Category Archives: Big Game

Hunting with an Airbow?

Benjamin Pioneer Airbow (www.crossman.com photo)

Benjamin Pioneer Airbow (www.crossman.com photo)

Question: I’ve been learning about the Benjamin Pioneer Airbow and am curious about the legal status of using these for hunting. It seems to be the functional equivalent of a crossbow and so I would think they would be appropriate for general big game seasons where archery is a legal method of take. Does the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have a position on this innovative hunting tool? (Gregory Z.)

Answer: Airbows are essentially airguns that shoot arrows. They are not firearms nor are they (by definition) bows or crossbows (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 354). Game mammals and birds may only be taken by the methods listed in CCR Title 14, sections 311, 507 and 354. While firearms, bows and crossbows are all allowable methods of take, the airbow does not fall under any of these definitions, and thus may not be used to take wildlife in California.


Chumming for Pacific halibut?
Question: Is it legal to fish for Pacific halibut using a chum bag? The bag would be independent with no hooks, just a bag of bait on the ocean floor. (Dan R.)

Answer: Yes, chumming is legal in the Ocean and San Francisco Bay District (see CCR Title 14, sections 1.32 and 27.05.). Please be aware that Pacific halibut is managed as a quota fishery and will close once the annual quota is reached. Before engaging in fishing activity, please check our Pacific halibut website for weekly tracking of harvest while the season is open or current closure notifications or call one of the hotlines listed at this site.


License required for frogs, bugs and other insects?
Question: I know I need a license to catch fish, but I was wondering if I need a license to catch dragonfly nymphs, snails or any other kind of water bugs as long as they are not a fish. Do I need a license to catch frogs and tadpoles? I’m going to take my kids to a river and help them explore and I know I’m going to have to help them catch the small water critters. (Pedro A.)

Answer: Thank you for taking the time to ask about the regulations before taking your kids out. Here are the basics: A sport fishing license is required for individuals 16 years of age or older who wish to take fish, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, invertebrates or reptiles in California (freshwater or ocean waters).

Remember that tadpoles are baby frogs, and only the amphibians listed in CCR Title 14, section 5.05 may be taken. While technically it is legal to catch (and collect) certain tadpoles under a fishing license, you have to know how to ID them so you don’t accidentally collect a species that is not on the list. The species not in section 5.05 are endangered or threatened species, or species of special concern, and their possession is illegal without a special permit. Also, if you and your kids want to collect and rear the tadpoles to frogs, be aware they must be kept for life or given away because it’s illegal to release them back into the wild after being taken into captivity.

If you are going to actively catch frogs, tadpoles, etc. (amphibians) with your kids, you should first have a fishing license. If the kids do all of the work themselves and they’re under 16, they don’t need a license.

This information is contained in the current Freshwater Fishing Regulation booklet beginning on page 5 which can be found online or at any CDFW license office, bait shops, sporting goods stores or other places where fishing licenses are sold.


Importing mount of a species prohibited to hunt in California?
Question: Is it legal to own a mount of a wild animal that is illegal to hunt in California, but legal in another state? The critter is a sandhill crane that is illegal to hunt in California, but was legally bagged in another state (some 15 states consider these game animals, but not here). Can I bring this mount into California and publicly display it? (James S.)

Answer: Yes, but you should keep all documentation of where it came from and/or hunting licenses with it in case the origin of the mount ever comes into question.

Fish and Game Code, section 2353, requires that you declare the entry into California of any legally taken birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians. The Declaration for Entry form requires you to put down information such as a hunting license number, game tag number, etc. and indicate the county and state in which the animal was killed. With the exception of animals like a mountain lion or mountain lion mount that cannot be legally imported, you are allowed to import legally acquired wild animals or wild animal mounts and should have documentation of where and how they were acquired as some states allow the sale of wildlife and wildlife mounts, too.

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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.

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.

Hunting with Drones

(Photo from Creative Commons)

The use of drones to hunt or pursue wildlife is prohibited in California. (Photo from Creative Commons)

Question: What laws apply to big game hunting with camera equipped, radio controlled, drone aircraft? (Terry B.)

Answer: The use of drones to hunt or pursue wildlife is prohibited in California.

“No person shall pursue, drive, herd, or take any bird or mammal from any type of motor-driven air or land vehicles, motorboat, airboat, sailboat, or snowmobile. Additionally, no person shall use any motorized, hot-air, or unpowered aircraft or other device capable of flight or any earth orbiting imaging device to locate or assist in locating big game mammals beginning 48 hours before and continuing until 48 hours after any big game hunting season in the same area” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251(a)).

The pursuit of birds and mammals by the use of any “motorized water, land or air vehicle” to “pursue, drive or herd any bird or mammal” is also prohibited, with limited exceptions that do not include hunting (Fish and Game Code, section 3003.5). (159)


Transporting legal black bass to my home?
Question: Is it permissible to catch a legal black bass, keep it alive while fishing, and then transport it alive to one’s home? (Jim E.)

Answer: While on the water, you can keep the black bass alive either in your live well on the boat or on a stringer in the water from where it was taken. However, you cannot then transport a live fish away from the waters where taken. Once you leave the water, all fish that you are taking with you must be dead (CCR Title 14, section 1.63).


Replacing abalone back to same rock?
Question: If an abalone diver takes a legal-sized abalone, is it legal for him to return it to the same rock if he does not remove more than three abalone during the day? I know some divers that will dive for several hours and may “pop” one to three abalones without damaging them, and keep none of them, returning all of them to the rocks where they were removed. I don’t think there is anything, technically, in the laws that prevents this, but maybe there should be. (Anonymous)

Answer: There is a law prohibiting this both for the health of the abalone and to prevent high-grading. All legal-sized abalone detached must be retained by the person who detaches it. In addition, no undersize abalone may be retained in any person’s possession or under his control. Undersize abalone must be replaced immediately to the same surface of the rock from which detached. (FGC section 29.15[d]).

No person shall take more than 18 abalone during a calendar year (FGC section 29.15[c]). If the diver takes three legal-sized abalone and puts them back, those abalone still count toward both the diver’s daily and yearly limit. This means that divers must still record those abalone on their report card so as to not exceed their yearly limit.

If a wildlife officer sees someone take a large abalone that is obviously larger than seven inches and the person puts the abalone back, this person has just violated section 29.15(d). If that person then doesn’t record the abalone, he is guilty of failing to complete the Abalone Report Card as required. Wildlife officers on the north coast have written several citations for this, usually to trophy hunters looking for that elusive 10-inch abalone. Wildlife officers try to convince people hunting for trophy abalone to measure them before removing them from rocks.


Turtles from pet stores
Question: I know it’s against the law for pet stores to sell baby turtles, as they can carry salmonella and other dangerous bacteria, plus children can swallow and choke on them. The other day I saw something in my local pet store that confused me. The store was offering a free baby turtle with the purchase of their turtle habitat setup – aquarium, gravel, filter, etc. Technically, they weren’t selling baby turtles, but doesn’t this circumvent the intent of the law, which is to protect public health? (Ed R.)

Answer: What you describe wouldn’t violate any California Fish and Game Code or its implementing regulations but would most likely violate federal and state laws designed to protect public health. Turtles are required to have a carapace (shell) length of at least 4 inches to be imported, sold or distributed (CCR Title 17, section 2612.1). This restriction was brought into effect under the Public Health Services Act by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1975 to address the problem of Salmonella infections in children. I have heard this size was determined to help prevent children from putting these small reptiles into their mouths. Prior to the ban there were an estimated 250,000 cases of turtle Salmonellosis in children and infants that were associated with pet turtles in the United States (Source: http://exoticpets.about.com/od/reptilesturtles/a/turtlesales.htm.)

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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.

Do Lost Crippled Birds Count Toward Bag Limit?

Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird and count it to their bag whether they find it or not. (USFWS photo)

Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird and count it to their bag whether they find it or not. (USFWS photo)

Question: I was informed that a downed crippled bird that was not recovered, even though a true effort was made to find the downed bird, still counts toward your bag limit. Where is this stated in the regulations? (Aaron W.)

Answer: It is not in regulation. It is an ethical hunter issue. Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird. Even if that bird is never located but the hunter knows it was hit, the ethical hunter will still count it towards their bag limit. Ethical hunters do what is right even when they think no one’s looking.


Fishing and retrieving lobster hoop nets
Question: I understand that each person that drops a hoop net must be the same person that retrieves it. How do you monitor this? If we have four people in the boat and 10 nets, are we supposed to somehow mark each net to distinguish whose is whose? (Bill J.)

Answer: The law states that the owner of the hoop net or the person who placed the hoop net into the water shall raise the hoop net to the surface and inspect the contents of the hoop net at intervals not to exceed two hours.

The intent of this law is to require a minimum checking interval of every two hours at least by whoever placed the net in the water and not to cite somebody for pulling up their buddy’s net. Wildlife officers understand if you are working together as a team, but any net placed into the water is your responsibility to raise and inspect every two hours. Depending on someone else to do that for you may result in you receiving a citation if they fail to comply with this requirement.


Yo-yo fishing
Question: I know jug fishing, yo-yo fishing and the use of trotlines with 20+ hooks per line are the norm in the South. I am interested in yo-yo fishing in California for catfish and possibly trying a two-jug trotline with 10 to 12 hooks on the line to catch catfish. My question is: In California, are private (non-commercial) fishermen limited to fish with just one line with three hooks max? In reading the regs, it seems that an extra pole endorsement is just that, for an extra pole, not an extra line. (Mark H., San Bruno)

In regard to yo-yo fishing and trotline fishing, here is an article from 2007 Outdoor Life: http://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/fishing/2007/09/tackle-free-fishing

Answer: You must closely attend your lines at all times and you are limited to two lines with a maximum of three hooks on each line with a two-pole stamp. Otherwise, you must use a single line with three hooks maximum when fishing bait, or three lures per line which could each have three hooks. It is illegal to allow lines to simply fish themselves while attached to a float. For a similar previous question and answer, please go to: https://californiaoutdoors.wordpress.com/2008/11/.


Hunting around Lake Shasta
Question: I have a few questions about hunting in northern California by Lake Shasta. I want to go there to hunt for pig and turkey at the same time when the season reopens. Am I allowed to carry ammo for pig and turkey on me at the same time as long as it is all lead-free? Also, I heard something about a limit on how much ammo may be carried on you at one time? I’m not looking to carry hundreds of rounds but did want to have a spare box plus my clips on me. (Kevin F.)

Answer: Yes, it would be legal to hunt pigs and turkeys simultaneously as long as any shotgun shells for pigs are slugs and not shot. A hunter who possesses shot size larger than No. 2 could be cited while turkey hunting, but the regulation limiting shot size that may be possessed when taking turkey does not address slugs.

Methods authorized for taking big game (wild pig) include shotgun slugs, rifle bullets, pistol and revolver bullets, bow and arrow and crossbow (2015-2016 Mammal Hunting Regulation booklet, page 27, section 353).

Methods of take for resident small game (wild turkey) are shotguns 10 gauge or smaller. Shotgun shells may not be used or possessed that contain shot size larger than No. BB, except that shot size larger than No. 2 may not be used or possessed when taking wild turkey (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 311(b)).

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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.

Laser Sights for Bowfishing?

Bowfishing (Creative Commons photo)

Bowfishing (Creative Commons photo)

Question: When bowfishing for game fish, like carp, is it legal to have a green 5mW visible laser on your bowfishing bow or crossbow? I know that visible lasers on a bow or crossbow are prohibited for the use of hunting animals on land, but I’m just not sure about for fish in freshwater. Having a laser helps compensate for light refraction in the water because aiming at a fish that is not where it looks like it is can be quite tricky.

Also, besides the regulations in section 1.23 and section 2.25, are there any special seasons or rules that I have to follow for using a crossbow? I ask because I heard that crossbows in California can only be used during rifle season for land game.

Using a crossbow to bowfish is only mentioned one time in the freshwater regulation booklet, most of the text says “bow and arrow fishing.” I want to be prepared to explain to a park ranger or wildlife officer (given I am in an area designated for bowfishing) that I can use a crossbow. What code sections should I cite or what should I say? (Alexander A.)

Answer: Yes, it legal to have a green 5mW visible laser on your bowfishing bow or crossbow. When bowfishing in freshwater, you need only follow the regulations in sections 1.23 and 2.25. What you say about crossbows for hunting being legal only during rifle season is correct, but as long as you’re fishing and not hunting, this should not be an issue. The main difference between fishing and hunting is that a crossbow is not considered archery equipment for hunting purposes but is considered legal bow and arrow equipment for those fish species that may be taken by bow and arrow. In order to avoid unwanted attention from law enforcement, I discourage you from shining your laser on land.


Using rockfish for bait?
Question: In a recent column you stated that “Any finfish that is legal to take or possess in California may be used as bait in your lobster hoop net.” I assume this rule applies equally to using rockfish as hook and line bait for lingcod, but on my last party boat trip I was prohibited from using a small gopher rockfish for bait by a crewman who insisted that this would be illegal. Is it legal to use a whole rockfish (or a slab cut from a whole rockfish) for hook and line bait? I understand that the bait fish would count toward my limit. (Randy Pauly)

Answer: Yes, as long as the fish you’re using is legal to catch and keep, and as long as you count it toward your daily bag limit, you can legally use it as bait to attract larger predator fish, such as lingcod, to your hook. If the fish you’ll be using for bait has a size limit, you would need to be sure it was of legal size.


How to find a legitimate hunting guide?
Question: Can you direct me to a legitimate site to book a hunting trip? How can we hunt on government land? What are the costs? (Cheri W.)

Answer: You can find a list of guides licensed through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) at http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Guide (click on “Look up licensed hunting and fishing guides) but no recommendations in support of any particular guide or hunting service. Hence, your best bet is to contact other hunters to ask about their experiences in order to help you decide which guide service to go with.

You can hunt on certain government-owned (public) lands in California. Public lands in California are primarily owned, operated and maintained by CDFW, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Department of Defense or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Each of these agencies has developed rules and regulations for the lands they administer. They provide details of which lands are open to public access for outdoor recreational activities (including hunting), and the time of year they are open. Some of these lands are open year-round with no access fees, but some lands are open only certain times of the year with an access fee. Moreover, some public lands are entirely closed to all public use, mostly for protection of certain plant and animal species.

Generally speaking, most big game mammal hunting occurs on CDFW, BLM, Military or Forest Service lands. Small mammal and varmint hunting occurs on BLM and Forest Service lands. Waterfowl and upland game bird hunting occurs on CDFW and USFWS lands.

For the regulations governing the use of CDFW lands, please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Lands. For other land management agencies, please contact them directly for rules or regulations concerning their lands.

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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.