What are the legalities of buying deer hides?

January 10, 2013 

Question: I'm a hide tanner and was recently talking with a butcher about getting deer hides from him but he was worried about giving them to me.

He seemed to think that I would need to have a deer tag for every deer hide. Can you tell me what the legalities are concerning deer hides? I would like to make use of the hides that are being thrown away. Also, do you know of any deer hide sources for me?

Answer: It is legal to buy and sell (or gift) lawfully taken deer hides (Fish and Game Code, section 4303). The person receiving the hides is not required to have a hunting license or tag. However, it's a good idea for both parties involved to keep records of the transactions to protect against false accusations that the hides were acquired illegally.


Question: I read where Governor Brown signed into law a bill allowing the mounting and display of these animals in California. Does that mean that mountain lions taken in other states can be brought into California for mounting and display?

Answer: No, it is still illegal to import mountain lions. Fish and Game Code section 4800, which was enacted via an initiative measure in 1990, provides that mountain lions are specially protected mammals that cannot be taken or possessed except under limited circumstances related to public safety or protection of property. SB 769, which amended the law in 2011, now allows for the possession of a mountain lion carcass, but only if all of the following requirements are met:

1) The lion was legally taken in California.

2) The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has specifically authorized the possession for the purposes of SB 769.

3) The carcass is prepared for display, exhibition, or storage, for a bona fide scientific or educational purpose, at a non-profit museum or government-owned facility generally open to the public or at an educational institution.

Only mountain lions taken for depredation or public safety reasons in accordance with the Fish and Game Code will fall within the SB 769 exception allowing possession of displayed mountain lions.


Question: Is it legal to drift down or anchor a boat in a river to hunt for waterfowl? The river in question is surrounded by unincorporated privately owned farmland, with the occasional house or barn visible from the water. I know you cannot discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a dwelling or near a public road, and I know that all motors must be out of the water. Would drifting be considered forward motion?

Answer: Drifting is not considered "under power." What you describe would be legal as long as your motion was not due to momentum provided by the motor before it was turned off, and as long as you did not violate other state and local ordinances and regulations.


-- Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@df .ca.gov.

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