Category Archives: Tackle

Hunters Should Use Caution with Wild Rabbits

Hunters should use caution when field dressing wild rabbits.

Hunters should use caution when field dressing wild rabbits.

Question: I’d like to try some rabbit hunting but hear they may carry some kind of disease. Is this true? If so, is this anything to be concerned about and what precautions should I take? (Jeff J., Stockton)

Answer: You may be referring to “tularemia,” a bacterial disease that wild rabbits occasionally carry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “tularemia is a disease of animals and humans caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Rabbits, hares and rodents are especially susceptible and often die in large numbers during outbreaks. Humans can become infected through several routes, including tick and deer fly bites, skin contact with infected animals and ingestion of contaminated water. Symptoms vary depending on the route of infection. Although tularemia can be life-threatening, most infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics.”

To be safe, hunters should take precautions by wearing latex gloves when field dressing their rabbits to minimize exposure to the disease. Be sure to properly cool the animal after field dressing it, and to always cook it thoroughly. Tularemia is named after the place where it was discovered – Tulare.


Booyah Boo Rig
Question: I would like to use a Booyah Boo Rig in coastal ocean waters and possibly for stripers in the Sacramento River. It has five places for flashers or grubs but only one will have a hook. The others are just attractants. Would this be ok? Here is a photo of it. (Dave K.)Booyah Rig

Answer: As long as the rig does not exceed the allowable number of hooks (which generally is three hooks or three lures with up to three hooks each for inland waters), it is legal.

Ocean regulations are less restrictive. Generally, any number of lines and hooks may be used but bear in mind that there are hook/line restrictions for some fish species in both inland and ocean waters, so you’d need to read the regulation for each specific species to know for sure.


Can boat owners be cited for their passengers’ fishing violations?
Question: I’m a small recreational boat owner (ocean fishing). If somebody on my boat violates any Fish and Wildlife laws (e.g. hook barb not completely removed for salmon fishing), am I liable in any way for this infraction? What are my legal “game law” responsibilities for my boat guests? (John S.)

Answer: In ocean waters, boat limits apply to all persons on board. “All persons aboard a vessel may be cited where violations involving boat limits are found, including, but not limited to the following violations: A-Overlimits: B-Possession of prohibited species: C-Violation of size limits: D-Fish taken out of season or in closed areas” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.60). If the issue is illegal gear, the officer will try to determine which person was using it.


Hunting for small game with pellet guns
Question:
I am 21 years old and am wondering if I need a license or any type of permit to carry an air rifle? Do I need a permit or license to hunt small game or for target shooting? To be honest, I don’t like real guns. I just want to go target shooting with my dad and maybe some hunting for small game with my friends. I plan to go camping this summer with some friends to celebrate my 22nd birthday. It would be great to know what the laws are regarding carrying and hunting with pellet guns. Can you please let me know? (Adeh M.)

Answer: You may use a pellet gun for target practice in areas where shooting is allowed. This includes gun ranges, some public lands (e.g. Forest Service or BLM), and private lands where you have permission to be. Many cities and counties do not prohibit the use of pellet guns but you should check in with the local sheriff’s department to be sure.

Resident small game mammals and birds may be taken with air rifles if you first obtain a California hunting license. In order to get a hunting license, you must first pass a Hunter Education course. Some species like upland game birds require an upland game bird validation on your license.

After obtaining a hunting license, you will need to become familiar with the laws and regulations pertaining to small game hunting. These regulations are contained in the current Waterfowl and Upland Game Hunting Regulation booklet. The regulations pertaining to the take of small game regulations begin on page 26. A summary of these regulations can also be found on our website.

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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.

Archery with Lighted Arrow Nocks

Archery pro, Keli Van Cleave

There are no prohibitions against using lighted nocks so long as they don’t emit a directional beam of light. (Archery Pro Keli Van Cleave)

Question: We are bow hunters and are wondering if there are any regulations against using lighted arrow nocks? They turn on when shot from your bow and stay on until you turn them off. They operate by a small lithium battery and will stay on for many hours if needed. The light makes it easier to follow the path of the arrow once released and will stay on until retrieved from the animal or wherever it ends up. (Joe G., Grass Valley)

Answer: There are no prohibitions against using lighted nocks so long as they don’t emit a directional beam of light. “Notwithstanding the general prohibition of the use of lights in Fish and Game Code section 2005, arrows or crossbow bolts with lighted nocks that do not emit a directional beam of light may be used” (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 354(d)). A nock is the slotted portion at the back of the arrow that sits against the bow string and holds the arrow in place until the archer is released.


Fishing with multiple rods in Tomales Bay
Question: In ocean and/or bays, such as Tomales Bay by Lawson’s Landing, is a second rod stamp required? Is a second rod stamp required to catch California halibut with multiple rods in Tomales Bay? (John C., Roseville)

Answer: A second rod stamp is not required to fish with multiple rods in Tomales Bay. A second rod stamp only applies to inland waters defined under CCR Title 14, section 1.53. Restrictions on gear in the ocean pertain to certain areas such as San Francisco Bay and certain species such as groundfish and salmon.


Legal to mount waterfowl to give away?
Question: I was given a few ducks and geese by a hunter in Fresno. These ducks have tags and the hunter provided me with an affidavit stating they were gifted. I don’t have time to mount these anymore. Can I give them away for free since I don’t have a federal permit? Also, I have a few ducks that I mounted for myself but would now like to part with them. Can I give them away for free as well? (Christina T.)

Answer: Yes. And for the gifted ducks and geese, once you are ready to give them away to someone else, you will also need to pass along any paperwork you received with them to the person you are passing the ducks and geese along to (Code of Federal Regulations Title 50, Part 20, sections 20.36-20.40).


How to check a fishing guide has all licenses and insurance?
Question: I’m thinking of hiring a fishing guide for a trip. How can I check to make sure he has all the necessary licenses and insurance? (Barry N.)

Answer: To see if the guide is licensed and in good standing through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/guide and click on the licensed hunting and fishing guides link. This will provide you with the names of individuals with a valid California Fishing Guide license. The license authorizes them to guide their fishing clients for money or compensation, but will not confirm that they carry insurance or any other credentials. Your best bet will be to ask around about their reputations at a local fishing or sporting goods store or get a referral from past clients. You should also ask the prospective guide to show you proof that they carry insurance and/or any other credentials.


Hoop netting with winch
Question: I have a simple question about recreational hoop netting. Can I use an electrical device like an “Ace Hauler” to aid in the retrieval of my hoop nets? It uses an electrical motor to aid in the work. You just wrap the rope around the wheel and pull. The motor does most of the work. If this is legal, are there any restrictions on the use of such a device? (Karl P.)

Answer: There are no regulations prohibiting the use of manual winches by sportfishers to assist in pulling crab traps or hoop nets. Use of power-driven winches is prohibited north of Point Arguello, but there is an exception for handling crab traps or nets (see CCR Title 14, section 28.70).

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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.

When Prohibited from Retrieving Deer from Private Property?

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Question: Last year I shot a doe with my A31 tag in Los Angeles County (Archery Only-Either Sex). It appeared to be a lethal shot from 22 yards with decent shot placement. I tracked the blood to a privately owned ranch 100 yards away. I stopped tracking it when it appeared she went onto the ranch property. I then approached the ranch manager to get permission to continue tracking my deer. The owner initially agreed but after one of her coworkers talked to her, she retracted her permission (approximately 10 minutes from the time we spoke in her office). She requested that we leave her property at once as she didn’t want people to think they approved of hunting. I didn’t have enough time to locate my deer and left broken-hearted.

I don’t like seeing animals die or suffer for no reason. I would never have shot if I would have known I couldn’t recover her. I believe I did everything legal and correct but it shouldn’t be right that a deer goes to waste because of the bias of a property manager.

Is there anything I could have done to recover my deer? Do I have any rights or is there anyone I could have contacted? I’m still sick over the situation. (Luke G., Loma Linda)

Answer: It’s unfortunate that this happened. Although the law prevents one from wasting the deer, the law does not permit the trespass to retrieve it. Perhaps, if you’d contacted the local game warden, they may have been able to contact the ranch manager or owner for some possible assistance to prevent the deer from going to waste.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lt. Todd Tognazzini, when archery hunting it is recommended to hunt farther from private property boundaries to avoid this type of problem as deer taken with archery usually travel farther after a lethal wound than those shot with a rifle. Tognazzini says he has never been refused when a fresh and legitimate blood trail is found leaving public land onto private property.


Spear fishing along a jetty without a license?
Question: I know that fishing from a public pier or first seaward public jetty/seawall doesn’t require a state fishing license. Does this also apply if a diver is spearfishing or collecting shellfish along such a jetty? (Jonathan)

Answer: No, the person must physically be on the pier to legally fish without a license. Once the person is off of the pier or most seaward protective boundary (jetty) placed to form a harbor, a fishing license is required. When diving from shore, he or she must be within 500 yards of their license (Fish and Game Code, section 1054.2).


Does a beginner taxidermist need a license?
Question: I am a beginner taxidermist and have done a few pheasants and ducks for myself only but would like to now do some free taxidermy for other people. Will I need a taxidermist license and/or migratory bird permit to mount ducks even if I don’t charge for my services? (Christian T.)

Answer: California does not require a taxidermist license, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does require a license for migratory waterfowl. A Federal Taxidermy Permit is required to possess migratory birds for taxidermy purposes if you do not otherwise have authorization to possess. For example, a taxidermy permit is required if you would like to taxidermy a friend’s (or customer’s) duck harvested during hunting season. A taxidermy permit is not required if you would like to taxidermy a duck you harvested during hunting season. Further information regarding this federal permit is available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website.

I am glad you said you would not keep any of the fish that are not legal to catch or possess. Catching and killing some rockfish does no good.

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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.

Shooting Deer Across a Lake?

Photo credit: USFWS

Photo credit: USFWS

Question: Is it legal to shoot my rifle across open water to the other side? Say I am on one side of a lake and see a legal deer on the other side (let’s assume it’s 200 yards, not a good long range shot). Can I shoot across the lake or pond or river? (Larry E.)

Answer: It is never advisable to shoot over water due to the potential for a ricochet. However, it is not illegal under the Fish and Game Code and its implementing regulations as long as both you and the deer are on property where it is legal to hunt and you have permission to hunt the area. Keep in mind though that while shooting deer across a lake may not violate state regulations, there may still be other federal laws or local ordinances that could make this illegal. Be sure to check with local authorities first to ensure no other regulations legally prohibit this practice.


Sport fishing from a commercial boat?
Question: I have a friend with a commercial urchin boat who invited me to come out with him. Would it be legal for me to fish off the boat and to maybe even dive and do some spearfishing from the boat? I would stick to fish and not take any urchin while down diving. (Anonymous)

Answer: No. Under Fish and Game Code, section 7856(f): “A person shall not take or possess a fish on a commercial fishing vessel under a sport fishing license while that vessel is engaged in a commercial fishing activity, including going to or from an area where fish are taken for commercial purposes.”

Commercial boat captains may take friends and family out to fish from their boats when they are NOT engaged in commercial fishing. All commercially caught fish or invertebrates must be off the boat before the boat leaves the harbor for a trip where the captain and passengers will be engaged in sport angling, diving, hoop netting or setting traps for crabs. They must commit to one or the other type of trip ahead of time.


Oh deer, oh road kill
Question: I hit a deer while driving a few nights ago. The dang thing jumped right out in front of my car at the last minute while I was only going 35 mph. It lived but it got me wondering whether I could have legally taken it home. If I field dress a freshly killed deer that’s been accidentally hit by a car, and even if I don’t have a deer tag, I don’t see why I could not take it. Otherwise, it would just rot on the side of the road and go to waste. I’m not a road-kill eater, but if I killed a deer by accident, I wouldn’t mind taking it home and eating it and keeping the skin. (Anonymous)

Answer: Unfortunately, this would not be legal. Road-killed wildlife may not be retained. Only authorized personnel of state and/or local agencies are permitted to dispatch and remove injured or dead animals.

Even if you were a licensed California hunter with the appropriate tags to take the deer, you cannot legally tag that deer and take it home. Deer may only be taken with rifles, shotguns, pistols and revolvers, muzzleloaders and archery equipment. Motor vehicles are not included in this list of legal methods of take.

Although FGC, section 2000.5(a), states the accidental taking of game by a motor vehicle is not a violation of the law, it does not authorize the possession of animals taken by a collision with a vehicle. You may wonder why this is the case since it seems like it would be a waste of a deer to not be able to place a tag on it and perhaps save another from being taken. The reason is that some poachers would use the “collision” excuse to take deer at night with their vehicle and just attach their tag to justify the action.


Using two rods to reach bag limit?
Question: If I am using a two-rod stamp and I have four fish in my bag (daily bag limit is five fish), can I still use two rods or do I have to only fish with one rod as I only need one more fish to reach my limit? (Kyle M.)

Answer: You may continue using two rods in the scenario you describe but once you catch the last fish in your limit, you must immediately pull in the other rod.


Stocking my home aquarium?
Question: Is it legal to take any marine life or rocks from the California coastline for use in an in-home aquarium? (James H.)

Answer: Finfish may not be transported alive from the water where taken except under the authority of a scientific collecting permit or a marine aquaria collector’s permit. The removal of live rocks (rocks with living marine organisms attached) is also prohibited in some areas, including marine sanctuaries and state parks.

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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 Sport-Caught Fish Be Donated to a Food Bank?

Sport-caught fish can be donated to a food bank or soup kitchen as long as they were legally taken, don’t exceed the angler’s bag limit and as long as the food bank or soup kitchen will accept them. Be sure to check with them first! (CDFG photo)

Sport-caught fish can be donated to a food bank or soup kitchen as long as they were legally taken, don’t exceed the angler’s bag limit and as long as the food bank or soup kitchen will accept them. Be sure to check with them first! (CDFG photo)

Question: We often take folks out fishing while they are visiting the area and staying at hotels, bed-and-breakfasts or campsites. Unfortunately, they are often not able to consume all of the fish that they catch. We understand we are allowed to gift fish to friends and family members (as long as each individual does not possess more than one bag limit per person per day).

Are there restrictions on gifting extra fish to local food banks or soup kitchens as long as the food bank would want and accept them? This is a question from a traveler who is interested in planning a future trip. (Jenny O., Santa Cruz)

Answer: Yes, a person is allowed to donate (gift) any fish taken to a food bank or soup kitchen that does not charge money for the fish as long as the fish were legally taken and the daily bag limit was not exceeded. Since every person is only allowed to take or possess one daily bag limit of fish per day, anglers should individually donate their fish to avoid having someone transport more than a possession limit of fish at any time. Since many food banks and soup kitchens no longer accept donations of meat or fish that is not USDA-certified, you may want to check with them in advance.


Airguns and Upland Game Hunting?
Question: My buddy and I are part of the ever increasing population of airgun hunters. We typically take rabbits and ground squirrels, but would like to use these .22 caliber precharged pneumatics for turkey and other upland game, such as quail and dove. While we believe the regulations cover the turkey hunting explicitly, can you confirm if it is also legal to take dove and quail with these firearms? (Jason C., Windsor)

Answer: Resident small game (as listed in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 257) may be taken with an air rifle firing pellets and powered by compressed air or gas. This includes: wild turkey (must use at least 0.177 caliber or larger), Eurasian collared doves, quail, non-protected squirrels, jack rabbits and cottontails, in addition to the other resident small game species defined in section 257.

Western mourning dove, white-winged dove and band-tailed pigeons are listed as migratory game birds and may not be taken with an air rifle.


Continue diving for fish after abalone limit reached?
Question: Just a quick question now that abalone season is upon us. I took up spearfishing last season and really enjoy it. I know the regulations state that once you reach your limit on abalone you must immediately stop diving. Does this mean stop diving altogether or just for abalone? I guess the question I am asking is can I continue to dive and spearfish after I get my limit of abalone? (Tom R.)

Answer: It is legal to spearfish after harvesting abalone. Abalone divers may take up to three abalone per day, and no more than three abalone may be possessed at any time. Nothing in the regulations requires you to exit the water after harvesting a limit of abalone. However, individuals “taking abalone shall stop detaching abalone when the limit of three is reached” (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(c)). This section also requires abalone divers to retain all legal-sized abalone they detach until they reach the limit.


Crayfish for bait?
Question: I was wondering if you can use crayfish as bait when fishing for freshwater fish, such as bass? (Jerry Y.)

Answer: Generally, crayfish may be used for bait statewide, with some exceptions (see CCR Title 14, sections 4.00 and 5.35). Even though crayfish are allowed as bait for bass fishing in most areas of California, if the crayfish were not caught and used in the same waters from where taken, many lakes prohibit anglers entering lakes with live bait. This is due to the potential for the introduction of exotic species, such as quagga and zebra mussels. There is no way to certify the bait and water holding the bait are free from these species. If you plan on using crayfish brought into a lake, it is important to check ahead of time with the operator of the lake to see if they allow importation of legally acquired bait.


Underwater camera to find trout?
Question: Is it legal to use an underwater camera to look for trout that may be hiding underneath the creek/river bank? Does it matter if it’s used while engaged in the actual activity of trout fishing or when not in possession of a fishing pole? (Jim B., Elk Grove)

Answer: An electronic viewing device, such as an underwater camera, would be legal but a non-electronic viewing device (such as goggles, scuba mask, etc.), would be prohibited for taking fish (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.09). There’s an exception, though, under the provisions of spearfishing (CCR Title 14, section 2.30).

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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.

 

Why Tag Large Trophy Trout?

Rainbow Trout _RB097

CDFW’s Eastern Sierras hatcheries, especially Fish Springs, have been placing floy tags on broodstock, or super catchable, fish to inform the public that CDFW is stocking larger fish than the usual two-to-four-pound fish. (CDFW photo)

Question: A friend caught a tagged fish in Deadman’s Creek near Glass Creek in Mono County. The tag was on the top fin of the fish, orange in color, about one inch long and slightly thinner than a spaghetti noodle with black printing on it. The message on the tag read: “CA DFW TROPHY – DO NOT REPORT.” What exactly does this mean? (Paul and Gloria W.)

Answer: This was likely a derby fish from Crowley Lake that migrated upstream. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fisheries Environmental Scientist Nick Buckmaster, “CA DFW-Trophy” floy tags are put on broodstock (or any large trout) that CDFW’s Fish Springs Hatchery releases in an effort to show the fishing public that CDFW does stock fish larger than the usual “catchables.” Many of these fish go to “special waters” for tournaments or events.

According to CDFW Fish Springs Hatchery Manager Matt Norris, who oversees the hatchery that stocks Deadman Creek, we do not have record of any trophy trout being stocked in Deadman Creek, but broodstock have been placed into the Upper Owens River and Crowley Lake (downstream of Deadman Creek). In spring many of our Eastern Sierra rainbow trout move into smaller headwater streams (such as Deadman Creek) to spawn, and this may be the case here.

CDFW’s Eastern Sierras hatcheries, especially Fish Springs, have been placing floy tags on broodstock, or super catchable, fish to inform the public that CDFW is stocking larger fish than the usual two-to-four-pound fish.


Crabbing from jetties?
Question: I have a question regarding crabbing on jetties. I have a valid sports fishing license and I am wondering if I can use more than two rods on the Pillar Point jetty? I’ve always thought there are no limits on the number of rods that can be used for ocean fishing, besides on public piers and special targeted species regulations. I will be mainly using crab snares with six loops. Is a valid fishing license even required to fish on jetties? (John)

Answer: If a jetty meets the definition of a public pier, no license is required but there are gear restrictions. “On public piers, no person shall use more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65).

“A public pier is a publicly owned manmade structure that has the following characteristics: is connected, above the mean high tide, to the main coastline or to the landmass of a named and charted natural island; has unrestricted free access for the general public; and has been built or currently functions for the primary purpose of allowing angling access to ocean waters. Additionally, publicly owned jetties or breakwaters that are connected to land, as described above, that have free unrestricted access for the general public and whose purpose it is to form the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor are public piers. Jetties, breakwaters, promenades, sea walls, moles, docks, linings, barriers and other structures that are not the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor, are not public piers” (CCR Title 14, section 1.88.)

In this case, the two outermost jetties at Pillar Point Harbor meet the definition of public piers. The inner jetties do not meet the definition as they are not the most seaward protective boundary, and the harbor district currently does not allow fishing from them.

For any jetties or piers that do not meet the definition of a public pier (as in section 1.88), anglers need a fishing license and are able to use as many lines or other appliances as wanted, per regulations.


Documentation needed to collect and keep antler sheds?
Question: I work on a ranch with a lot of property. Among the wildlife on the property, there are a lot of deer. Whenever I hike around I find antler sheds. I was wondering if it is legal for me to take them, and if so, what documentation would I need to keep them? (Lindy K., Sacramento)

Answer: It is legal to collect antlers that have been naturally shed or dropped by deer or elk in California. No documentation is needed to possess them. Keep in mind that everything in nature is recycled. Many mammals, rodents in particular, gnaw on shed antlers as they are valuable sources of calcium and other micronutrients. Recognize that if you remove it from the field, you are denying that source of nutrient. Next time you find a shed antler, inspect it closely and you will often see teeth marks from these animals. Also, be sure to check local regulations because some areas (e.g. most parks) do not allow collecting of sheds in areas under their jurisdiction. Fish and Game Code, section 3039(c) provides the authority to have them and sell them.

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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.

How to Find Legal Target Shooting Areas?

Target shooting improves one’s shooting skills and accuracy. It is also a great way to introduce someone new to safe gun handling practices and the shooting sports. In this photo, Harry Morse practices his skills at the “Birds Landing Hunting Preserve and Sporting Clays Course” near Fairfield. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Target shooting improves one’s shooting skills and accuracy. It is also a great way to introduce someone new to safe gun handling practices and the shooting sports. In this photo, Harry Morse practices his skills at the “Birds Landing Hunting Preserve and Sporting Clays Course” near Fairfield. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: A friend used to own property just outside the city limits and we were able to legally shoot our rifles on his property. Times have changed though and we now need a new place where we can we still legally shoot our rifles and shotguns for sport. We’re not hunters; we just practice target shooting. How do we go about finding places where we can legally shoot? (Gracie R., Carlsbad)

Answer: Your best bet is to contact the closest Sheriff’s Office that patrols the area where you want to target shoot. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) does not regulate target shooting nor keep track of all the potential target shooting areas available to the public. This issue basically comes down to county shooting ordinances and landowner permission. I think you will find most cities do not allow discharge of firearms within their city limits, so contact the local Sheriff’s Office to see what county areas may be open.

For public areas like U.S. Forest Service (USFS) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property, contact the applicable regional station or headquarters that oversees the area. Some USFS or BLM lands may have designated target shooting or plinking areas. They may also have other areas on their properties where target shooting is allowed, but it’s always a good idea to check ahead of time to be sure it is legal with the applicable county as well.

Otherwise, for public and private gun clubs or shooting ranges in your area, you might try http://www.wheretoshoot.org from the National Shooting Sports Foundation website. I’ve used this site often and they make it easy to find a safe and licensed range in your local area to target shoot or to introduce someone new to the shooting sports.


How to prove the sex of a turkey?
Question: Since only tom turkeys are legal to take during the spring season, how do I prove the sex to an inquiring game warden? 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


Catching fish with baited fish traps?
Question: Is it legal to use baited fish traps in Southern California? I see in the regulations where it refers to the use of baited traps to catch a variety of fish species in the San Francisco area (California Code of Regulations, section 28.75). Is this the only place where this method of take is allowed? (Corey)

Answer: Baited traps may not be used to take fish in ocean waters off Southern California. This is legal only in San Francisco and San Pablo bays, their tributaries, etc., and in the ocean and bays off of Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties for a few specified species of ocean fish. Only hook-and-line or hand may be used to take finfish (per Section 28.65) unless other, specific permissions are provided in regulations listed in the Gear Restrictions section (which begins on pg. 45 of the current California Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet).


Spearfishing without a license?
Question: I know it’s legal to fish without a license off public piers, but is there anywhere to go spearfishing without a license? (Keith H., Santa Barbara)

Answer: No, there is usually no place you can spearfish without a license, but there are two free fishing days per year, usually around the Independence Day and Labor Day holidays. On those two days, spearfishing without a license is allowed (bag limits and other regulations still apply).

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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.