Barnes pheasants

Happy hunters with happy faces after a successful pheasant hunt sponsored by Morning Star in November.

KEN BARNES / For The Californian

Last November, I received a call from my friend Brad Peters, who invited me to a charity pheasant hunt he was going on out in the northwest toward Shafter.

He thought I might like to videotape the hunt and told me to bring two of my sons along, Steve and Mark, if they were available.

It sounded like a fun thing to do, so the boys picked me up and we headed out to the area north of 7th Standard Road.

Pulling off a paved road and into what must have been 600-800 acres of alfalfa fields, we saw dozens of pick-up trucks and autos parked in what appeared to be a 4-5-acre equipment storage yard.

Dozens of hunters were walking about getting ready for the shoot, and one of the first things I noticed was a sign: “Morning Star...Fresh Food Ministry.”

Through events like this hunt, Morning Star raises funds to buy food to give to needy families.

Sponsorships can be any one of six types, starting with individual and up to field sponsor.

A lot of people and business owners are involved, and it is so helpful to so many.

Founder/director Brett Sill told me there were 140 shooters out that day and more than 800 rooster pheasants were released into the adjoining fields.

Gun raffles and other miscellaneous items were raffled off also.

Lunch was catered with ribs and chicken, and all hunters were given T-shirts.

To be honest, shooting pen-raised pheasants is not real difficult.

They are much slower getting off the ground than their wild cousins and a lot slower in flight, too.

As I walked through the fields with Brad and another group of about eight guys, you could see birds being released from cages in the back of trucks scattered around the terrain.

According to my old friend Steve Merlo’s Wild Game and Fish Cookbook, the best thing about pen-raised pheasants is there is more fat on them, which makes them juicier and better-eating than the wild birds.

I managed to get some great video of this hunt and especially enjoyed scenes of good pointing dogs doing what they do best in a field of alfalfa.

All 140 shooters took their three-bird limit during the hunt.

If you are interested in more information about this great charity, log on to morningstarfresh.org.

Years ago, when I used to hunt pheasants quite often, my friends and I would go north up the valley to the Alpaugh-Corcoran area and hunt the many cotton and milo fields that could be found there.

There was also great cover along the canals that gave haven to the birds. Most of that is gone today due to “clean farming.”

And most of the fields have been converted to orchards of one type or the other.

When hunting, we would place two or three “blockers” at the end of the rows, and the rest of the party would become “walkers” as they made their way through the rows.

Most of the pheasants would run ahead of the group, but occasionally one would burst into the air as they strolled through the field.

When the hunters would almost reach the end of the field, there was always a few birds that would fly, and everyone one get some shooting.

We always shot males only, which were easily seen by their long tails. If it was a female, everyone would yell “hen...hen.”

During the last sweep through the field, we might get a dozen or more birds to take flight.

A few years ago, a friend of mine in Orange County called and asked if I wanted to videotape a hunt in Mexico.

We crossed the border at a small town in Arizona just east of the Colorado River.

It was a guided hunt, and we had great room and food facilities at a local hotel.

The first morning of the hunt I was a bit surprised when we took the field and all six members of our hunting party were “blockers.”

I was standing there wondering when the “walkers” would show up, when I heard a strange sound coming from the other end of the field.

I could not quite make out what I was hearing, but it got louder and louder as I stood there.

Finally, I made out what was a half-dozen men walking toward me.

Each man was shaking two one-gallon plastic jugs full of rocks! What a racket. A very clever way to scare the birds into running down the field.

We had some really great shooting during the three days I was there because there were few local hunters and tons of pheasants in the milo and cotton fields.

I hope you readers are enjoying what I have been doing the last few weeks, and I would really like hearing from you with any ideas about subject matter for a column.

This is all new to me, so I need your help. Just contact me via my email listed below.

Ken Barnes is a longtime outdoorsman in Kern County. His opinions are not necessarily those of The Californian’s. Contact him at ken.barnes@aol.com.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.