Public prohibited from retrieving deer from private property

November 29, 2012 

Question: I recently shot a doe with my bow. It appeared to be a lethal shot and 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 but she requested that we leave her property at once as she didn't want people to think they approved of hunting.

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?

Answer: 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.

Question: How far off the road must one be to begin hunting an animal?

Answer: There are several laws that apply to what you describe. Most counties regulate the distance from a public roadway a firearm may be discharged under a county ordinance. Many counties require 150 feet. It is always unlawful to negligently discharge a firearm upon a public road or highway. Fish and Game code makes it unlawful to discharge a firearm or release an arrow or crossbow bolt over or across any public road or other established way open to the public in an unsafe and reckless manner.

Question: I live on a 50-acre ranch and want to hunt bears. I have been using a single bale of alfalfa as an arrow stop to practice shooting my bow on the ranch. Would this alfalfa bale be considered feed, bait or a material capable of attracting a bear? If so, how many days must I wait before hunting bear?

Answer: Bears are more likely to be attracted to fruits and vegetables and meat products rather than alfalfa. As long as the bears aren't attracted to the alfalfa then it would not be considered bait. However, if the alfalfa does prove to be an attractant, you will need to completely remove it and not hunt within 400 yards of the area for 10 days.

"Baiting" for bears is prohibited and this means placing or using any feed, bait or other materials capable of acting as an attractant for the purpose of taking or pursuing bears. A "baited area" is defined as any area where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed whatsoever capable of luring, attracting or enticing such birds or mammals is directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed or scattered, and such area shall remain a baited area for ten days following complete removal of all such material.

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 take game birds/mammals.

-- Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She be contacted at CalOutdoors@df

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