like those sold through most outdoor gear stores. These will allow you to capture (via night vision equipment) images or video of wildlife that might be visiting a watering hole or passing through an area where the camera could capture their image. There are some cameras that take photos when a light sensor is tripped and some that take photos at certain time intervals. The trail cams would not bother or harass the wildlife and you’d be able to capture them while they are act ingnormally, doing whatever they are naturally doing at night. You might also be surprised by the different species that will appear that you probably were not expecting!


How much help for a legally blind angler?
Question: I helped my boss, who is legally blind, get a disabled license for fishing. However, due to her disability, she will need help baiting her hook. Can I legally help her without needing a two-pole stamp? (Sandy B.)

Answer: Yes, as long as you are just assisting and not controlling the rod or reeling the fish in for her, you will not need a fishing license or second rod stamp.


When fishing catch-and-release for ocean fish, what’s the limit?
Question: If my friend and I catch and retain our boat limit of salmon, can we continue fishing for them if all are immediately released? (Anonymous)

Answer: No. If you have taken and retained your limit of salmon, or any other limit of fish, you cannot continue fishing with gear and methods that will most likely target those fish. According to California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Lt. Dennis McKiver, if you were to do this, by law you are attempting to take more salmon. “Take” is defined by law to include hunting, pursuing, catching, capturing or killing, or attempting to hunt pursue, catch, capture or kill (Fish and Game Code, section 86 and California Code of Regulations, section 1.80). If you are in possession of a limit of salmon, you may not attempt to catch additional salmon. If you do, you could be subject to a citation if you are targeting salmon while you are in possession of your limit of salmon. In addition, salmon are not good candidates for catch and release fishing because they are highly susceptible to hooking mortality, so it is important to stop salmon fishing when you reach your limit.


Can a non-hunter carry an unloaded shotgun when with other hunters?
Question: While hunting on a game bird club, can a non-licensed, non-hunter carry an unloaded shotgun while walking with other hunters? (Anonymous)

Answer: While it may not technically violate the law for you to carry an unloaded shotgun without a license, by doing this with others who have ammunition and are taking game, it will likely generate many questions by the game warden contacting you in the field. Whether or not you have a hunting license is not an element of “take.” You may argue you are not taking game, but the warden has sufficient evidence to prove you are. Do you really want to put yourself through the hassle of going to court? Leave the firearm behind if you want to go with your buddies while they are taking game.


Legal to bait for coyotes?
Question: Is it legal to use animal carcasses as bait for hunting coyotes? (Wilcox)

Answer: Yes, the carcass of legally acquired wildlife may be used as bait when taking coyotes. It is legal to use feed, bait or other material capable of attracting coyotes and other nongame animals unless you’re hunting these animals with the assistance of hunting dogs (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 475(e)).

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Can I Use a Camera on my Bow to Film my Hunts?

Archery pro, Keli Van Cleave (Photo by Bill Konway)

Question: I have heard it is illegal in California to use a camera (such as the Roscoby Riser camera) that mounts onto your bow to film your hunts. Is this true? If so, why? (Shane S.)

Answer: Mounting a camera (with no spotlight) onto your bow is legal. It would only be a problem if it was an electronic device with lights to assist in the taking of game (California Fish and Game Code, section 2005).


Abalone and SCUBA diving on the same trip?
Question: We want to go abalone diving and SCUBA diving on the same day. I know we have to free dive for abalone, but we also want to SCUBA dive on the same trip. We live away from the coast but can only do a one-day trip, so which one should we do first? How can we do this without getting in trouble with a game warden who might think that we used the SCUBA for the abalone? (Matthew P.)

Answer: If you’re planning to be out on a boat, just make sure that you don’t have any SCUBA gear present on the boat while diving off of it. If you’re entering and exiting from the shore, be sure to leave your SCUBA gear in your car or in your camp. You could probably do your dives in either order but just be sure that it’s obvious your dives were done separately and that SCUBA assistance was not part of your abalone dive. The law prohibits having SCUBA gear on a boat or floating device when diving for abalone or when abalone are onboard. The law does not prohibit driving home from your dive site with both abalone and SCUBA gear in the same car.


Why can’t fishing licenses extend for 12 months from purchase?
Question: Has the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) ever considered a 12 month fishing license – good for 12 months from the date purchased? If not, is there a reason? Also, has the number of resident fishing licenses grown, stayed the same or declined in the past five years here in California? (Paul R.,San Diego)

Answer:  Sport fishing license sales fluctuate, but generally, have been declining gradually for many years. The DFG maintains a website of license sales statistics at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/statistics/statistics.html.

According to DFG Sport Fishing Program Analyst Glenn Underwood, we occasionally receive suggestions to change the sport fishing license structure to make licenses valid for one year from the date of purchase. Generally, they come from anglers who do not fish until the summer or fall each year and do not wish to purchase a sport fishing license for the remainder of the year. Making fishing licenses valid for one year from the date of purchase would not reduce the number of licenses an angler has to purchase. If an angler doesn’t fish until July each year, the angler would have to purchase a new license each July, it would expire in June of the following year and the angler would still have to purchase a new license each year in July. There is no real advantage to the angler.

Several factors would have to be dealt with before sales of fishing licenses valid for one year from the purchase date could be implemented. For example, license years and expiration dates for fishing licenses and stamps are set in the Fish and Game Code and would have to be changed.

Several of DFG’s licenses are issued in the form of report cards. Report cards grant the licensee the privilege to pursue a particular species, and help DFG gather valuable data regarding the time spent pursuing the species and the number and location of the species harvested. If DFG switched to a license that’s valid for one year from the date of purchase, report card data would not be from the same time period. Therefore, it would not be very useful.

All of the states bordering California issue licenses that are valid for the calendar year, except Nevada which employs a license year of March 1 through Feb. 28. None offer licenses that are valid for one year from the date of purchase.

DFG offers several short-term fishing licenses for anglers not wishing to purchase an annual Sport Fishing License. Anglers who choose to fish only occasionally may want to purchase a Two-Day Sport Fishing License for $21.86 or a One-Day Sport Fishing License for $14.04.

DFG also provides two Free Fishing Days each year when anglers do not need licenses or stamps to fish, but appropriate report cards are required (e.g. sturgeon, steelhead, abalone, etc) and all other regulations such as size and bag limits must be followed. For 2011, Free Fishing Days will be held on July 2 and Sept. 3. In addition, a fishing license is not required while fishing from a public pier in ocean or bay waters.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Using SCUBA to photograph abalone divers?

Red abalone (Photo by DFG Marine Biologist Derek Stein)

Question: I would like to photograph abalone divers diving but I need to use an air tank to obtain the imagery I want. How can I go about this without getting in trouble with Department of Fish and Game (DFG)? (Andrew B., Salt Lake City, UT)

Answer: It is legal for you to photograph abalone freedivers while you are using a tank, as long as you observe a couple of regulations.

According to DFG Associate Marine Biologist Ed Roberts, the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(e) prohibits the use of SCUBA gear or surface-supplied air while taking abalone. If you are using a tank while photographing abalone freedivers, you cannot assist them with taking abalone. You cannot help them pop abalone off the rocks, or spot abalone for them, or do anything else that could be construed as giving assistance in taking abalone. In addition, under this section the possession of abalone is prohibited aboard a vessel that also contains SCUBA gear or surface supplied air. This means you will have to use a separate boat – you cannot board the same boat the abalone freedivers are using while you are using SCUBA gear.


Can mice be used as bait?
Question: Is it legal to use mice as bait for stripers and bass? (Chris M.)

Answer: Despite the fact that there are many artificial lures on the market that look like mice, real mice may not be used in inland waters. Only legally acquired and possessed invertebrates, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians (except salamanders), fish eggs and treated and processed foods may be used for bait (CCR Title 14, section 4.00). In ocean waters, there are no restrictionson using mice as bait for stripers.


Are 12-gauge BB shotgun shells considered non-lead?
Question:
Are 12-gauge BB shotgun shells considered non-lead? Am I able to hunt coyotes with them in the lead-free area? I have not been able to get a clear answer to this question and others regarding the lead-free area. Per regulations, wardens are able to confiscate ammunition from hunters, but can I really be fined for using the wrong ammo if there is no clear information available? Which portion of the law allows items (including muzzle-loading rifles) to be confiscated under suspicion of shooting leaded bullets? I am not trying to get around the law, but I want to understand it so I don’t get in trouble by accident. It seems the law is not well-defined and has caused much confusion. (Colin K.)

Answer: Yes they are considered lead. No you cannot use them in the lead free area. The California Fish and Game Commission defines a “projectile” as any bullet, ball, sabot, slug, buckshot or other device that is expelled from a firearm through a barrel by force. It is illegal to use any projectile that contains more than 1 percent lead for hunting big game or nongame within the affected area. This includes centerfire as well as blackpowder/muzzle-loader and rimfire projectiles. Additionally, for hunting nongame, “shot” and “pellets” are considered projectiles, and lead in these projectiles is prohibited as well.

Shot made from any material other than lead (e.g., steel, bismuth or other non-toxic substances) are not prohibited by this law and may be used in the lead-free zone to take coyotes and other wildlife as authorized in the regulations.

Game wardens are authorized to seize not only ammunition but any other item (including firearms, vehicles, clothing, game, etc.) that may be necessary for evidence in court. The authority to seize evidence is not found in the Fish and Game Code but is found within various federal and state laws and court decisions regarding arrest, search and seizure.

Non-lead ammunition zone information can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/condor/. The site is frequently updated with new information. The site also contains answers to many commonly asked questions, such as your question regarding the use of BB-size shot.


Treble hooks legal for rockfish?
Question: Is it legal to use a treble hook while fishing for rockfish south of the 40.10 line? (Kevin M.)

Answer: Yes. You may use no more than two hooks (a hook is a single hook, or a double or treble hook with multiple points connected to a common shank) and one line (CCR Title14, section 28.55 (d)). If, however, you have salmon on board, then you may only fish with salmon gear. Salmon gear consists of no more than two singsingle point, single shank barbless hooks when fishing for salmon or when salmon are on board (CCR Title14, section 27.80 (a)(2)).

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyone’s questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Pucker Up for Duck Calling!

duck calling_USFWS

(Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: This is my first year waterfowl hunting and while I am a pretty decent shot when I can get the birds to come in, I am a terrible caller! I can’t seem to get them to respond. I’ve found some electronic callers online that look pretty good and don’t cost too much money. I’d like to try them, but since everyone I’ve hunted with this year uses only the traditional calls, I wonder if these electronic calls are just new or if they might not be legal to use. What’s the answer? (Jake P.)

Answer: I’m afraid you’re going to have to just pucker up and keep practicing with the regular old duck calls found in most sporting goods stores. Electronic or mechanically operated calling or sound reproducing devices are prohibited when taking migratory game birds (CCR, Title 14, Section 507[c]).

To improve your technique, you might want to check out the many demo videos or “how to” techniques published online. The Ducks Unlimited Web site, for example, is loaded with lots of tips, videos and suggestions. Also, watch for duck calling seminars coming up in your area, such as through Wilderness Unlimited, California Waterfowl or other hunt clubs and sporting goods stores.


Best time for photographing big bucks?
Question: I would like to photograph big bucks and know the best times would be during the rut periods. Can you tell me when the rut starts and stops in zones D-3 through D-5? (Bob W.)

Answer: According to deer program manager Craig Stowers, in that area, rut (peak breeding period) will begin the first part of November, peak in late November/early December and finish at the end of December. The best time to photograph big bucks will probably be sometime around Thanksgiving.


Legal to bowfish for Humboldt squid?
Question: Is it legal to go bowfishing for Humboldt squid? (Brent D.)

Answer: No. Aside from the fact that Humboldt squid are rarely seen swimming around on the surface (they occur as deep as 1,500 feet), ocean fishing regulations only allow for spears, harpoons and bow and arrow fishing tackle to be used for the take of some species of fin fish (CCR Title 14 Section 28.95). The regulations do not allow for the take of invertebrates by bowfishing.


Disposing of large game carcasses?
Question: What is the legal or proper way to dispose of a large game animal such as bear, deer or elk after the harvest? I have heard it is illegal to dump the remains out in the woods and even illegal to bury the remains in your backyard because of the water table. Throwing the bones in the regular trash can be a smelly problem if sitting in there for a week. I recently took a large carcass to the county rendering plant at a cost of $75 for disposal. Please help clarify any legal concerns about the proper way to dispose of an animal carcass. (Ben N.)

Answer: When it comes to any game animal or game bird, only the inedible parts not normally consumed by humans may be left in the woods (FGC Section 4304). During open season and the 15 days following, deer hunters must also retain the portion of the head that in adult males normally bears the antlers (FGC Section 4302).

The portions of the carcass that are packed out become the responsibility of the hunter to dispose of appropriately. Trash disposal restrictions and related costs are determined by individual municipalities and are not regulated by DFG. The unused portions of the carcass may not be brought back to the woods at a later date, as this could constitute illegal dumping.

Carcasses can be buried unless prohibited by local, state or federal ordinance. State Wildlife Areas prohibit depositing or burying hides on those properties (CCR, T-14 section 550[b][9][B]). There is also a law prohibiting disposals within 150 feet above the high water mark of any state water (FGC section 5652[a]). This law is also applicable on private property.


Why early season spinning blade ban?
Question: Why is there a Dec. 1 restriction on the use of spinning wing decoys for waterfowl? (Jack S.)

Answer: Studies have shown the spinning wing decoys are highly effective for attracting waterfowl (especially the young, inexperienced birds) into gun range. Early duck seasons most heavily impact locally produced ducks, and the Dec. 1 “start date” gives the migrant ducks from the north time to arrive and mingle with the local ducks before the decoys go into use. When more ducks are clustered together in the area, the hunting pressure on the locally produced ducks is reduced.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyones questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.