Growing up in the small farming community of Buttonwillow, hunting and fishing were part of our lives, necessitating finding really important things like guns, shells, fishing rods and tackle under our family tree come Christmas morning. I remember the excitement we felt one year when Santa Claus left us our first BB gun, a lever-action Daisy Eagle complete with a scope and several thousand copper-plated BBs. It didn't take long for all the birds in our area to learn to avoid us at all costs or risk catching a piece of steel in their behinds. That piece is still in the old garage, though it has seen better days.
Another year, a 5-millimeter Sheridan pump-up pellet rifle entered our lives, and the rabbits went down like flies whenever we went afield with it. We'd give the gun a maximum of six pumps and have at them. We later learned to use five or six BBs dropped into the barrel to hit flying objects, and the local pigeons took a serious hit. I can honestly say I learned to shoot moving and flying targets with that gun, opening the door for our first shotguns later.
On another morning, two fishing rods, a Browning Silaflex and a Shakespeare Wonder Rod, if I remember correctly, were lying against the tree. Those rods helped us lower the water level at the local canals because we caught and kept so many fish with them. They also made us a ton of money, because we'd sell our catch in town to the locals. By the way, selling fish and game is a felony (which we didn't know at the time) and can get someone in hot water real quick. I hope the statutes of limitations have passed.
Anyway, Christmas around our house was something special and looked forward to for a long time, just as I'm sure it is in your home. If people are interested in keeping their kids doing good things instead of bad, I suggest that parents get them started and interested in the outdoor world by giving fishing rods, or even air rifles and start spending quality time with them.
And rods, reels and air guns aren't nearly as expensive as all those electronic gizmos the kids think they want. Give the outdoors a chance and you'll never have to worry about where or what your kids are doing, I promise. They'll be fishing or shooting and having tons of fun, especially if you're along.
The outdoor world lost a super gentleman this week with the passing of Roy Belluomini, a longtime Buttonwillow resident, farmer, WWII veteran and outdoorsman. I grew up hearing tales of big game hunting on Wolf Mountain in Wyoming when he and several other Buttonwillow hunters made the yearly trek to hunt deer, elk, moose and bear, and his tales of the hunts were very intriguing.
One thing about Roy: a person never had to worry about what was on his mind, because he wasn't afraid to tell you. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife Bruna and daughters Pamela and Sandi. He will be missed by all who knew him.
All prospective hunters are required to take a hunter safety class before purchasing their hunting licenses. The requirement is also mandatory in many other states, and hunters without proof will be denied hunting privileges if they desire to hunt out of California. Hunters without certification will not be able to purchase hunting licenses. The old declaration form certifying that individuals once had a license is no longer valid.
Kern Shooting Sports will be offering a hunter safety course on Jan. 11-12, plus an internet course on Jan. 13. The classes are by pre-registration only. Contact Jay Busby (661) 871-9025 for information.
Waiting until summertime to get a state- approved class may prove difficult as they tend to fill up fast before the hunting seasons start. Hunting licenses are fiscal, meaning they run from July 1-June 30 each year rather than Jan. 1-Dec. 31 like fishing licenses, but it's never too early to take advantage of the smaller classes at this time
The Bakersfield Friends of the NRA group is inviting the public to attend its first fundraiser, banquet and auction Feb. 1 at the Kern County Fairgrounds. Live and silent auctions, plus plenty of special drawings ,will showcase the event. Prizes include limited edition firearms, custom knives, NRA-commissioned art and special ladies merchandise. All table sponsors will receive sponsor-only raffle tickets for a Kimber 45ACP. Individual dinner tickets are $50, with plenty of sponsored table packages available. Contact Dennis Bell at (661) 809-7510, Mike Barrett (661) 319-7050 or Coleen Morris (661) 331-5273 for information.