Outdoors: Officials must strike balance between hunters and deer

Question: While watching hunting shows on TV, I see that most of them are hunting during the rut. Why can't deer and elk hunters in California also hunt during the rut?

— Terry C.

Answer: Its all about providing more hunting opportunities to more people. According to Deer Program manager Craig Stowers, seasons are set with certain harvest objectives in mind. Later in the season, as the animals go into the rut (breeding period), they become more bold in their attempts to find a mate and are thus easier to hunt. If hunting was allowed during the rut, hunters would be more successful and fewer hunters would be able to hunt before the harvest objectives were reached.

Hunter survey data shows most hunters simply want an opportunity to hunt. The archery and gun seasons begin in different zones around the state in July and August. By starting early and allowing the season to run until late fall, when the animals are just going into the rut, more hunters have more opportunities to participate. This also creates the least disturbance during a critical phase of the deer's life cycle.

There are also several special late-season hunts during the rut. These are highly sought-after tags distributed only through the big-game drawing. Deer managers try to strike a balance between what's good for hunters and for the deer.

Q: While fishing off the jetty the other day, I caught a large lobster on a baited hook but released it because I recall reading that spiny lobsters could not be taken on hook and line. Where can I find this in the regulations?

— Gary K.

A: You did the right thing. The only legal methods of catching lobsters are by baited hoop net or by hand. Baited hoop nets are the only "tool" that may be used for people fishing from a boat, pier, jetty or shore. Divers can only take crustaceans by hand and cannot possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive for lobsters. Spiny lobster report cards are required by anyone fishing for lobsters.

Q: Can I hunt on property that is fenced but not posted with No Hunting signs without permission from the landowner?

A: No, it is unlawful to go onto property for the purpose of taking birds or mammals without the written permission of the landowner. The law does not require that signs be posted. A simple guideline is to respect crops, fences and signs, and in any other circumstance that makes you wonder about access.

Case law states that a bullet or an arrow is an extension of a person; meaning if you shoot onto private property, you're trespassing.

Write to Wilson at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov