Buy Photo

Steve Merlo

Dove season looms just around the corner and promises to be one of the best in years, barring any cold weather that could drive the huge concentrations out of the county. But hunters are seriously getting fed up with Sacramento legislators continually raising the prices on hunting licenses, stamps and tags to the point where hard working individuals can hardly afford the expense of any kind of hunting activity whatsoever.

For example, an individual hunting license now runs $46.44. That gives you the right to kill a rabbit maybe, but no birds. To hunt birds, one has to purchase an upland stamp for an additional $9.46. That's great, but what if I want to add a duck to my take? Yep, figure on a $20.26 California duck stamp validation, plus a federal duck stamp for an additional $15.

Wow, that's already a lot of money, isn't it? Sure is, but what if an individual wants to deer hunt in both the coastal and inland seasons? Well, the first deer tag will cost a hunter $30.81 and the second $38.06. That's highway robbery if you ask me, considering the lack of legal deer in our portion of the state. Oh, and that doesn't even deal with wild pigs, where one hog tag will set a shooter back another $22.17.

So, if I want to hunt two deer, shoot at a dove, rifle a hog or kill a duck, it's gonna cost me $182.20 before I ever fire a shot. That's where the highway robbery comes in, folks, and why California remains the laughing stock of the U.S. And, we just keep floating along agreeing with these "legislators" in Sacramento.

It appears that Mexican authorities may have bitten off more than they could chew after closing the bluefin tuna season to any and all take of the prized specimens last week. Authorities south of the border have now reopened the season, much to the delight of those dependent on American fishermen visiting their country and the cash influence anglers bring with them. That's also not to mention the elation U.S. anglers felt when the news broke.

It appears that the American dollar had some influence in that decision, as the entire San Diego Sportfishing fleet pays our neighbors plenty of hard cash to fish their territorial waters. Since the closure, the entire U.S. bluefin tuna sportfishing fleet has stayed in American waters, experiencing the best tuna fishing in years, much to Mexico's chagrin. It is surmised that when officials finally weighed the resulting loss of income from US sport fishing interests, the decision to stop angling for bluefin was put on hold indefinitely.

While some biologists claim bluefin tuna stocks are severely strained, the sportfishing community's total catch pales in comparison to the tonnage Asian commercial interests glean from Mexican waters. I feel that, based on the quota system for foreign vessels, the Mexican government should be lowering the bluefin take of the real perpetrators impacting the fish rather than the sportfishing fleet.

Rifle deer season

Despite the horrible drought that just won't seem to go away, deer hunters willing to get out and hunt in the heat are finding a few legal bucks on the west side of interstate five and the coastal zones. The trick is to stay close to any available water and plan on hours of glassing on northern facing, shade and tree covered hillsides. The coastal rifle season runs through Sept. 20.

Bow hunters are looking forward to their Saturday opening in the inland zones. Their season runs through Sept. 7.

Rifle class for juniors, women

Here's some good news for women and juniors 12 and older wanting to learn to shoot a rifle. Kern Shooting Sports will be offering a Basic Rifle Class in September. Registration begins Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. at 1111 Alta Vista in Bakersfield. The first day of class is Sept. 20 at the same address from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The second class is 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at Five Dogs Shooting Range. Classes will then meet on the first Saturday of each month thru March. Fee for the class is only $50, a bargain for the incredible training one will receive from qualified instructors. Contact George Stilwill at (661) 589-2348 or (661) 319-2589, or by e-mail at for more information on this new class.

Arvin Lions Shoot

The Arvin Lions Club will have its 5th annual fundraising shoot Aug. 30 at the Kern County Gun Club. Cost is $75 per shooter and includes refreshments and a special Mike Cauzza tri-tip lunch. Proceeds will benefit the club's philanthropic activities.