September 1st. The opening day of dove season kicked off five straight months of activity for hunters across the state, starting with upland game, and then waterfowl.

I took the field for my 68th time this year. I was hoping it would be with two of my sons and two grandsons, but it was not to be. Steve was called to work by the railroad, and both grandkids are now in school.

So, it was just me and my son Mark. This was the first time in many years that I went into the field with a gun in my hands. I usually just take my video camera and film the family having fun.

I totally forgot just how fast doves can fly at first light and about ten feet off the ground. Some were "eating my lunch," so to speak. It's hard to believe that Steve Merlo and I used to bag our limits using .410 bore, pump action guns back in the day.

But, I was way younger then, and my eyesight was much better than it is today. I recently discovered that I have a problem with my right eye. It is making me see slightly double, small figures at anything past 100 yards with both eyes open. No excuse though for missing a dove at 20 yards. And, not getting off the stool to shoot didn't help, either. It is all just part of getting older. I fill very blessed to be able to still get out there at my age.

Mark was asking me about some of my past opening day hunts, and said he had heard a story about a classic one with Leroy Fontana, but did not know the details. I replied it was one of the all time best. Many years ago Leroy and I were with a group out near Arvin. We walked together down the line facing an orchard.

Leroy stopped and set up his stool, and I continued on down for another 40 yards. This gave us the needed zone we each had to have for good shooting. Twenty yards to the right and 20 to the left. Just as I sat down, I noticed movement to the right side of me, and a gentleman put his chair down about 10 to 15 yards away from me.

I started to call him out about being in my space, but decided to have some fun instead. I yelled out to Fontana, "Hey Leroy, what kind of gun did you say this was?" He replied, "It's a Winchester pump action." I said, "OK thanks."

Two minutes later I yelled again, "How do I load it?" Not sure how he knew what to say, but Leroy answered back, "I showed you how at the car, remember." It was about ten minutes 'till shooting time, and the red sky was dawning over the Tehachapi Mountains to the east. I pointed the gun into the ground about five yards in front of me, dropped a .410 shell in and closed the action. I then pulled the trigger. Boom!! I hollered to Fontana, "Leroy ... Leroy, it went off. It went off."

I glanced to my right just as the man who had been sitting there quickly raised himself, grabbed his gun, stool and bag, and headed off in the opposite direction. I will admit that it was not one of my proudest moments, but at the time it served its purpose, and Leroy and I laughed about it for many years thereafter.

In closing, I would just like to say that I did not realize there were so many hunters who cannot read well. When a sign says "No Trespassing or No Hunting Without Permission", it means exactly that and nothing else.

My property was overrun with trespassers this year, as were the guys above and below me. And, most of you left your empty shell casings all over the ground. Please! There are many areas to hunt that are not posted. Just do a little scouting before opening and you can find property that does not require permission.

ONE FINAL NOTE: Kern Shooting Sports is continuing their NRA Junior and Women's Rifle Program. The sign ups will be on Sept. 16. People can contact George Stilwill at 589-2348 for further information. We will adhere to COVID-19 regulations.

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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(5) comments

Masked 2020

Jennie and your point is? The Earth’s biota is changing over time in complex ways. A critical challenge is to test whether specific biomes, taxa or types of species benefit or suffer in a time of accelerating global change. We analysed nearly 10,000 abundance time series from over 2000 vertebrate species part of the Living Planet Database. We integrated abundance data with information on geographic range, habitat preference, taxonomic and phylogenetic relationships, and IUCN Red List Categories and threats. We find that 15% of populations declined, 18% increased, and 67% showed no net changes over time. Against a backdrop of no biogeographic and phylogenetic patterning in population change, we uncover a distinct taxonomic signal. Amphibians were the only taxa that experienced net declines in the analysed data, while birds, mammals and reptiles experienced net increases. Population trends were poorly captured by species’ rarity and global-scale threats. Incorporation of the full spectrum of population change will improve conservation efforts to protect global biodiversity. Introduction Ecosystem-level change is currently unfolding all around the globe and modifying the abundances of the different species forming Earth’s biota. As global change continues to accelerate1,2, there is a growing need to assess the factors explaining the variation in ecological changes observed across taxa and biomes3. However, existing empirical studies of the predictors of the abundance of individuals of different species over time (hereafter, population change) mostly focus on either specific taxa4 or on population declines alone2,5. A critical research challenge is to disentangle the sources of heterogeneity in available data across the full spectrum of population change. Recent compilations of long-term population time series, extensive occurrence, phylogenetic, habitat preference and IUCN Red List Category data6,7,8 provide a unique opportunity to test which species- and population-level attributes explain variation in population trends and fluctuations among vertebrate species monitored around the world. Such population change is the underlying process leading to community reassembly9 and the resulting alterations to biodiversity are vitally important for ecosystem functions and services10. The distributions of global change drivers such as land-use change, habitat change, pollution, invasion by non-native species and climate change show distinct clustering across space11,12,13. Spatial clustering has also been documented for biodiversity trends derived from assemblage time series, with the marine realm emerging as a hotspot for rapid changes in community composition14. As assemblages are made up of populations, the biogeographic patterns at the assemblage level suggest similar clustering might occur at the population level as well15. In addition to geographic patterns in exposure to anthropogenic activities, species’ vulnerability and traits can moderate population responses to natural and anthropogenic environmental change16, both across evolutionary time6,7,8 and in the modern day17,18. Building on known variability in species’ vulnerability16,19,20, we expected taxonomic and phylogenetic signals in population trends and fluctuations (e.g., greater declines, increases, or fluctuations in abundance for specific taxa and among specific clades). Understanding which biomes, taxa and types of species are experiencing the most acute changes in abundance over time could provide key insights for conservation prioritisation. Conservation efforts often focus on protecting rare species—those with restricted geographic extents, small population sizes or high habitat specificity—as they are assumed to be more likely to decline and ultimately go extinct21,22,23. Species with a smaller geographic range might have more concentrated exposure to environmental change, with fewer opportunities to find refugia or disperse, thus increasing the likelihood of declines1,9. As per population dynamics theory24,25 and Taylor’s power law26, species with small populations are more likely to undergo stochastic fluctuations that could lead to pronounced declines, local extinction and eventually global extinction5. Small populations are also more likely to decline owing to inbreeding, but there are also instances of naturally small and stable populations27,28. Allee effects, the relationship between individual fitness and population density, further increase the likelihood of declines due to lack of potential mates and low reproductive output once populations reach a critically low density29,30. Furthermore, environmental change might have disproportionately large effects on the populations of species with high habitat specificity, as for these species persistence and colonisation of new areas are limited by strict habitat preferences1,31. The fossil record indicates that on millennial time scales, rare species are more likely to decline and ultimately go extinct32, but human actions have pushed Earth away from traditional geological trajectories33, and the relationships between rarity and population change across the planet have yet to be tested across the Anthropocene. On a global scale, species are exposed to a variety of threats, among which habitat change, resource exploitation and hunting dominate as key predictors of extinction risk34. Species’ IUCN Red List Categories are often used in conservation prioritisation and more threatened species tend to be the focus of conservation initiatives35. At more local scales, there might be variation in how populations are changing over time in different locations, in isolation from their overall conservation status4,36. Testing population change across species’ IUCN Red List Categories (Supplementary Fig. 16) allows us to link contemporary changes in abundance with long-term probability of extinction37. Determining how local-scale population trends vary across species’ IUCN Red List Categories has practical applications for assessing species’ recovery, which is useful for the proposed IUCN Green List of Species38. Here, we ask how the trends and fluctuations of vertebrate populations vary with biogeography, taxa, phylogenetic relationships and across species’ rarity metrics and IUCN Red List Categories and threat types from the species’ IUCN Red List profiles. We test the following predictions: (1) There will be biogeographic patterns in population trends and fluctuations across the planet’s realms and biomes, in line with particular regions of the world experiencing high rates of environmental change (e.g., tropical forests39). (2) Populations of rare species will be more likely to decline and fluctuate than the populations of common species. (3) Populations of species with a higher IUCN Red List Category and higher number of threats will be more likely to decline and fluctuate than the populations of least concern species and those exposed to a lower number of threats. We quantify differences in population trends and fluctuations across latitudes and biomes within the freshwater, marine and terrestrial realms to test the presence of distinct hotspots of declines and increases. In addition, we use data from the VertLife and BirdLife Databases6,7,8 to assess taxonomic and phylogenetic signals. We measure rarity using three separate metrics—geographic range derived from GBIF records, mean population size (mean number of individuals that were recorded during the monitoring for each population in the Living Planet Database) and habitat specificity derived from the species’ IUCN Red List profiles. In a post hoc analysis, we compile threat types and number of threats derived from the species’ IUCN Red List profiles to determine how threats influence local-scale population change. Using the largest currently available compilation of population records over time, we conduct a global synthesis of population trends and fluctuations to provide key empirical evidence for the management, conservation and prediction of ecological changes across the Anthropocene. We show that vertebrate species from shark, bony fish, amphibian, bird, mammal and reptile taxa span a wide spectrum of population change across four decades. Among the heterogeneous population change, we highlight amphibians as a taxon in decline. The diverse range of trends and fluctuations over time was not influenced by species’ rarity, particularly, their geographic range, mean population size or habitat specificity. Overall, we demonstrate that the abundances of monitored vertebrates around the world are being altered in a variety of ways, testifying to the complexity in species responses to global change across the biomes of the world. Results Overall approach We analysed 9286 vertebrate population time series from 2084 species part of the Living Planet Database (133,092 records) over the period between 1970 and 2014. These time series represent repeated monitoring surveys of the number of individuals in a given area (species’ abundance over time), hereafter called ‘populations’. We focused on two aspects of population change—overall changes in abundance over time (population trend, μ) and abundance variability over time (population fluctuations, σ2). In the first stage of our analyses, we quantified trends and fluctuations for each population using state-space models that account for observation error and random fluctuations40 (Supplementary Fig. 1). In the second stage, we modelled the population trend and fluctuation estimates from the first stage across latitude, realm, biome, taxa, rarity metrics, phylogenetic relatedness, species’ IUCN Red List Categories and threat type using a Bayesian modelling framework (Supplementary Fig. 2). We included a species random intercept effect to account for the possible correlation between the trends of populations from the same species (see table Supplementary Table 1 for sample sizes). As sensitivity analyses, we additionally used variance weighting of the population trend estimates (μ) by the observation/measurement error around them (τ2) and population trend estimates from linear model fits (slopes instead of μ) as the input variables in the second-stage models, as well as several different fluctuations estimates. We also repeated our analyses on a single-country scale, using only populations within the United Kingdom, where monitoring efforts are particularly rigorous and extensive. All different analytical approaches yielded very similar results and are described in further detail in the methods and Supplementary Figs. 1–2, 16. Vertebrate population change We found a broad spectrum of trends across vertebrate populations within the Living Planet Database. Across the time series we analysed, 15% (1381 time series) of populations were declining, 18% (1656 time series) were increasing and 67% (6249 time series) showed no net changes in abundance over time, in contrast to a null distribution derived from randomised data (Supplementary Fig. 5b). Trends were considered statistically different from no net change when the confidence intervals around the population trend estimates did not overlap zero. Our results were similar when we weighted population trends by the observation error derived from the state-space models (Figs. 1–4 and Supplementary Tables 2, 3).

Gene Pool Chlorinator

My point is that NOBODY reads your lengthy cut-and-paste posts, YORKIES!

A 3rd grader can do what you do, yet you continue to repeat it; thinking it makes you look smart- pro tip: it doesn't...

Prove me wrong- explain to everyone here what you just copied and pasted and how it relates to anything pertinent in this story.

Go ahead, I'll wait...

Masked 2020

man with a weapon....."my eyesight was much better than it is today"... that is a problem........someone in the family might want to also hide the gentleman's car keys while their at it


Yeah hunting is immoral unless your starving. 64% of the earth's wild life has disappeared in the last 40 years. This isn't sports.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Wrong again, Dweeb. You need to keep posting "facts" from your Facebook feed.

From The Atlantic (so you can't accuse me of using some right-wing periodical):

"Ultimately, they found that from 1970 to 2014, the size of vertebrate populations has declined by 60 percent on average. That is absolutely not the same as saying that humans have culled 60 percent of animals—a distinction that the report’s technical supplement explicitly states."

Sorry, you can't blame hunters for the declining numbers...

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