Tuesday, January 17, 2012

California Deer Tag Validation: Regulations vs. The Hunter
Preparation for deer season starts as early as you want it to. For me, I can never get hunting off the brain, so I am already preparing for the 2012 season and for good reason. In reviewing the regulations regarding deer tags and reading a few publications and forum posts, I have realized that there are many unanswered questions regarding the validation of CA deer tags, especially in Southern California.

In California, after you shoot a deer and fill out the tag, you must have it validated and countersigned by the closest person allowed by law to do so. I just read an interesting article in the California Bowmen Hunters Jan 2012 Newsletter by Wayne Raupe CBH/SAA Legislative Coordinator discussing the subject. He make some great points about who is allowed to sign off and how soon it needs to be done. 

Do you know the regulations regarding who can validate a tag? I'd be willing to wager a bet that you may not, or do not know ALL of who can sign off on a tag. Even I don't know it by heart! The problem I see more and more every year is that most of the people who are authorized to sign off have NO IDEA either! Sounds odd, right? Shouldn't they know? Most of the people listed on the California Code of Regulations don't know what a hunting law states, unless they hunt, and even then they sometimes do not know. 

Here's a recent example that describes the plight of the SoCal hunter. A local hunter shot his deer and took it to the closest place to his harvest location for validation of the tag - a firehouse. When he approached and explained that he needed the firemen to sign off on his tag, they looked at him funny and told him to hold on. They said they had never heard of that and asked him again to state why he was there. They called the foreman and he also had no idea what to do, so they called someone else. The hunter sat there at the station house for almost two (2) hours before his tag was finally validated by the foreman who had to come from home.

It sounds crazy, but it did happen. What would you have done? Would you have moved on to another location? Did you know that you could be cited for that? So therein lies the catch. What if you are trying to do what regulations say, but the people who MUST sign off won't do it? What if a Notary Public refuses to sign because he/she doesn't believe in hunting? This has been digging in under my skin for weeks. No one wants a citation for doing what is asked, but it could happen!
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Here are the deer tag reporting regulations copied from the California Code of Regulations:

§708.5. Deer Tagging and Reporting Requirements.
  • (a) Upon the killing of any deer the tag holder shall immediately fill out all portions of the tag including the report  card completely, legibly, and permanently, and cut out or punch out and completely remove notches or punch holes for the month and date of the kill .The deer license tag shall be attached to the antlers of an antlered deer or to the ear of any other deer and kept attached during the open season and for 15 days thereafter. Except as otherwise provided, possession of any untagged deer shall be a violation.  (Refer to Fish and Game Code, Section 4336).
  • (b) Every person to whom a deer license tag is issued shall return the completed report card portion to the department within thirty days of taking a deer.
Added 7/8/11. 


§708.6. Tag Validation, Countersigning and Transporting Requirements.
  • (a) Any person legally killing a deer in this state shall have the deer license tag validated and countersigned by a person authorized by the commission as described below before transporting such deer, except for the purpose of taking the deer to the nearest person authorized to countersign the license tag, on the route being followed from the point where the deer was taken (refer to Fish and Game Code, Section 4341).
  • (b) No person may validate or countersign his/her own deer tag or tag.
  • (c) Deer and Elk Tags, Persons Authorized to Validate.
    • (1) The following persons are authorized to validate or countersign deer and elk tags:
      • (A) State:
        • 1. Fish and Game Commissioners
        • 2. Employees of the Department of Fish and Game, including Certified Hunter Education Instructors
        • 3. Employees of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
        • 4. Supervising Plant Quarantine Inspectors
        • 5. Junior, Intermediate and Senior Plant Quarantine Inspectors
      • (B) Federal:
        • 1. Employees of the Bureau of Land Management
        • 2. Employees of the United States Forest Service
        • 3. Employees of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service
        • 4. All Uniformed Personnel of the National Park Service
        • 5. Commanding Officers of any United States military installation or their designated personnel for deer taken on their reservation.
        • 6. Postmasters & Post Office Station or Branch Manager for deer brought to their post office.
      • (C) Miscellaneous:
        • 1. County firemen at and above the class of foreman for deer brought into their station.
        • 2. Judges or Justices of all state and United States courts.
        • 3. Notaries Public
        • 4. Peace Officers (salaried & non-salaried)
        • 5. Officers authorized to administer oaths
        • 6. Owners, corporate officers, managers or operators of lockers or cold storage plants for deer brought to their place of business.
Added 7/8/11. 

§708.7. Deer Head Retention Requirements and Production Upon Demand.
Any person taking any deer in this state shall retain in their possession during the open season thereon and for 15 days thereafter, that portion of the head which in adult males normally bears the antlers, and shall produce the designated portion of the head upon the demand of any officer authorized to enforce the provisions of this regulation (refer to Fish and Game Code, Section 4302).

Added 7/8/11. 

§708.8.  Deer Violations, Tag Forfeiture.

Any person who is convicted of a violation involving deer shall forfeit their current year deer license tags and no new deer license tags may be issued to that person during the then current hunting license year, and that person may not apply for a deer license tag or deer preference points for the following license year (refer to Fish and Game Code, Section 4340).
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This all sounds hard to believe, but it's all true. Every time I read the regulations and the Fish and Game Code it seems like they are trying to back hunters into a corner. It's true and very frustrating for hunters in Southern California (I don't know how the NorCal hunters handle it). One suggestion is to have hunter education instructors preach the regulations, but it's not their burden to solely bear. I also think that CA DFG, hunting clubs and other organizations need to bring awareness to the public servants who can sign off. Wouldn't you agree?

Something must be done and the wheels in my noggin are spinning. Someway, somehow, we hunters that have a voice need to step it up and inform these organizations of the regulations. I am just stuck in how to approach it and get it done. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Cheers!

22 comments:

  1. I've never hunted and have always wanted to. With laws like this I don't know how to even get started. Being new to California and these laws on top of it, I don't know if I ever will.

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  2. Hi Daniel! Welcome to CA. Don't let the regs stop you from hunting. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. Where are you from?

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    1. Hey Albert, the way the law is written I have to keep the tags on the antlers for 15 days after the last day of deer season and that the head must stay in my possession correct? What do most people do with a rotting deer head for such a long time?

      Thanks

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    2. Hey Albert, the way the law is written I have to keep the tags on the antlers for 15 days after the last day of deer season and that the head must stay in my possession correct? What do most people do with a rotting deer head for such a long time?

      Thanks

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    3. People store them in different ways. Many wrap the head in a garbage bag and keep it in the freezer. Some go ahead and boil it out for a mount. As long as you hand on to it and the tag you are good.

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  3. I look at it as a problem worth having. If you have to find someone to sign, then you've put a deer on the ground. But in all honesty it is really crazy the loops one must go thru, WE as hunters are required to know the regs. but the people allotted to validate our tags do not. Granted, they may have a thousand other laws & conditions that they need on a more regular basis, but they should still be informed of what to do.
    I make a point to contact my local warden, forestry office, & police station and touch bases with them. But I've yet to follow that up with a sign off. One day. Good form on bringing this topic up for those who may not know, and those who need/needed a reminder. CHEERS.

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  4. Um, am I reading those regs right when they say that you have to keep the head until 15 days after the end of season? Eww.

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  5. @ ReveredSkulls - It's a good problem to have, provided people have some info or at least can see something printed that lets them know they can sign off. It gets hairy because many times your damned if you try and damned if they won't sign. I am going to print and keep a copy of the regs in my pack so when I get my deer in 2012 (ambition) I have some back up.

    @Bobby - You read that right! You MUST keep the head for 15 days after the season. Keep in mind that isn't just the season YOU may be hunting. You have to keep it 15 days after the end of the LAST season, which is Dec. 31. So if you shoot a deer in August, you'll be keeping that head in the freezer for 5 months. My wife is going to love that!

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  6. I really don't understand the thinking behind their head fetish, but you do what you gotta do sometimes. I don't read anything that says you have to keep it in the freezer, though. You could always boil it down and produce a nice European mount. Then, if they ask to see it, you could just walk them to the Trophy Room. :-)

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    1. Bobby, I stand corrected on the head issue. I read further and must have missed the part about it being adult MALE deer only, and they want just the antlers. You don't have to keep the head for a doe. I admit I was mistaken.

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  7. Albert, I am from Illinois. Joined the Navy, went around the world a few times, got out, my wife is still in and stationed in Lemoore so now I am smack dab in the middle of the Central Valley. I just added you to my "Likes" on Facebook. Great blog, by the way.

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  8. Thanks for sharing, Daniel. Thank you for your service and for your wife's service, as well. Lemoore, gotcha. If you took 198 West to Parkfield, that's where I hunt hogs. Thank you for the kudos on the blog, too!

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  9. thanks Al for the great blog and great info ! i love hunting this state but the regs are interesting sometimes to say the least, did you see in the article in western outdoor news on some deer hunt apps will use up accumulated points !! its in the the Jan. 27 ,2012 issue , check it out , keep up the great work ! happy hunting Lee

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  10. what if i want to remove the head for the taxidermist and butcher the deer myself? if the head is with the taxidermist and they catch me on the campground with the deer carcass how will i prove i have taken it legally? because the tag will be away so i am kinda confused about all these laws thank you

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  11. hello i have a few questions about these laws. what if i remove the head for the taxidermist and keep the carcass/body to butcher myself, how will i prove the deer was taken legally? because only the body will be with me and the head with the tag will be away from me. these laws can be very confusing thanks

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    1. Hi Mike. Great questions! The laws are confusing, but you really have to read the regs for the circumstance you describe. Use common sense, too. If you are at a campground, more than likely you aren't going to be rushing to the taxidermist the day you shoot the deer. I have posed these questions to DFG and will see how they respond.

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  12. Just started thinking about getting into hunting. I haven't had venison in over 10 years since my Dad stopped. I live in San Diego, any tips on where I can go to get more information on where hunting is allowed and what the requirements are?

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    1. Hi Mark! Welcome to the great world of hunting! You can check out the CA DFW website and get the info on what you would need to become a licensed hunter in California. Hunter safety, bow hunter safety (if you choose to bow hunt) and then check out there selection of maps and such. I have linked to a few places on here that give some locations. Once you have taken the courses and are ready to hunt, shoot me an email and I will point you in the right direction. There are some great opportunities down near you!

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  13. What you say is true. I went to Pleasant Hill PD to have someone countersign my tag and the desk clerk said "I don't think our officers do that." When I insisted they do he went and found an officer who is a hunter. Came out and checked the head, signed the tag. Just imagine if I rolled into the UPS Store with a fresh deer head to have their notary sign off on it!

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  14. How long do I need to keep the tag? Forever or at some point can I throw it away. or in my case I've lost a few

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    1. That's a great question for DFG and a Warden. I honestly don't know.

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  15. I'm taking my next deer head to the city post office for validation! Oh the ensuing horror!!!!

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