A total of 59 junior hunters, including 13 girls, participated in the 2017 SCI Mojave Youth Quail Hunt, surpassing last year’s number by 25 percent. Total attendance including families, guides and volunteers was 235.
Several volunteers went to work prior to the weekend hunt unloading the trailer and putting up tables, cook stoves, EZ-ups, a coffee bar, booths and banners. Bobby Huff and Rob Blair showed up with a trailered BBQ and wasted no time cooking 120 pounds of pulled pork. The Mojave National Preserve (MNP) and BLM set up booths, as did The Institute for Wildlife Studies. Volunteers handled registration, handing out SCI hunting vests and California Deer Association (CDA) hats and T-shirts.
Saturday morning after the group filled up on pancakes and sausage, Mike Norris with California Fish & Wildlife gave a safety talk and hunters were assigned guides. Soon a trail of dust was flying as hunters, guides and dogs headed out in search of quail. The excitement and anticipation was evident by the smiles on the hunters’ faces.
As is the norm for even seasoned hunters, some junior hunters bagged their limit while others did not. A cleaning station was set up where Neal Darby of MNP showed the hunters how to clean their birds for an evening BBQ treat, followed by a complete dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad, pasta salad, baked beans and chips. Topping it off was an array of pies.
After dinner, kudos and acknowledgements were shared and the raffles began. Thanks to SCI Orange County (SCI-OC), SCI Los Angeles, Turners Outsdoorsman and Randy and Grice Weber, nine firearms were raffled off along with a custom Bowie knife handcrafted by Jim Crawford. The general raffle hosted an array of items worth more than $2,500 with donations from CDA, Alpen Optics, NRA, Turners, Bass Pro, Jim's Guns of Barstow, Rte 66 Guns, Quail Forever Riverside, CA Waterfowl Ass’n, Fieldline Outfielders and Buck Slater.
Each junior hunter received a gorgeous hunting vest from SCI-OC, an orange T-shirt and hat from CDA, shooting glasses, flashlight from Alpen Optics and a bag of goodies from SCI Safari Day. Girls received a special article of clothing from NRA as well as a gift from Christine Tureaud.
Each hunter also received a free ticket to the junior hunter drawing, which entitled the winner to a shotgun donated by Randy Weber. Junior hunters also had chances to win three gift cards and eight filled game bags donated by CA Waterfowl Ass’n.
Congrats to Gunnar Klenske who won a Remington 870 Express shotgun! These prizes along with camping, meals and guide service were provided at no cost to the hunters or their families. No other junior quail hunt offers such a program at absolutely no cost to young hunters and their families.
Sunday morning following a continental breakfast of rolls, juice, coffee and hot chocolate, the junior hunters and their families had the opportunity to go out in search of quail on their own, applying everything learned from the previous day’s hunt. Two junior hunters who went without getting a bird on Saturday harvested birds on Sunday with their dad.
Appreciation is extended to who support this event. The future of hunting lies in the hands of these young hunters and thanks to you, they continue to have that opportunity of hunting on public lands. Kudos to all for standing during the Pledge of Allegiance and paying homage to our great country. We look forward to the hunt in 2018, and making the event bigger and better.