Deer Hunting From a Boat

Mule deer (Photo courtesy of ODFW)

Mule deer (Photo courtesy of ODFW)

Question: Is it legal to hunt deer from a boat drifting down a river? If so, what are the parameters? Do you have to be a certain distance from shore? (Eric S., Redding)

Answer: The main requirement when hunting from a boat is that the boat cannot be under power or still moving as a result of power. In addition, engines must be shut off and out of the water. Once you’ve done this, the boat may be drifting, beached, moored, resting at anchor, or propelled by paddle, oar or pole.

Aside from the requirements of using the boat as a platform, the shooter must consider what else may be around and beyond the deer. You cannot hunt or shoot a firearm within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling, or hunt on private property or within prohibited areas such as municipalities. It is important to research your specific hunting area and know legal access points. No person shall pursue, drive, herd or take any bird or mammal from any type of motor-driven air or land vehicles, motorboat, airboat, sailboat or snowmobile (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251). There may also be some Penal Code restrictions regarding loaded firearms in vehicles.

Handicapped abalone diving
Question: My dad is handicapped and someone told him if he gets a license and abalone report card, he can then have someone else catch abalone for him and hand it to him either while he’s on a boat or once back on shore. Is this true? (Janet R., Sacramento)

Answer: Unfortunately, no. A person who is unable to take their own abalone cannot purchase an abalone report card and have someone else take abalone for them using their report card. A person licensed to take abalone can give some of their own catch to your father as long as the abalone are tagged and recorded on the actual diver’s report card.

Taking control of coyote problems
Question: I live in Fullerton and am having coyote problems. A coyote recently killed my cat, and some other pets have also been killed and/or attacked. Is it legal to kill a coyote in my neighborhood if I feel it is a viable threat at the time? I’m not seeking them out and not trying to hunt. I just don’t want to lose any more animals. We want to comply with all laws but aren’t getting anywhere talking to the local police department or the animal shelters or humane society. I’ve never had a hunting license and my parents’ licenses are expired but can be renewed if need be. We have registered handguns, rifles and shotguns that are all legal. I just want to make sure we won’t get into trouble with the law. What are our rights? (Christina, Fullerton)

Answer: Under Fish and Wildlife laws, coyotes are classified as non-game animals and may be taken throughout the year with a hunting license. The offending animals may also be taken if they cause property damage. That being said, laws generally prohibit the discharge of any firearm or other weapon in urban areas. You may want to verify this with your local police or sheriff’s agency. Some communities have hired licensed trappers to remove nuisance coyotes.

Limpet regulations
Question: What are the true regulations for collecting limpets? From what I can gather from reading the regs, there is no size limit, the bag limit is 35, and they can only be collected by hand or by hook and line. In Hawaii, it is common practice to use a butter knife to pry the limpets or “opihi” off the rocks, and this is the most effective method. Without a knife, it’s pretty much impossible. Therefore, is it legal to use a knife to collect limpets? If not, can the regulations be changed so that limpets are an exception? I don’t believe that regulation was made with limpets in mind. (Orion G., Santa Barbara)

Answer: You are correct. You may take up to 35 limpets year round and you are allowed to take them only on hook and line or with the hands (CCR Title 14, section 29.10(a)). If you think this regulation should be changed, you are encouraged to propose amendments to the Fish and Game Commission. For a list of upcoming meetings or to contact them directly, please go to

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

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