Q: Is it legal to have a loaded firearm in a parked vehicle while hunting?A: No. Possessing a loaded rifle or shotgun (live round in the chamber) in a vehicle, even when parked and you are away from your vehicle for any purpose, is still prohibited. This law applies when you are on a public roadway or other way open to the public. This means any place the public can go, including roadless or "off road" areas. Q: I just went through the validation part of the Department of Fish and Game site and can't locate the following requirement. What happened was a friend stopped Saturday at a California Highway Patrol office to have his deer tag validated. The carcass was in the truck in a deer bag and the horns were cut off. The officer told him he was in violation of the law as the head must be attached to the deer until dropped off at a butcher shop or cut up at home. I've never heard of this before in California. Is this the case? If so, it's a severe imposition on successful hunters. The book says the head must be retained in case a warden asks to see it after the fact, but what if you want it mounted and must skin it as soon as possible? I cannot locate anything referring to the horns attached issue. Why not require proof of sex be left on the carcass instead? A: For hunters who backpack into roadless areas, they are required to pack out of the field all edible meat and the portion of the head which normally bears the antlers (skull cap) with the tag attached. The remainder of the skull may be discarded at the kill site. The tag must be validated prior to transportation to the nearest person authorized to validate the tag. Hunters are then required to maintain the portion of the head which normally bears the antlers with the tag attached during the open season and for 15 days thereafter, and it must be produced upon demand to any officer authorized to enforce the regulations. Q: I see on many websites that you cannot take female Dungeness, but I see in the regulations no comment about females. Have the rules changed now allowing females can be kept? A: Recreational fisherman may keep the female Dungeness crab - commercial fishermen must throw them back. Since the females are often so much smaller and less meaty than the males, many fishermen toss them back so they can reproduce more young for future generations. The larger females that meet the minimum size requirements also carry the most eggs and produce the most young, so it makes sense to let females go as a matter of course. However, there is no law that compels you to do so. Q: Can you tell me the reason why anglers are not required to display their fishing licenses anymore? How are wardens supposed to catch poachers and unlicensed people? I know we have fewer wardens than needed, but this just makes their job harder and decreases revenue for the state in the form of fines. A: The Fish and Game Commission agreed to do away with the required display law this year because fishermen have been asking for it to be overturned for a number of years. People were constantly complaining about losing their licenses or finding it to be a big hassle. Our enforcement staff too said this law didn't help them that much because they still had to walk up to the person to see the license to make sure it was valid. Many people were making copies of licenses and displaying the illegal license while fishing. The theory that more people would purchase a license due to peer pressure did not prove to be true. Many people would be upset when a game warden asked to see the license because it was already visible, yet the only way to check if it was valid was to have it removed from the case. While it may cause a decline in fine revenue, it was the predominant voice of the anglers in California to not have to display their licenses above their waist anymore, and so the Commission finally agreed. Although it's no longer the law, many anglers do still choose to proudly display their licenses. Q: I understand the baiting issue, but I would like clarification on deer and elk attractant scents, like "Tink's" or "BuckBombs". There are also scents for bears, hogs and predators and I want to be in full compliance for whatever I'm hunting for. A: California Fish and Game Commission regulations do not specifically prohibit using the products you mention. However, the regulations do prohibit taking resident game birds and mammals within 400 yards of any baited area. The definition of baited area is, ". . . any area where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grains, salt or other feed whatsoever capable of luring, attracting, or enticing such birds or mammals is directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed or scattered, and such area shall remain a baited area for ten days following complete removal of all such corn, wheat or other grains, salt or other feed." According to retired Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Captain Phil Nelms, scents sprayed into the air and allowed to disperse over a wide area in the wind generally do not fall within the definition of bait. Scent products that have to be applied directly to a surface such as a rock, tree or bush generally cause the game to come to that specific place, and if they feed on it, it is bait. So, if the product you use causes the game to chew on, nibble at, lick, etc. the surface it is applied to, it is "feed" and as such falls within the definition of bait. In that case, you are prohibited from taking (e.g., hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill or attempt any of those actions) game within 400 yards of that area. Q: Can I use motorized decoy ducks which have paddle feet to kick up water? They don't simulate moving wings, but simply cause ripples in the water with the use of paddles. Please advise. A: Yes, starting this year, it is legal to use duck decoys that have battery powered feet that cause ripples in water before Dec. 1. The restriction only limits decoys with electronic or mechanically operated spinning blade devices or spinning wing decoys. Q: Is it legal to use bonito carcasses for lobster bait? Since bonito have a size limit, the fish carcasses cannot be measured and so there's no way for DFG to know how many or how large the fish actually is. Is there some way to legally use these carcasses to bait our lobster hoop nets? A: You can take/have up to five undersized bonito in possession. When fishing from a boat with bonito for bait, use no more than five bonito for the maximum of 10 hoop nets allowed on a vessel (assuming there is more than one lobster fisherman). Use half of a bonito for each hoop net, and keep each half whole. That way the game warden can count how many you have total by inspecting each net. If there are less than five bonito, there is no need to worry about the size. Q: Last fall while hunting with a guide in the D6 Zone for deer and bear, I shot a nice 300-pound black bear. While getting my bear tag from my backpack, one of the guides saw that I had both my D5 and D6 deer tags as well as my bear tag. He told me it was illegal to be hunting in one zone (D6), while having a different zone tag (D5) in your possession. Is this true? If I have a legal tag for the zone in which I'm hunting, I can't see any reason why it would be illegal to have a legal tag with me for another zone. I always keep all of my tags together in my backpack and I'm sure most all hunters do, too. Would you please see if it is a judgment call on the part of the game warden or if there actually is a law that says it's illegal? A: Regulations require only that hunters must have in their possession a current tag valid for the species and the zone in which they are hunting. Possession of another tag, issued to the same hunter but valid for another zone or species, is not prohibited. A more common problem in this area is when one of the tags belongs to a friend or relative. It is against the law to possess a tag belonging to someone else. Q: I would like to hunt sea ducks and target surf scoters this waterfowl season. Is this legal? If so, how does one know where it is legal to hunt from shore? Also, if hunting from a boat, I know the motor must not be utilized except to retrieve birds. What other guidelines are there for hunting from a boat? A: Surf scoters and other sea ducks are found along the entire coast but hunting for them is more popular north of the Golden Gate Bridge in northern California (such as Humboldt Bay) and in Oregon and Washington. According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Northern California District Chief Mike Carion, hunting from shore is legal provided that the shoreline is not private (unless you have permission to be there). It also must not be in an area covered by one of the numerous ecological reserves, marine reserves, state parks, etc. along the California coast.
********** Published: December 23, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 36