Shooting At Dusk

(Photo: courtesy of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Hunters must plan their hunts to include ample time for tracking and retrieving their animal during legal shooting hours.

Question: I hunt with a bow and on some occasions will shoot my game right at sundown and then have to chase my animal sometimes for an hour or more. And then when I find it, I may have to shoot it again. Is it legal to finish off an animal after dark if it was shot during the legal hunting hours? (Geoff M., Camarillo)

Answer: No. Authorized hunting and shooting hours are clearly stated in the regulations as running from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset (CCR T-14 Sections 310, 310.5 and 352). To shoot an animal outside of those authorized hours is illegal.

If you hit an animal at sundown but it doesn’t immediately go down, you should then mark the location of the hit, let the animal bleed out and recover it in the morning. You cannot take another shot that day after legal hours have passed or you will be in violation. Whenever possible, try to plan your hunt so that you will not be pushing the envelope right at the end of hunt hours and can leave ample time to track and retrieve the animal during legal hours.

Selling Ivory in California
I purchased a lot of ivory beads, findings and pendants in Los Angeles in 1983. When I heard about the elephant poaching in Africa I put all of this ivory away for 30 years. I am now in a very desperate financial situation though and need to sell everything I own. I made some necklaces from this ivory and put them online to sell. I checked the laws about ivory and was told that I could not import or export out of the states, but I could sell what I have within the United States. Is this information accurate? If not, can I sell these pieces legally any place? (Patti D.)

Answer: According to Captain (ret.) Phil Nelms, both state and federal laws restrict the sale of ivory.

The state law, California Penal Code Section 653(o), addresses the sale of ivory from any of these animals: polar bear, leopard, ocelot, tiger, cheetah, jaguar, sable antelope, wolf (Canis lupus), zebra, whale, cobra, python, sea turtle, colobus monkey, kangaroo, vicuna, sea otter, free-roaming feral horse, dolphin or porpoise (Delphinidae), Spanish lynx, or elephant. This is a very broad definition of “ivory,” which typically only refers to the teeth and tusks of elephants or marine mammals.

It sounds like you have elephant ivory, which is one of the animals listed in Section 653 above, so you cannot possess it for sale or sell it in California, including online.

Elephants, marine mammals and some other critters covered by Section 653 are additionally protected by federal laws (e.g., the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act). If you legally acquired ivory from one of these animals prior to the enactment of the federal laws, then you may be exempt from the provisions of these federal laws, but not the California law. Unfortunately, California law does not include a “grandfather” or pre-act exemption clause; thus there’s a good chance that you’ll still be breaking California law if you offer your ivory for sale in California. We recommend you contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service and/or a private attorney for an explanation regarding the applicability of federal laws and legality of selling your ivory in other states. You may also want to contact each state individually to inquire about applicable laws.

Incorrectly Recording on Your Report card
While tagging my abalone recently I realized too late that I’d mistakenly recorded my abalone catch on my abalone report card incorrectly. I recorded them out of order in the wrong column and then used the corresponding wrong tags. This meant I skipped three of the lower numbered tags. The tags are still on the report card and corresponding recording fields on the report card are still empty. Can I go back and use those missed tags for my next trip? (Atsu I.)

Answer: No, the law says, “Tags shall be used in sequential order, and shall not be removed from the report card until immediately prior to affixing to an abalone. Any tags detached from the report card and not affixed to an abalone shall be considered used and therefore invalid” (CCR Title 14 Section 29.16[b][4]). According to Lt. Dennis McKiver, you are also required to write “Void” on the Abalone Report Card in the spaces you skipped and then dispose of the three corresponding tags. This is because the law also says, “…[5] No person shall possess any used or otherwise invalid abalone tags not attached to an abalone shell.”

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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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