Manteca’s countryside has been playing host to the annual pheasant hunt sponsored by the Stockton Sportsmen’s Club for more than half a century — 60 years to be exact. This project has been made possible in cooperation with local landowners.
The yearly event takes place around Thanksgiving. The hunters’ highly visible and familiar bright orange vests and/or hats, which are required, are visual giveaways while driving around the open hunting fields around this time.
“We have (hunting) fields all over Manteca,” said Sportsmen’s Club member John Wong who was one of those who took part in the hunt this past Thanksgiving.
This year, they released 3,600 birds.
This sports activity runs three weeks. On Thanksgiving Day though, it was held only for women and youth hunters.
The hunt is open to everybody, but participants have to obtain and pay for their hunting license, Wong explained.
The pictures for this story were taken in a wide open alfalfa field south of Perrin Road between Airport Way and Union Road. However, hunting fields change daily during each season so participants have to check a map each time they report at the sign-in trailer located at 3455 McMullin Road off South Airport Way, about five miles south of Highway 120.
The type of hunting fields used will vary depending on the crops that are rotated by the farmers. In the past, they have hunted in cut and uncut corn, pumpkin, and sugar beets, but mostly alfalfa. Hunts are controlled in the designated areas by club patrolmen. While hunt days start at 8 a.m. — check-in time is between 6 and 7:30 a.m. — starting time may be delayed due to the thickness of the fog in the area.
Participants are requested to pay a suggested donation of $35 per person for each day of the hunt to help defray the cost of the birds.
Each hunter is limited to two pheasants in the bag. An all-season “field pass” of $5 per person is also asked to help defray the cost for insurance which is assessed for anyone in the field - i.e., adult hunters, junior hunters and walkers. A walker is anyone who is not hunting (no gun contact) but would like to be in the field to watch. Trained hunting dogs are encouraged, but they must be under control.
For the annual hunt, club members raise eight-week-old pheasant chicks which are released when they are adult roosters.
Besides the regular annual pheasant hunt, the club also holds a scholarship hunt every year.
For additional information about the Stockton Sportsmen’s Club, other activities, membership and additional hunting requirements, visit the group’s website at http://www.stocktonsportsmensclub.com/pheasanthunting.html