Tag Archives: turkey hunting

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.

Bow Hunting for Turkeys

Spring turkeys (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Spring turkeys (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: While bow hunting for turkeys last week, I saw a flock of hens and jakes on the side of a highway and I got to wondering if it’s legal to hunt off the side of a highway. I know we can’t shoot across a highway, but exactly how many yards or feet away does a bow hunter have to be? (Rafael O.)

Answer: It is unlawful to discharge a firearm or release an arrow or crossbow bolt over or across any public road or other established way open to the public in an unsafe and reckless manner (Fish and Game Code, section 3004(b)). Definitions for road and roadway can be found in the California Vehicle Code, sections 527 and 530. In addition, most counties have ordinances setting the distance from a public roadway that one must be to lawfully discharge a firearm. Many counties require 150 feet, but this distance varies and you will have to check with the appropriate county’s sheriff’s department to determine the legal distance. It is always unlawful to negligently discharge a firearm, and the discharge of a firearm from or upon a public road or highway is prohibited (California Penal Code, section 374c).


Hand reels
Question: I recently acquired a hand reel (Cuban yoyo.) Are there any restrictions on using one? What part of the Fish and Game Code applies to their usage? (Will E.)

Answer: Yes, these basic hand-held reels are legal to use. Just add some line, tie on your hook, add bait, drop in your line and you’re fishing. It doesn’t get much easier or less expensive than this method. Standard methods apply, so if you are fishing in inland waters (three hooks with bait or three lures with three hooks each) or fishing in the ocean for rockfish (two hooks), you need to follow the hook restrictions as if you had a rod attached. If you do happen to hook a big fish, just be sure you’ll be able to land it!


Starry Flounder east of the Carquinez Bridge
Question: Can you please clarify the starry flounder regulations in saltwater vs. freshwater? I know that flounder are included in the rockfish-cabezon-greenling (RCG) regulations in saltwater, with limits and a definite season. However, when they move upstream (east) of the Carquinez Bridge into inland waters, do the same regulations still apply? Or, may they be taken year-round with no limit as they are not mentioned in the freshwater regulations? (Barbara U.)

Answer: According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Capt. Bob Puccinelli, because the fresh water limits for starry flounder are the same as the ocean limits, the limits would adhere to any closures in ocean waters as well. In other words, when there is an ocean closure (zero limit), there would be a corresponding zero limit in freshwater as well.


Non-lead pellets for squirrels in condor country?
Question: I hunt ground squirrels with pellet guns as I understand they don’t fall into the category of firearms. My question is, do I have to use non-lead pellets? (James T.)

Answer: While not specifically prohibited for pellet guns, the intent of the non-lead ammunition requirement laws is to prevent lead from being introduced into animals that California condors may eat. Ground squirrels could fall into this category but the law does not expressly prohibit lead pellets. Non-lead pellets are available.


Glasses when abalone diving
Question: I wear reading glasses. I don’t like to take my glasses on the beach or in the water with me because I don’t want them to get scratched. However, without my glasses, I cannot clearly read the new abalone cards. Last season I accidentally used the wrong tag (one that was not in sequential order) because I could not read the numbers. What can I do to make this easier? (Zoe D., Trinidad)

Answer: I can empathize with your frustrations. You may want to consider including non-prescription reading glasses and/or a small magnifying glass in your dive bag. Either can be purchased at many convenience stores for under $15. At least with these you would not have to risk losing or breaking your prescription glasses and you will be able to comply with the regulations.

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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.

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.