Tag Archives: small game

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.

Hefty Halibut, Harpoons and Small Boats

(CDFW photo by Dean Troutte)

(CDFW photo by Dean Troutte)

Question: Pacific halibut have become a sought-after sport fish out of Eureka and Trinidad. I have a question about landing large Pacific halibut, particularly in a relatively small boat. Many people use a type of harpoon with a head that comes off and is tethered to the boat. This prevents the fish from heading down while a rope is run through its gills for hauling it aboard. I was told that harpooning them this way was possibly illegal under rules governing harpooning fish. In this case the fish was caught with normal hook and line. The harpoon is used only to land the fish safely, similar to a gaff but more secure. Is this legal? Are there better methods? I have heard many tales of big halibut doing serious damage to fishermen if they are brought aboard too early and without steps taken to control them. All ideas are welcome. (Tom P., Eureka)

Answer: Harpoons cannot be used to “take” halibut, and landing the fish is an integral part of “take.” So just because you get the fish to the surface, it does not mean it has been “taken” until it is landed (secured). Most fish are lost at the surface, so take has not been completed and a harpoon could not be used at this point. Harpoons are only allowed for the actual take of all varieties of skates, rays, and sharks, except white sharks (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.95).

While the use of a harpoon to “take” halibut is not authorized, the use of a “spear” to take halibut is legal, but you have to be “a person floating or swimming in the water” (CCR Title 14, section 28.90). Use of a gaff, including a gaff with a detachable hook, is authorized to land the fish as long as it is legal size. So the best option and the only one that is legal for California is to use a gaff with a detachable hook, sometimes referred to as a flying gaff. The description of a gaff can be found in CCR Title 14 section, 28.65 (d).


Keeping rattlesnakes as pets?
Question: Can rattlesnakes be collected in the wild and kept as pets? I know that no licenses are required to kill them but don’t know if they can be legally kept as pets. (Andrew G., Angels Camp)

Answer: Yes, except for the red diamond rattlesnake where no take is allowed – so be sure you can identify your snakes! Before collecting anything, you should first check with your local animal control agency regarding whether any local laws apply in your area. Under state law, all pit vipers (except for the five other California native rattlesnakes listed in CCR, Title 14 section 671(c)(7)(E)) are restricted species that may not be possessed without a permit. Keeping live, native rattlesnakes (except for the red diamond) is not prohibited by Fish and Game laws. No license is required to take or kill other rattlesnakes in California, but the daily bag and possession limit is two. The take of other species of native reptiles and amphibians requires possession of a sport fishing license. The daily bag and possession limits are provided in CCR, Title 14 section 5.60.


Privately fishing on a commercial charter boat?
Question: My friends and I are having a discussion about crab fishing regulations. If someone operates a crab fishing charter business in the San Francisco Bay area, they are limited to six crabs per person at a minimum size of 6 inches each. Does this mean that any time they fish regardless of whether it is for hire/charter or for personal reasons (family and friends), they can only take six crabs? Or, if they are fishing as a private boater (e.g. not for hire), can they take 10 crab per person instead? (Gerry)

Answer: If they are fishing as a private boater, and not for hire, they are not subject to the restrictions that apply to a charter boat. Since there is always a chance that a warden will check the fishermen on the boat, it is a benefit to everyone if there is a note in your private boat log (if you have one) that reflects that this is not a charter trip, and that the warden is made aware of the circumstances when first contact is made.


Help for new rabbit hunters?
Question: My son and I are new to rabbit hunting. For possession limits, will my 16–year-old son and I each be able to have 10 in possession (20 total) as long as we mark which animals we each harvested? (Dan)

Answer: If hunting for brush, cottontail or pygmy rabbits or varying (snowshoe) hares, bag and possession limits (for each of you) in the aggregate of all species is five per day, 10 in possession. Remember, that’s no more than five for each of you per day and no more than 10 in possession after two days. No need to mark which animals belong to whom as long as you keep each bag separate. However, if you don’t remain together, one person should not be in possession of two limits. If hunting for jack, black-tailed or white-tailed rabbits, the season is open all year and there are no bag or possession limits.

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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.

Practice Caution With Wild Rabbits

Cottontails and other wild rabbits may carry a disease called “Tularemia,” so hunters should use caution when field dressing. (USFWS photo)

Question: I’d like to try some cottontail 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. 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.


Carp rights
Question: I know that Department of Fish and Game (DFG) regulations make it illegal to waste game fish and other resources. Knowing that, since carp are considered in most waters to be an invasive species, does this regulation also pertain to the take of carp? Would it be illegal or against DFG regulations to simply dispose of a carp, say at a fish cleaning station? I’ve heard debate on this one and I would like to clear it up. (Dale S.)

Answer: Yes, it would be illegal. There is a prohibition in the regulations against wasting fish, and this prohibition applies to all fish, including carp (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.87). The California Fish and Game Commission regulations do not have a designation for “game fish.” “Fish” as used in the regulations means any/all finfish and shellfish.


Reasonable accommodations for hunter ed exam?
Question: I have a question about hunter education requirements for a learning disabled hunter. I know a child with severe dyslexia (a reading and writing disability) to the point where he is only able to read and write very basic sentences. He would easily pass the hunter education exam if he could read it. However, I don’t think that will be possible for some time. Is there an exception for people in these circumstances? Can someone read the test questions to him? He really wants to hunt but this disability is standing in the way of him being able to successfully pass the hunter education test. (Steven C.)

Answer: In California we provide reasonable accommodations for all entitled students. Anyone with a disability can ask the DFG for reasonable accommodation and it will be provided on an individual basis taking into consideration that person’s specific needs. DFG Hunter Education Instructor (HEI) leader Lt. James Kasper recommends that the parent, guardian or mentor contact the  the DFG  before the course about requesting accommodations.

The key to success for any student is to study for the hunter education exam by assembling all of the pertinent information beforehand and tailoring it to their own learning approach. Here are a few resources to do this:

1. Get the hunter education manual in advance and work with a partner to complete the chapter reviews at the end of the book.

2. In addition to the manual, get the hunter education workbook and answer the questions. Both the manual and the workbook can be obtained ahead of time by contacting the HEI who will be teaching the course, or from a local DFG office.

3. Go to any of the DFG-approved home study online courses and study the material on their websites. The websites are http://www.hunter-ed.com/california/ or http://www.huntercourse.com/usa/california/ or www.ihea.com/hunter-education/online-courses.php.

Lt. Kasper recommends these websites for a couple of reasons. First, the Today’s Hunter in California (www.hunter-ed.com/ca/) website belongs to the same company that makes the hunter education manuals we use in California, so the material is very similar. This site has California-specific information, good animations and they will be adding video in the near future. Second, HunterCourse.com (www.huntercourse.com/usa/california/) is a great website, especially for students without strong reading skills, because it incorporates more visual learning tools. The Today’s Hunter and Huntercourse.com websites both have additional audio narration functions.

On a side note, these websites do not charge for using them unless the person wants to print out a voucher. Therefore, don’t get scared away when it looks like a pay website. Lt. Kasper recommends using these websites for studying. A voucher is not needed for a traditional hunter education course.

For additional questions on what reasonable accommodations may be available, please contact DFG Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator Tina Johnson at (916) 651-1214.


Limit on number of crab traps to fish?
Question: Is there a limit to the number of crab traps a person can fish from a private boat? Is it unlimited? (Craig B.)

Answer: When fishing from a private boat, there are no limits on the numbers of traps a person can fish. Keep in mind though that you will also have to be able to manage and service each trap you deploy. And if fishing for Dungeness crabs, each person may only keep 10 crabs. On a good day you might get that many crabs in one trap. You’d still need to check all of the other traps regularly.

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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.

Why Spiny Lobster Report Cards?

California Spiny Lobsters (DFG photo by Derek Stein)

Question: A friend of ours received a $290 fine for not filling in his lobster report card correctly last year. What is the purpose of the report cards? If the fine print is so important, why isn’t it listed first? (Joe B., Thousand Oaks)

Answer: While the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has records of commercial lobster harvest dating back to 1916, it wasn’t until 2008 and the introduction of the lobster report card that any kind of gauge on the size or scope of the recreational lobster fishery existed. According to DFG Marine Biologist Travis Buck, close to 30,000 lobster report cards have been sold to sport fisherman for each of the past three years. This in contrast to the landing receipts from only about 150 licensed, active commercial lobster fishermen. DFG biologists have estimated that the recreational catch equals close to half of the commercial catch, which is a significant amount of lobsters.

DFG is mandated by state law to manage the lobster resource, as well as other fish and game, and so biologists must gather as much information as possible from both the commercial and recreational lobster fisheries. When looking at a time series of catch data, Buck says it’s possible to see downward trends, which could signify if the sustainability of the resource is in jeopardy. If catch numbers remain stable year after year, the resource is considered sustainable and no further regulation is deemed necessary.

To learn more about the DFG Marine Region and the lobster report card program, please check out DFG’s website for California spiny lobster-related information, http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/research.asp.


Beagling for bunnies
Question: I am new to the sport of beagling and I was thinking about taking my dogs out rabbit hunting. I don’t carry a gun yet because I haven’t had the chance to practice shooting at low, moving targets. Therefore, I was wondering whether I really need a hunting license if I don’t actually shoot a rabbit? One of the legal methods listed in the regulations for the take of rabbits is with dogs, so are they the same as having a gun? (Anonymous, Greenville)

Answer: Dogs are a legal method of take and are considered an extension of the hunter. Since “take” is defined as “hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill” you would be required to have a hunting license to use your dogs to pursue game.


Fishing a public waterway when posted “No Trespassing”
Question: While fishing on Hot Creek (Mono County), I came to a fenced-off section of the creek, posted with no trespassing signs. I have always been under the impression that once you legally access (don’t cross private property) a river, you may continue fishing the length of it. Am I wrong? (John K.)

Answer: According to California law, most water in above-ground, free-flowing waterways is state water and not considered private property. The land underneath the water, however, may or may not be held by the state. On small or ephemeral streams, for example, the land in the bed of the stream could be privately owned.

If you have legally gained access to the state’s water, such as at a boat ramp or on your own property, or another person who has granted you permission, you can most likely continue up or down the waterway in a boat without trespassing. But anytime you “touch” the bed or bank of the stream that is not owned by you, you may be trespassing.

If there is a fence across the stream, which is common on smaller streams in areas where livestock are common, you can not assume that it is legal to cross over it even if you can do so without touching the bank or bed of the stream. You should not attempt to do so until you have either gained the permission of the person who owns the property or received a determination that the land underneath the stream is owned by the state.


Muzzleloader unloaded
Question: I plan on hunting a lot this year with a recently acquired muzzleloader and need to know the official regs for a “loaded and unloaded” gun. I’ve been told that as long as no cap is in place, the gun is considered unloaded since the cap is needed to charge/fire the gun. (Wendell W., San Jose)

Answer: You are correct. As long as the cap is removed so the gun will not fire, it is considered unloaded.

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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.