Question: I went hunting with my brother-in-law recently. He was hunting for bear and I was hunting for mountain quail and gray squirrels. He had a bear tag and I didn't. He was lucky enough to shoot a nice one (about 200-250 lbs). We were unable to take the whole bear home, so he decapitated the bear, stuffed the head in his backpack and gave me about 50 pounds of meat to take home in my backpack. We left the rest of the body there and agreed to go back for it later. When we got home, he asked his brother and me to pick up the rest of the body because he had to go to work.
I refused to go because I thought it would not be legal since I was not the shooter. He told me it should be all right and that if I was stopped by the DFG, I should just call him at work to verify the kill. I still didn't go and we got into an argument. Could I have been cited for taking the bear meat without the shooter being present?
Answer: If you accompany a person who is legally hunting bear and you have a firearm, archery equipment or other means capable of taking a bear, then it is reasonable to assume you are also taking bear. In addition, you could also be cited if you do not have a valid bear tag of your own. Your explanation that you were hunting squirrels would likely not be acceptable to a game warden, especially given that you helped carry some of the bear.
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According to assistant chief Mike McBride, by leaving much of the bear carcass in the field as your brother-in-law did, he risked having the meat spoil, which would be a violation of the Fish and Game law that prohibits wasting game. You or another person returning the next day to retrieve the remainder would not have been a violation unless you also brought firearms or other weapons capable of taking a bear. A warden would consider your possession of a firearm to be evidence that you illegally took the bear.
At the time a bear is shot, the bear tag must be validated and immediately attached to the bear's ear. If this was done and you had 1) a copy of the original tag properly filled out and validated, 2) a copy of your brother-in-law's license and all contact information, and 3) a note authorizing you to retrieve the animal for him, it probably would be deemed sufficient to prevent you from being cited.
Be aware that this whole scenario would send up red flags for any game warden. We would expect the warden to investigate. Hunters who can find time to kill an animal must also plan ahead and find enough time to take it completely out of the field.
In short, we do not recommend what your brother-in-law proposed, but it can be done legally if reasonable decisions are made and appropriate methods used. Your brother-in-law should have been prepared to carry this bear out after killing it.
Q: Why it is unlawful to fish from a boat at night in San Francisco Bay? I've asked several people, but nobody knows. It could be a safety issue due to the large container ships, but the large container ships travel upriver into Sacramento and Stockton, too. So, could it be the ferries?
A: Yes, conflicts with other vessel traffic are the most likely reason. Fish & Game codes state "there are no closed seasons, closed hours or minimum size limits on fin fish in the Pacific Ocean ... except that in San Francisco Bay between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Carquinez Bridge ... fin fish may not be taken between one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise except from shore or piers." The earliest reference we could find for this restriction was from 1959.
Send questions to: Caloutdoors@cfg.ca.gov