Hunting from bicycle
Question: I will soon be taking off to the mountains from the valley floor to do some mountain quail and tree squirrel hunting. In past years, after arriving at hunting camp, most of my hunting was done on foot and so I couldn’t cover much ground in a day.
Last year I took my grandson with me to start teaching him a little about gun safety, hunting and camping in the wild. After walking for a while he got tired though and wanted to rest. We were walking along a logging road and he told me that he wished he had his bicycle with him. This got me to thinking that with a bike I could cover much more area, be basically silent, use no fossil fuel and get some much-needed exercise to boot.
So, for my hunting trip this year I purchased a mountain bicycle and got it geared up with saddlebags and a handlebar gun rack for my shotgun.
Now I’m all ready to go but can’t find any hunting laws, rules or regulations concerning guns and bicycles on logging roads. Here are my questions:
—Can I legally shoot from my bicycle while stopped with my feet on the ground or do I have to completely dismount the bicycle to shoot?
—Can I have a shotgun shell in the chamber while on my bicycle (like while walking) or must I have the chamber empty and action open like when in a motor vehicle?
—Can I carry a holstered six-shot, black powder pistol with five rounds capped on my bicycle or do all the nipples have to be uncapped as in a motor vehicle?
I don’t want to do anything illegal or get into any trouble, so I would appreciate any help with these questions.
Answer: Shooting or taking game from a bicycle, whether on it or straddling it, is not specifically prohibited in California Fish and Game laws. However, section 374(c) of the Penal Code prohibits shooting a firearm from or upon a public road. A logging road is not a highway but it may be a public road depending on multiple factors, including who owns and/or maintains the road. But, in any case it is advisable to always be off any road before shooting even if it is not expressly prohibited by law.
Loaded rifles or shotguns are prohibited in any vehicle or conveyance “while standing on … any way open to the public” (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). In your case the bicycle is a conveyance and the logging road is a way open to the public — assuming it is open to travel by everyone and not just to those having specific permission from the owner. Bicycles may not be used in designated wilderness areas.
Department of Fish and Game (DFG) law does not prohibit carrying a holstered six-shot, even in a motor vehicle. The loaded-gun law applies only to rifles and shotguns. There are other law enforcement agencies that do have strict laws against carrying loaded guns in vehicles, though.
Derelict lobster traps
Question: I recently came across a video on YouTube of some guys pulling lobster from a lost derelict lobster trap. While it’s crystal clear that pulling lobster from actively fishing traps is stealing, what is DFG’s stand on taking lobsters from a derelict trap if it’s lost its identifying marker buoy?
Answer: It does not matter if it’s a derelict trap without an identifying buoy still attached, it’s still illegal to take lobster from a trap. Traps are not an allowable method of take for lobsters (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.80(a)) and it is illegal to move or disturb any trap belonging to another without written permission in possession from the owner of the trap (CCR Title 14, section 29.80(a)(3)).
Carrying the gun out
Question: I know the regs say that only hunters with the proper license and tag can carry a firearm during rifle deer season. What if there are two individuals, only one of whom is licensed and hunting deer, and that person successfully shoots a deer. Then while hauling the deer out of the back country, can the non-hunter carry his friend’s firearm as long as it is unloaded and the bolt is removed?
Answer: Yes, this would be legal as long as the non-hunting friend carrying the firearm is not a felon or otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms.
Selling deer skin
Question: Is it legal to sell a deer skin?
Answer: Yes. While most wildlife cannot be sold, deer hides and antlers that have been cut into blocks can be sold. Whole antlers may not be sold.
Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.