Ken Barnes photo

Kern County Sportsman Of The Year honorees Michelle and Michael Garretson hold their award presented by the California Waterfowl Association during the annual dinner last week.

The 67th annual Kern County Sportsman's Night Dinner was held 10 days ago at Hodel's banquet room with almost 400 attendees.

I could hardly believe it when my friend Jim Roberts called me a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to have lunch and meet one of this years's inductees. Time flies, but it sure didn't seem like a year had gone by since the last one.

Jim is the 'behind the scenes' guy who does a lot of the work for the dinner, but does not get the credit he well deserves. One of a kind.

During lunch, I was introduced to Michael Garretson, who, along with his wife Michelle, were this year's honorees. 

Each year the "Sportsman's Night" committee selects a deserving individual or family who are chosen for their work in promoting the great outdoors through unselfish deeds and contributions. The evening is hosted by California Waterfowl Association and features dinner, raffle tickets, silent auction, live auction, and various other raffles. Children 15 and under receive a free youth membership to CWA, and a free CWA cap.

The work that CWA does around the state is totally awesome. It is nonstop conservation of waterfowl, wetlands and hunting heritage. In the last 25 years they have completed nearly 1,500 projects to protect, restore and enhance over 500,000 acres.

Their Youth and Education programs have reached almost 340,000 children, young adults, and families to help create a better understanding of biology, conservation and outdoor heritage.

There is certainly no one more deserving of this years's honor than the Garretson family. Michael is a Valley native and Michelle was born in Utah, which instilled her love of the outdoors.

They were married in January 1986 and continued to build their lives in Bakersfield. Michael has been a businessman in Bakersfield since 1974 and has been a local business owner since 1985.

Michelle has worked as a controller for several businesses. After working for Global Fabricators for 12 years, she is currently the Controller for Hall Ambulance.

Over the years, both Michael and Michelle have been Sponsor members of many organizations supporting wildlife and the shooting sports including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, California Deer Association, North American Hunting Club, Ducks Unlimited and Safari Club International. Michelle is also a Safari Club International Sable member.

Michael is a Life member of Safari Club International and Life Member No. 174 of the Rocky Mountain Elk foundation, having proudly supported the foundation since its inception and has served as a committee member.

He is also a life member of the North American Hunting Club and is a Senior Member of the Pope & Young Club. Together, in addition to their own contributions, Michael and Michelle have gifted over 30 sponsor memberships in wildlife organizations to others as well as being strong advocates for wildlife conservation.

To Michael and Michelle I can only add the following — well done. May God continue to bless you both and through your deeds entice others to follow.

SACRAMENTO NWR COMPLEX WATERFOWL SURVEY: Not much going on here locally yet for ducks. The Kern Refuge only had a 1.5 bird average last Saturday. You might consider a trip north to the Sacramento complex after reading these figures for the latest bird counts. 318,801 geese, including over 75,000 white front and almost a quarter million snow geese. Total duck count was 1,118,289, including 533,349 pintails. We need some good cold weather fronts and storms to move them down here. Steve Merlo always said the mallards would get to this area after Dec. 10. Hope he was right. My son Mark, and a friend, bagged the only two taken on the Kern that Saturday I mentioned above. It can only get better.

Ken Barnes is a record setting shooter and longtime outdoorsman from Kern County. Email him at with comments or column ideas.

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