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Shown are Steve Merlo, left, and Ken Barnes after a successful morning goose hunt in the Tulare Lake basin 'way back in the days.'

I was recently going through a cabinet looking for an old DVD, when my eye caught a glimpse of a small stack of faded, yellowish note paper.

When I looked at it, my mind was immediately tossed back 30 years, or so. Steve Merlo and I were sitting in a blind on the Kern River slough on one of those mornings when you could not see more than 50 feet due to the very dense fog that was typical for the area. We could hear the wings and whistling of ducks overhead, but it was rare that any would plop down out of that goop to work our decoy spread.

Typically, the birds would begin working around 9 to 10 a.m. when there was about a 30 to 40 yard-high ceiling of fog. They would usually just barrel in with no abandon.

As we sat there, I noticed Steve reach into his duffel bag and retrieve a small note pad with lined pages. I asked what he was doing, and he replied, "I'm going to write a poem."

"What about?" I asked.

"I'm not sure, but something will come to me," he replied. "Nothing else to do."

During the course of the next couple of hours I saw him jot down a few words, then stop, and a few minutes later do the same thing again.

This went on until we finally started seeing birds in the air, and we had a fairly decent shoot.

I completely forgot about this until two or three years later when Steve stopped by my house for something.

As he was leaving, he said, "Do you remember me writing a poem a couple of years ago when we were in the fog?"

I said I did, but never read it. He reached in his pocket and handed me some small pages.

"Enjoy. See you later. I gotta go," he said.

After reading them, I put them in the cabinet thinking that it was some funny stuff that I wanted to share with my sons. Never happened. I totally forgot them, until a few weeks ago when I rediscovered them.

I hope you readers get as much pleasure as I did after reading the following. It is typical Steve Merlo with his unique way with words that he expressed during all those years he wrote for The Bakersfield Californian. Enjoy.

"THRONES"... A friend and I. we love to share... Great moments from past times... With shivering tales of wind and hail... And sunshine from our blinds... We talked of birds that worked our deeks... And whistled overhead... How we should have shot and didn't,... And how we should have sat instead. We love to talk of smoke and crunch... And puffs as feathers flew... Or laughing at each other... While I called a Snow or Blue.

And foggy days surround us... In graying dismal light... And we stared into the bleakness... Just to see a bird in flight... And then some days dawned shiny bright... (No omen worse than that!) ... But we paid our dues in silence... Just to hear a single quack... And Mallards came, and Mallards went... And Teal peeped overhead... And suicides of Sprig went down... To volleys of chilled lead... And honkers honked their thrilling cry... While flying to our spread... The memories those birds gave us... Will last us 'til were dead... And yes, those few will call us smart... But most will call us dumb... But we love to hunt the waterfowl... With ardor next to none.

BASIC FIREARMS & HUNTER EDUCATION COURSE: Next course offered: July 14 and 15, a two day course. July 16 is an internet follow-up course. This is sponsored by Kern Shooting Sports and Jay Busby. For more information call (661) 871-9025.

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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