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Outdoors Q&A: Killing Two Ducks With One Shot

Read on for answers to questions about the state's regulations on hunting and fishing.

Question: I was hunting Grizzly Island last weekend and took a shot on a flock of shovelers, killing two birds with one shot. Afterward, I pondered the question: What if that flock had been pintails and instead I had killed two pintails in one shot? What should I have done since the limit is one per person? I think if I had taken the birds to the check station it would have caused a lot of questions. How would I have proven that they were killed by the same shot? I’m sure it would be up to the judgment of the warden. (James M.)

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Carrie Wilson
Answer: If you had shot two pintails with one shot, the consequences would differ depending on how you handled the situation. According to Department of Fish & Game Assistant Chief Mike Carion, here’s what you might expect and what he suggests:

» If you had picked them both up and put them in your bag and the warden found you had two in possession, you could been cited for being over the limit.

» If you didn’t tell the warden you had two and failed to reveal both birds to him or her when asked, you also could have been cited.

» If you had left the other bird in the pond, buried it or hid it, you could have been cited for an overlimit and wanton waste of game.

The best way to avoid any of those consequences would be not to shoot when the birds are so close that you can’t have a clear shot and be able to identify what you’re shooting before pulling the trigger.

Bottom line: Waterfowl hunting is a privilege with many restrictions. Ethical hunters must not only be able to identify their ducks, they must know their capabilities and shoot only when they have a clear opportunity without a potential violation. When a flock of birds that has a one bird limit presents itself, it is safe to shoot only when you clearly have one bird separated from the rest of the flock. If the birds are bunched too close, let them go and wait for a better opportunity.

Question: A friend of mine told me that in Louisiana and Texas, they fish with plastic coke bottles or plastic jugs. It’s called “jugging.” They take capped soda bottles or old bleach or milk bottles, tie a string or heavy line to them, attach a weight and baited hook, then toss them out and watch them float around. The bottle acts like a big bobber. When the fish bites the hook and swims off, they chase the bottle and pull it up with the fish hooked at the other end. It’s supposed to be especially good for catching catfish. I haven’t seen this done around here. Is it legal? (Samuel H., Riverside)

Answer: It’s not legal to do it in California, for many reasons. Our angling regulations require that the fishing line must always be under the control of the angler, either held in the hand or with the line attached to a pole or rod held in the hand or closely attended (FGC Section 1.05). The contraption you describe would be defined as mousetrap gear, which is defined as “… a hook(s) or lure(s) attached to one end of a line that is attached to a float or floats at the other end that when fished is not directly attached to a person or vessel.” Mousetrap gear is forbidden to use (FGC 28.65). In addition, you could be cited for littering.

Question: I am going to be hiking in northern California in the Humboldt and Del Norte county areas, and I’m wondering if hikers are allowed to carry a handgun while out in the woods for safety reasons. If so, can it be concealed? (Tim J.)

Answer: It depends on who has jurisdiction over the property where you’re hiking and whether there are prohibitions against firearms. California Department of Parks and Recreation lands, for example, do not allow firearms on its property, but U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands do. You’ll need to know the property where you’ll be hiking. If you have any questions, go to the agency’s Web site or contact the local regional office for its policies. If it’s private property, you will need to get permission from the property owners to enter their lands.

The carry of concealed firearms is covered by the Penal Code (PC 12025), and the laws should be discussed with the sheriff’s office of the county in which you plan to hike. In general, concealable firearms must be displayed unless a person is a licensed hunter or angler going to, returning from or participating in hunting or fishing activity, or they have a concealed license permit issued by the sheriff of the county they reside in (PC 12027).

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

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