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.

One response to “Spikes, Forks and Counting Points

  1. Reblogged this on Rasher Quivers and commented:
    Here is a pretty good blog for those just starting out with their hunting endeavors. This blog from California Outdoors Q and A explains how to count the points on a buck.

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