WON STAFF ON THE SPOT
BY JIM NIEMIEC/WON Staff Writer
CORONA — More than 50 wing shooters showed up at Raahauge's Pheasant Club last week to show their support for the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance organization, which is a union of conservation organizations, the outdoor industry and individuals who support wildlife conservation and the preservation of our hunting heritage.
Tony Hendy, manager of Raahauge's Pheasant Club, gathered the hunters together in the parking lot of Raahauge's Shooting Enterprise to go over safety in-the-field instructions and assign groups of hunters to each field. Gretchen Heffler then stepped up to thank hunters for showing up so early in the upland game bird season and also talked a little about the success that COHA has had in getting important bills signed by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Western Outdoor News joined in with the group from Turner's Outdoorsmen stores to work the knee-high (and at times shoulder-high) cover. The club staff had released prime ringnecks into each hunting field and the birds stuck tight to the thick cover until flushed by one of the labs working with hunters.
"This sure is good cover for the birds to hold tight in. It's probably as much good cover as I have seen at this club in a number of years. We could have used a little wind or had the ground a little damper this morning to help the labs with nosing out the pheasant, " said Mike Etienne, Shooting Sports Buyer for Turner's.
Each group of hunters worked their assigned fields for the first two hours of the morning and then hunters and dog were allowed to cross over roads in quest of more birds or those that flew to areas where there was no hunting pressure. Surprisingly for this early in the bird season cock birds and hens were strong flyers and many of the ringnecks sported fully developed tails, which is an indication of the quality of birds that will be released in this club's fields during the season.
On hand to assist bird shooters who did not have pointing or flushing dogs in their groups were volunteers from NAVHDA, like Jon Vesley of Lakewood and his pointer Ripley, and Kelley Kildall, a dog trainer from Big City Bird Dogs, along with other regulars that offer their well trained sporting dogs to the club during the hunting season.
After the hunt everyone gathered back at Raahauge's to enjoy a great lunch, participate in the raffle and auction, determine which hunter had shot the rooster with the longest tail feather and listen to a little bit more about the importance of supporting COHA and the job in Sacramento that this organization is doing.
"Just this week Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 1254, a measure introduced by Assembly Member Tom Berryhill and sponsored by the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, which makes several important changes to the Fish and Game Code. The bill specifically authorizes the department (DFG) to offer special hunting opportunities to qualified hunter education instructors, allows the DFG to suspend and seek reimbursement of Fish and Game Code violation fine revenue improperly expended by county governments and allows the Commission to adjust its meeting schedule to address funding shortfalls," said the COHA spokes person.
According to Captain Roy Griffith, State Hunter Education Program Administrator, "This is a huge step forward (the passing of AB 1254) in recognizing the thousands of hours California's volunteer hunter education instructors dedicate each year in passing on our hunting heritage."
Other issues that COHA is currently working on, or has worked on recently that directly impact wildlife conservation and our hunting rights include: SB 1058, AB 979, AB 1810 and AB 2223 among others.
Getting back to upland game bird hunting at Raahauge's Pheasant Club, it was a fun shoot for all in the field, despite it being a tad on the warm side and some of the birds stayed pretty much tucked into the thick cover. Hendy's birds are strong flyers and should produce excellent game for bird shooting the entire season. Hunters can opt for special mid-week hunts and book group hunts in addition to a full-on hunting program for weekends.
Raahauge's offers a close by hunting club where shooters can keep sharp for upcoming upland game bird hunts and it's a great place to work with a new hunting pup or fine tune an older dog prior to heading out on a native chukar, quail, pheasant or late season dove hunt.
THE TURNER'S OUTDOORSMAN GROUP SHOT WELL - The gathering of shooters at the COHA event at Raahauge's Pheasant Club provided a fun time in the field for all. Pictured above from the left are: avid wing shooter Steve Wright of Torrance, Turner's Shooting Sports Buyer Mike Etienne and his yellow lab, Joe Crump of the Reseda Turner's Outdoorsman store, Russ Macki of the Fountain Valley store and Roy Garcia of the San Bernardino store. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC