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By STEVE MERLO, Contributing columnist
In most instances, hunters thinking of venturing out of state during 2014 big-game season will need to have a current hunter safety certificate to purchase licenses. Also, junior and first- time hunters, or those unable to produce a prior year's license, will also have to show proof of having taken a state- certified hunter safety course. Without that evidence, no licenses can be issued and prospective hunters will be out of luck.
Fortunately, Kern Shooting Sports will hold spring classes to enable hunters to get the jump on big-game tags and the inevitable rush to purchase licenses and special hunt applications before the deadlines and the September hunting seasons come due. The first course runs March 8-9, and the second, an internet class, will be available on March 10. Both classes are by preregistration only and students can call Jay Busby at (661) 871-9025 for more information.
Police Activities League shoot
The Bakersfield Police Activities League clay shoot is set for Feb. 22 at the Kern County Gun Club. "Pull for P.A.L." will raise funds to sustain programs that develop after school education assistance for under privileged kids. Contact the PAL office (661) 283-8880 for more info on this worthy cause. Contributions are tax deductable.
Multiple sclerosis shoot
Local team "Beating MS since 09, One Step at a Time," sponsored by the Southern California Chapter of the National MS Society, will also hold a Sporting Clay shoot at the Kern County Gun Club on March 15 to help raise funds to defeat MS. A huge raffle and lunch will complement the day's five-man-team shooting schedule. The tourney is still a month away, but promoters are giving prospective sponsors enough time to sign up for this important fundraising event. Sponsorships are tax deductible. Contact Chanel Prince at (661) 699-9533 or Darrin Armstrong at (661) 565-4041 to register or join up with the MS team.
Leonard Pitts, syndicated columnist for the Miami Herald, wrote a Feb. 3 piece on the op-ed page entitled "Getting Trigger Happy in the Gunshine State," pointing his crooked finger at the legal possession of guns in Florida and not liking it one bit. He also went after other pro-gun states, calling them "states of insanity" because they allow citizens to legally keep, bear and actually shoot their firearms. He also espoused mandatory gun owner liability insurance for all of us, despite the fact that, overall, we are incredibly safe gun handlers.
According to international statistics, the United States is at the bottom of the list for being one of the worst countries in the world for gun violence. That's a true statement, but when one removes the gun-related deaths occurring in New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit and New York, the U.S. becomes one of the safest countries in the world in regards to gun violence, landing at the top of the list for gun safety in the No. 3 or 4 spot.
Mr. Pitts is indeed entitled to his opinion, but when his writing puts down the Constitutional provisions of our great country, then he needs to be taken to task. While he sits there hiding behind the Constitution's first amendment guaranteeing his right to free speech, he categorically wants to deny us our own Constitutional right to own and shoot a gun.
The fact that Mr. Pitts doesn't like guns is fine, that's his opinion, and no one is twisting his arm to get one. But to treat gun-loving, law-abiding citizens with disdain runs against the grain of every conscientious gun owner in the country, including mine. Our Constitution protects all citizens' rights to keep and bear arms, regardless of what one un-American's drivel has to say about it.
Annual sports show
Be sure to mark Feb. 28, March 1-2 on your calendar for the 37th annual Central Valley Sportsmen, Boat and RV Show at the Kern County Fairgrounds. Once again, Mike Hatcher has invited some of the best outdoor experts in the world to come in and provide invaluable information regarding hunting and fishing.
Returning this year will be the Bass Bin, where experts use the latest techniques and lures to cajole huge bass into biting. There' will also be fly fishing demonstrations, dog handling, professional fishing and hunting seminars, games for kids, a huge rodeo, RVs of all descriptions, ski and fishing boats, a super car show and the largest sand drag race ever held in the county. The kids will also be able to catch their very own rainbow trout out of the popular trout pond sponsored by Berkley Fishing Products.