Transporting Multiple Waterfowl Limits Legally

Snow geese (USFWS photo)

Question: I had a good waterfowl season and gave many ducks to friends who wanted to try duck. I also shared some duck jerky with them and they loved it!  Now they all want some jerky or sausage, too! I called the butcher and found out they require 25 lbs of meat to make a batch of sausage. I weighed my possession limit and it doesn’t come close enough to make the weight. How do I legally bring enough ducks to the processor without putting myself into an overlimit in possession situation? (Gino B.)

Answer: Most hunters are aware they cannot take or possess more than a daily bag of ducks in one calendar day, and they know they cannot possess more than a legal possession limit (double the daily bag limit) of ducks at any time… unless the birds are tagged.

In addition, all waterfowl must retain the head or one attached fully feathered wing between the place where taken and the hunter’s personal abode (where he/she lives when not hunting) or the personal abode of a person receiving the birds as a gift, or a Migratory Bird Preservation Facility.

According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Northern Enforcement District Chief Mike Carion, any person is allowed to have a possession limit of birds as long as they were taken legally by a licensed hunter. In addition, if you live at home with a significant other and three children (for example), you can possess five possession limits of waterfowl in that home.

When the possession is freshly killed birds in the field, the birds must be tagged. If the possession is at home, the birds do not need to be tagged.

Tags must contain the following information:

  • Name of hunter
  • Address of hunter
  • Date of take
  • Number and species of birds
  • Hunting license number
  • Signature of the hunter who took the birds

Now it gets tricky!

Once you take the birds to your personal abode (home), you no longer have to tag them, and you may remove the head and wings. However, you are still required to stay within possession limits.

So, now your question is what happens once you are home (or after you’ve delivered your birds to someone as a gift) and you decide to have the ducks made into sausage? How can you provide the processor the 25 pounds of meat required to make the sausage?

Remember, once you are no longer home and are now transporting the birds of someone else (gifted above), the birds must be tagged!

Therefore, the legal way for you to transport the required 25 pounds of duck meat (by combining your birds with the birds belonging to other people) to the local meat processor is to make sure all birds are tagged as mentioned above. When turning the tagged birds over to the meat processor, you must also provide him a list of names of the people each possession limit belongs to.

How many hooks for sand dabs and how many for halibut?
Question: How many hooks can be used when fishing for sand dabs? I was planning on using a Sabiki rig. How many hooks can I have on such a rig? Also, how many hooks can I have on my line while fishing for halibut? Is there a limit to the number in either of these situations? (Chris Jones)

Answer:  There are no hook restrictions unless rockfish or salmon are onboard. If either species is onboard, then only two hooks may be used.

Hunting with an electronic distress caller?
Question: Is it legal to use an electronic distress caller to hunt deer? I can’t seem to find it in the regulations. (Louie L.)

Answer: It is not legal to use recorded or electrically amplified bird or mammal calls or sounds or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird or mammal calls or sounds to take any animal except coyotes, bobcats, American crows and starlings (Fish and Game Code, section 3012 and CCR Title 14, section 475(b), or the California Mammal Hunting Regulations at

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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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