Tag Archives: pig hunting

Turkey Hunting with Extra Ammo

The author with a spring turkey (Carrie Wilson photo)

When hunting spring turkeys, hunters may carry only shotgun shells with loose #2 size shot or smaller (Carrie Wilson photo)

Question: I wonder if you can settle a bet for me and my friends. They told me when hunting for turkeys, it is illegal to also carry shotgun slug ammunition. I disagree because what if someone wants to carry slugs in case they get the chance that a pig might run by. Please set us straight. (Rob, Paso Robles).

Answer: Sorry, your friends are correct! Only shotgun shells with loose #2 size shot or smaller may be in your possession while hunting for turkeys (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 311(b)). So, if you are hunting turkeys, you cannot carry a slug because it’s not shot loose in the shell. If you are hunting wild pigs with a shotgun using slugs in the California condor range, the slugs must not contain more than 1 percent lead by weight.


Carp by spear gun?
Question: When I was a kid, we used to hunt carp with a spear gun. We’d jump into the creek and get carp up to 21 pounds. It was a lot of fun for a bunch of skinny kids with the fish pulling us all over the pool! Can you please clarify the regulations and let me know if, where, when or even if it is still doable? (Damian L., Modesto)

Answer: It is only legal to spearfish carp in the Colorado River District, parts of the Valley District, parts of the Kern River and in those areas listed in CCR Title 14, section 2.30. It is only legal to spearfish carp in the areas listed in this section.


Carrying a sidearm
Question: I am new to hunting and have a question. I understand that in order to hunt with a handgun, the barrel length needs to be four inches or longer. However, I have a Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan 454 Casull 2.5 inch barrel. I do not plan to hunt with it, of course, but would like to know if I can carry it as a back up. I do not want to purchase another gun if I already have one. Please help me with my question. (Daniel K., Los Banos)

Answer: Regulations do not restrict you from carrying a sidearm while hunting except when hunting during an “Archery Only Season” for that species or while hunting under the authority of an “Archery Only Tag” during the “General Season” for that species.

And, the four inch barrel length for handguns only applies when hunting for elk and bighorn sheep. Pistols and revolvers with any barrel length using centerfire cartridges with softnose or expanding projectiles may be used to take deer, bear and wild pigs. In the California Condor Zone, all ammunition in your possession must be certified non-lead.

See sections 311, 353, 354, 465, & 475 in the 2012-2013 Mammal Hunting Regulations for specific methods authorized for taking birds and mammals.  These regulations are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/.


Transporting baitfishes
Question: I have a question regarding transporting finfish. Is it legal to catch anchovies and shiners by throw net and then transport them to the fishing location? I would like to do this in San Francisco Bay but would not take Bay fish to other waters (or take ocean baitfish into Bay waters.) If it’s all within the Bay, does that still indicate “transporting?” If so, is there a distance limit? For example, can I net baitfish near a marina with parked boats and take them 50 to 100 yards to a legal fishing site? California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) regs refer only to restrictions on freshwater species but do not refer to saltwater and San Francisco Bay fish. We all just want to play by the rules, so can someone please clarify for us? Thank you. (Gino P., Cotati)

Answer: It is legal to use a Hawaiian-type throw net in the ocean north of Pt. Conception (including San Francisco Bay) to take some species, including anchovies and shiner surfperch. For a complete list of species that may be taken with this gear, please see section 28.80 in the Ocean Sport Fishing regulations.  There is no minimum distance provided in the regulations, and bait fish taken inside San Francisco Bay may be used inside the Bay.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Spikes, Forks and Counting Points

Fish and Game laws in California count only the points on one side, and eye guards are not included. This is a 4-point buck (Photo courtesy of CDOW)

Question: How does the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) determine the antler count on each side? Do the eye guards count? I would like to know also about your website on the “bucks taken” point count and totals. I have not seen the count for “forked” bucks? I do see the count for taken bucks as “TWO” point? Aren’t the two point bucks “spike” bucks? Aren’t spike bucks illegal to take? (Daniel C.)

Answer: I think you may be confusing the methods used in the East to count antlers on whitetails with the way we assess mule deer antlers here in the West. Minimum antler counts are to ensure the animal is old enough to be harvested. Additional counts help give an idea of relative age and body condition. Fish and Game laws in California count only the points on one side, and eye guards are not included. A “spike” needs only a one-point antler on at least one side, but it could be on both sides and still be a spike. A “forked horn” has at least one branch on one side on the upper two-thirds of the antler, but both could be branched. For example, 1 x 2 or 2 x 2 are both correctly “forked” horn and not a 3-pt or 4-pt and so forth. A 2 x 3 buck is a 3-pt and not a 5 pt and so forth.

For a complete description of how California defines antler count and antlerless deer, please go to section 351 in the 2011-12 Mammal Hunting Regulations available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/.


What to feed wild geese at a community lake?
Question: I live in a mobile home park in a rural community in San Diego County. We are being told we cannot feed the wild Canada geese around our community lake because the managers are very mad at the geese for the droppings.

Is it legal to feed the geese actual goose food (e.g. a source of food that is put together for them and purchased from a feed store)? If not, can a person be fined for doing so? Are these geese endangered or a protected species? What are the regulations? (Phillip L.)

Answer: No, it is not legal to feed the geese. California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251.1 prohibits the “harassment” of wildlife, which can in some circumstances include feeding. Harass is defined as “an intentional act which disrupts an animal’s normal behavior patterns, which includes, but is not limited to, breeding, feeding or sheltering.”


Fish for home aquarium
Question: My name is Austin. I am eight years old and I love to learn and study ocean animals. I want to have a salt water tank and am doing research before I get one. I wanted to find out if you are allowed to get a fish from the ocean and keep it as a pet. Like a lionfish or Mandarin fish. If you could answer my question I would like that. I don’t plan on doing this, I am just wondering if you can. (Austin Holtz)

Answer: Unfortunately, it is not legal for an individual to capture live fish off the California coast and transport them to their fish tank. I suggest you purchase your ocean fish from your local pet shop, which is specially licensed to capture and keep salt water fish for sale. I appreciate your love for ocean animals.


Night hunting
Question: I live here in California and was wondering if I can hunt wild pigs at night? (Richard X.)

Answer: Night hunting is not allowed for wild pigs. Wild pigs are classified as big game mammals, and according to California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 352, the hours for hunting all big game mammals in California are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Please be sure to read and understand California Mammal Hunting Regulations before going afield to hunt (www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/mammalregs.aspx).


Importing garibaldi?
Question: I know this guy from Mexico who sells garibaldi and he said the ban on collecting and exporting garibaldi from Mexico has been lifted. I was thinking of starting a cold saltwater tank and would like to include garibaldi but I want to check the legality. If purchased from Mexico, is it okay to keep them in California? If it is legal, can I sell it if it gets too big for the tank? (Cesar M.)

Answer: No. Garibaldi may not be imported into California because they cannot be legally possessed (see the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations, section 28.05(b), and Fish and Game Code, sections 8598 and 2353, all available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/).

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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.

Fore!! Teed Off Golfers Say … “Scoot Coots!”

American coots and other waterfowl can become nuisances when they take up residency on golf courses and public parks (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I am a golf course superintendent on a municipal course located within the city of Pacific Grove. The front nine of our course is located within the neighborhoods of the city, but the back nine is located within sand dunes along the Pacific Ocean and the Monterey Bay. On the back nine we have a fresh water pond, and this year we have been inundated by coots. We easily have between 300 and 400 birds this year, up from about 30 to 40 last year. These coots are a terrible nuisance and they make a mess of the greens and the fairways, making it difficult for golfers to play some of the holes on our course. How we can either remove the birds or reduce their population using deterrents or through other means? (Daniel G., Pacific Grove)

Answer: Many courses in this area seem to be having the same problem. Coots are considered migratory birds and as such are regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. A permit from the FWS may be required for removal of coots. Additional information can be found on their website.

According to DFG Environmental Scientist Jeff Cann who oversees Monterey County, many courses in this area use trained dogs to haze waterfowl off the greens. Hazing coots is a legal activity but it is recommended that folks contact the professionals at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for information. APHIS has extensive experience with hazing and removal of nuisance wildlife, such as coots.

Coot populations in our area fluctuate as new birds migrate through in fall and winter, and others leave the area. You can try applying mylar reflective tape streamers on poles in areas the coots use to scare them off, but the birds usually get used to this. In addition, these might be distracting to golfers.

Licensed hunters can harvest coots during the waterfowl hunting season, but discharging a firearm on the golf course is probably not legal in your area. Check with your local sheriff or police department to find out. Courses in more rural areas can employ this method of control and hazing.

Some airports use sonic devices with some success to repel a variety of types of birds. I am not aware of focused studies on using them to repel coots, however.

You can try contacting the USDA Wildlife Services offices for information on dealing with nuisance waterfowl or check with the FWS permitting office for additional assistance.

Bottom line, not much will help repel the coots as long as there is food (grass on the course) and water available for them to drink and relax on.


Shooting turkeys within city limits?
Question: We have about two dozen turkeys that are running around our local streets? If I use an air gun, can I legally kill (and eat) a turkey within the San Pablo/Richmond city limits? (Bob C.)

Answer: Turkeys can be taken under a hunting license with air rifles firing pellets and powered by compressed air or gas (0.177 caliber minimum for taking wild turkey), but I seriously doubt you can shoot anything within the city limits there! It depends on local city and county ordinances on discharging air rifles within the city limits. Fish and Game Section 3004(a) generally prohibits the discharge of any deadly weapon while hunting within 150 yards of a building without specific consent of the owner. Most city and county ordinances say, “No discharging of firearms or other dangerous weapons,” which would include air rifles. Check with the local Sheriff’s Department for the local policies to be sure.


Using trout for bait in ocean waters?
Question: Is it legal to use dead rainbow trout or wild non native brown trout as bait when fishing in the ocean? My buddies want to make sure they are not breaking any laws when shark fishing in Humboldt Bay starts to pick up next month. (Trevor L., Fortuna)

Answer: It is legal as long as each angler never possesses more than the legal limit possession limit for trout in that area (regardless of whether the fish are brought in from elsewhere). As long as the fish were taken legally, they can be used for bait in the ocean waters of the state.


Pig hunting with an AR-type 308 rifle with 10-round magazine?
Question: I have an AR-type 308 rifle with a 10-round detachable magazine. Can this type of rifle be used for wild pig hunting? (Julio R.)

Answer: Yes. Any rifle that is legal to possess in California and that uses centerfire ammunition may be used to take big game, including pigs. Just remember to use non-lead ammunition when in condor country.

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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.

Raw or Cooked … It Still Counts Towards Your Limit

Red abalone from California's North Coast (Photo by DFG Marine Biologist Derek Stein)

Question: I often go to Fort Bragg with a group of friends to get abalone. On the first day we all make our dives, and then in the evening we have abalone and a fish fry. The abalone is all sliced, pounded and breaded. Some always remains uncooked or cooked and not eaten. We go diving again the next day and get our limits again, and then head home that day or the next. I know I may only possess three abalone in the shells. However, what about the abalone I have left over, including the abalone that has been sliced, pounded and breaded for food? Will I be in violation for being over my limit? Do I need to keep the old shells and tags? (Terry L., Nipomo)

Answer: The law states: No more than one daily bag limit of each kind of fish, amphibian, reptile, mollusk or crustacean named may be taken or possessed by any one person unless otherwise authorized; regardless of whether they are fresh, frozen, or otherwise preserved (California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.17). 

According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Lt. Dennis McKiver, even if you have leftover abalone that is pounded, breaded and cooked, it still remains part of your abalone limit until you either eat it or give it away. If you have a partial abalone left over after your first day’s dinner, you would only be allowed to get two abalone the next day. Otherwise you would be over your possession limit. If you have three tagged abalone in their shells and one partial abalone pounded and breaded and you are headed home, you would not only be in violation of being in possession of an over limit, but you would also be in violation of transporting an abalone that has been removed from the shell.

In the future, make sure you eat all of your prepared abalone or else give it away before you get another full limit or head home.


Can I keep a pet dwarf caiman?
Question: I want to keep a pet dwarf caiman and was wondering how I can get a permit to do so. I know a lot about them and how to handle them properly based on what I’ve learned from other gator experts and gator farm workers. I have done a lot of research myself and know to never release a caiman into the wild. (Ian L.)

Answer: Unfortunately, you cannot keep a pet dwarf caiman. California restricts the importation and possession of many species, including all species in the Order Crocodilia. No restricted species may be imported or possessed for pet purposes. For additional information and a list of restricted species, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/about/wildlife.html and click on “Restricted Species Laws” (PDF).


Starting a business to trap/eradicate wild feral hogs
Question: I am interested in starting a company to focus on trapping / eradicating wild feral hogs. Does California have a permit program for this venture? If so, how can I get information and an application to allow me to do this? Are there any counties that need this service? (Joseph W., Murrietta)

Answer: According to DFG Statewide Wild Pig Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon, a property owner may apply to the DFG for a permit (depredation permit) to kill wild pigs causing damage to their property. This depredation permit contains a section wherein up to three individuals may be listed to act as an “agent” on behalf of the landowner. These agents may kill the pigs for the landowner in the manner specified on the permit. You, as a sole proprietor of a company, could be listed as an agent on this permit at the time it is issued by DFG, and then you would be able to take the pigs as specified in the permit.

Wild pig populations are mostly concentrated around the central coastal counties, ranging from Mendocino to Ventura counties.


Shooting clay pigeons when doves not in season.
Question: Is it legal to shoot clay pigeons in the same fields that I use for dove hunting when doves are not in season? (Richard X.)

Answer: Fish and Game laws do not generally cover target practice. However, Fish and Game law does prohibit target practice on most state wildlife areas, except in specifically designated areas that are identified as such.

Keep in mind that shooting clay targets produces a lot of litter. Please make sure you have the property owner’s permission before you do it and comply with their requirements regarding cleanup.

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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.

Why Are Refuge Reservations So Hard to Draw?

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: How are waterfowl reservations picked and how are they kept random? There seems to be something wrong with the system because it doesn’t seem to be randomly selecting people. Several of my neighbors and I have put in for the season draw for multiple refuges for the last few years without much success. One person has not been drawn in the past two years. Some people may get drawn only once while other people are getting drawn quite a bit. Can you please shed some light on this for us? (Rod H., Norco)

Answer: Unfortunately, the competition for waterfowl reservations is enormous! More than 750,000 hunt choices have been submitted for the 2011/2012 season so far. Some areas are extremely difficult to draw.

According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) License Program Analyst Glenn Underwood, reservations are issued by random drawings. Each drawing is independent and does not affect the outcome of any other drawing. The likelihood of being drawn does not increase when you were not drawn for a previous hunt. Odds are determined solely by the number of applicants who apply for an area on that date.

In a series of random drawings, some people are likely to be drawn more than once, and some may not be drawn at all. The results should look somewhat like half of a bell curve.

Here’s an example: For a drawing for the San Jacinto Wildlife Area Jan. 18 hunt, we received 27,310 submitted hunt choices for 1,300 reservations issued. Of these:

  • 2,827 hunters received no reservations
  • 746 hunters received one reservation
  • 206 hunters received two reservations
  • 42 hunters received three reservations
  • 4 hunters received four reservations

Keep in mind that some hunters may apply for only one hunt day and others have applied for every hunt day.

We realize how important receiving a reservation is to each hunter and want hunters to know how difficult it is to draw a reservation. For this reason, Underwood publishes the drawing statistics online and mails them to hunters each year with the Waterfowl Season Update. He also posts the drawing results online for the convenience of hunters. While posting the results online occasionally inspires a phone call to Underwood from a frustrated hunter who sees another who has been drawn more frequently, Underwood is happy to provide this service and welcomes the opportunity to discuss the results with hunters.

Beginning with the 2011 season, reservation drawings are performed through the Automated License Data System (ALDS) and drawing results are still posted online, though are only viewable by the individual after logging in to ALDS.  However, Underwood says he is still happy to provide statistics to those who are interested.

The computerized drawing systems used for big game tags and waterfowl reservations have pre-draw and post-draw audit logs that record all the steps in the drawing and awarding of tags and reservations. We could not influence the drawing if we wanted to. If you would like to see how a reservation drawing is performed, please contact Glenn Underwood at GUnderwood@dfg.ca.gov and he will be happy to give you a quick demonstration using an actual drawing. Fair warning: the computerized drawing process is quite boring.

Hopefully, your luck will turn around soon, but if it doesn’t, don’t let that stop you.  You can still hunt using the local lottery or first-come, first-served line.


Trading fish parts
Question: I want the spinal cord from a legally caught white sturgeon that was taken from a pier by a sport fisherman. I also want to smoke a good portion of the meat in exchange for some of the smoked fish. Is it legal for my friend to give me the spinal cord? Is it legal to smoke the fish in exchange for a portion of the fish? (Catharine S., Oakland)

Answer: There is no law prohibiting your friend from giving you the spinal cord or any other part of a legally possessed fish, so long as all other laws are followed.  However, fish caught under the authority of a sport fishing license cannot be bought, sold, traded or bartered in any manner (Fish and Game Code, sections 7121 and 75). This includes any type of trade or barter of even parts with the expectation of receiving something in return.


Javelin hunting
Question: I just tried javelin throwing for the first time and it sparked an idea that I could hunt with this for big game mammals. But I can’t find it specified anywhere in the mammal hunting regulations booklet. Does this mean that since it isn’t mentioned it’s illegal to use to take down an animal? (Brent L.)

Answer: You are correct. Hunting by spear or javelin is not a legal method of take.

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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.

 

Is it Legal to Keep My Limit Plus My Friend’s Fish?

(U.S.F.W.S. photo)

Question: My buddies and I fish for rockfish out of Pillar Point Harbor and are very careful about following the rules. We usually return with legal limits. However, on occasion one or more of my fishing friends decides not to take their entire catch home. When that happens I might leave the marina parking lot with my 10 fish as well as additional fish caught by other licensed fishers. I’m thinking that since we caught them legally and returned to the dock legally, we are ok. Am I right? (Bill L., Half Moon Bay)

Answer: No. You cannot ever be in possession of more than the possession limit, even if the extra fish came from another angler who caught them legally. Your buddy may only give away fish to someone who does not already have a limit in their possession. If you have your limit and then take additional fish from another angler, you may be cited for having an overlimit regardless of who gave them to you.


Processing game meat
Question: A friend shot a wild pig and while skinning it he saw worms in the armpits and groin area. He cut out and discarded the surrounding meat, processed and ate the rest. Is this a seasonal problem? Was this meat safe to eat? If one gets an infected pig, how should one dispose of the bad meat or entire carcass? Bury it (how deep)? Burn it? Toss into the trash can within tightly sealed plastic bags? (Ray, Arbuckle)

Answer: Adult Trichinella worms are found primarily in the gut of the host, whereas larval, or immature, worms tend to be present throughout the rest of the body. According to U.C. Davis graduate student Jamie Sherman and DFG Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Ben Gonzales, only adult Trichinella worms are visible to the human eye, and are described as “white flakes” along the intestines. Larvae within the muscles are only visible under a microscope. Therefore, it is unlikely the worms seen in your friend’s pig carcass were Trichinella.

Other parasitic worms can infect wild pigs though, such as the pork tapeworm Taenia solis, which can appear in the meat as “measly pork”, much as you describe. Ingestion of raw or undercooked infected pork results in tapeworm infection in the human gut (taeniasis). These tapeworms produce larvae which can be shed in the feces of the human host, and once ingested by other human or animal hosts, the larvae penetrate the gut and migrate to sites such as the muscles, eyes or nervous system and can cause serious disease (cysticercosis).

Your friend took the right steps to protect himself if he cooked the meat adequately. Removing the measly areas for appearance and then cooking the rest of the meat to an internal temperature using a meat thermometer to 160O F will eliminate the risk of infection from the pork tapeworm as well as from Trichinella. By cooking the meat thoroughly to 160O F and by following safe meat handling practices such as washing hands and disinfecting utensils and cutting boards thoroughly after handling raw meat, you can prevent parasitic and bacterial infections derived from consuming wild game or domestically raised meat.

Trichinella and other parasitic worms are not a seasonal problem, but a lifelong disease. Once an animal is infected, larval worms can remain in the muscle tissue for the lifetime of the host. Humans then get sick when they consume raw or undercooked meat containing the larvae.

Regarding various recommendations for proper carcass disposal:

1) Burial: There is no specific depth requirement for the disposal of carcasses via burial. The goal of burying a carcass is to prevent other scavengers from consuming the potentially infective meat. Therefore, they should not be able to dig it up. Burying the carcass a few feet under the ground should be sufficient. It is also important to make sure your burial site is not within 100 feet of any water source, in order to prevent contamination.

2) Burning: This is an effective tool for destroying pathogens and reducing the volume of solid waste. However, since the act of burning can increase the risk of wildfires and can create potent fumes, it is important to make sure to follow safe fire practices.

3) Trash: Disposing of carcasses in the trash is discouraged because once the carcass reaches the landfill it has the potential to be scavenged by other animals (e.g. rats, raccoons or even other wild pigs). Determined scavengers can easily break open plastic bags. There are, however, some landfills that are specially permitted to safely dispose of carcasses. Local county health department officials can help identify these landfills.

The Centers for Disease Control has excellent online articles on trichinellosis at www.cdc.gov/parasites/trichinellosis/, taeniasis at www.cdc.gov/parasites/taeniasis/ and cysticercosis at www.cdc.gov/parasites/cysticercosis/index.html.

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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.

Jug Line Fishing in California Lakes?

Channel catfish (Photo by Dennis McKinney, CDOW)

Question: I would like to know if it’s okay to jug line fish for catfish in California lakes. Jug line fishing is having a float (such as a one-gallon plastic jug) tied to a series of hooks, all on one fishing line. The hooks are spread 20 inches apart and submerged while the fishing line floats on the water. The line is about 10 feet long and does not drift due to it being tied to the fishing pole main line. The jug is also weighed down for this purpose. I do not see any laws in the fish and game manual that states this is prohibited. (Benjamin T., San Jose)

Answer: Generally, all fish must be taken by “angling” which requires the line to be held in the hand, or with line attached to a pole or rod held in the hand or closely attended. There’s also a limit of three hooks per pole (Fish and Game Code, sections 1.05, 2.00 and 2.10). This practice would be legal as long as it is closely attended and attached to a fishing pole


Scouting out of season with a gun?
Question: Before deer season opens, I try to spend some weekends hiking through the areas I intend to hunt to scout for deer, learn their patterns, spot deer trails and become familiar with the land. I am aware that no guns are allowed to be carried during this time.

My question is in regard to protecting myself while scouting out these areas. I have spotted mountain lions a time or two and this worries me. What does DFG suggest I bring along to defend myself? Can I bring a handgun or are all guns prohibited? (Mariel)

Answer: Generally, Fish and Game laws do not prohibit carrying guns.  However, in some circumstances, such as during special archery seasons, while hunting big game under the authority of an archery-only tag, and while training hunting dogs in the field, the possession of firearms is prohibited.

According to retired DFG Capt. Phil Nelms, there are restrictions in the Penal Code that prohibit carrying firearms in certain areas, but these restrictions typically do not apply to persons who are legally hunting or fishing. And, even if the season is not open for deer in the area you are scouting, the season for nongame mammals and jackrabbits is open all year. As long as you are in an area where you have permission to be, you may carry a firearm. And, if the area is not closed to the discharge of firearms, the firearm may be loaded. Carrying concealed firearms is generally prohibited, although there are exceptions in the Penal Code.

Additional information regarding the laws for firearms is available from the California Department of Justice publication “Firearms Laws” available online at http://dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/ under the heading of “Helpful Information.”


Why can’t a hooked cowcod be kept?
Question: When fishing for rockfish, we sometimes hook cowcod. It is the law to release this species, but these fish become floaters and are dead when they are brought to the surface. Why not allow anglers to keep one accidentally hooked fish since they are floaters and will die anyway? (Ted K.)

Answer: There is no take allowed for cowcod because their population numbers are low and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has declared them to be “overfished.” According to Associate Marine Biologist Ed Roberts, the federal rebuilding plan for cowcod stipulates a low harvest limit for the entire state of California per year. Because this harvest limit is so low, there is no room for any directed take of cowcod. If anglers were allowed to keep cowcod that were taken incidentally while fishing for other species, inevitably unethical anglers would target cowcod and claim they were caught incidentally. This would then cause the small annual harvest limit to be reached very quickly, resulting in NMFS and the state needing to take action to reduce catches to avoid exceeding the harvest limit. The most likely course of action would be the closure of the bottomfish fishery for all species.

While it seems wasteful to release cowcod caught accidentally, there really is no other way to ensure the total incidental catch amount does not exceed the harvest limit while still allowing anglers to target other bottomfish.


Hunting hours for wild pigs?
Question: I plan to pig hunt in Tehama County but am unsure of the hunting hours. The pigs are most active at night. Is it legal to hunt them after dark? (Micky S.)

Answer: Wild pigs are big game and subject to the same legal shooting hours as deer, bear, elk and antelope. Hunting and shooting hours for these species run from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 352).

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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.