The hunt is hosted by our four resident game wardens with the cooperation of the Imperial County Fish and Game Commission.
The wardens have been hosting the event since its premiere 12 years ago and are proud to have forged a bond with many young hunters of the Imperial Valley.
The junior pheasant hunts, staged each year in California, are funded by the gamebird heritage program that receives its funding from the sale of upland gamebird stamps.
For this hunt, junior hunters aren't required any pheasant hunting experience to participate. Before entering the field on hunt day, they will be given a thorough education about hunter safety and the art of pheasant hunting.
Imperial Valley Hunting Dog Club members will be on hand with well-trained pointers to help point the birds for the young hunters. Junior hunters will get a firsthand look at how a well-trained pointer works to find and point the bird for the hunter.
Two pheasants will be reserved for each junior hunter and at the appropriate time will be planted in the field and a dog and handler assigned to help the young hunter achieve a successful hunt.
Last year more than 120 junior hunters from the Imperial Valley, San Diego and the Los Angeles area participated in the local hunt. Each year the event draws more junior hunters as they shoot their first pheasant during the two-day event.
To sign up, junior hunters must send a postcard to Warden Carol Sassie, P.O. Box 1673, Brawley, CA 92227. The postcard should include the junior hunter's name, date of birth, junior hunting license number, plus a daytime and nighttime phone number.
Sassie would like to receive the postcards by Dec. 1 and applicants will be notified the week of Dec. 3. Sassie can answer any questions at 344-8139.
The following is a letter I received from a friend who hunted our field with his new wife, Kara, and Labrador pup, Tonka.
"I haven't gotten over Saturday and don't know if I ever will. I haven't jumped three roosters before — EVER.
"You must realize the field was designed to perfection. The cover is too thin to hide the birds between the borders so they must use the borders themselves for cover. But the cover on the rows is too thick for them to run, so they are forced to just sit and flush right at your feet.
"You said before that I would ‘enjoy' the hunt. I did. It was exciting for Kara, who nearly stepped on two of the roosters AND the hen. It was good for Tonka, who really had no idea what to think of all the activity, let alone the loud sounds. But he liked the big things jumping into the air and he definitely got to smell them (or where they had been).
"But back to redemption…. One must have the mental fortitude to get right back on the horse or never even ride it in the first place.
"That being said, I am coming down tomorrow morning. I am going for a ‘run and gun' of the field. A quick and precise tactical strike, to the western section of the field, with the dove loads you gave me after I shot up all my ammunition.
"Tonka was giving me looks only a seasoned, veteran dog should be able to give after a series of disappointing misses. I need to get back on the horse. Sweep through the bird with the sight and pull the trigger as I pass him, right?
"Of course I am tempting fate and stressing my poor shooting abilities to the breaking point. What happened Saturday was very damaging. The only thing worse would be to follow up that performance with a repeat performance of equal magnitude.
I might quit hunting, make Tonka a 100-pound lap dog, and watch football all weekend long, drinking beer, eating chips, belching, and passing gas. It is a risk I am willing to take. I have killed pheasant before, and I shall do so again.
Pray for my redemption."
>>Outdoor Tales writer Al Kalin can be reached on the Internet at firstname.lastname@example.org