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Golfing with rattlesnakes in Lake Tahoe

California DFG Outdoor Q&As by Carrie Wilson
07/27/12 -- Question: For years I was always told there are no rattlesnakes in the Lake Tahoe area because the altitude was too high. However, recently I’ve read many articles that say rattlesnakes can live as high as 10,000 feet. I am worried because I play golf and often end up in the rough, which means looking for my golf ball in tall grass and brush. Are there rattlesnakes in the Lake Tahoe basin and surrounding areas that I need to be watching out for? (Nick R.)

Answer: The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) doesn't track occurrences of common snake species, but according to DFG Statewide Coordinator for Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles Betsy Bolster, don’t discount the possibility of encountering a rattlesnake in the Lake Tahoe area. The Great Basin rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus lutosus) is widespread and can occur up to the timberline.

the Great Basin Rattlesnake (subspecies, Crotalus oreganus lutosus) is found in California in the far northeastern corner and in a small region east of the Sierra Nevadas near the Mono Lake area.
According to references, the Great Basin Rattlesnake (subspecies, Crotalus oreganus lutosus) is found in California in the far northeastern corner and in a small region east of the Sierra Nevadas near the Mono Lake area. Photo courtesy of USFWS

Its range continues outside the state to the north into eastern Oregon, and east to western Utah, southern Idaho, most of Nevada and barely into extreme northwestern Arizona. Its preferred habitat includes rocky hillsides, barren flats, sagebrush, grassy plains and agricultural areas.

You should know though, that rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive, and will usually only strike when threatened or deliberately provoked. Given room they will likely retreat. Most snake bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing. The majority of snake bites occur on the hands, feet and ankles.

The California Poison Control Center notes that rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites each year, and only one to two deaths. About 25 percent of the bites are “dry,” meaning no venom was injected, but the bites still require medical treatment.

Given this, since your golf game, like mine, includes some time spent in the rough, I'd keep my eyes and ears open when searching for a golf ball away from the fairway. It might be worth it to hit the pro shop for some extra golf balls rather than taking chances on whether or not you are in rattlesnake habitat. FORE!

(References: (Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Robert C. Stebbins, 1985).

Knife rules
I will be going camping next week at a place called Hell Hole Reservoir near Lake Tahoe and I need to know if I may bring a jeep survival knife with me. The knife has a 15-inch blade with a sheath. I know you are not allowed to carry a knife more than three inches long in California, but I need to know if there is an exception for camping. (Mitch L.)

Answer: There is no Fish and Game law regarding your knife and I am not aware of any law regarding knives with blades that are longer than three inches.

According to ret. DFG Capt. Phil Nelms, “generally prohibited weapons are listed in California Penal Code, section 16590, and special provisions regarding knives and similar weapons begin at section 20200. You may want to pay special attention to sections 21310 and 16470 regarding concealed dirks and daggers, but knives with fixed blades are generally not prohibited as long as they are carried openly (not concealed).”

To check all the laws regarding knives online, please go to In addition, you may want to contact your local police or sheriff's department for more information regarding dangerous weapons.

Tagging abalone with rubber bands?
After reading a recent answer to a diver who asked how to attach his abalone tag to a rare abalone he’d taken that had no siphon holes where he could affix the tag, I have a question. Some members of my dive club and I assisted DFG with the abalone creel survey last year. We noticed that some of the pickers we surveyed used rubber bands to attach the tags to the abalone. They just laid the tag on the shell and put the rubber band all the way around the abalone to hold the tag on. There were no holes in the tags. Is this a legal way to attach the tag? (Curt H.)

Answer: No, this is not legal. The law requires the tag be “... securely fastened to the shell of the abalone. To affix the tag, a “zip tie,” string, line or other suitable material shall be passed through a siphon hole on the abalone shell and through the tag at the location specified on the abalone tag.” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.16 (b)(3)).

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at

More Outdoor News

Crystal Creek hatchery closed to public

Welcome to Crystal Lake Hatchery sign, Photo courtesy of Crystal Lake Hatchery
10/08/15 -- The Crystal Lake Hatchery in eastern Shasta County is currently closed to the public while a major environmental restoration is underway in nearby Rock Creek. “Because there is so much construction work and equip... Full Story

Lava Beds held Geology Day for students

Ranger Nico Ramirez gives an example of how volcanoes erupt, photo courtesy of Lava Beds National Monument
10/08/15 -- On Thursday, September 24, and Friday, September 25, Lava Beds National Monument hosted over 300 students, from grades 4th through 9th, for its annual Geology Day program. Students from several local... Full Story

Oregon Weekly Recreation Report

10/08/15 -- Rifle deer hunting continues in S. Oregon. While the hot, dry weather got the deer hunting season off to a slow start last weekend, hunters are seeing deer out there. See the regional reports or the Big Game Hunting... Full Story

PG&E to improve Pit River Road

10/04/15 -- Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will be improving a portion of the Pit River Road between October 10 and 25. Motorists should expect delays of up to 15 minutes while a contractor for PG&E installs rip rap... Full Story

Tundra swans fall/winter tours begin

Tundra Swans, photo courtesy of CDFW
09/30/15 -- As tundra swans migrate in from their Arctic summer grounds, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a free opportunity to view them from November 2015 through January 2016... Full Story

October 2015 CA DFW Calendar

Weekends -- Sandhill Crane Wetland Tour at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve. CDFW docent-led public tours are available to view greater and lesser sandhill cranes at Woodbridge Ecological Reserve outside of Lodi... Full Story

Great Shasta Rail Trail Opens

Map of GSRT, photo by Alex Colvin
Article and photos by Alex Colvin
10/01/15 -- The Grand Opening of the Great Shasta Rail Trail (GSRT) was celebrated in two ceremonies held in McCloud and Burney. The ceremonies were sponsored by the Great Shasta Rail Trail Association (GSRTA) and... Full Story

Get Off the Beaten Path with GeoMaps

Rainbow Falls, Photo © Jimmy Kellett
10/01/15 -- It's that time of year, that time when you feel yourself caught between the lingering echoes of summer fun and the rising calls of the winter ahead. Don't give in to the wintery temptress yet; if you're looking to get in one or two...Full Story

Hunt Big Game with Cell Phones, Radios?

Hunting while using the assistance of cell phones and radios is legal in California but many don’t consider it ethical, photo courtesy of USFWS
California Outdoors Q&A by Carrie Wilson
10/01/15 --  Is it legal while hunting big game to have a spotter guide a hunter to the animals using cell phones or radios? (Frank H.) Answer: While it’s illegal in some states, it’s not in California. In states where it is banned...Full Story

Roof project completed at Hearst Castle®

09/25/15 -- Following nineteen months of careful planning, design, and installation work by California State Parks, a new roof has successfully been added to Casa Grande, the main house of San Simeon State Historical Monument... Full Story

Heritage Day at Burney Falls October 11

 Heritage Day Beading, photos by Conrad Skaggs
By Alex Colvin
09/25/15 -- The 26th Annual Heritage Day will take place October 11 at McArthur-Burney Falls State Park from 12-4 p.m. The event is sponsored by the McArthur-Burney Falls Interpretive Association in Partnership with...Full Story

Burney Fall Festival is October 10

Fun and games at the pumpkin patch, photo by Jill Barnett
Article by Alex Colvin
09/24/15 -- The Burney Chamber of Commerce and the Pit River Casino will host the 2nd Annual Fall Festival and Barbeque Cook-Off on Saturday October 10 from 12-4 p.m. The festival will be held outside on the grounds... Full Story

10 facts about California aquaculture

09/22/15 -- California aquaculture produces a variety of products. In recognition of Aquaculture Awareness Week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offers 10 interesting facts that show how aqua... Full Story

BOW schedules mulit-course workshop

09/19/15 -- “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, California” chapter has scheduled its popular multi-course workshop for Oct. 23-25th at Wonder Valley Ranch. The BOW workshop location is nestled in the foothills on 75 acres... Full Story

Folsom Lake SRA trail under repair

09/14/15 -- Users of the American River Bike Trail should be prepared for detours between the Folsom Crossing Bridge and Negro Bar park unit in the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area beginning Monday, September 21...Full Story

Sandhill crane tours mark 20th year

Sandhill cranes in flight, photo courtesy of CA DFW
09/14/15 -- To give residents a chance to see an annual bird migration, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Sandhill Crane Wetland Tour Program offers weekend tours October through February at...Full Story

CBD seeks listing of tricolored blackbird

Tricolored male blackbird photo by Monte M. Taylor courtesy of Wikipedia
09/08/15 -- California Fish and Game Commission (F&GC or Commission) has given notice, pursuant to the provisions of Sections 2073.3 and 2076.5 of the Fish and Game Code, the F&GC, on August 19, 2015, received a...Full Story

‘Every Kid in a Park’ program starts

09/06/15 -- Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is inviting all 4th grade students to visit the park for free as part of the White House’s new ‘Every Kid in a Park’ program. Starting September 1, 4th grade students can now...Full Story

Jack and Jill had a collision…

Before and After by Don Stec, author badge,
By Don Stec
09/03/15 -- I’ll call them “Jack & Jill”; they were the cutest young couple. I would guess they were about 20 years old, plus or minus. They were recently married and had just started to make a life together. Unfortunately one of their first... Full Story

Poaching in the Parks

A stately bull elk in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Photo by Kathy Callan
By Steven T. Callan
08/29/15 -- The recent killing of Hwange National Park’s beloved icon, Cecil the Lion, has brought to mind a number of outrageous poaching incidents that occurred right here in California -- all of them inside national parks, state parks... Full Story

CDFW now recruiting new wildlife officers

Warden Tiffany, courtesy of CA DFW
08/26/15 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is recruiting those interested in a career as a wildlife officer. CDFW will accept applications for wildlife officer cadet through the final filing deadline of Oct. 16... Full Story

Those Wonderful Wildlife Caregivers

Steven T. Callen with one of three orphaned black bear cubs, circa 1981. Photo courtesy of Steven T. Callan
By Steven T. Callan
07/18/15 -- One of the more disheartening, sometimes discouraging aspects of a wildlife officer’s job is dealing with injured, orphaned, or imprinted wildlife that cannot be released back into the wild. Wildlife rehabilitation facilities, most of... Full Story

Camping permit required for Oroville WA

Campground at the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet on the Feather River in the Oroville State Wildlife Area. Photo by Mike Tripp
By Craig Bentley
07/14/15 -- A permit is required for camping in the only California State run public campground open in the Oroville State Wildlife Area. The campground, which has just eight spaces, is located just inside the Larkin Road entrance to...Full Story

Scouting for big game: spring and summer

Horned buck in the woods, photo by Frank Biggs
Article and photos by Frank Biggs
7/09/15 -- Most of us do not have too much time to scout before the big game season openers. This is especially true when we chose to hunt hundreds of miles away from home. So here is a thought especially for bow hunters... Full Story

What size day pack do you need?

Gregory Freia 22 hiking pack
Trailhead Tales by Jim Broshears
06/19/15 -- Let’s begin with short hikes -- We define short hikes as 3 miles or less, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Hydration – About 1 liter is the least water we ever carry. Even on a short hike, nothing can ruin your day quicker than thirst... Full Story

Trail closure in place at Folsom Lake RA

06/18/15 -- The trail on the crest of the Mormon Island Auxiliary Dam will be temporarily closed. This closure will interrupt through trail traffic from Browns Ravine to Folsom Point from June 15, 2015 through February 2016..Full Story

Caribou Wilderness

Susan Lake, photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil “Flip” Akers
06/01/15 -- Adjacent to the eastern border of Lassen Volcanic National Park is a remote volcanic plateau on the eastern slopes of what was once Mt. Tehama. Cinder cones, crater peaks, old-growth forest, and azure lakes make up... Full Story

Trail rides offered at Horse Sanctuary

Horses drinking at the Grapevine, photo courtesty of Wild Horse Sanctuary
05/28/15 -- Are you looking for an affordable and unique vacation experience? Look no further than the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown. Escape the routine of everyday life on a two or three-day trail ride adventure among... Full Story

A Jewel in the Desert

Once coveted by the pet trade, native reptiles, like this chuckwalla, may no longer be sold in California. Photo by Steven T. Callan
By Steven T. Callan
05/25/15 -- In late April, before summer set in, Kathy and I decided to spend a few days in the land of blistering sands and sharp thorns. I had worked in the California desert during my early years with the California Department of Fish... Full Story

Don’t kill them all! Some snakes are good!

Indigo snake
By Captain William E. Simpson
04/27/15 -- Most survivalists and Preppers spend a good deal of time outdoors as do many other Americans. Many people have a healthy fear of snakes, and given the fact that there are several species of venomous snakes that are...Full Story

Marijuana Wars and the California DFW

ish and Wildlife Warden Jerry Karnow with suspected poisoned bear at an illegal marijuana grow site. Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Jerry Karnow
By Steven T. Callan
04/16/15 -- Just after daylight in September 2014, four California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers and four Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies quietly locked their vehicles and began what was to be an arduous hike... Full Story

‘Preppers’ & Disaster Preparedness Myths

Life is hard... it's even harder if you're stupid, John Wayne
By Capt. William E. Simpson
04/14/15 -- We live in a world where civilization, reason and logic are said to be at historic heights, yet so many people today, especially our youth, are making new lows in relevant intelligence and labor under a host of myths and illusions...Full Story

A Happy Dog is a Panting Dog

Pup, Phil Akers, A Happy Dog is a Panting Dog
Article and photos by Phil "Flip" Akers
04/07/15 -- Bigfoot’s number one pet is the wolverine but for us humans it’s the canine. Americans are projected to spend $60 billion this year on pets! A large portion of this goes to dogs. We all love our dogs and generally...Full Story

​Surveying in the John Muir Wilderness!

A string of horses at John Muir Wilderness, photo by Matt Campos, BLM
Article and photos by Matt Campos, BLM
03/23/15 -- Our day begins at 6 a.m. We wake to a brisk July morning at an elevation of 7,000 feet. Six of us venture out of our canvas tents at Clyde’s Pack Station, located 3.5 miles west of Wishon Reservoir, and begin...Full Story

Gold & Silver: Should I Buy Some?

piles of gold and silver bars and coins
By Capt. William E. Simpson
03/20/15 -- I get a fair amount of email from readers on various subjects related to economic collapse leading to hard-times, social unrest and a lack of monetary exchange. And one particular question that keeps...Full Story

Show Respect and Pass Through Quietly

Butte Valley Wildlife Area with Mount Shasta in background, photo by Kathy and Steven Callan
By Steven T. Callan 
03/05/15 -- “Quick, roll up the windows!” said Kathy. We had just entered the ten-mile auto tour route at Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, when four cars roared by us like we were standing still. Pulling to the side of the road...Full Story

Visit California: Discover Shasta Cascade

 Shasta Lake is just one of many attractions featured on a new Visit California website. Photo courtesy of Visit California
By Frank Galusha
03/02/15 -- Thanks to Visit California, this region's many attractions are being promoted even more extensively throughout the world. Visit California recently developed a remarkable Shasta-Cascade site of itineraries highlighting various...Full Story

Tactical Survival Axe, AKA: ‘The Bruiser’

USMC Tactical Survival Axe, AKA: ‘The Bruiser’, photo by William E. Simpson
Article and photos by Capt. William E. Simpson
02/24/15 -- I am not an expert with edged weapons, even though I have a trunk-load of them, including the old Buck hunting knife that my Dad gave me when I was a teenager many moons ago. So with that said, I wanted to share...Full Story

Hot Stove

blue lake surrounded by gray snow peaked mountains with green grass meadow in the foreground. Photo by Phil Flip Akers
Article and photos by Phil “Flip” Akers
02/24/15 -- Much like fantasy baseball, winter is the “hot stove” season for high elevation wilderness adventures. It is time to study and plan for the upcoming summer. But instead of preparing to draft players, we find...Full Story

Open Border & ISIS -- Perfect Storm for USA

William E. Simpson author badge for
By Capt. William E. Simpson
02/18/15 -- Back in July, I wrote an article about the potential for ‘biological warfare’ being waged against America by terrorist groups. Now, as we endure a measles epidemic in America, ISIS, the “JV team” (according to President Obama)...Full Story

A Problem Requiring a Different Approach

A humungous crowd of people.
By Captain William E. Simpson, USMM
02/08/15 -- Most survival strategies and related tactics used today draw upon the methods that were used or which worked in past small-scale localized and regional disasters, and will likely work again to some extent in similar...Full Story

Firearms and Disaster Preparedness

Military man leaning on the heavy back that pulled him backwards
Article and photos by Captain William E. Simpson, USMM
01/19/15 -- With the start of the new-year, there always seem to be several articles that come out promoting guns as part of a preparedness solution. And it’s an unfortunate fact that firearms have become almost synonymous with Prep... Full Story

Getting Kids Hooked

Article and photos by Phil "Flip" Akers
01/06/15 -- Now, more than ever, we need to get our kids involved in the outdoors. Many kids are becoming softer and lazier with each generation, losing touch with nature, depending on technology to instantly learn everything, presumably...Full Story

Survival Using RVs

Silver mobile home with striped awning, parked on a grassy field alongside a river with forested hills leading up to snow capped mountains. Photo by William E. Simpson
Article and photos by William E. Simpson
12/26/14 -- Over the past year many people have reached-out to me asking the same question; ‘What can people do to survive a catastrophic event besides sailing to an island on a bug-out boat? This was of course a natural... Full Story

For the Love of Ducks

Snow geese at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. photo by Steven T. Callan
Article and photos by Steven T. Callan
12/23/14 -- With the north wind blowing off snow-covered Mount Shasta, it was brutally cold that December afternoon in 1960. Sitting in the back seat of our family car, I spotted an enormous flock of snow-white birds feeding in the... Full Story

Disaster Preparedness Strategies – Part II

NASA image depicting solar storm impacting earth’s geomagnetic field.
By Capt. William E. Simpson, USMM
11/25/14 -- Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of Disaster Preparedness articles written by Capt. William E. Simpson, USMM. The first was an attempt to simplify the subject of disaster preparedness by focusing on risk...Full Story

Disaster Preparedness Strategies – Part I

Preparedness & Survival by Capt. William E. Simpson
11/12/14 -- Over the past few years, disaster preparedness (“prepping”) has become a popular topic. A very large mix of people have begun preaching prepping, all having different motives for promoting their particular... Full Story

RV Collision Repair Requires Multiple Skills

Don Stec, author badge,
By Don Stec
11/10/14 -- I do not know of any other vehicles that require as many multiple occupational skills to repair than a collision damaged RV, specifically motor homes and travel trailers. Steel and aluminum are used in the structural ...Full Story

Making Friends With The Neighbors

Wild (feral) stallions competing - copyright Laura Simpson 2014
By William E. Simpson
10/14/14 -- There are few animals in nature that match the majestic beauty of a stallion running wild and free. They rule their territory by day and by night. Recently, my wife Laura and I decided to change adventures...Full Story


 Newspaper headline from early August 1911. Photo courtesy of the Sacramento Bee.
By Phil 'Flip' Akers
10/08/14 -- Southwest of Mt. Lassen lies a remote and largely forgotten piece of Cascade foothill region. Dark basaltic cliffs and pinnacles adorn inhospitable river canyons, carved by what is now Mill and Deer Creeks, through bad...Full Story

Tall Trees and Emerald Waters

Kathy at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, beside one of the largest (redwood) trees on Earth., photo by Steven T. Callan
By Steven T. Callan
10/06/14 -- Kathy and I recently attended the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) fall conference on the aptly-named Wild Rivers Coast. Stretching from Port Orford, Oregon to Klamath, California, the Wild.... Full Story

Lassen National Volcanic Park

Jim Broshears, Mt. Lassen view from Brokeoff Mountain
By Jim Broshears
07/21/14 -- Lassen National Park is one of the best kept secrets in the National Park system. It may be hard to call a place that has over 400,000 visitors a year a secret but compared to Yosemite’s 2.5 million and the 9.4...Full Story

Peak Bagging in Winter

Peak Bagging in Winter, Jim Broshears, Trailhead Adventures, Paradise, CA, By Jim Broshears
02/11/13 -- Peak bagging, according to refers to climbing mountains. When a summit is reached, it is “bagged”. You don’t have to go to exotic locations to enjoy this sport, or even be an elite mountain climber...Full Story

The Mystery of the Middle Fork – Part III

Jim Broshears, Trailhead Tales author badge for My outdoor buddy
By Jim Broshears
04/09/14 -- Our search for Tuck’s lost meadow continued in 2013. After three previous trips and multiple days of searching, you might be wondering why we don’t just call it a day. Or possibly question why we have not... Full Story

The 'Death Wobble' -- Be Safe Not Sorry!

Death Wobble, underbody of a vehicle, Don Stec
Article and photos by Don Stec
03/31/14 -- Death Wobble is not to be confused with a front-end shimmy or a wheel balance problem. A Death Wobble (DW) is very common on vehicles with a solid front axle. It has earned its name, not from mechanics but by vehicle... Full Story

The Mystery of the Middle Fork -- Part II

Article and photos by Jim Broshears
03/10/14 -- Our return to the Middle Fork of Feather River would take place in August of 2012. Having nearly 10 months to plan the next exploration, we, of course, waited until the last minute decide our course of action... Full Story

The Mystery of the Middle Fork -- Part I

The Mystery of the Missing Valley By Jim Broshears
Article and photos by Jim Broshears
02/15/14 -- Part #1 Exploring the Middle Fork of the Feather River -- Stories about hidden valleys, waterfalls, canyons and fishing are part of outdoor folklore. Most of these tales begin with “When I was a kid we went to this place” and...Full Story


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Northern California Fishing News, Northern California Hunting Reports

Fishing News

Northern California and Southern Oregon offer superb fresh and saltwater fishing. Before you make a trip, make sure you have
up-to-date news about where the fish are biting!

Hunting News

This region is also famous for its world-class hunting opportunities. Make sure you are armed with the absolute latest news by checking
the reports being filed daily at

Northern California Outdoor News, Northern California Outdoor Reports Outdoor News 

If you like to explore the great outdoors your choices are essentially infinite in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Use our news pages to plan your next outing!

Northern California Destination News, Northern California Destination Reports


So many places to visit and so little time, but if you scan
these pages you'll know in advance what lies ahead and what
not to miss in the almost-mythical State of Jefferson.
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You are there! Towering mountains, vast valleys, unique shorelines. Land, water and air bursting with life. Opportunity presents itself. Llghting is right. Click! An image is captured for the ages.

Photo Galleries,

Photo Galleries

A preview of coming attractions...if you are planning a trip to this area be forewarned: What photographers have captured will whet your appetite for what will be an outdoor journey filled with wonders.  

Product & Services Directory

Don't let anything come between you and a wonderful weekend, vacation or or auto tour in this region. The fine product and services providers listed here will have what you need to enjoy your visit.  

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