Question: I have been trying to get into the sport of bowfishing but two issues have my parents and me a little puzzled. My dad heard that if you are going to bowfish, you need some kind of special reel on the bow (don’t know whether it was an open face reel or a crank reel). We are also unsure what license I should use. Do we need a hunting or a fishing license to bowfish?
Answer: You will need sport fishing licenses since you will be taking fish and not game. No special reels or gear are required for bowfishing but you must have the arrow shaft or the point, or both, attached by a line to the bow or to a fishing reel (includes crossbow) (California Code of Regulations, section 1.23).
Be sure to check with the governing law enforcement agency for the area where you intend to fish because not all areas of the state (including various federal, state and local parks) are open to bowfishing. Some areas prohibit using this type of fishing gear because they consider it possibly a “deadly weapon.” This has been the case primarily in incorporated city areas. If fishing in freshwater, please read section 2.25 in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations for the list of permitted species and any special water restrictions (CCR Title 14, section 2.25).
Hunting for squirrels
Question: My uncle has a ranch up in northeastern California and his property has become overrun with ground squirrels. He’s worried about his calves stepping in the holes and breaking their legs. Do we need hunting licenses to help him get rid of these varmints? How can we legally help my uncle control his ground squirrel invasion problem and not get in trouble with a game warden?
Answer: When taking nongame mammals (like these ground squirrels) for depredation purposes, the landowner must be able to prove damage by the nongame mammal prior to the take. Damage must be proven in order to fall under the parameters of “take” without a license. In addition, the no license requirement only applies to the landowner and their agent. The person taking under depredation must show proof in writing they are acting as an agent for the landowner for depredation purposes and they must carry this proof while doing so.
Shooting certain nongame mammals not causing damage may still be allowed by licensed hunters, but all hunters must have written permission of the landowner to hunt on private property.
As always, remember that safe gun handling practices must always be practiced when using a firearm and other laws may apply.
Question: My husband is interested in sport diving and is wondering what the regulations are regarding using a hookah system for sport diving. Any information would be very much appreciated.
Answer: No, hookah gear may not be used. People who are floating or swimming in the water may use spearfishing gear and skin or scuba diving equipment to take most species of fin fish and shellfish (except red abalone may be taken only by skin diving) (CCR Title 14, section 28.90).
Range finding scopes
Question: There are scopes with range-finding capabilities for compound and crossbows available on the market. Is it legal to have one of these scopes mounted on a bow or crossbow in areas where I am legally allowed to hunt in California?
Answer: Scopes with laser rangefinders are not prohibited. Just be sure the device does not project any visible light or electronically intensify light for the purpose of either visibly enhancing an animal or providing a visible point of aim on an animal (CCR Title 14, section 353(i)).
Rounds of ammo allowed
Question: When reading DFG regulations, I find a shotgun is limited to three rounds of ammo, but I cannot find anywhere how many rounds of ammo a rifle or AR is limited to. I’d like to know as I want no trouble when I go squirrel hunting with my AR-type gun.
Answer: There are no restrictions on the number of rounds a rifle can hold while hunting. According to DFG Lt. Todd Tognazzini, rifles sold in California for the past several years are restricted to a 10-round capacity. This is due to other firearms laws created under the assault weapon ban. However, rifles owned prior to the capacity ban can still be used for hunting as long as ammunition is legal for the area being hunted.
Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.