Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Turkey hunting

Fish and Game Q&A: Can a disabled war veteran hunt with a canine companion?

Injured veteran retired U.S. Army Capt. Leslie Smith with her seeing eye dog Isaac. In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I’m a 100% disabled war veteran and have a canine companion dog (yellow lab) that goes with me everywhere as my hearing dog. I lost most of my hearing in the war from enemy fire. Is it legal to take a companion dog turkey or deer hunting? Can my dog go turkey hunting on a leash, not as a hunting dog but as a hearing dog? My dog has never been trained to hunt and he won’t be part of that life. He wouldn’t be chasing game but because he is my second set of ears, can he be used for hearing? (Larry L.)

Answer: Yes, you can use your dog in the situations described. Generally, there’s no prohibition against using dogs (having them with you) while bird hunting, but there is a one dog per hunter limit during general deer season. No dogs are allowed during archery deer season or while hunting with an archery-only tag (California Code of Regulations, section 265).

Q: While bank fishing in the Delta recently, I watched some people nearby land a legal-sized sturgeon. They took some pictures and were about to release the 63-incher when a family came running up and asked if they could keep it for dinner. It appeared to me that the catch-and-release fisherman felt compelled to give it to them, and he did. I could not tell if the sturgeon was properly tagged prior to the transfer of ownership because the family left pretty quickly. I thought I might offer one of my tags as I am also a catch-and-release fisherman who has never landed a sturgeon and would never need three tags, but I am wondering if this would be legal. Not knowing, I decided not to give up my tag. My question is, can someone donate a sturgeon tag to another fisherman? (Rob Grasso)

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Fish and Game Q&A: What are the creepy leech-like things in lakes and rivers?

Leech-like organisms often found in lakes and ponds are part of the aquatic food chain, providing food for fish, ducks, turtles and some birds. In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: My daughter and I love to swim and play in waters wherever we find them. While in French Gulch (Shasta County) last year, we decided to play around in Clear Creek. The creek was running pretty high, but when my daughter and I got out we had these black, worm-like things hanging off us. Our first thought was leeches, which got us out of the water quite quickly! Someone told me they were rock worms and wouldn’t hurt us. We haven’t returned there though because we’re still too scared they were leeches.

We also stopped at Eagle Lake (Lassen County) to go swimming and ended up with these tiny little round slime balls on us. When picking up these slimy things in question, they flattened out on our hands and started slithering like a leech across our hands. This was another trip where my daughter and I ran screaming out of the water to rinse off under the faucet! There were lots of people swimming in the lake who either didn’t seem to notice or else knew something we didn’t.

Clear Creek was a very cold creek, but Eagle Lake was very warm, so I could understand Eagle Lake possibly having leeches. Do these leeches suck human blood? Are they harmful to humans in any way? I love the outdoors and swimming, but too many encounters with creepy leech-like things are making me leery about the safety of it. (Kim B.)

Answer: Without pictures, it’s tough to say, but it sounds like you encountered two different invertebrates. According to Department of Fish and Game associate fish pathologist Garry Kelley, the organism at Clear Creek was likely a free-living caddisfly larvae (Genus Rhyacophila), commonly known as a rock worm. This type of caddisfly crawls around rock bottoms in search of food and is commonly eaten by trout. Caddisflies are not at all harmful to humans.

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Fish and Game Q&A: May I plant wild turkeys on private land?

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

Question: I have a few questions about putting Eastern wild turkey poults out on private land. I just love to hunt them. There are turkeys out there already but I would like for there to be a lot more. How or what can be done to get more turkeys planted on the property? (Joe D.)

Answer: Permission will not be granted to any person to release turkeys into the wild that have been domestically reared for propagation or hunting purposes. Only turkeys trapped from the wild by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) may be released into the wild (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 671.6 (b)).

According to DFG turkey program manager Scott Gardner, besides being illegal, releasing captive-reared turkey poults will not ultimately produce more turkeys in the wild, and could actually harm the wild population. Beginning in the 1920s, DFG raised turkeys and other game birds and released them into the wild. By 1951, DFG and other wildlife agencies stopped the practice because it wasn’t resulting in self-sustaining wild populations of turkeys. In 1959, DFG started importing and releasing the Rio Grande subspecies of wild turkeys that were trapped in the wild in Texas. Wild trapped birds were highly successful and virtually all of California’s current wild turkey population came from these releases.

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Fish and Game Q&A: Can I have a 'spare air' device with me when abalone diving?

Abalone may be taken only by freediving without the assistance of scuba or surface-supplied air.

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

Question: While abalone diving, I would like to keep a very small, emergency supply of air on my person as a safety precaution. The device would be shrink-wrapped to indicate evidence of use. The idea being that if the seal is intact, there would be no evidence of "use" and I would be in compliance with the law. The product I’m asking about can be seen at www.spareairxtreme.com/.

Would I be in violation of any of the regulations if I were to wear such a device while taking abalone, assuming I did not use the device and had sufficient evidence to prove such a claim? (Aaron L.)

Answer: The law prohibits the "use of scuba gear or surface-supplied air to take abalone" (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(e)). According to DFG Lt. Dennis McKiver, this includes having it in your possession, even if you are not actually breathing off of it. The law also states that abalone may not be taken or possessed aboard any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing scuba or surface-supplied air. Since you are not allowed to have scuba gear in your possession on a boat while taking abalone (even if the scuba gear is not being used), to be consistent with the law, this "spare air" product would also not be allowed as the same principles apply.

Q: Spring turkey season is one of my favorite times of the year and I’m heading out for a gobbler next weekend. I do a lot of my hunting in prime hog country and like to combine my options when I’m there. I usually hunt with a bow but am considering carrying my .44 revolver for hogs, and a shotgun for turkeys. Could this cause a conflict if I’m stopped because the .44 is not legal for turkey hunting? If all lead restrictions are observed, would it be legal to carry the handgun while turkey hunting with a shotgun? What about carrying the handgun and the bow at the same time? (Phillip L.)

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national survey to begin

Laying the groundwork for a day of duck hunting, Jim Fisher tosses a decoy as his dog, Willow, looks on.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin conducting its national survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation and are requesting that hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts participate if contacted for interviews scheduled to begin April 1.

The information, collected by the U.S. Census Bureau primarily through telephone interviews to be conducted April to June and September to October this year and January to March, 2012, provides the only comprehensive statistical database available on Americans' participation in and spending on hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching in the 50 states.

"We appreciate the anglers, hunters, birdwatchers and other citizens throughout the United States who voluntarily participate in the survey when contacted," said the wildlife service's acting director, Rowan Gould. "The survey results help wildlife and natural resource managers quantify how much Americans value wildlife resources in terms of both participation and expenditures."

The survey, conducted every five years since 1955, will involve 53,000 households from the Census Bureau's master address file. From this information, the bureau will select samples of 19,000 anglers and hunters and 10,000 wildlife watchers and follow up with further detailed questions.

"The last survey published in 2006 revealed 87.5 million Americans enjoyed some form of wildlife-related recreation and spent more than $122.3 billion pursuing their activities," said Hannibal Bolton, assistant director for the service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. "The survey is a critical information resource for federal and state wildlife agencies, outdoor and tourist industries, local governments, planners, conservation groups, journalists and others interested in wildlife and outdoor recreation."

Participation is voluntary and all responses are confidential. Preliminary survey findings will be available in spring 2012 with final reports issued beginning in the fall, to be posted on the restoration program's Web page.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Laying the groundwork for a day of duck hunting, Jim Fisher tosses a decoy as his dog, Willow, looks on. Credit: Fred Greenslade / Reuters


2011 DFG advanced hunting clinics schedule now available

Three youth and a dog watch a flushed pheasant sail out of gun range.

The California Department of Fish and Game has posted the 2011 advanced hunting clinics schedule on its website.

The clinics take place at various locations during the year and focus on the basics of hunting. The series includes sessions on how to hunt turkey, upland game, waterfowl, bear and wild pig. There are also classes offered on land navigation and wilderness survival.

Some of the topics covered in the clinics include the type of firearm and ammunition best for each hunting situation; scouting, tracking and field-dressing game; hunter safety and ethics; and conservation.

Space for each clinic is limited, so those interested in participating should register early.

For more information, e-mail or call Lt. Dan Lehman at (916) 358-4356.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Three youths and a dog watch a flushed pheasant sail out of gun range. Credit: Brent Stettler / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources



Fish and Game Q&A: Is it unlawful to use night-vision equipment while legally hunting?


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

Question: I have an important question regarding the use of "passive" night-vision equipment when legally night-hunting nongame mammals and nongame birds in the state of California. My research indicates that it is perfectly legal to hunt nongame mammals (e.g. coyote and bobcat) using passive (which means it does not project an infrared beam of light or other artificial light) night-vision equipment (e.g. rifle scopes, binoculars, etc.) that do not conflict with the California Penal Code for legal possession.

If you believe that my conclusions are in error, please state the applicable regulation and specific verbiage in the law. For the record, is it illegal to use any type of night-vision equipment in the state of California while legally hunting big game or nongame animals? Yes or no? (Rick B.)

Answer: Yes, it is unlawful to use or possess at any time any infrared or similar light used in connection with an electronic viewing device or any night-vision equipment or optical devices. According to Department of Fish and Game Ret. Capt. Phil Nelms, this includes but is not limited to binoculars or scopes that use light-amplifying circuits that are electrical- or battery-powered to assist in the taking of birds, mammals, amphibians or fish (Fish and Game Code section 2005(c).

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Constitutional right to hunt, fish on four state ballots

A hunter and his son. Those going to the polls in Arizona, Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee on Nov. 2 will be asked to decide  whether hunting and fishing deserve the added protection of being a state constitutional right.

"When you have something protected in your constitution, then it is very difficult to use the courts or other types of ballot activities to thwart, for example, hunting and fishing," state Sen. Steve Faris (D.-Ark.), the bill's lead sponsor there, told Reuters.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states -- Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin -- guarantee the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions.  California and Rhode Island have language in their respective constitutions guaranteeing the right to fish but not to hunt.

"They start with cats and dogs, and the next thing you know, someone says it's inhumane to shoot a deer," added Faris.

The "they" Faris refers to are animal-rights organizations, which are decidedly anti-hunting.

Ashley Byrne, a New York-based campaigner for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, described the hunting and fishing ballot proposals as "a desperate attempt to prop up a dying pastime," adding that although PETA had not mounted any campaigns against the amendments, it would "continue to educate people about how hunting is cruel and unnecessary."

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Firearms industry responds to petition filed with EPA seeking to ban lead ammunition and fishing tackle

Ammunition for sale at the Los Angeles Gun Club.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, stated its opposition to a petition filed Tuesday with the Environmental Protection Agency seeking to ban the use of lead in ammunition and fishing tackle.

"There is simply no scientific evidence that the use of traditional ammunition is having an adverse impact on wildlife populations that would require restricting or banning the use of traditional ammunition beyond current limitations, such as the scientifically based restriction on waterfowl hunting," NSSF President Steve Sanetti said in a press release. Using lead ammunition for waterfowl hunting already is banned nationally and in California is not allowed when big-game hunting in areas designated as California condor range.

Filed by several environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy and the Assn. of Avian Veterinarians, the petition claims that traditional bullets used by hunters are inconsistent with the Toxic Substance Control Act and that such ammo poses a danger to wildlife, in particular raptors, that may feed on unrecovered game in the field. The EPA has 90 days to issue a ruling that it will either accept or reject the petition.

NSSF also expressed its concerns over the possible ramifications such a ban would have on wildlife conservation. According to the group, a federal excise tax that manufacturers pay on the sale of ammunition is a primary source of wildlife conservation funding.

"Needlessly restricting or banning traditional ammunition absent sound science will hurt wildlife conservation efforts as fewer hunters take to the field," said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. "Hunters and their ammunition have done more for wildlife than the Center for Biological Diversity ever will."

-- Kelly Burgess


Photo: Ammunition for sale at the Los Angeles Gun Club. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

PETA takes shot at 'American Idol' singer Kristy Lee Cook's new hunting series, 'Goin' Country'

Kristy Lee Cook hosts her own hunting series, Only one episode of "American Idol" contestant Kristy Lee Cook's new hunting show, "Goin' Country with Kristy Lee Cook," aired on Versus before the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals started firing shots at the singer.

"Instead of angering thousands of would-be fans by killing helpless animals on camera in an attempt to get her '15 Minutes of Shame,' Kristy Lee Cook's fame crusade would be better served by following in the footsteps of fellow Idol alum-turned-country-stars Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler -- as well as Simon Cowell -- all of whom have used their fame and talent to speak up for animals,” a PETA spokesperson said in a statement released to FOX411. Underwood is a vegetarian, Pickler has spoken publicly about only wearing faux fur and former judge Cowell is an animal adoption advocate.

"Goin' Country," a reality show which started its eight-episode run Sunday, follows Cook while she participates in hunts across the nation, all while trying to also bag a recording deal. Featuring some of the performer's new music, each episode follows the seventh-season "Idol" finalist as she heads to Texas in search of trophy whitetail deer, visits Kansas and Wyoming for pheasant hunting, takes part in her first black bear hunt in Wisconsin and Illinois, and is challenged while turkey hunting in Tennessee and Missouri. Cook is joined by friends, family and celebrity hunters, including country music star Aaron Tippin, Grammy-nominated artist Jake Owen and former "Idol" contestant Blake Lewis.

Cook did not take the comments lying down, defending not only herself but all hunters, and issued the following response:

"Given that hunters have done more for American wildlife conservation than any other group in history, I make no apology for being one," she said. "Indeed, I join the ranks of millions of American hunters who celebrate our outdoor heritage and who conserve millions of acres of wild lands. These same people support more than 600,000 jobs across the country and provide a critical voice to encourage more investment in American conservation."

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Women outpace men as new hunters

An unidentified woman shows off the turkey she shot. More women than men took up hunting last year, according to new figures from the National Sporting Goods Assn.

While total hunters in the U.S. decreased slightly (.05%) between 2008 and 2009, the number of female hunters increased by 5.4%, netting 163,000 new participants. Growth areas for women included muzzleloading (up 134.6%), bowhunting (up 30.7%) and hunting with firearms (up 3.5%).

The data also show women outpaced men among newcomers to target shooting with a rifle, with female participation growing by 4.1%.

"New hunters, shooters and anglers are a good thing for everyone who loves the outdoors," said Denise Wagner of the Wonders of Wildlife museum in Springfield, Mo., the official home of National Hunting and Fishing Day.

"Hunting and fishing license sales, combined with special taxes on firearms and ammunition, bows and arrows, and rods and reels generate about $100,000 every 30 minutes, totaling more than $1.75 billion per year, for conservation," Wagner added. "When it comes to funding for wildlife and wild places, more is definitely better."

National Hunting and Fishing Day, scheduled for Sept. 25 this year, was established by Congress to recognize America’s sportsmen for their leading role in fish, wildlife and habitat conservation.

The growth in new participation among women is no surprise to Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry.

"Over the past several years, our industry has worked hard to help build this segment of our market. We’ve developed shooting and hunting products especially for women, reached out with welcoming and instructional workshops for women, and encouraged existing hunters and shooters to introduce their spouses, daughters and other newcomers to shooting sports and outdoor lifestyles," Sanetti said. "I believe these efforts are paying off, which is a bright spot for our industry as well as for conservation."

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: An unidentified woman shows off the turkey she shot. Credit: Jim Bulger / Colorado Division of Wildlife

Fish and Game Q&A: When spearfishing, what's the best way to kill fish quickly to minimize pain?

Nathan Stewart, of Rancho Cucamonga, used plastic squid lures to land this 22-inch halibut, two inches shy of the legal limit. He released it, but he gets to keep this picture. 

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

Question: I’d like to try spearfishing for halibut. If I do find a nice one, can you tell me the best way to quickly kill the fish when I get to it in order to minimize any pain? There must be some spot on the fish where by using a knife, I can quickly kill it with the least suffering. (Justin M, San Diego)

Answer: A well-placed shot with a spear will immobilize a halibut fairly quickly and is probably the most efficient means of killing the fish. According to Department of Fish and Game associate marine biologist Ed Roberts, most spear fishermen do not need to dispatch their fish after retrieving them as the actual shot usually does so. To minimize the struggle and ethically kill your halibut, direct your shots to the spine or brain. On those occasions when you may need to dispatch a halibut or other "round" fish (as opposed to a "flat" fish), bring it to the boat and strike the fish on the top of the head, in between the eyes, with a blunt instrument like a "fish billy" rather than with a knife. Trying to do so with a knife on a small boat can be dangerous.

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.