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2018 AOTY/DOTY Entry

Topic: Hunting on Private Land Without Fencing or Signage  (Read 163 times)

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Hojoman

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  • Location: Fremont, CA
  • Date Registered: Feb 2007
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December 21 2017

Question: I have a question about hunting on private land. This property can be found on a map but it has zero fencing or signage stating that it’s private property and it has a forest service road cutting through it. It’s readily used for parking etc. but on all my maps it is marked private. Do I need to heed the map? It is possible the map is out of date. I was always under the impression that if there is no fencing or signage, then you are not out of bounds. (James V., San Diego)

Answer: Ethical hunters will always be careful to avoid unlawfully accessing private property — and your inquiry demonstrates the approach of an ethical hunter. To make sure the land you intend to hunt is not private, you should look at an appropriate map. There are government and private websites with maps and map-based tools that show specific parcels and their ownership. These online maps frequently offer the most up-to-date records of land ownership.

California Fish and Game Code, section 2016 states: “It is unlawful to enter land for the purpose of discharging a firearm or taking or destroying a mammal or bird, including waterfowl, on that land, without having first obtained written permission from the owner, the owner’s agent, or the person in lawful possession of that land, if either of the following is true: (a) The land belongs to or is occupied by another person and is either under cultivation or enclosed by a fence. (b) There are signs of any size and wording forbidding trespass or hunting or both displayed along all exterior boundaries of the land, at intervals not less than three to the mile, and at all roads and trails entering the land, including land temporarily inundated by water flowing outside of the established banks of a river, stream, slough, or other waterway, which fairly advise a person about to enter the land that the use of the land is so restricted.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife Hunter Education Handbook states, “If the land you hunt on is not your own, it belongs to someone else. Make sure you have a legal right to be there. Contact the owner or person who administers the property, and secure written permission to hunt. A hunting license does not entitle you to enter private property.”