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Outdoors Q&A: California Hunting Opportunities

Read on for answers to your questions about state regulations on hunting and fishing.

Question: I need to know where I can legally hunt with a rifle besides on national forests and BLM lands. This simple question has led to a lifetime supply of aspirin and a list of “we don’t know, you should try ...” responses coming from every agency I’ve asked. I’m sure many other people have felt the same agony of the situation. I live in the Inland Empire region, where there are hundreds of undeveloped nonprivate lands far from urban areas, roads, homes and structures. Which of these sections of land permit lawful hunting? (Matt T.)

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Carrie Wilson
Answer: Whether you’re hunting in California or another state, your rifle hunting is limited to either public land areas or private property where permission must be obtained. This is the same in every state. A number of agencies manage lands that allow hunting, including some you mentioned such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Some military bases, such as Camp Roberts and Fort Hunter Liggett, also allow public hunting, as do some California Department of Fish & Game properties.

Many public lands that allow multiple uses also allow hunting. According to game warden Todd Tognazzi, private property in California is required to be designated in one of the following ways: posted with no trespassing signs at third-mile intervals, under cultivation or fenced. You can determine land ownership from map resources at a local library, at many different Web sites or through the county assessor’s office. An agency is only going to have information on the land under its management, so it is important to research the land you are describing.

The best resource I know of is our summer 2008 edition of the California Hunting Digest available from most DFG offices. On pages 18-19, there’s a short article titled “Public Lands Open for Hunting in California.” Although it doesn’t list every land, it lists every land management agency that allows hunting, along with their Web sites and other contact info.

California Hunting Digest editor Lorna Bernard also suggests a Web site she found while researching this topic. It’s for a nonprofit organization called the Public Lands Information Center. It offers a free searchable database of public lands throughout the United States. You can enter the term “hunting” and click on California, and it will provide a list of every California public land that allows hunting. The Web address is www.publiclands.org. Since it’s not a DFG Web site, we can’t vouch for its accuracy or completeness, but it’s the best we’ve found so far.

Some additional resources the DFG can offer include our quail, wild pig, turkey and deer hunting guides. These guides are a few years old but still contain good information on how to hunt these species, and often where access can be found. It also comes with many pages of maps and directions. Some access points may have changed, but they will still give you reasonable starting points.

All of these DFG publications are available through most DFG offices or may be downloaded them from www.dfg.ca.gov/about/hunting/. This whole page is useful, and the hunting guides can be found on the right-hand column.

In addition to the public lands mentioned already, you may want to consider joining a private hunting club, such as Wilderness Unlimited, which holds leases on multiple public properties around the state for their members to access for hunting and fishing.

Many good rifle hunting spots are available throughout California on public lands. Hopefully, these resources will help you continue to enjoy your California hunting experiences.

Question: How do you control rattlesnakes in a school setting? (Ayatu O.)

Answer: The following are recommendations from game warden Kyle Chang:

» Clear all brush and tall grasses in the area in places where snakes might hide and take refuge.

» If there are perimeter fences in the area, use quarter-inch-square wire all along the perimeter fence about 3 feet high flashed to the ground to also prevent rodents from digging under.

» Hire a pest removal company to check under buildings and behind areas for any snakes that may be hiding.

» Keep all food sources and trash that may be attractants to rodents closed/sealed to prevent “snake food” sources from coming around, attracting snakes by scent.

» Make students aware of a potential snake problem in the area.

» Make the students aware of what rattlesnakes look like in comparison to other, nonvenomous snakes. A good Web site with lots of identification and educational information on snakes can be found at www.californiaherps.com/index.html.

Click here for more information on controlling snakes around home or school settings.

Question: Our grandchildren will be visiting at the end of August, and we would love to have them experience the phenomenon of a grunion run. How can we get information on expected grunion runs? (Peg and Tom G., Ventura)

Answer: You should be able to find all of the grunion information you’ll need from our Web site at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/grnindx3.asp. Predicted grunion runs are also available in most tide books.

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. Her DFG-related question-and-answer column appears weekly at www.dfg.ca.gov/QandA/. She can be reached at [email protected]

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