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Fish and Game Q&A: Are there restrictions for hunting near watering holes?

December 17, 2009 |  1:35 pm

A bull moose stands in the water.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday afternoon or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I have a question about hunting big game around watering holes or guzzlers in northeastern California. I see tree stands and even camps around many of them, but some of my friends say these are illegal. Are there any restrictions as to how close you can be? Thanks for the info. (Ken)

Answer: Generally, it is illegal to hunt within 200 yards of watering holes (wildlife watering places) while on public land or within one-quarter mile of specified wildlife watering places (wells) in Lassen and Modoc counties (CCR T-14 730[c][1-2]).

The regulations regarding wildlife watering places specifically prohibit “… establishing or inhabiting a camp; resting; picnicking; sleeping; parking or inhabiting any motor vehicle or trailer; hunting; or engaging in any other recreational activity for a period of more than thirty (30) minutes at a given location.”

“Wildlife watering places” are defined as waterholes, springs, seeps and man-made watering devices for wildlife such as guzzlers (self-filling, in-the-ground water storage tanks), horizontal wells and small impoundments of less than one surface acre in size.

According to Game Warden Jason Chance, an ethical hunter should treat watering holes the same as bait piles. Like bait piles, watering holes attract game, especially in arid areas. Ethical hunters know there is no fair chase or challenge in hunting animals around waterholes or guzzlers because this provides the hunter with an unfair advantage over wild game.

Q: Is it legal to take female Dungeness crab in California during the season? I was sure it was illegal but could not find anything in the regulations confirming this. Can you help? (Walt D.)

A: Sport fishermen may keep female Dungeness crabs; it’s only the commercial crabbers who are required to discard them. Although females may be retained by sport fishermen, the crabs are often smaller in size and have smaller pincers (and less meat altogether) so many fishermen choose to let them go. The larger females that meet or exceed the minimum size limit may also produce the most young, so many people feel it is a good investment in the fishery for the future to retain only the males and to let the females go.

Q: My son and I fish from our private boat almost exclusively and keep our sportfishing licenses aboard so they are always present. On rare occasions we will attempt to fish without the boat and a few times have forgotten to bring our licenses. To prevent us from mistakenly being without our fishing licenses, can we show a photocopy of our licenses or can the DFG issue more than one copy to a sport fisherman? Thanks. (Murray C.)

A: Good questions, but the answers to both are no. You must have a valid fishing license in your possession when fishing or attempting to take fish, and you must present it to a game warden upon request. Additionally, only one license may be issued to a person per year.

Q: Are there any restrictions on importing buffalo hides or buffalo art productions into California?

A: American buffalo (Bison bison) are considered a domestic breed of bovine (like cattle, goats and sheep) and thus no Fish and Game laws regulate them. American buffalo hides are not restricted by the DFG and so they may be imported or possessed as long as they were obtained legally. However, the live importation of other species of true buffalo (e.g. African Cape buffalo, etc.) or their hides is restricted by law (CCR T-14 Section 671).

Q: If I hunt deer with a 30-30 cal., can I carry a .22 pistol at the same time (not to shoot deer)? And if I wound a deer with the .30-30 cal., can I finish off the wounded deer with the .22 cal.? Thanks. (John D., Ramona)

A: Yes and no. Although it may be legal to carry a .22 pistol while hunting deer during an open rifle season, a .22 caliber rim fire rifle is not legal for the take of deer. Being in possession of an illegal method of take will certainly cause a great deal of suspicion if you are contacted by a game warden. Since you are not allowed to use it to “finish off” the deer, it would be best to not carry it at all.

If you have a question you would like to see answered in this column, e-mail it to CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Photo: A bull moose stands in the water. Credit: Mike Lockhart/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service