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Outdoors Q&A: Minors in Possession of Firearms

Clarifying the 'gray zone' regarding teenagers who hunt on an adult license

Q: An issue has come up regarding minors in possession of a firearm, and so we would appreciate some clarification. The question is in regard to teenage hunters who hunt on an adult license (16 years or older) but are still considered minors (younger than 18). This seems to be a “gray zone” because these teens can drive to shoot or hunt, have a license to hunt with a firearm, but still need parental presence or written permission. Here is the question:

Can a minor (someone younger than 18 years old, but holding an adult California hunting license for individuals age 16 or older) be in possession of a firearm and ammunition for that firearm, without the presence of an adult supervisor or written permission of an adult on their person? (James S.)

A: Nothing in the Fish and Game Code or its implementing regulations prohibits a juvenile who has passed a hunter education class and obtained the appropriate license or tag from carrying a gun while hunting. There are specific prohibitions and restrictions regarding the transfer or sale of guns to minors within the Penal Code, but Penal Code Cection 27505 provides specific exemptions that allow for minors to possess firearms for lawful purposes, such as hunting.

For more information, please click here to contact the California Bureau of Firearms just to make certain.

Breath-Hold Diving for Horseneck (Gaper) Clams?

Q: I’m an avid free diver and spear fisherman, as well as a frequent clammer. While diving for Dungeness crab recently, I noticed a number of enormous clam siphons in the silty mud bottom in 4 to 8 feet of water. Having previously dug for horseneck clams (Tresus capax) on a number of occasions, it was clear to me that these were horseneck siphons, or “shows.” These clams are all well below the low tide line and would thus be impossible to dig in the traditional way. Would it be legal for me to harvest these clams using a homemade PVC “clam gun” to excavate the mud in which they are encased? Looking at the regulations pertaining to horseneck clams, underwater harvest is neither specifically permitted nor forbidden. (Carter J.)

A: Yes, you can take clams underwater using a “clam gun” as long as you are free diving. The use of SCUBA is prohibited for the take of clams north of Yankee Point in Monterey County. SCUBA can be used south of Yankee Point. You don’t say where you plan to dive for clams, but you may like to know that there are gaper clams south of Yankee Point.

Here’s what the regulations say:

Invertebrates
29.05. GENERAL
(d) In all ocean waters skin and Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) divers may take invertebrates as provided in this article except that in all ocean waters north of Yankee Point (Monterey Co.), SCUBA may be used only to take sea urchins, rock scallops and crabs of the genus Cancer. For the purpose of this section, breathing tubes (snorkels) are not SCUBA.

29.20. CLAMS GENERAL
(a) Except as provided in this article, there are no closed seasons, bag limits or size limits on saltwater clams.
(b) Fishing hours: One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
(c) Special gear provisions: Spades, shovels, hoes, rakes or other appliances operated by hand, except spears or gaff hooks, may be used to take clams. No instrument capable of being used to dig clams may be possessed between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise, on any beach of this state, except tools and implements used in the work of cleaning, repairing or maintaining such beach when possessed by a person authorized by appropriate authority to perform such work.

Motorized Decoys for Doves and Upland Game

Q: Can motorized decoys, such as Mojo, be used on doves or other upland game birds?

A: Yes.

Fishing with Live Shad? Cast Net?

Q: I live in the San Joaquin County and have two fishing questions. First, is it legal to fish with live shad? Second, is it legal to use a cast net/bait net to catch shad and minnows? (Justin)

A: A casting net or throw net is unlawful to use or possess in inland waters, but dip nets are authorized for taking certain species of fin fish that can be used as bait (see CCR Title 14, sections 4.00 to 4.30 in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations available online by clicking here). Live shad may be used in the Valley and South Central Districts (section 4.10) in waters where taken, but they must be taken with a legal dip net under certain provisions.

— 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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