Raising funds to benefit deer and wildlife habitation in northern California, 300 people attended Saturday night’s banquet put on by the Mt. Shasta Chapter of the California Deer Association.

The walls of the Dance Country Ballroom were lined with tables of sporting and hunting items to be raffled or auctioned off. Raymond’s Catering served top sirloin with chicken piccata and his specialty, cheese ravioli.

Families, conservationists, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts visited, ate and had fun while supporting California's deer and wildlife.

“We got into this because the deer herds in California are having a hard time and we want to help,” said Trenton Willis, one of the organizers and chapter co-chairmen of the CDA. “We have been doing this for eight years. We raised lots of money to fund wildlife projects. We have planted mountain mahogany and bitter brush in the area. We also put in water guzzlers (water troughs) for deer and wildlife in Siskiyou County. We also have our annual Chiara Tadina Memorial Hunter Safety Course for our youth. Anyone interested can contact me at (707) 338-7820 for more information.”

National Public Radio stated in their March 20, 2018 publication that hunting licences are down by 50 percent with the attitude towards wildlife changing to other activities such as bird watching, hiking and photography. The money from hunting licences goes towards wildlife conservation. It states that some states are adding general sales taxes to help public lands, while Congress is looking at tapping oil and gas revenues to help with wildlife conservation.

“Conservationists need to be looking at what is the next step to keep our conservation programs and places strong and healthy,” said Mary Jean Huston, director of The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin. “Things need to evolve.”

“We need to be supportive of the wildlife conservation because there is no other means of support,” said John McDowell of Mount Shasta, a deer hunter and outdoor enthusiast who participates in the annual fundraiser.

The event lasted about seven hours and included dinner, games, raffles and auction. Forty firearms were raffled off along with hundreds of other raffles items, including some for youth.

“Our goal is to raise as much money as we can to bring back our deer population into Siskiyou County,” said chapter co-chairman Michael Burns. “We also want to bring our youth into the outdoors and make it accessible to them. You can google caldeer.org for more information about the California Deer Association and what we are doing to help.”

Craig Kay, a Dunsmuir native and avid hunter who is running for office as Siskiyou County Assessor-Recorder, said he enjoyed the evening’s festivities. “I love this event,” he said. “I think this is a great social event to support the deer and wildlife habitation. I have been hunting these parts as long as I can remember. And I see the changes through the years.”

Field director Pat Fitzmorris, the event’s master of ceremonies, said that without the great support from the local community the CDA would not be able to reach its goal of overall better deer quality in California and “bringing back the good ol’ days.”