Outdoor / Fishing

Thursday, Jan 09 2014 05:12 PM

STEVE MERLO: Persistence pays off for big-game hunter

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    Brad Peters waited a long time for the opportunity to tag out on this Nevada desert bighorn sheep in November. The animal scored a whopping 162-inches.

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    By Bakersfield businessman Brad Peters displays his 229-1/2-inch Boone and Crockett score mule deer taken on the Arizona Strip in November. He finally drew the special tag after trying for 16 years.

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By STEVE MERLO, Contributing columnist

I've been lucky over the years when it came to applying for, and then being drawn for, California big-game lottery tags. My first-ever application, with Californian reporter Mike Griffith, netted us two coveted antelope tags for Northern California and we were both successful in taking nice animals during the special hunt.

Several years later, on our first attempt, we received G-6-Kern River Deer tags for the special late-season hunt above Kernville, and once again, our hunt was successful. Three years ago, I decided to try again, and with local businessman Damon Davis, pulled off another coup by getting more G-6 tags after our first application. Once again, the hunts were great and the venison tasted wonderful.

Now, no one has to tell me how lucky I've been in getting drawn, but my luck was nothing when it came to the absolute persistence one local businessman, Brad Peters, had to experience during his quest to get drawn for an elite, Arizona-strip mule deer trophy tag and extremely rare Nevada desert bighorn sheep tag.

When I drew my own, 50 successful applicants got to hunt the areas and less than 800 people applied for each hunt, so the overall odds weren't too bad.

In Peters' case, the total number of applicants was astronomical at best and the animals allowed to be taken in each area could be counted on one hand. Because trophy hunters from all over the world vied for the privileges, the odds were stacked against him, for sure.

Accumulating a single preference point for each application for both hunts, Peters pursued his dream of getting pulled for either, but without success. For 16 years he continued to try, dutifully sending in his money each year and yet never being drawn for either of hunting's Holy Grail big-game trophy hunts.

And then, in the summer of 2013, like magic and after so many heart breaking years, Peters drew both tags within two weeks of each other.

Getting the first tag was great, but to get both in one year was incredible. The hunting Gods had finally shined their luck upon him.

Now, just because he drew the rare tags didn't mean that he would successfully hunt either animal. The tags merely offered the legal opportunity to do so, and the trophy animals he would be hunting would not be easy to harvest.

In November, after a difficult and almost frustrating hunt on Arizona's famed mule deer Strip, Peters' bullet finally found the animal he was looking for when he tagged out on an incredible 229-1/2-inch Boone and Crockett score, 11x7 mulie with heavy beams and tall antlers.

Later in the month, Peters went to Nevada to find his ram, but without success.

During the hunt in extremely steep and rough terrain, he shot over the top of a nice desert ram at long range during what he called the "most difficult and physical hunt of my life." But, being Brad Peters, he was undeterred from his mission. He went back a week later, persevering once again for another chance at another big ram before the season -- and his dream -- ended. Finally, after another long and physically demanding hunt, Peters nailed his trophy, a 162-inch full-curl desert bighorn ram, one of the most respectable game animals any hunter can take.

So, as a big game hunter, do you have a specific trophy animal you'd like to add to your trophy wall? Are you willing to patiently persevere through time and money until you beat the long odds and get your chance at him?

Think about what Peters did and then think again about how long you're willing to wait.

Let's Go Fishing class

The Levan Institute for lifelong learning, founded in 2008 through an endowment from Dr. Norman Levan, a USC emeritus professor of medicine and semi-retired physician, continues its successful run of teaching older adults useful and interesting learning experiences at Bakersfield College.

After spending their lives working to earn a living for their families, retirees and other members of the Baby Boom generation are now wanting to relax and spend some free time doing what they've always dreamed of doing after working their whole lives -- going fishing!

For the third straight year, I'll be teaching the Let's Go Fishing class to the over-50 Baby Boomer crowd wanting to learn how to prepare for, fish for and catch local gamefish. A wealth of information will provide prospective anglers with the knowledge they need to catch their limits every time out on the water.

They'll also be able to show their grandchildren and kids how to catch the proverbial big one, with easy-to- use techniques.

Cost for the 3-hour class is only $15 to pay for classroom supplies.

The class will be held Jan. 18 in room Humanities (H) 20 from 6-9 p.m.

Contact Miriam (661) 395-4431 or email her at mvalenzu@bakersfieldcollege.edu to sign up or get more information on this fun and informative class.

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