Tag Archives: Turkeys

When Wild Turkeys Attack

Turkey strut (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Turkey strut (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I have lived in a rural area of Woodside for more than 20 years. Although many different species of wild animals wander through our area searching for food, we have never seen wild turkeys. Never until one day about three years ago when two juvenile turkeys and a male pheasant wandered into our neighborhood scavenging for food.

Well, our neighbors began feeding them, and now there are at least two pairs of wild turkeys and 15 chicks between them. I suspect there are more but these were just on our patio last week. And these turkeys can be mean! Recently, one of our neighbors was putting his garbage can out and was attacked by some large male turkeys! He fell down and broke his wrist trying to get away from them.

What can we do to rid our neighborhood of these pests? Can these turkeys be moved to another area? (Floyd B., Woodside)

Answer: Turkeys are now a part of many suburban neighborhoods in California. During the spring breeding season male turkeys can become aggressive, but this breeding behavior should pass.

Most of the complaints the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) receives regarding turkeys can be traced to someone feeding the birds. The single most important thing people can do to get rid of nuisance wildlife is to remove ALL potential food sources. If possible, discuss the matter with the neighbors who are feeding the birds, too.

Turkeys are habitat generalists and food opportunists, meaning they can thrive in a wide variety of conditions and can eat many types of foods. Adequate food is available to them naturally and so they do not need to be fed. As with many wild animals, people feed them because they like watching them, but this practice puts them at risk. To help persuade the turkeys to move on, you and your neighbors should remove any cat food, dog food and especially spilled birdseed that might be in the area.

CDFW has used turkey relocation as a tool in the past but found the effectiveness limited. It’s very unlikely that all the turkeys in the area will be successfully trapped as turkeys are quite wary, and often there are plenty of other wild turkeys living in close proximity that will move in to fill any void. Once turkeys are trapped, they must be moved to a new location where they may end up just becoming a problem for someone else. These programs also require substantial resources and money for CDFW to maintain.

Generally, CDFW does not move nuisance wildlife for these reasons. As a last resort, you can get a depredation permit for the lethal removal of the birds, though methods may be limited in suburban areas where discharging firearms is prohibited. Many people don’t want to go this route anyway, and so the most important thing to remember when coexisting with turkeys is to not feed them.

For more information, please refer to previous California Outdoors Q&A columns that pertain to and explain the issues surrounding feeding wildlife (http://californiaoutdoorsqas.com/?s=feeding+wildlife) or to CDFW’s Keep Me Wild campaign (https://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/turkey.html).

Crab season and whale migration do NOT mix
Question: Is there any way to END crab season for the year due to the early migration of the whales? Recently, there were two whales stuck in crab netting in/near Monterey Bay and it seems absolutely asinine to continue crabbing under these conditions. Whales are a protected species, not humans. We can find something else to eat and the crabs can have an early respite from our carnivorous habits. Can’t something be done to end the crab season earlier? (Deb D., Soquel)

Answer: According to CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Pete Kalvass, who is one of the Dungeness crab fishery managers, “We appreciate your concern regarding marine mammal interactions with crab gear. The federal government via NOAA is responsible for protecting marine mammals, including whales, and we work with them in trying to minimize these types of interactions with our state managed crab fisheries.

Unfortunately, there is presently no way to guarantee zero interactions short of eliminating these fisheries. As it is, when you consider that there are approximately 150,000 commercial Dungeness crab pots set during the height of the fishery in November and December each season, entanglements are indeed quite rare. Closing a fishery prematurely as you suggest is not a simple proposition and would either take legislation or an extraordinary finding of harm to the mammals, and public hearings, before our Director could act.”

For further information, I suggest you contact one of the NOAA offices or check their website at http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/.

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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.

Hatching and Raising Wild Turkeys

Wild spring turkeys (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Wild spring turkeys (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: If I want to raise a couple of turkeys from eggs that I believe came from partly or mostly wild stock, would I run afoul of California law? They would not be used for any business purposes and would remain on my property. I would prefer to let them roam around my place, which is quite large and full of native habitat, as opposed to keeping them penned up. There are currently no wild turkeys in my area. (Tucker)

Answer: You cannot take eggs from the wild to raise. Nesting birds are given protection from “harassment” while sitting on and incubating their eggs. In addition, wild turkeys cannot be domestically reared and released for propagation or hunting purposes. Only wild trapped turkeys trapped from the wild by the Department may be released into the wild (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 671.6(b)).

Fishing for different species with separate rods?
Question: I have a question about fishing for salmon and groundfish off the coast of San Francisco. I understand that only one rod can be used to fish each type. My question is over whether it’s ok to fish for both types of fish at the same time? By this I mean one rod set up for salmon using the “mooching” style of fishing at around 10 feet of water with frozen bait. The other rod would be set up for groundfish using shrimp flies at the bottom of the ocean floor around 85 ft. Your help is much appreciated. (Jason)

Answer: Nice try! But no, you may use only one rod when targeting salmon or groundfish. You may not use one rod for salmon and one rod for groundfish at the same time. You are also restricted to using only barbless hooks if you have a salmon on your boat, even if you are targeting rockfish at the time (see CCR Title 14, section 27.80.)

Orange hunter vests
Question: I recently completed my hunter safety education course, got my license and went hunting with a small group on private land. None of us wore hunter safety orange vests as we were all together at all times and in each other’s line of sights. I see hunting shows where they sometimes don’t wear the orange hunter vests either. When do you wear the vests? Is it acceptable to not wear them while on private land when you’re with a small group and know where everyone is? Or, do you have to wear orange all the time while hunting? (Joseph L., OIF Vet)

Answer: Though some states require hunters (especially when hunting upland game) to wear blaze orange all the time while in the field for safety reasons, in California we do not require it. It is a good idea to wear this distinctive color whenever possible for your safety as it does help you to stand out, but there is no law requiring it. You’ll find that orange is being incorporated more and more into hunting camouflage patterns to provide greater safety. One thing to note for deer hunting, deer cannot detect the color orange. To deer, orange looks gray.

Where can bluegill be used for bait?
Question: Many times I have seen people on the docks in the Delta catching bluegill for striper bait. Is this permitted for black bass bait in Lake Don Pedro if the bluegill are caught there and not transported from another place? (John and Diane H.)

Answer:  Bluegill may not be used as bait at Lake Don Pedro. California sportfishing regulations for freshwater generally prohibit using live or dead finfish for bait. Although certain species of finfish may be used in the waters where taken, bluegill may only be used in the Colorado River District (see CCR, Title 14, section 4.15(a)) and portions of the Valley and South Central Districts (see CCR, Title 14, section 4.20(d)). While Lake Don Pedro is inside the Valley District (see CCR, Title 14, section 6.36), it is not included as a location where bluegill may be used as bait.

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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.

Bloodsucking Leeches?

These "creepy leech-like" organisms are part of the aquatic food chain and are often found in lakes and ponds where they provide food for vertebrates such as fish, ducks, turtles and some birds. (Photo: Wilderness Unlimited property in Mendocino County.)

Question: My daughter and I love to swim and play in waters wherever we find them. While in French Gulch (Shasta County) last year, we decided to play around in Clear Creek. The creek was running pretty high, but when my daughter and I got out we had these black, worm-like things hanging off us. Our first thought was leeches, which got us out of the water quite quickly! Someone told me they were rock worms and wouldn’t hurt us. We haven’t returned there though because we’re still too scared they were leeches.

We also stopped at Eagle Lake (Lassen County) to go swimming and ended up with these tiny little round slime balls on us. When picking up these slimy things in question, they flattened out on our hands and started slithering like a leech across our hands. This was another trip where my daughter and I ran screaming out of the water to rinse off under the faucet! There were lots of people swimming in the lake who either didn’t seem to notice or else knew something we didn’t.

Clear Creek was a very cold creek, but Eagle Lake was very warm, so I could understand Eagle Lake possibly having leeches. Do these leeches suck human blood? Are they harmful to humans in any way? I love the outdoors and swimming, but too many encounters with creepy leech-like things are making me leery about the safety of it. (Kim B.)

Answers: Without pictures, it’s tough to say, but it sounds like you encountered two different invertebrates. According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Associate Fish Pathologist Garry Kelley, Ph.D., the organism at Clear Creek was likely a free-living caddisfly larvae (Genus Rhyacophila), commonly known as a rock worm. This type of caddisfly crawls around rock bottoms in search of food and is commonly eaten by trout. Caddisflies are not at all harmful to humans.

The organism at Eagle Lake might be a leech based on the “slithering” swimming motion you described. There are many types of leeches and most are fluid feeders. Leeches are either scavengers or are parasitic (i.e., they feed on other organisms). Some species of leeches suck blood from vertebrates (humans, waterfowl, fish, etc.) while others feed on insects, mollusks, oligochaetes or dead animal matter. Kelley suspects the organism described at Eagle Lake was non-parasitic in nature because bloodsucking was not indicated.

Can cowcod caught in Mexico be imported to U.S. waters?
Question: If we’re fishing in Mexican waters and catch a cowcod, can we legally bring it back into a California port as long as we have all of the proper licenses and the Declaration for Entry form properly filled out? I’d just like to know for sure as we fish Mexican waters frequently targeting rockfish and I’d like to avoid a citation. (Jeff M., San Diego)

Answer: No. Cowcod may not be imported or even possessed in California regardless of where caught (Fish and Game Code, section 2353(a)(2)). Broomtail groupers and canary, yelloweye and bronzespotted rockfishes are also illegal to be possessed or imported into California under this regulation and under California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.55(b)(1), even if they were taken legally in Mexico.

How many turkeys in possession?
Question: I’m going out of town on a three-day turkey hunt and need some clarification on the possession limit. If my buddy and I each 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 I am legal. Otherwise I will have to travel back and forth after each successful day and it’s about a two-hour drive each way. Any information you could give me would be appreciated. (Brent M.)

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

Fishing for sanddabs
Question: When fishing for sanddabs, how many hooks can be attached to the line on a single rod? (Len P.)

Answer: You may fish for sanddabs with as many hooks as you like on a single rod, unless rockfish, lingcod or salmon are on the vessel or in possession, in which case special restrictions apply (CCR Title 14, section 28.65).

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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.

(Photo courtesy of Wilderness Unlimited)

Planting Wild Turkeys on Private Land?

Turkey strut ( Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I have a few questions about putting Eastern wild turkey poults out on private land. I just love to hunt them. There are turkeys out there already but I would like for there to be a lot more. How or what can be done to get more turkeys planted on the property? (Joe D.)

Answer: Permission will not be granted to any person to release turkeys into the wild that have been domestically reared for propagation or hunting purposes. Only turkeys trapped from the wild by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) may be released into the wild (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 671.6 (b)).

According to DFG Turkey Program Manager Scott Gardner, besides being illegal, releasing captive-reared turkey poults will not ultimately produce more turkeys in the wild, and could actually harm the wild population. Beginning in the 1920s, DFG raised turkeys and other game birds and released them into the wild. By 1951, DFG and other wildlife agencies stopped the practice because it wasn’t resulting in self-sustaining wild populations of turkeys. In 1959, DFG started importing and releasing the Rio Grande subspecies of wild turkeys that were trapped in the wild in Texas. Wild trapped birds were highly successful and virtually all of California’s current wild turkey population came from these releases.

Game birds imprint on their mothers immediately after hatching and they learn behaviors necessary to survive in the wild in the first few days of life. Captive-reared birds do not develop the survival skills that are learned from a hen in the wild, and most will not survive. Domestic turkeys have higher rates of disease which is a risk to the wild population, and breeding with them would decrease genetic fitness of the wild population. Wild turkeys thrive where habitat is good, and they need a mix of trees, grasslands and water.

Catching crabs on rod and reel?
Question: I will be getting a fishing license soon even though I don’t really need one since I do most of my fishing from public piers. I have a question about when a crab goes after a baited hook and is caught while fishing. Does it really have to be thrown back then? I think if someone is lucky enough to bring a six inch crab up to a pier, they should get to keep it. It’s not easy to do. I have had many large crabs let go as soon as they hit the surface. I have never caught a six-plus inch crab, but if I pulled one up, I sure would like to eat it. Can I keep it or do I have to let it go? (Ray A.)

Answer: Unfortunately, the law does not allow crabs to be caught with hook and line. Crabs may be taken only by hand, baited hoop nets, crab loop traps, and if north of Point Arguello, crab traps. The traps must meet the escape port requirements described in regulations (CCR Title 14, section 29.80(c)). If you find yourself one of the lucky fishermen to have a crab ride your fishing line all of the way up to the pier, take a picture to capture the memory, but then you’ll need to toss it back. Sorry.

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

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

Where does the deer tag need to go?
Question: After harvesting a deer and filling the tag, does the tag stay with the meat in the freezer or stay with the head and antlers if it goes to a taxidermist? I always thought it stays with the meat. (Hans G.)

Answer: The tag must stay affixed to the antlers for 15 days following the closure of the deer season. If you send the head or antlers to a taxidermist, the tag must stay with the head and antlers while in their possession. The tag does not need to remain with the meat.

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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.

Abalone Diving with Spare Air for Safety?

Abalone may be taken only by freediving without the assistance of SCUBA or surface-supplied air (Photo courtesy of Ken Bailey)

Question: While abalone diving, I would like to keep a very small, emergency supply of air on my person as a safety precaution. The device would be shrink-wrapped to indicate evidence of use. The idea being that if the seal is intact, there would be no evidence of “use” and I would be in compliance with the law. The product I’m asking about can be seen at http://www.spareairxtreme.com/.

Would I be in violation of any of the regulations if I were to wear such a device while taking abalone, assuming I did not use the device and had sufficient evidence to prove such a claim? (Aaron L.)

Answer: The law prohibits the “use of SCUBA gear or surface-supplied air to take abalone” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(e)). According to DFG Lt. Dennis McKiver, this includes having it in your possession, even if you are not actually breathing off of it. The law also states that abalone may not be taken or possessed aboard any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing SCUBA or surface-supplied air. Since you are not allowed to have SCUBA gear in your possession on a boat while taking abalone (even if the SCUBA gear is not being used), to be consistent with the law, this “spare air” product would also not be allowed as the same principles apply.

Turkey hunting and pig hunting at the same time?
Question: Spring turkey season is one of my favorite times of the year and I’m heading out for a gobbler next weekend. I do a lot of my hunting in prime hog country and like to combine my options when I’m there. I usually hunt with a bow but am considering carrying my .44 revolver for hogs, and a shotgun for turkeys. Could this cause a conflict if I’m stopped because the .44 is not legal for turkey hunting? If all lead-restrictions are observed, would it be legal to carry the handgun while turkey hunting with a shotgun? What about carrying the handgun and the bow at the same time? (Phillip L.)

Answer: There are no restrictions against carrying a shotgun for turkeys and a handgun for pigs at the same time. And since you’re not hunting during the deer archery only season, should you decide to bow hunt for turkeys, there are also no restrictions against carrying both a bow and a firearm on the same trip.

Hunting license needed to shoot gophers on private land?
Question:Do I need a hunting license to shoot gophers on private land? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes. Gophers are nongame mammals and may be taken by licensed hunters. In addition, gophers that are damaging growing crops or other property may be taken without a hunting license by the owner or the owner’s agent.

Shooting from a reservoir too close to our homes
Question:We live near a reservoir where people do a lot of duck hunting on. Our houses sit right above the reservoir and they sometimes get hit with duck shot. Does the 150 yard distance apply on reservoirs the same as it does on land? And can we post signs along the reservoir to warn people about no shooting? (Curtis B., Redding)

Answer: Yes, the same prohibition against shooting within 150 yards from an occupied dwelling exists for people shooting from the water the same as when on land (Fish and Game Code, section 3004). And yes, you can post your property to warn unaware hunters/shooters.

Hunting Wild Ox or Buffalo?
Question:I am a lifetime hunting license holder with the additional big game package. Last time I hiked in the Cleveland National Forest, I saw a wild ox (my son said it was a buffalo, but it had smooth skin without fur and thin long pointed horns). Could you tell me if I can take it? It is not listed anywhere on your website for a tag requirement. (Allen H.)

Answer: It is not uncommon for domestic livestock to be found on Forest Service lands. In fact, many ranchers have long-term contracts with the Forest Service allowing that use. In addition, National Forest property is commonly adjacent to private ranches and the livestock frequently stray onto the public land.

According to ret. DFG Capt. Phil Nelms though, a truly feral cow or similar domestic stock (except a burro) is considered to be a nongame mammal in the Fish and Game regulations and can be taken. A hunting license is required but there are no prescribed seasons or bag limits.

Beware though … if you kill one of these animals and it is not feral, you could be prosecuted for a felony. Stick to deer!!

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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.