Santa Cruz Island Hunt Club

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Danny Castagnola, Captain Chet Phelps, and Carey Stanton's assistant, Marla Daily on the Pier at Prisoners' Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, early 1980s
Archery guide Thom Yaras, Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island Hunt Club (1966-1985) operated as a partnership between Carey Stanton, president of the Santa Cruz Island Company, and partners Richard Lagomarsino and Bill Huffman from 1966 through 1985. The business was based in Ventura, California and operated for almost twenty years. The Club's business office was located at 2538 East Main Street in Ventura, California.

The Club began as a sheep and pig hunting enterprise with both a rifle season and an archery season, and in 1981 expanded to include summer recreational visits. Both feral pigs and sheep were hunted by both rifle and bow and arrow. Camps were separated with rifle hunters operating out of Christy Ranch on the island's west end, and archery hunters operating out of a rustic camp at Prisoners' Harbor. Occasionally hunters would come for quail and dove.

Its first month of operation in January 1966, a total of 64 hunters participated. For one flat fee, customers were transported to the island by plane (Christy Ranch) or boat (Prisoners' Harbor). Guides, meals, lodging, island transportation, trophy and meat animals and their cleaning and dressing were included in one price. In 1966 a two-day hunt cost $100. This included two trophy animals and one lamb.

Some twenty years later, the Club hunts cost had increased to $600/person. The Santa Cruz Island Company received 25% of the gross receipts. In 1966 this totaled $12,396. By its last year of operation, the Club was netting the Santa Cruz Island Company about $150,000 a year in income. The Santa Cruz Island Club ceased operating at the end of December 1985. Plagued by insurance problems and by The Nature Conservancy's desire to eliminate the feral sheep, the Club closed its doors after twenty years of successful operation. The following year, Channel Islands Adventures ran a similar operation for a brief time.

Santa Cruz Island Company revenue [25%] from the Santa Cruz Island Hunt Club:

1966 = $12,396
1967 = $27,752
1968 = $27,078
1969 = $29,089
1970 = $26,711
1971 = $29,562
1972 = $17,548 [drought — no fall season]
1973 = $31,860
1974 = $27,604
1975 = $32,057
1976 = $35,835
1977 = $46,911
1978 = $53,987
1979 = $76,829
1980 = $79,822
1981 = $112,410
1982 = $115,665
1983 = $133,027
1984 = $149,230
1985 = $148,996

TOTAL $1,214,369

Santa Cruz Island guides,
Monty Gratiot and Dennis Benadum

GUIDES: Santa Cruz Island Hunt Club guides ran the daily on-island operations with hunters and guests. Throughout twenty years of operation, dozens guides and employees worked on Santa Cruz Island, including:

  • Bell, Edward G. (early island guide who drowned at Albert's Anchorage, 1968)
  • Pete Bellow
  • Dennis Benadum (1946-2001)
  • Mike Benadum (d. 2006? in Thailand)
  • Earl Bennett (one of the first guides)
  • Johnny Bridgewater (d. )
  • Steve Brown (b. 1947) [1975-1979]
  • Tony Brown (b. 1950) [1974-]
  • Danny Brucker (b. 1947) 340-5547
  • Don Capelli (Nevada trapper)
  • Steve Chicato [Idaho]
  • Paul Dargetz (Buttonwillow)
  • Bobby Dearmore
  • Eric Dobbs
  • Randy Ehorn (d. )
  • Chris Ford
  • Mark Garza
  • Curtis Gay
  • David Gold
  • Monty Gratiot (1947-2007)
  • Jim Greyson (from Buttonwillow)
  • David Griggs (b. 1956)
  • Jack Gruell (Ventura) (one of the first guides)
  • John Hager
  • Ted Hastings
  • Gary Holcum
  • Bob Hubina (b. 1946) (Simi Valley) pre-1973 rifle
  • LeMoine Jensen (Santa Paula) (one of the first guides)
  • John Jones
  • Tim Kelly
  • Billy Kelty (heavy equipment operator)
  • Frank Maribal (Paso Robles)
  • Dave Mills (b. 1962)
  • Dennis Mulgrew
  • Willie Norlan (1948-2006)
  • Irene Osterman
  • Frank Otis
  • Jaret Owens (b. 1949)
  • Ken Owens (Jaret's 2nd cousin)
  • Russ Owens (Jaret's 2nd cousin)
  • Dave Parks (Thousand Oaks)
  • John Petit (Texas)
  • Otto Reynolds (1934-2006)
  • Roy Riddle (Oakview) (one of the first guides)
  • Gordon Ridge (1936-1966) [killed in the March 8, 1966 Christy Ranch plane accident on Santa Cruz Island]
  • Danny Rodney (Pasadena)
  • Ted Shatt ( -1966) [killed in March 8, 1966 Christy Ranch plane accident on Santa Cruz Island]
  • Tom Thomason [Ventura] (one of the first guides) father died of heart attack on island on guide's day. pre 1973 ~1969-70-71?
  • Mike Vaughan (Ojai)
  • Donny Weatherford
  • Vern Wetherford
  • Thom Yaras (b. 1950)
  • Bob Young

Apache Indian


  • Rick Berg
  • Len Daniello
  • Brian Kranz
  • JoAnn Malac
  • Susan Manchester
  • Robert "Rambo" Martin
  • Louie Martinez
  • Dave Mills
  • John Morgando
  • Thomas Nathanson
  • Duane Owens (Jaret Owen's father)
  • Doris Owens (Jaret Owen's mother)
  • Dave Parks
  • Lisa Rice
  • Paul Starboard
  • Bob Young [sheriff]
  • Dick Van Antwerp

In the News~

December 12, 1965 [Independent Press Long Beach]: “The Santa Cruz Island Hunt Club has just been organized, with headquarters at 2538 E. Main St., Ventura, and will be able to take nine persons to the island each weekend for wild boar and sheep hunting. This marks the first time that Santa Cruz Island has been opened to the public. The weekend trip is expensive, but if you are interested, write to the club for information.”

December 12, 1965 [Independent Star News pasadena]: “Santa Cruz Boar Hunting Due. Wild boar and sheep hunting on historic Santa Cruz Island will be conducted by the Santa Cruz Island Hunt Club, on weekends, starting Jan. 8 and continuing through March, reports Bill Huffman of the club. Nine hunters can be accommodated at the Christi Ranch each weekend and one boar and one sheep permitted. Air transportation from Santa Paula or Ventura county airport at Oxnard will be available. Information about reservations, rates and other details may be obtained by writing to Huffman at 2538 E. Main St., Ventura, Calif. Telephone (805) 643-4356.”

April 4, 1966 [LAT]: “Santa Cruz Island Hunters' Paradise. A new success story is being added to the Southland's hunting pages these days by the Santa Cruz Island Hunt Club. The club, launched last January by Bill Huffman and Rick Lagomarsino, has given Southern California hunters a golden opportunity to enjoy some excellent boar and sheep hunting on Santa Cruz Island. Thanks to an agreement with the Santa Cruz Island Co., which owns 85% of the island, the club was able to open a whooping 54,000 acres for controlled hunting. This is a big break for the public, because hunting acreage is getting scarcer and scarcer every year. It is interesting to note that this is the first time public hunting has been allowed on the island since Andres Castillero received it as a land grant from Mexico in 1839. Hunters happy. "We are particularly pleased with the reaction of the hunters," declared Huffman as he viewed the club's activities since it started operations. A glance at the records tells in glowing figures why the hunters are happy. In the first three months, for example, 211 hunters visited the island and they bagged 186 boar for a nifty 88% average and 270 trophy rams for a robust 128% average per shooter. Huffman said some of the boar really get king-sized, going up to about 400 pounds. He added that many of the animals taken have had outstanding tusks. Huffman emphasized that hunting is limited to nine shooters with each group of three accompanied by a guide. Due to the large amount of area available, rifle and archery hunting is done simultaneously, he added. The island lies 25 miles offshore between Ventura and Santa Barbara and hunters may fly or take a boat for their hunts.Every hunter is given three tags, two trophy tags and one meat tag. The meat tag is used for a lamb. Extra trophies are available at $10 each. The hunts are of two days duration, starting on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays until the current season ends May 31. Total cost for the hunt is $100. This fee includes guide, all transportation on the island, meals, lodging and taking care of the hunter's game. The cost of transportation to the island, by airplane or boat, is extra. Arrangements for transportation are made by the club. Hunters wishing complete details about these hunts may secure them by writing to: Santa Cruz Island Hunt Club, 2538 E. Main St., Ventura, or phoning the club at 643-5356 (area code 805).”

April 9, 1967 [LAT]: “Happy Hunting Ground.Santa Cruz Island—62,500 acres of rugged landscape separated from the Southern California mainland by 25 miles of ocean—is not a particularly unusual member of the scattered archipelago known as the Channel Islands. But last year it became, for the first time since it was acquired by Andres Castillero from Mexico in 1839, a happy hunting ground for a fortunate few Southland sportsmen. The Santa Cruz Island Co., operator of a cattle ranch on the island, now allows hunters to stalk the wild boar and trophy rams that roam the Santa Cruz landscape. Nobody knows for sure how the wild boar and rams got there, but its pretty certain they weren't around when the shellfish-eating Canalino Indians occupied the island before the Spanish arrived. Whatever their origin, the fact is that the beasts make fine game for both table and trophy room. The hunts, one of which is shown in the photographs on this and the following two pages, are carefully controlled by the Santa Cruz Island Hunt Club, with headquarters in Ventura. The two proprietors of the club are Bill Huffman, 36, and Rick Lagomarsino, 35. Island safaris last two days, beginning on Monday, Wednesday or Friday. Hunters are flown to the island by Murray Aviation of Ventura in a Cessna 310 or Cessna Skymaster and are lodged in the adobe Christi Ranch House that may date from 1864. A fee of $125 includes everything except the $20 air fare. The hand-picked guides are Roy Riddle of Oak View, LeMoine Jensen of Santa Paula, Thom Thomason of Ventura and Jack Gruell of Ventura, working on a one-on-three-off basis to handle a total of nine hunters on any single day/ Nimrods hunt from a jeep or afoot during a season that runs to May 31. The club, reserved to capacity this season, sets bag limits and the season. There are thousands of sheep and boar on Santa Cruz Island, evidence that the animals have been there for many decades. The sheep are of the French "merino" type, descendants of those taken to the island in the late 1800s as a commercial venture. The wild boar are European, some with 4-inch tusks and weighing up to 300 pounds. How the pigs got on the island is anybody's guess, but the conjecture is that either otter-hunting Russians, explorers, padres or Spanish traders put them there. They probably came after the Canalino Indians died off, since there is no trace of the animals in the Indian mounds. The hunt club caters to two types of sportsmen: shooters and archers. The bow-and-arrow boys stay at Prisoners' Harbor, where there is a little stream, and they are the only hunters who make the channel crossing by boat. The hardy archers pay only $50 and bring their own food and sleeping bags. This season, 237 archers bagged 49 wild boars and 225 trophy rams. The rifle hunters have had the greater success. Gene Hurley of Los Angeles shot the largest wild boar, weighing 300 pounds, last year. Dr. Earl Hein, a dentist, shot the record ram to date. It had a horn curl and circumference total of 88 inches.”

September 4, 1967 [LAT]: “Island Seasons Set. Bill Huffman of the Santa Cruz Island Club announced that the island will hold a split season for wild boar and sheep. During the first shoot, Oct. 28 to Dec. 17, hunters may take quail in addition to boar and sheep. Huffman said there will be one three-day hunt and two two-day hunts each week with hunters divided into three groups. Generally a hunting group consists of three hunters, but occasionally the number os raised to four. Fee for the two-day hunt is $125. The three-day hunt costs $175. Room, board and guide is included in these prices. Two-day hunters may take one boar and one sheep, while three-day hunters are given three tags. Huffman said reservations can be made by writing to the club at its Ventura headquarters.”

November 10, 1967 [LAT]: “Island Trophy Hunt. Big rams and boar taken on Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz Island—A light afternoon breeze rustled the grass on Loma Pelona as Tommy Thomason, binoculars in hand, inched his way to the ledge of the peak. After a quick glimpse of the hillside below our guide jumped back as though he's sat on a piece of cactus. "This IS the jackpot," he said softly. "This is what we've been looking for—a herd of sheep with a couple of dozen trophy rams. Move slowly, pick out a big one, and fire." Art Rogers, Eddie Bruse and this writer [Lupi Saldana] followed instructions to the letter. A handful of well-placed shots from our trusty 270s and we had three beautiful ram trophies. The horns measured 80-1/2, 79 and 74 inches, which compare favorably with the record 87-incher taken two years ago by Dr. Earl Hein of Burbank. The horns' size is determined by the combined length of each horn from the base to the tip and adding the circumference of the base to both horns. This introduction to hunting on Santa Cruz wasn't exactly a surprise. In the second season of the Santa Cruz Island Club last winter 442 shooters bagged 456 rams and 341 boar. This represented a handsome success average of 103% for sheep and 77% for boar. The island's wild boar population was also impressive. We saw about three dozen pigs during the combination ram-boar hunt to Loma Pelona and the largest bagged was by our trio weighed 105 pounds. However, Thomason and I flushed a much larger black tusker while hunting quail. Daddy of 'em all. Tommy, who has guided since the club started public hunting three years ago, said this was the "daddy" of all the boar he has seen. We were both close enough to see the giant tusks on the boar. Quail hunting, compared to boar and sheep hunting, is mediocre. In fact, the quail are offered only as a bonus to hunters during the state's regular season. Santa Cruz is the largest of the Channel Islands. It is about 32 miles long and nine miles at its widest point. Mt. Diablo is the highest peak. It has an elevation of 2,480 feet. Many of the peaks look barren but are actually covered by deep grass and four ranges have pine trees. Hunting is done on the 65,000 acres owned by Dr. Carey Stanton. This acreage represents 85% of the island. Two brothers own the other 15% and they do not allow hunting. Thomason said hunters haven't yet set foot on about 18,000 acres of the hunting terrain. The island is ideal for sheep and boar because it is mountainous, has lots of grass and other feed and plenty of water. The pigs do so much rooting for roots and worms on the grassy mountain slopes that they look like they had been cultivated with a machine. Bill Huffman and Rick Lagomarsino, who conduct the hunting operation, noted that wild boar and sheep have been on Santa Cruz Island for a long time, but there is no record of when they were introduced. The boar are believed to have been on the island the longest. The sheep are descendants of the Spanish Merino, which have developed into a hardy game animal.”

April 24, 1968 [Redlands Daily Facts]: “ Sheriff on island search for missing man. Santa Barbara —Sheriff's deputies have launched a land and air search off lonely Santa Cruz Island for a 25-year-old former Norwalk man who landed on the island last March 21 but has been reported missing. The missing man, Edward G. Bell, had been a caretaker for a hunting preserve there leased by the Santa Cruz Island Club, a sportsmen's group. Bell was reported missing by the club's president, William E. Huffman, Ventura, who said he could find no trace of him at the club's camp, but found a skiff with its bottom smashed in and a pair of shoes resembling those worn by Bell on the beach.”

August 22, 1968 [LAT]: “Hunting Dates. Officials of hunting facilities at Catalina and Santa Cruz islands have set their dates for the 1968-69 seasons. Bill Huffman of the Santa Cruz Island Club said that island will have a split season for boar and sheep, Nov. 2-Dec. 15 and Jan. 4-March 30. Huffman said hunters will be allowed to hunt quail during the first half of the season at no extra charge. He said reservations for the first part of the season are already full and weekends in the second half are almost filled. Doug Bombard announced the following dates for seasons at Catalina: Archery (goat and boar)—Oct. 5-6 and 12-13; Dec. 7-29; March 8-May 25. Rifle (goat and boar)—Jan. 4-Feb. 23. Shotgun (quail)—Nov. 2-Dec. 1.”

August 3, 1969 [LAT]: “Shangri-la isn't across the sea; it's just across the channel... The hunting is run by the Santa Cruz Island Club, which is operated by a pair of Ventura businessmen under an arrangement with Dr. Stanton. The club has three activities: A camp for bow hunters at Prisoners' Harbor on the north side of the island, a lodge for gun hunters at the Christi Ranch on the west side of the island, and a skin divers' resort at Albert's Anchorage on the south side of the island. Each of these is a rather closely supervised operation—the hunters make advance reservations and are accompanied by guides, and the visitors to Albert's Anchorage come only on chartered boats which have made arrangements with the club. Idle wandering on Santa Cruz Island is not encouraged. I went out to Santa Cruz with a group of hunters one day, taking off from Ventura Airport in a six-passenger Cessna. The pilot took us over the crest of the island (the highest peak is just over 2,400 feet) and landed on a cow-pasture field where we were met by one of the guides in a jeep. Usually there are nine hunters staying on the west end of the island during the winter months, and three guides. So this was a changing of the guard. One group of hunters was ready to come back on the same plane, and their prizes had been shipped on the early baggage plane—the skins neatly rolled up and ready for tanning, the white rams' heads with their beautiful curving horns and the bristling boar's heads with their long tusks ready to be sent to the taxidermist and turned into trophies. We piled into a jeep and drove along a winding dirt road to the old ranch house, now used for a hunting lodge. It coasts $125 for a two-day hunt on Santa Cruz Island, plus air fare and the other normal expenses. This is not too expensive, as hunting trips go, but it is not a poor man's weekend. The Santa Cruz Island Club's information sheet has a paragraph on WHAT TO BRING. It says, "The things you should bring are: Alcoholic beverages and mix, rifle, ammunition and personal effects." So fas as I could tell, not a single hunter had omitted and of the staples. While dinner was cooking, bottles of Scotch and and bourbon and brandy emerged from suitcases and there was much talk of other hunting trips. Even a few hours on the island had done something to everybody's appetite, and when the dinner of steak and beans and salad and garlic bread was ready all the talk stopped. Afterward we sat around the table for another hour or two; then everybody went to bed. We would be getting up around 5:30. With the first light of day the next morning we were into the jeeps and moving across the island, on dirt roads that followed the crests of the hills. Along the way we spotted occasional bunches of sheep, which would run like hell across the steep hills when they saw us. I saw one specimen of another one of the island's biological curiosities: the fox. Santa Cruz Island has several animals—blue jays, foxes, bats, skunks—which have evolved in slightly different ways from their relatives on the mainland, and are not found anywhere else in the world. The fox is a beautiful little animal, no bigger than a cat, bluish in color and big-eared. We drove to Coches Prietos (black pigs) canyon on the south side of the island, and the hunters fanned out and moved down through the gulch hoping to scare up some wild boar. Before the day was out most of them would have either a boar or sheep, and before the two-day hunt was over most of them would have both. The sheep and pig hunting is not regulated by the state game laws; everybody who comes on a two-day bunt is given tags for one sheep and one pig, and if he wants to he can buy more tags. I was planning to take a look at another part of the island—the skin divers' camp so that morning I separated myself from the hunting expedition and started out on foot for Albert's Anchorage. It was a short and easy stroll from where I left the guides. The beach at Albert's Anchorage was clean and warm in the morning sunshine. It has a Tahitian ambiance, which is no accident. There are six neat bamboo huts along the beach, facing out toward the neat little cove where one small boat stood at anchor and a big pelican flapped about in circles, diving for fish. I was planning to meet a boat, the Island Packer, that would be coming in around noon with a load of skin divers, and I did not know there was a full-time caretaker on the beach. I was surprised to find him there, getting ready to meet the boat. Albert's Anchorage is used mainly by diving and surf-fishing parties, although the whole setup—the secluded beach with six bamboo huts—has possibilities that I think Hugh Heffner would appreciate. Whatever your intentions, it costs $240—plus boat fare—to take it over for the weekend. Skin diving is easily the main sporting attraction of the islands. Most of the group at Albert's Anchorage that day were from the San Francisco area, and a group of that size is only a small fraction of the total number of divers who come to the islands on a weekend. Jack Jannis, a Santa Monica diving instructor who frequently takes groups to Anacapa and Santa Cruz, estimates there are a minimum of a thousand divers in the water around the islands on an average weekend day...”

September 1, 1969 [LAT]: “A split season, Oct. 25-Dec. 14 and Jan. 2-march 29, has been set for boar and sheep hunting on Santa Cruz Island. Bill Huffman and Rick Lagomarsino, who conduct the hunts for the Santa Cruz Island Club in Ventura, said that during the last season nearly all of the hunters bagged a ram and 50% took a boar. There will be two two0day and one three-day hunts weekly. The fee for two-day hunts will be $125 and for three days $175. Two-day hunters receive two tags to take two animals and three-day hunters receive three tags to take three animals. Huffman said that last winter's heavy rainfall produced a bountiful crop of feed and as a result animals are in excellent condition. Reservations for the hunts can be made by phoning (805) 643-4356.”

August 28, 1970 [LAT]: “Reservations for the 1970-1 boar and sheep hunt on Santa Cruz Island are going fast. Within days after the dates (Oct. 30-Dec. 13 and Jan. 3-March 28) were announced, all weekend hunts and half the week-day shoots were reserved. Bill Huffmann and Rick Lagomarsino, who operate the Santa Cruz Island Club in Ventura, expect to fill the remaining hunts in a short time. A waiting list is being kept to accommodate hunters wishing to secure reservations which may be cancelled. The weekly schedule consists of two two-day hunts and one three-day hunt with each hunt limited to 10 persons. Two-day hunts cost $125, three-day hunts $175. Fees include guides, jeep transportation on the island, lodging, meals and boar and sheep tags. The round trip flight to the island is $25 extra.”

September 2, 1984 [Lompoc Record]: “Club will hunt, remove Santa Cruz Island sheep. Santa Barbara—An agreement has been reached to stop the Nature Conservancy efforts to eradicate sheep on at least one third of Santa Cruz Island and instead allowing a club to hunt and take the sheep off the island in increasing numbers. The agreement is to date only verbal and with slightly differing versions. Court proceedings against the Nature Conservancy have been dropped—for the time being. A preliminary injunction hearing had been scheduled in Superior Court in Santa Barbara on Friday. The injunction, sought by the California Wildlife Federation, would have halted the Conservancy's three-year-old program which aims to completely destroy the sheep population on the island in the Santa Barbara Channel. The Conservancy began the program in an effort to protect sensitive, native vegetation from the root-eating sheep and the possible, subsequent erosion of the land. Under the terms of the agreement, the Santa Cruz Island Club would increase its take of the sheep through its sport hunting operation, said both Bob McKay of the Wildlife Federation and Bob Hansen, the Conservancy's Santa Cruz Island program director. McKay said the agreement stipulated that the Conservancy would halt its eradication program until April, 1985 and the club would reduce the population of sheep by "an additional 5,000 animals" in the meantime. Hansen said he did not know of a specific time frame or date, but referred to the club's "hunting season" as ending in spring, perhaps in April. Hansen said the Conservancy does intend to go in and "get the rest of the sheep in the areas where the Conservancy has done ground hunting. He said there may only be a handful of sheep left in those areas, which are fenced and cover about two-thirds of the island. "Eventually the Conservancy would like to see a "sheep-free island," Hansen said, adding it plans to re-evaluate the situation in spring after the hunting season. McKay said representatives of the three groups, including himself and Hansen, met last Saturday and flew over the island. There were no attorneys present. "In the area we were most concerned with, the archery hunting areas, the sheep were completely eradicated," said McKay. He charged that the Conservancy had destroyed a hunting recreation area that was "the very best in the United States." The Conservancy disagreed. The areas cleared of sheep were "not suitable for hunting," said Hansen. The Conservancy began its eradication efforts in 1981. It has been criticized for its methods—shooting the sheep and leaving them to rot on the ground. Hansen estimated that 15,000 sheep have been killed. At least 10,000, perhaps 15,000 remain he said.”

November 17, 1985 [LAT]: “Twelve Los Angeles hunters were home safe, sound and dry, Monday after stormy three-day ordeal during which they were: Stranded overnight by rain and mud on Santa Cruz Island and forced to hike 12 miles; pounded in rough water 17 miles south of Santa Barbara when a fuel line on their cabin cruiser ruptured; rescued by a Japanese freighter after the Coast Guardsmen said they were so busy with other sea rescues they could not respond in time. When the party finally arrived Tuesday morning in Long Beach Harbor aboard the freighter Tamon Maru they were still cold and soaked to the skin. But none was ill or seriously injured. Their haul for the three day hunt: nothing. The rain forced them to leave an estimated 300 dead sheep and boar somewhere on Santa Cruz. Several men even lost expensive rifles. "After the first night we were completely soaked and we stayed soaked," said Don N. Yates Jr., 32, after taking a hot shower at home. "I'm just happy to get myself and my rifles back." Yates, a space systems engineer who lives at 6607 Lederer Ave., Canoga Park, said the trip was organized by the Southern California Executive Shooting Club. It was his first trip with the club and the first time he had met some of the other hunters. As far as he knew, the party included: Bob Gibbons, owner of a Honda motorcycle agency in Van Nuys; Howard R. Vermillion, operator of a pack station in Wyoming, presently living in Los Angeles; Nelson French, carpenter and friend of Gibbons who lives somewhere in the San Fernando Valley; Nat Prescott, a test engineer who lives in Palos Verdes; Geroge Kaeding of Hawthorne, Robert K. McNichol of Torrance, and Inglewood, all co-workers of Yates at TRW Space Technology Laboratory in Redondo Beach; and George Bock, Jr., Claude Coats, Jerome Hallalan and Arthur D. Blatt, all of Los Angeles or elsewhere in the southland. According to Yates, the hunters originally planned to return Sunday night. They flew to the island that Saturday morning from Oxnard Airport. After landing on the island, they were met by its owner, Carey Stanton, who drove them by jeep to a remote mountain top, 2,200 feet above sea level, at the other end of the island. He was supposed to pick them up Sunday morning. Unfortunately, Saturday night it rained. "We weren't prepared for any wet weather because we were told to travel light," said Yates. They spent a second night in the rain, eating sheep and boar. Monday, realizing rescue was not at hand, the men hiked 12 miles back to Dr. Stanton's home and phoned for a boat. About 8 p.m. it arrived, the Verna F from Santa Barbara, owned by Kenneth O. Lamb. The men boarded the 56-foot cabin cruiser and it took off for Port Hueneme in rough seas. "All but four of us were seasick from stem to stern," recalled Yates. Suddenly a fuel line ruptured, flooding the bilge with 700 gallons of gasoline. A May Day call was broadcast to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard replied it was on another rescue mission and couldn't be there until 2 a.m. Gibbons, said Yates, started sending SOS signals with his flashlight. Dim as they were, they were spotted by the Japanese freighter. An hour and a half later they were aboard and headed for Long Beach. The Coast Guard finally towed the Verna F with Lamb aboard to Port Hueneme.”

December 11, 1985 [William E. Huffman, President, Santa Cruz Island Club]: “The Santa Cruz Island Club is very sorry to report we are experiencing some severe problems with our liability insurance requirements which have temporarily, and may permanently force us to halt operations. After all these years it is heartbreaking to run into a problem that seems to defy solution. We're not alone, as a number of you fellows have described your personal horror stories about liability insurance. Many sound businesses are foundering and their good employees forced into unemployment. It doesn't seem fair.

If indeed we are not able to restart, we will be planning to return all deposits in an orderly fashion. The S. C. I. Club, Inc. has adequate assets to cover all deposits but not enough cash at this moment to return everyone's deposit immediately. It is necessary that all cancelled hunts receive equal treatment. A comprehensive list of those who have made deposits is being drawn up. All deposits should be returned to those who made them. Our records only show last names in some cases. If necessary would you please provide full names and addresses.

In the event we are unable to resume, and all hunts have to be cancelled we want to have everyone notified and the comprehensive list of depositors drawn upon as soon as possible.

So that all deposits can be paid soon, we have begun to look towards the liquidation of assets. One such sale has been set in motion and should be completed in the near future.

In addition, I want you to know that all salaries have been cancelled so we are interested in a quick wrap-up if no solution to the insurance problem emerges.

It's been a wonderful twenty years. For our side we've tried to run a first class operation and give value received. I know you fellows must have many fond memories too. Who knows, maybe we can save it yet. We are talking to a group who hopes to take over our operation. This is a possibility. The hunts taking place later this season may yet go as scheduled so you may wish to credit your deposit to a hunt then. I hope we can count on your patience and cooperation.”