Tuesday, October 13 , 2015, 12:33 pm | Partly Cloudy 84º

Outdoors Q&A: Is It Legal to Keep Loaded Firearm in Parked Car?

Put simply, no — when you're on or along any road or area open to the public

A loaded firearm in a car is illegal at all times when on or along a public roadway or other way open to the public.
A loaded firearm in a car is illegal at all times when on or along a public roadway or other way open to the public.  (Department of Fish & Game photo)

By Carrie Wilson |

Q: Is it legal to have a loaded firearm in a parked vehicle while hunting? (Scott D. Beyer)

Carrie Wilson
Carrie Wilson

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 (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). This law applies when you are upon or along a public roadway or other way open to the public. This means any place the public can go, including roadless or “off road” areas.

Deer Validation Requirements

Q: I just went through the validation part of the Department of Fish & Game Web site and can’t locate the following requirement. What happened was that 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 can’t locate anything referring to the horns attached issue. Why not require proof of sex be left on the carcass instead? (Bill A.)

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 that 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 filled out and attached to the antlers before transportation to the nearest person authorized to validate the tag.

Hunters are then required to maintain the portion of the head that 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 (California Code of Regulations, Title 14 sections 708(3)(4) & (5) and FGC sections 4302, 4304 & 4306).

Dungeness Crab Females

Q: I see on many Web sites that you can’t take female Dungeness, but I see in the regulations no comment about females. Have the rules changed now allowing females can be kept? (E.J. K.)

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.

Displaying Fishing Licenses

Q: Can you tell me why anglers aren’t 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. (Danny F.)

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 because of peer pressure didn’t 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 not to have to display their licenses above their waist anymore, so the commission finally agreed. Although it’s no longer the law, many anglers do still choose to proudly display their licenses.

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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