Rifle Juggling

(Photo courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation)

Question: My wife and I both hunt deer during open season along with small game, preferably squirrels. We carry two rifles each (one for deer and the other for squirrel). After hours of hiking though, it gets tiring. So my question is if I was to carry a small caliber rifle to hunt squirrel and my wife carries a big caliber rifle to hunt deer, would it be legal for us to switch guns during the same trip? For example, after she tags her deer, I could use her gun to go hunt for deer and she’d use my small caliber rifle to hunt squirrels. Or, would we have to continue carrying two guns each to hunt the two different species? (John)

Answer: There is no problem with you and your wife sharing your rifles as long as the appropriate rifle is used for the appropriate species. Remember that rimfire rifles, such as the .22, are legal for squirrel but not for deer. If you are deer hunting, you must carry a centerfire rifle. If you are hunting in the Condor Zone, the large caliber rifle must carry non-lead ammunition. This restriction would not apply to the take of small game including tree squirrel, jackrabbit and cottontail.


Cleaning abalone and then traveling to campsite
Question: We love to camp at the Gerstle Cove Woodside Campground and eat abalone for dinner. Can we legally clean the abalone at the fish cleaning facility and then drive a mile back up to the campsite to cook them? I am sure the rangers would prefer the abalone guts to be at the cleaning station rather than to be put into the trash cans at the campsite to rot. However, it means driving a mile to the campsite in possession of abalone that are out of the shell. I am afraid the campground workers will not enjoy your answer. (Anonymous)

Answer: Abalone cannot be transported out of the shell. According to DFG Game Warden Tiffany Stinson, abalone should be cleaned at the campsite where they will be consumed. Place the trimmings and guts in a bag to throw away later. If you are stopped in transit with abalone removed from the shell, it will be a violation. The regulations state: “Abalone Possession and Transportation: Abalones shall not be removed from their shell, except when being prepared for immediate consumption” (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(g).


Dove Hunting
Question: I understand that doves can be taken with airguns/spring guns with use of pellets. Does this mean I can take them while perched but not in flight? If yes, when I go dove hunting can I take both my shotgun and my airgun? And if this is alright, can I use my shotgun when the doves are in flight and my air gun when they land? Do the same regulations apply to quail? (Blong Y.)

Answer: It is legal to take perched doves and other resident small game (including quail) with air rifles powered by compressed air or gas, as prescribed in the regulations. However, only the following dove species are classified as Resident Small Game and may be taken with pellet guns: Chinese spotted doves, Eurasian collared-doves and ringed turtle-doves of the family Columbidae. Western mourning dove and all other migratory game birds may not be taken by pellet gun (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 300(b)). You may carry both the pellet gun and shotgun while hunting.


Definition of bait
Question: Can you please define bait for me? Some rivers have a no bait restriction. Can I use rubber egg imitations? And if so, can I also add some scent to the rubber eggs? (Ken H., Santa Rosa)

Answer: Bait is not specifically defined in California Fish and Game fishing regulations, but rubber eggs or any similar item is covered by the definition for “Artificial Lure” in section 1.11 in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. An artificial lure is a manmade lure or fly designed to attract fish. This definition does not include scented or flavored artificial baits. Often these regulations also state barbless hooks.

Bait that is authorized for use is defined in section 4.00 of the fishing regulations as: “Legally acquired and possessed invertebrates, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians (except salamanders), fish eggs and treated and processed foods…”

Rubber egg imitations without scent would qualify as an “artificial lure” and may be used in waters where artificial lure restrictions are in effect.

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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.

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