California Outdoors Q&As

A doe of a Black tail Deer standing in the dry grass field.
A doe of a Black tail Deer standing in the dry grass field.

Carrie Wilson
CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov

Prohibited from Retrieving Deer from Private Property

Question: Last year I shot a doe with my A31 tag in Los Angeles County (Archery Only-Either Sex). It appeared to be a lethal shot from 22 yards with decent shot placement. I tracked the blood to a privately owned ranch 100 yards away. I stopped tracking it when it appeared she went onto the ranch property. I then approached the ranch manager to get permission to continue tracking my deer. The owner initially agreed but after one of her coworkers talked to her, she retracted her permission (approximately 10 minutes from the time we spoke in her office). She requested that we leave her property at once as she didn’t want people to think they approved of hunting. I didn’t have enough time to locate my deer and left broken-hearted.

I don’t like seeing animals die or suffer for no reason. I would never have shot if I would have known I couldn’t recover her. I believe I did everything legal and correct but it shouldn’t be right that a deer goes to waste because of the bias of a property manager.

Is there anything I could have done to recover my deer? Do I have any rights or is there anyone I could have contacted? I’m still sick over the situation. (Luke G., Loma Linda)

Answer: It’s unfortunate that this happened. Although the law prevents one from wasting the deer, the law does not permit the trespass to retrieve it. Perhaps, if you’d contacted the local game warden, they may have been able to contact the ranch manager or owner for some possible assistance to prevent the deer from going to waste.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lt. Todd Tognazzini, when archery hunting it is recommended to hunt farther from private property boundaries to avoid this type of problem as deer taken with archery usually travel farther after a lethal wound than those shot with a rifle. Tognazzini says he has never been refused when a fresh and legitimate blood trail is found leaving public land onto private property.

Spear fishing along a jetty without a license?

Question: I know that fishing from a public pier or first seaward public jetty/seawall doesn’t require a state fishing license. Does this also apply if a diver is spearfishing or collecting shellfish along such a jetty? (Jonathan)

Answer: No, the person must physically be on the pier to legally fish without a license. Once the person is off of the pier or most seaward protective boundary (jetty) placed to form a harbor, a fishing license is required. When diving from shore, he or she must be within 500 yards of their license (Fish and Game Code, section 1054.2).

Does a beginner taxidermist need a license?

Question: I am a beginner taxidermist and have done a few pheasants and ducks for myself only but would like to now do some free taxidermy for other people. Will I need a taxidermist license and/or migratory bird permit to mount ducks even if I don’t charge for my services? (Christian T.)

Answer: California does not require a taxidermist license, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does require a license for migratory waterfowl. A Federal Taxidermy Permit is required to possess migratory birds for taxidermy purposes if you do not otherwise have authorization to possess. For example, a taxidermy permit is required if you would like to taxidermy a friend’s (or customer’s) duck harvested during hunting season. A taxidermy permit is not required if you would like to taxidermy a duck you harvested during hunting season. Further information regarding this federal permit is available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website.

— Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

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