It seems like every year around this time, as the big game seasons have pretty much run down around the country, there seems to be a run of discussion on ethics issues.  Maybe it’s because more folks are sitting around the TV and computer this time of year.  I know that some of the hunting TV shows certainly raise some ethics questions for me.

Among other great discussions one is going on over on Galen Greer’s “The Thinking Hunter” blog.  At issue is the question, “should we reconsider our definition of Fair Chase”.  (And a thank you to Holly for bringing this one to my attention, and for her kind words on her own recent post.)

Whatever the reason, shortly after the baiting email came in, I got another note from a reader regarding hunting near water sources in CA.  This one was in regards to a vaguely written (but recently updated) law against hunting over certain water sources. 

Here’s the rule in question.  Read it carefully.

§730. Camping Near or Occupying Wildlife Watering Places.

(a) Camping/Occupying Defined. For purposes of this Section, camping/occupying is defined as establishing or inhabiting a camp; resting; picnicking; sleeping; parking or inhabiting any motor vehicle or trailer; hunting; or engaging in any other recreational activity for a period of more than thirty (30) minutes at a given location.
(b) Wildlife Watering Places Defined. For purposes of this Section, wildlife watering places are defined as waterholes, springs, seeps and man-made watering devices for wildlife such as guzzlers (self-filling, in-the-ground water storage tanks), horizontal wells and small impoundments of less than one surface acre in size.
(c) Prohibitions.
(1) Camping/Occupying is prohibited within 200 yards of the following:
(A) Any guzzler or horizontal well for wildlife on public land within the State of California.
(B) Any of the wildlife watering places on public land within the boundary of the California Desert Conservation Area as depicted on the Bureau of Land Management maps of “Calif. Federal Public Lands Responsibility,” “Calif. Desert Conservation Area” and the new “Desert District, B.L.M.”
(2) Camping/Occupying is prohibited within one-quarter mile of the following wildlife watering places:
(A) Butte Well–T31N, R14E, Section 28, NE1/4, M.D.B.M., Lassen County.
(B) Schaffer Well–T31N R14E, Section 25, Center, M.D.B.M., Lassen County.
(C) Tableland Well–T31N, R14E, Section 17, SE1/4, M.D.B.M., Lassen County.
(D) Table Mountain Well–T31N, R14E, Section 32, SE1/4, M.D.B.M., Lassen County.
(E) Timber Mountain Well–T44N, R6E, Section 33, M.D.B.M., Modoc National Forest, Modoc County.
(F) Belfast Well–T31N, R14E, Section 31, NE1/4, M.D.B.M., Lassen County.

So now, after reading that, consider this scenario.

I’m out in my favorite public land, hog hunting area, in the southwestern corner of Fresno County.  In my scouting I spot a patch of green in the otherwise sere landscape.  Sure enough, there’s a seep oozing water slowly out onto the hillside.   Closer investigation reveals a tiny watercourse, running down the hill into the canyon below.  Hog and deer tracks dot the ground, a wallow is worn into the mud to form a small pool, and there’s mud rubs on the nearby oaks. 

So, with the regulation above in mind, I have two questions.  First, would it be ethical of me to set a stand on this spot in hopes of catching a hog coming back to the water?

And second, would it be legal to do so? 

I’ll wait for your answers, and then offer up my own.

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