It was a gathering of friends and almost the entire shooting sports industry that showed up at Mike Raahauge's Shooting Complex to pay a final tribute to a man that had given so much to the world of shooting sports, hunting, conservation and youth education for over four decades.
This was a special day to honor a man who was considered by many to be one of the most supportive individuals in the shooting sports world and a person that was responsible for the introduction and education of thousands of young men and women to shooting and sport hunting.
MIKE RAAHAUGE HONORED —
State Representative Ken Calvert, presented an American Flag that flew
over the state building to Mike's wife Elaine, son Patrick and daughter
Cindy. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC
Western Outdoor News was on hand to capture the event and talk to many in attendance. The following are quotes from those who knew Mike Raahauge either as friend, representative of the shooting sport industry, hunter and clay bird enthusiast for so many years.
Ralph Goldsberry, owner of Ralph's Duck Club in Prado Basin, "The best friend I ever had," sporting goods representative Dave Rickrode, "If you ever worked in the shooting industry, or shot a shotgun in Southern California you new Mike Raahauge...We all loved him," Fred Hall & Associate's show producer Mike Lum, "Funny, generous, creative and reliable...he was a very funny man," SCI past-president and chairman of Youth Outdoor Safari Day Dennis Anderson, "Mike was the backbone of Youth Outdoor Safari Day, an avid supporter for 15 years," John Cloherty, 25 years as shooting instructor at Mike Raahauge' Shooting Complex, "Mike taught you the value of the two most important words in the English language....Thank You," Big 5 V.P. Alex Cheely, "Mike was very instrumental in kids learning to shoot and hunt. He kept the shooting industry alive," firearms representative Jim Ferry, "Mike was the craziest and most generous man I ever knew", Vic Boyd, President of the Riverside Flyway Association, "Mike was a true friend of all and he never said no to anyone", and Legacy International Sports President Andy McCormick said, " Mike was a mixture of P.T. Barnum and a modern day John Wayne."
As a perfect final salute to Mike Raahauge the clay bird range was open to shooting all day on Saturday. "This is how Mike would have wanted it," said Patrick Raahauge.
The shooting complex, clay target range, rifle and pistol ranges and event calendar will remain unchanged under the guidance of Elaine Raahauge, Mike's wife of 48 years, his son Patrick, with unending support from the Raahauge Family and dedicated employees.
Mike Raahauge was more than just a good friend
We were both young men in our late-20s when I first met Mike Raahauge at his father's new pheasant club in Prado Basin. This club of Linc’s opened up the world of hunting and shooting sports to tens of thousands of gun enthusiasts, hunters, sportsmen, politicians and conservationists spanning a period of nearly a half century.
I doubt whether there has ever been a reader of Western Outdoor News that in some way has not been touched by what Mike and the Raahauge family has brought to the sporting world of Southern California.
Mike was a wonderful individual, a person of great vision and an icon in the shooting sports industry. Working with Mike on many events and venues that were held at his shooting complex in Corona provided a lot of insight into his ability to make things happen. In his dealings within the shooting sports industry he would always strive to get the most out of every meeting and pushed others to bring about success for events that he felt were important to preserve the heritage of gun ownership, sportsmanship, education and hunters rights.
HUNTING FRIENDS — Mike Raahauge hosted many shooting and youth events at his Shooting Sports Complex in Corona. Mike Raahauge and Jim Niemiec were good friends for over 40 years and are pictured together sharing a good time after a successful charity pheasant hunt last year.
Mike's father, Linc, was a tough guy, with a big heart and a sharp businessman, and he accomplished a lot in developing Linc Raahague's Pheasant Hunting Club into a fine hunting facility that attracted hunters, pro athletes and celebrities. Mike was general manager of the club and spent a lot of his time promoting upland game bird hunting, hosting fun shoots with many members of the Los Angeles Rams and Anaheim Angels, organizing fundraisers for local politicians and providing a great shooting venue for families.
Under the direction of Mike Raahauge the club expanded into one of Southern California's most popular bird hunting and shooting complexes, and in addition to trap and sporting clays the area also offered up duck hunting, dog training and special events.
Meetings with Mike were often short but effective as he never knew the words “it cannot be done,” and he would often end a meeting in statement of “and why not?” Mike was a doer not a dreamer and he pushed all those who had business dealings with him to the maximum. Not so much for his own benefit, but more for the benefit of the shooting sports industry and young hunters. Those who knew Mike respected his visions of making things happen and he would always give his full support to anything that had to do with shooting, hunting, hunter safety, conservation or youth education.
I can recall back in 1972 when Prado Basin flooded and Mike opted to open the flooded timber for duck hunting to pheasant club members. There was little in the way of an organized duck hunt but the results of the first day of hunting on vast wetlands produced limits of puddle ducks for everyone out in boats or standing knee deep in water.
Mike's comment to this writer that day, with his usual happy/smiling face was, "Hey, what a duck hunt. I think we will have to do that again and maybe even start a duck club in the basin soon."
Thus kicked off a long period of establishing Prado Basin as ideal waterfowl habitat. Mike, with his father's support and knowledge of wetlands based on years of operating a club in the Suisun Marsh of the bay area, selected a basin duck pond site, dug a long trench, tapped a nearby well for fresh water and filled the first duck pond in the basin. That first pond shot well for puddle ducks and ponds were expanded over the years with water available by way of the Santa Ana River. Mike's working relationship with the Orange County Water District and other local agencies enabled him to keep expanding his duck club, while at the same time converting more stands of bamboo and other native vegetation into prime pheasant fields to accommodate upland game bird hunters.
FLUSHING PHEASANTS — Mike
Raahauge loved hunting but even more he enjoyed offering up hunting and
shooting opportunities for everyone. Mike is pictured with shotgun in
hand ready to shoot this flushing pheasant as his hunting partner, WON's Jim Niemiec, backs him up in this archived photo taken in the mid 1970s.
As years passed Mike worked endlessly on his shooting sports complex attracting some of the biggest sporting clays events in the state. During a meeting in the club office one morning, Mike talked about starting an event that offered the general public an opportunity to handle and shoot firearms before having to purchase it. With the support of Turner's Outdoorsmen and the firearms, ammunition and shooting accessories industry, Mike organized and his complex hosted the first Sports Fair which has grown to become the largest "hands on" shooting event in the United States.
Mike's commitment to families and young hunters brought about a very successful relationship with the Los Angeles and Orange County chapters of Safari Club International and thus evolved Youth Outdoor Safari Day. This annual kids' event will celebrate its 15th anniversary in July. Mike Raahauge was very vocal about this event and worked tirelessly to make all committee members as committed as he was to the success of this popular kids venue.
Mike was very outspoken about what he felt needed to be done to protect and support hunting and shooting sports. Often he would challenge those around him to get out and do something and he never had a lack of options to offer up as to why something could be done.
Mike was a family man who loved his wife, children, grand children and dogs. He also had a very loyal group of employees who supported his strong values and goals. On every visit with Mike he would always offer up his strong arm for a friendly hand shake with a big smile on his face and then ask, "How is your family? How is your son doing? How is Timber doing? That was the kind of person Mike Raahauge was, he always was more concerned about your well being before moving on to business matters at hand.
One of the main reasons for Mike's success with his many ventures was his strict attention to business. No matter what kind of meeting he was conducting in his office, if the phone rang, he would always stop the conversation and answer the phone. "Jim, there is one thing that I have learned in my many years of business, in order to be successful you have to answer every phone call because that person on the other end on the line wants to buy something," said Mike. Mike also credited modern day web sites and the internet for helping people find his shooting complex in today's market place.
Recalling my last meeting with Mike, it was just a few days before he was to go into the hospital for major cancer surgery. He had come through chemo and was feeling a little punk but still had reason to be realistic about the future and said, "Jim, let's go outside for a minute, I want to see your new yellow lab puppy and talk to you about my condition."
We walked over to the SUV with the tailgate open and Sierra's black nose sticking out of the louvered door. Mike opened that door to a welcome licking of his strong arm and he gave her a loving pat on the head and smiled. At that time Mike told me he was scared but prepared for what lay ahead. In his own special way, with his big hand on my shoulder, he wished me luck with training Sierra and he voiced hopes of seeing her out at the duck club next season.
We lost a good, NO, make that a great man, in Mike Raahauge on that cloudy morning of May 6, 2013; a generous man who will be forever remembered by those of us in the shooting sports industry as truly "One of a Kind".
May Mike Raahauge Rest In Peace.