Tag Archives: turkey hunting

How to Prove the Sex of a Turkey

Turkey strut ( Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Turkey strut ( Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: Since only tom turkeys are legal to take during the spring season, how do I prove the sex to an inquiring wildlife officer? Must a wing be left on? A beard left on? Both left on? One or the other left on? (G.B.G.)

Answer: The regulations are intended to require that only tom turkeys may be taken during the spring season, but the law specifically states that the turkey must be “bearded” (a bearded turkey is one having a beard visible through the breast feathers). In most cases a beard will distinguish the animal as male, but in some rare incidents hens may also have them.

Keep the beard attached to the carcass until you return to your residence. You may pluck the bird in the field, but remember to keep the beard connected to the body.

Toms and hens can be easily determined by their significant head and wing color differences. If by chance you run across a rare bearded hen, even though the provisions of the law may allow you to take it, we strongly discourage it. Spring is the turkeys’ primary mating and nesting period so hens may not be harvested in order to protect their production.


Two Cali-rigs with a two rod stamp?
Question:Can two Cali-rigs (Alabama rigs with only three hooks) be fished simultaneously on separate poles as long as the angler has a second pole stamp on their license? (Ron K.)

Answer: Yes, as long as the angler taking fish with two rods or lines in most inland waters has the two rod stamp.


Hunter education assistance for those with learning disabilities?
Question: My son has a severe reading/learning disability. He wants to take the hunter education class in order to get his hunting license but will need some assistance during the testing phase of the class. What accommodations are available for him? (Nathan H.)

Answer: In California we provide reasonable accommodations for all entitled students. Anyone with a disability can ask the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for reasonable accommodation and it will be provided on an individual basis taking into consideration that person’s specific needs. The parent, guardian or mentor should contact the CDFW before the course to request accommodations.

According to Hunter Education Instructor Leader Lt. Bart Bundesen, the key to success for any student is to study for the hunter education exam by assembling all of the pertinent information beforehand and tailoring it to their own learning approach. Here are a few resources to do this:

These websites are recommended for a couple of reasons. The Today’s Hunter in California (www.hunter-ed.com/ca/) website belongs to the same company that makes the hunter education manuals we use in California, so the material is very similar. This site has California-specific information, good animations and video. HunterCourse.com is another great website, especially for students without strong reading skills, because it incorporates more visual learning tools. The Today’s Hunter and Huntercourse.com websites both have additional audio narration functions. The International Hunter Education Association (www.ihea.com/hunting-and-shooting/hunter-education/online-courses) website also provides a lot of great information and is a good study website.

Don’t worry if it looks like a pay website. There is no charge for using any of these websites to study but the actual online courses are designed for adults. For youngsters and those with learning disabilities, we recommend that in addition to studying from these websites, they take the full 8-hour class because they will likely understand and retain the information better. The online courses require the student to do all studying and learning via the computer, and then come into the 4-hour follow up class knowing everything and ready to take the exam. While most of the material is reviewed in the 4-hour follow up class, we see a much higher success rate among people who take the full 8-hour class. Students who take the full class have the added benefit of listening to the class discussions, watching the instructor demonstrations and they can ask questions if they need better clarification about any of the topics they must learn before taking the test.

For additional questions on what reasonable accommodations may be available, please contact CDFW’s Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator at (916) 651-1214

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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 Fin-clips Identify Different Trout Strains?

(CDFW file photo by Roger Bloom, Heritage and Wild Trout Program)

(CDFW file photo by Roger Bloom, Heritage and Wild Trout Program)

Question: With trout season opening soon, I was thinking about how several years ago I ran across a way to identify what strain a Lake Crowley trout was based on which fins were clipped. Identify as follows: adipose only-Eagle Lake strain, adipose and left ventral-Kamloops (from Junction Reservoir), adipose and right ventral-Coleman, and ventral only-Kamloops or Coleman. No fin clips would indicate a natural spawn and not from a hatchery. And, what hatchery would these plants have come from? Possibly Hot Creek or maybe Fish Springs? I have talked to the driver planting catchables in Silver Lake and learned those plants came from the Fish Springs hatchery. Thanks for any info you can provide. (Ron A.)

Answers: In the mid-1990s, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) fisheries biologists applied fin clips to Eastern Sierra trout stocked in Crowley Lake to evaluate their performance, growth, return to creel, etc. The results were very interesting.

According to CDFW Fisheries Program Manager Curtis Milliron who conducted those studies, wild trout were unmarked and at that time both rainbow trout (RT) and browns constituted about 25 percent of the catch of all larger fish caught at Crowley. They did not substantially supplement the average size class, however. The marked trout came from both Fish Springs (Coleman strain RT and Eagle Lake trout) and from Hot Creek Hatchery (Kamloops strain RT).

Coleman strain fish were found to be caught most often by anglers while trolling, while Kamloops were often associated with nearshore angling. Eagle Lake trout (ELT) were found all over the lake, including feeding on large snails right on the lake bottom. Additionally, ELT outlived the other strains, and therefore greatly contributed to the “carryover” population, which are fish that do not get caught in the first year after being stocked and return to anglers at a much larger size.

By about 1999, Milliron discontinued the Crowley Lake trout strain studies but thinks some marked fish may have persisted in the lake for another five years, at most. Today, no similar studies are being conducted, and fin clips to identify the various strains of Eastern Sierra trout are no longer being applied. But, thanks to the findings of the studies, a management plan for Lake Crowley was created, and the lake continues to draw anglers back year after year as one of the most popular and productive trout lakes in the Eastern Sierra.


How many turkeys in possession?
Question: My buddy and I are going out of town on a three-day turkey hunt. If we both get a turkey each day (total of six) and get stopped by a warden on the way home, will we be legal? I heard that you can’t have more than one bird with you at a time, but the regulation states possession limit is three birds per hunter for the season. I want to make sure we are legal. Otherwise I will have to travel back and forth after each successful day and it’s about a two-hour drive each way. Thanks for any information you can give me. (Brent M.)

Answer: You do not have to return home after taking a bird on any one day. The daily bag limit for turkeys during the spring season is one bearded turkey per day and you can take three per season. You may have three bearded turkeys in your possession as long as you only take one per day.


Spearfishing rockfish and lingcod after dark?
Question: Can rockfish and lingcod be taken by spearfishing after dark? (Brian S.)

Answer: Yes, you may spearfish for rockfish and lingcod at night, except in San Francisco Bay (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.56).


Buying skulls from other states
Question: I found someone in Oregon selling a raw coyote skull. I own some flesh-eating dermestid beetles and am interested in buying the skull from them to clean off. Is it legal to buy raw (uncleaned) skulls from other states if it was obtained legally and not from California? I know you can’t purchase almost any part of California fish and game, but can we bring parts in from other states? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, as long as the animal was legally taken in another state and is properly imported with a “Declaration for Entry into California form,” then it can be possessed. The same goes for most species, but there are some exceptions, such as bears, mountain lions, and fully protected birds and mammals whose parts cannot be legally possessed in California (Fish and Game Code, section 3039). For a copy of the declaration form, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/entry-declaration.aspx. Remember that deer and other cervid skulls may not be brought into the state unless special rules are followed to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease (see CCR Title 14, section 712).

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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 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.

Should Anglers Release Lingcod Females?

Both male lingcod and male cabezon (like pictured here) guard the egg nests (Photo by 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 Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Environmental Biologist Travis Tanaka, the lingcod stock has fully recovered from their overfished status and so the spawning closure is no longer required to protect the stocks. Lingcod don’t get the bends (no swim bladder), so females can be released if handled properly.

In northern California, the seasons are closed for lingcod and other groundfish species in late fall, winter and spring for boat-based anglers. The closures help to protect mature female lingcod that have moved closer to shore to spawn, and 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. In addition, the practice of divers choosing to shoot male lingcod while they are guarding the egg beds is not prohibited, but it is a reflection of that fisherman’s 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.


Planting wild turkeys?
Question: Who can I talk to about planting wild turkeys on private property? I am not sure if it is legal to plant turkeys. If it is legal, do I need a permit? And if so, how do I get one? (Steve H.)

Answer: Turkeys are not allowed to be transported or planted on private property. The law says: “No permission will be granted to any person to release to the wild state turkeys that have been domestically reared for propagation or hunting purposes, except as provided in subsection 600(i)(4) of these regulations. Only wild trapped turkeys trapped from the wild by the Department may be released into the wild” (CCR Title 14, section 671.6 (b)).

According to DFG Wild Turkey Biologist Scott Gardner, only DFG can release wild turkeys (no game farm birds) into the wild. However, we are not planting turkeys due to recent nuisance problems and other issues.

Does the property where you’d like to plant turkeys contain habitat that would be attractive to wild turkeys? Have you seen turkeys nearby? If either of these are true then you probably already have turkeys. It’s almost guaranteed that even if we were to plant birds on your property, they would likely not stay without the appropriate habitat.

Be careful about game farm birds that are being sold as wild turkeys, too. Besides the fact that they are specifically illegal to release into the wild, they aren’t wild turkeys, Gardner says, despite what they look like. A wild turkey must be raised in the wild by a hen right from hatching to learn to be a wild turkey. Otherwise they are maybe just a step up from livestock.


Two Cali-rigs with a two rod stamp?
Question: Can two Cali-rigs (Alabama rigs with only three hooks) be fished simultaneously on separate poles as long as the angler has a second pole stamp on their license? (Kayak fishing Ron)

Answer: Yes, as long as the angler taking fish with two rods or lines in most inland waters has the two rod stamp.

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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.

Raccoon House Pets?

Raccoons are illegal to keep as house pets (USFWS photo)

Question: Is it legal to have a raccoon living in the house? I have seen a raccoon in my friend’s tree during the daytime (which is unusual) and they told me it belongs to their neighbor. My friend has a lot of grandchildren running around outside and so I worry this is a health issue. I am not sure if they have a special permit for this little creature. Should a game warden come out to check on the situation? (Debra M.)

Answer: It is not only illegal to keep raccoons (or any wildlife) as pets or in captivity, but it also may be dangerous. Wild animals such as raccoons can become very aggressive and dangerous to both humans and pets as they mature. In addition, they can carry diseases and parasites that can present health risks to humans. Wildlife need to be kept wild for their safety and well-being, as well as ours. Only people who are permitted by DFG (for example, licensed wildlife rehabilitators or exhibitors) may keep wildlife in captivity. To report this situation, please contact our CalTIP line at 1-888-334-2258.


Can full Alabama rigs be legally fished in ocean waters?
Question: Can full Alabama rigs be legally fished in ocean waters? (Zack P., Santa Barbara)

Answer: Alabama rigs have been all the rage, as well as very controversial, in the bass fishing circuits this year. While in freshwater lakes and Delta waters the Alabama rig must be modified (only three hooks total allowed rather than the standard five), in ocean waters no modifications are required. However, if fishing for salmon or rockfish or if salmon or rockfish are in possession, the angler would be limited to only two hooks.


Shooting from side-by-side carts on private property?
Question: What are the rules for shooting from or off side-by-side carts on private property? Legal or not legal? (Ric)

Answer: California Fish and Game laws prohibit shooting from a vehicle when you are shooting at wildlife and you cannot shoot from any vehicle that is on a way open to the public. In addition, there are restrictions in the Penal Code against discharging firearms in certain incorporated or unincorporated areas, even if you are on private property. Information regarding these Penal Code provisions are available online in the “Firearms Laws” (Booklet by California Department of Justice) (PDF) on the DFG Enforcement homepage (www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement).

The one exception here would be for mobility impaired disabled hunters who qualify for a special hunting license allowing the person to use a motor vehicle to pursue game. The vehicle would still have to be stopped before the hunter could shoot from the vehicle. For more information on this special license, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/hunting/huntdescrip.html.


Selling bottle openers made from antlers
Question: I have a very small hobby/business of making (and at some point hopefully selling) bottle openers. I currently make them out of wood but I would like to make some of them out of deer or elk antlers or bone. There are companies on the Internet who sell antlers, but they say they cannot ship to California. What are the regulations concerning using antlers for hobby items such as this? What antlers are permissible for importing for use in a hobby/business of making bottle openers? Why are elk antlers not allowed to be imported into California? Can elk antlers be legally gathered or purchased from within California? (Jeff M., South Lake Tahoe)

Answer:  In general, it is not legal to buy or sell the parts of any game bird or mammal found in the wild in the state of California (Fish and Game Code, section 3039(a)). However, FGC section 3039(c) allows the purchase and sale of shed antlers or antlers taken from domestically reared animals that have been manufactured into products as long as the antlers are not complete, attached to a head, mounted for display, or in velvet. As far as your question, if the antlers are from sheds and are made into bottle openers, they would be allowed to be sold in California. Another option would be to purchase antlers from animals such as caribou or moose, since they are not found in the wild in California.


Turkey call
Question: I want to make a turkey call from a box turtle shell. Would these be legal to possess in California? (Jeff H.)

Answer: Yes.

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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.