Prohibited from Retrieving Deer from Private Property

Mule deer (Photo courtesy of UDWR)

Question: I recently shot a doe with my A31 tag in Los Angeles County (Archery Only-Either Sex). It appeared to be a lethal shot from 22 yards with decent shot placement. I tracked the blood to a privately owned ranch 100 yards away. I stopped tracking it when it appeared she went onto the ranch property. I then approached the ranch manager to get permission to continue tracking my deer. The owner initially agreed but after one of her coworkers talked to her, she retracted her permission (approximately 10 minutes from the time we spoke in her office). She requested that we leave her property at once as she didn’t want people to think they approved of hunting. I didn’t have enough time to locate my deer and left broken-hearted.

I don’t like seeing animals die or suffer for no reason. I would never have shot if I would have known I couldn’t recover her. I believe I did everything legal and correct but it shouldn’t be right that a deer goes to waste because of the bias of a property manager.

Is there anything I could have done to recover my deer? Do I have any rights or is there anyone I could have contacted? I’m still sick over the situation. (Luke G., Loma Linda)

Answer: It’s unfortunate that this happened. Although the law prevents one from wasting the deer, the law does not permit the trespass to retrieve it. Perhaps, if you’d contacted the local game warden, they may have been able to contact the ranch manager or owner for some possible assistance to prevent the deer from going to waste.

According to Department of Fish and Game Lt. Todd Tognazzini, when archery hunting it is recommended to hunt farther from private property boundaries to avoid this type of problem as deer taken with archery usually travel farther after a lethal wound than those shot with a rifle. Tognazzini says he has never been refused when a fresh and legitimate blood trail is found leaving public land onto private property.

Live Mouth Bass for sale?
Question: I recently noticed an advertisement in the seafood section of our local Los Angeles Hong Kong supermarket newspaper where they are selling “Live Mouth Bass.” Is there really such a fish? The picture looks like they are largemouth bass. I didn’t think our precious game fish could be sold for food. If these are largemouth bass, is it legal to sell them in the market? (Doc H., Walnut)

Answer: I am not aware of a species called “live mouth bass.”  It is not legal to sell largemouth bass caught in the wild or under the authority of a sport fishing license. Often times the Asian markets have aquariums where they display live fish for sale. Largemouth bass can be sold if acquired from a private aquaculture facility with appropriate sales receipts.

Remote controlled boat
Question: I have a remote controlled boat approximately 36 inches long with a remote GPS and fish-finder system located on the boat. On the back of the boat there is a small box containing a baited hook. The hook is connected to a line with an attached weight. Once the boat is located in the area I’ve chosen, the line can be remotely deployed. The line (which can be as much as 2,000 ft. long) is also connected to the fishing pole I hold onshore. Once the line has been deployed, the boat is returned to shore. With a California fishing license, can I use this at lakes or at the beach? (Ron C.)

Answer: Yes, as long as the rod is hand-held or closely attended and the fish voluntarily takes the bait or lure. For a description of “angling” and the legal methods authorized for taking fish, please review sections 1.05 and 2.00 in the Freshwater Fishing Regulations booklet available wherever fishing licenses are sold or online at Angling under this definition is not required in ocean waters.

Hunting predators when a bear responds to the calls
Question: If I am out hunting predators using a call, and it is during bear season, and I have a bear tag … if a bear comes in on the call, can I kill the bear?

Answer:Yes, unless they are electronic calls. It is unlawful to use any 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 game birds/mammals (Fish and Game Code, section 3012).

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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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