A few years ago I received a call from one of my longtime hunting friends, Omer Long, who asked if I would like to film a hunt for pheasants in Mexico.
Omer and I go back almost 50 years. I first met him in 1969 when he was one of my clients at Morro Bay and I was guiding for Black Brant. He also took me to Baja for a Brant shoot along with his son, Randy.
Randy was on the hunt down in New Zealand last year that I did a column on. Both of these guys are a real joy to be around. At the time of his request, I did not realize that there was good pheasant hunting south of the border.
The quest for these magnificent and great eating birds has all but died out completely here in the valley. Clean farming has destroyed most of the bird's natural habitat that was plentiful in this area up until the 1980s or so.
I had never filmed a good pheasant hunt, so naturally I told Omer to count me in. I met up with him and Randy in Orange County, and from there we proceeded east to Yuma, Arizona. We crossed the border about 40 miles south of there into a town called San Luis Rio Colorado.
This was an apt name since it was situated just east of the Colorado River. We checked into a nice hotel and met up with Erasmo Acuna, our guide, for dinner that evening.
He said we would be hunting standing milo and cotton fields the next morning. These were the same type of areas I had grown up hunting here in the valley for most of my life. I went to sleep that night with great anticipation after Erasmo said I should be able to get some good film due to an abundance of birds.
Erasmo works for Del Pitic Outfitters, headquartered in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. In addition to pheasant hunting, they have been rumored to be the number one guide service for doves in Mexico for many years.
The next morning we were driven to a standing milo grain field just a couple of miles from town. Erasmo placed us at the end of a section of the field, along with some other clients that had joined the hunt. When hunting here at home in the valley, we would do exactly the same thing while shooting milo or cotton fields. Two or three hunters would stand at the end of a few rows to block any birds that might run out, while other members of the group would start at the other end of the field and walk through.
Most of the birds in the field would run away from them, with an occasional one taking flight. When the majority of birds got to the end of the field with no more cover, they would all burst out in good numbers and everyone would get shooting. Our guide had a nice group of hired "walkers" to come through the field toward us, but I was sure surprised as to how this came about. While waiting, I began to hear a really stange sound coming from the field. It was sort of a "crunch...crunch...crunch noise.
It got louder and louder, and I began to see the heads of the "walkers" in the distance, and a bird or two taking flight. When they were about 200 yards out I realized what the noise was. Each man was carrying two plastic jugs filled with rocks, and they were shaking them vigorously up and down. Wow...what a racket. I guarantee you if I was a pheasant I would be running too.
With less than 100 yards to the end of the field, the birds started streaming out. Birds were going in every direction. In the space of about two minutes I must have seen at least 30 to 40 take flight and the guys got some great shots. I had never seen anything like that here at home...ever. I thought it must be similar to the stories I had heard all my life about pheasant hunting in the mid-western states. After retrieving the downed birds, we were driven to the other end of the field and had the whole process reversed for another section of the acreage. Just awesome hunting. It didn't take long for our group to reach what was a very liberal limit of birds after a couple of runs through a nearby cotton field. We repeated the action the next day, and I managed to get some terrific video, too.
All in all, it was a great trip. Randy told me the prices are very fair, and you certainly could not beat the accommodations we had. If you are into hunting, and dining, on what is probably the best eating game bird in the country, then check out Mexico, including the area around Mexicali.
Skeet Championships start today
The annual Ken Barnes Open Skeet Championships starts today at the Kern County Gun Club. The 400 target event will feature some of the top gunners in the nation from the West and midwest, including former world champions. The shoot is normally one of the top 25 in the country every year. I will be on hand to "meet 'n' greet" many of my old friends and former competitors. The club is located on the north side of Buena Vista lake at the south end of Enos Lane, below Taft highway. I would enjoy meeting any of my readers, so try to make it out.