After months of preparation, taking reservations, ordering supplies and coordinating vendors, the big day for the Mojave Youth Hunt arrived. First on the scene was Water for Wildlife volunteers who arrived on Wednesday to canvas the area and make things ready. Thursday, Rob Blair and Bobby Hupp delivered the large barbeque and set it in place. My son Matt and I arrived Friday morning at 9 a.m. with trailer in tow and volunteers went to work unloading the trailer and setting up camp; running lights, putting up EZ-ups, arranging cook stoves and tables, hauling ice chests and putting up banners.
After setting up camp, they set up the event coordinator booth filling it with giveaways, prizes and hunting apparel including T-shirts, hats and vests. Once that was done, they moved onto the coffee/latte bar so coffee could be ready at dawn. Lastly, they hauled and set up tables for the drawing on Saturday night.
Later in the afternoon, staff from BLM, MNP and Non Lead Ammo Vendor arrived and set up their booths, plus the SCI-OC Mobile Sensory semi truck arrived along with past SCI-OC Chapter President, Matt McCroskey. The stage was set for the arrival of the youth hunters and their families.
Around 4 p.m., hunters and families started showing up. Registration went smoothly with the booths remaining open until 8:30 p.m. Friday night. Kudos to Victoria for volunteering to man the registration booth for NPS along with Neal Darby. Once the hunters were registered, they were directed to the various booths where they were issued a blaze orange T-shirt and hat from CDA and a new hunting vest, courtesy of last year’s hunt proceeds.
Each hunter was issued a free drawing ticket for one of six major prizes: Remington 870 shotgun (donated by Randy Weber) , Hatson 20-gauge Escort semi-automatic shotgun (anonymous donor), $100 cash (donated by Tom/Deborah Downs), two $50 bills (donated by Cliff and Toni McDonald), a $50 Turner’s gift card (donated by Lyle and Marie Trottier). Hunters were able to visit the BLM booth where they received maps and a flashlight along with desert information of the immediate area and new monuments. Hunters were also issued non-lead ammo.
Saturday came early with volunteers starting up stoves at 4:30 a.m. in preparation for the day. Cowboy coffee was ready and several volunteers gathered around the campfire enjoying Judy’s coffee. The registration booth opened at 6 a.m. allowing late night arrivals to register and obtain hunting vests. Breakfast of sausage patties, country potatoes, biscuits & gravy along with fruit and orange juice was served. At 7 a.m. there was a mandatory safety talk given by Mike Norris of the CA F&W followed by guide assignment. Before departing for the field, a group picture was taken in front of the SCI Mobile Sensory Van. By 8 a.m., camp was empty as the hunters and their guides were already out in the field in search of their game.
All the hunters returned to camp by 4:30 p.m., no accidents, no problems, just a bunch of smiling faces. While the cooks were busy preparing dinner, Neal Darby showed the hunters how to clean and dress their game. The game was barbequed with the hunters enjoying fruits of their labor.
The hunters were again able to access the booths and visit the SCI Mobile Sensory Van. After a 6:30 p.m. dinner, everyone gathered under the pavilion in anticipation of winning a big prize. I can truthfully say that everyone was a winner just by looking at the love and camaraderie shared among the hunters and their families. This is what this event is all about–families sharing the great outdoors on our public lands.
In summation, we had 177 participants at this event, 29 guides, 30 volunteers, 15 support staff/vendors/game wardens and 44 junior hunters and their families. Early Saturday morning, the 44 hunters took to the field. These youth hunters brought back 65 quail and 55 cottontail–the best harvest year to date.
- Major Sponsors and Organizations that donated to this event:
- Mojave National Preserve (MNP)
- Safari Club International Orange County (SCIOC)
- Society for the Protection & Care of Wildlife (Water for Wildlife) Volunteers
- Bureau Of Land Management (BLM) Needles field office
- California Fish & Wildlife (CFW)
- Turners Outdoors
- California Deer Association (CDA)
- Quail Forever Riverside Chapter (QF)
- Route 66 Guns and Ammo, Barstow
- Barstow Guns, Barstow
- Alpen Optics
- Bass Pro Shop
Thanks to all who volunteered their time and donated raffle items. Without all your support, this event could not happen, and we’re already looking forward to the 2017 Hunt.