Would you believe that a full-grown mountain lion stood only two feet away from me Sunday morning, eying me suspiciously? That five bobcats played tag with each other while my wife and grandson watched only 10 feet away, and for the first time in my life I actually held and petted a live opossum? Or that some of the deadliest and most venomous snakes in our county stared back at us from only inches away?

How about if I told you that a bald eagle majestically looked down from his perch only a few yards away and a buck mule deer came up and licked my hand? Or that three desert bighorn sheep, including a good ram, stood watching us when we invaded their space? Have you ever been within 5 feet of a very much alive prickly porcupine?

Now I freely admit to being a hunter, but there are times when I, as do most other hunters, want to enjoy spending time enjoying all wildlife without any ulterior motive. Being close to animals and nature is one of the reasons we do hunt, but we also love to view all animals and not just game animals in their natural surroundings.

My wife, Candy, my grandson Aden and I spent a wonderful morning exploring our local California Living Museum, discovering and viewing at very close range many species of mostly local birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles living within the confines.

With far too many species to mention here, suffice it to say that the 3 hours we spent wandering the well-manicured grounds and seeing the wealth of wildlife were easily worth the price of admission.

With Christmas vacation right around the corner and with or without the kids, I highly recommend visiting the facility, especially at night when the recently installed holiday light show turns the place into a kaleidoscope of color and fun. I was especially impressed by CALM's cadre of volunteer docents who went out of their way to teach and explain animal behavior to us.

The California Living Museum is located at 10500 Alfred Harrell Hwy., just east of Hart Park, and is open daily from 9 a.m.-5:00 p.m., except for the Christmas light spectacular when it remains open well after dark for visitors to enjoy the light show.

Isabella Lake bass

While the overall prognosis for bass at the Kern River Valley impoundment remains only fair at best, some large bass are being taken by fishermen willing to fish slowly in the 12- to 15-foot depths. Rocky Brown and his son Rusty of Rusty Brown's Guide Service teamed up for some lunker fish this past week, landing a dozen fish in the 6- to 14-pound range. That's right, 14 pounds!

The elder Brown took a beautiful 14.03-pound fish on Tuesday while fishing a black and purple Proline 3/8-ounce jig in 12 feet of water off of Rocky Point. The fish remains the largest bass caught this year at Isabella and was released to fight again, after pictures, of course.

Local waterfowl report

Winter storms have finally began pushing birds southward as the winter migration begins. While the overall picture for clubs and freelance hunters remains only fair at best, Kern refuge hunters have been taking a solid average on shoot days for several weeks. Look for the major movement to begin any day when tens of thousands of ducks and geese begin their winter migration from northern California into the San Joaquin.

Dove season going full blast

Dove hunters are also smiling with the sudden influx of thousands of birds into Central California and the valley due to the hard storms occurring north of the Kern County line. Mourning doves winter in our area, and by the look of things, should provide solid action until the season ends Dec. 24.

The daily limit remains 10 per hunter, with 20 in possession. Eurasian Collared Dove numbers continue to skyrocket and lucky hunters can take all of the birds they want during the regular dove season.

Buena Vista trout program

Trout fishermen are having a difficult time getting the fish to bite out at Lake Evans, even after several plants.

Until the weather cools and the greenish water clears, anglers need to fish early mornings with a wide variety of baits. Other lakes in our area are having similar problems as the warm weather has kept the fish off their feed.

New local boat repair

Having trouble finding a local engine repairman for your so-called outdated boat motors? Do you need an experienced outboard or inboard engine repairman for models circa 1986 and older? Darrel's Mobile Marine can repair just about any make or model and even travel to your place of residence or boat site to find out what the problem is for a nominal fee at very competitive rates.

Contact Darrel Ringleman (661) 444-8956 for more information.