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.

One response to “Hatching and Raising Wild Turkeys

  1. 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. I love the post these is great looking forward to red more.

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