Shooting Two Ducks with One Shot?

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 I’d instead killed two pintails in one shot. What should I have done since the limit is one per person? I think if I’d taken the birds to the check station it would have caused a lot of questions and 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 but I thought I would ask. (James M.)

Answer: If you’d shot two pintails with one shot, the consequences of this error would differ depending upon how you handled the situation. According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Assistant Chief Mike Carion, here’s what you might expect and what he suggests:
If you’d picked them both up and put them in your bag and the warden found you had two in possession, you may be cited for having an overlimit.

If you didn’t tell the warden you had two and failed to reveal both birds to the game warden when asked, you might additionally be cited for failing to show the extra duck when asked.

If you’d 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 these consequences in the future would be to not shoot when the birds are so close that you cannot 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 only shoot 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 only safe to shoot 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.

Is “Jugging” Legal in California?
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 Clorox or milk bottles, tie a string or heavy line to them, attach a weight and baited hook, and then just 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: I’m afraid it is not legal to do in California, for many different 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). This 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…” and mousetrap gear is forbidden to use (FGC 28.65). In addition, you could be cited for littering.

Are Hikers Allowed to Carry a Firearm for Safety?
Question: I am going to be doing some hiking in northern California in the Humboldt and Del Norte county areas and I’m wondering if hikers are allowed to carry a hand gun while out in the woods for safety reasons. If so, does it need to be visible or can it be concealed? (Tim J.)

Answer: This depends on who has jurisdiction over the property where you’ll be hiking and whether there are any prohibitions against firearms. California Department of Parks and Recreation lands, for example, do not allow firearms on their property but U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands do. You’ll need to know the property where you’ll be hiking and if you have any questions, go to their Web sites or contact the local regional offices for their 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 you are interested in hiking. 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).

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at

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