DISCOVERY BAY -- James Kellogg picked up his award for "Californian of the Year" from the Outdoor Writers Association of California, and then he went hunting, and hunting, and hunting again.
Kellogg said he planned to hunt deer from horseback for six days in Nevada, and then head to Canada for more deer hunting. The final trip on his agenda was in Montana, where the 69-year-old recently retired union representative will hunt elk.
Many Californians opposed to the killing of wildlife might abhor the vacation plans of the Fish and Game commissioner who was recently named president of the commission. He's heard it before. As the longest-serving member of the commission, Kellogg has seen his share of political shootouts over the best use of California's wild lands. Hunting, however, is something he loves to do.
The Discovery Bay resident has no illusions about the challenges hunters like him face in modern society. He envisions a day when hunters and fishermen become extinct. Times have changed since his childhood in Richmond, he said.
"Most all kids in those days grew up with a fishing pole in one hand and a BB gun in the other. We were outdoors all the time. Kids today have a cellphone in one hand and a remote control in the other, and they spend all their time indoors," he said.
The two worlds often clash at Fish and Game Commission meetings. The commission sets hunting and fishing season and limits. It also has a say in determining threatened or endangered species.
"We go through a public process," Kellogg said. "There's a lot of back and forth and a lot of animosity."
It might surprise some to hear he often advocates for preservation of local species. He voted to shut down salmon fishing for two seasons when the population crashed. He also recently closed the already limited hunting season for sage grouse in Lassen County. Fires there decimated the birds' habitat.
"It was just the right thing to do. We've lost so much habitat over the years," he lamented.
Hunters and fishermen help fund habitat programs with everything from donations to taxes and licensing charges. "It's all about protecting and preserving what we have."
Marilyn Hendrickson, who produces fishing and outdoor radio shows with her husband, said Kellogg has an impressive resume of community service on some of the state's most powerful commissions. Two schools have been named for Kellogg.
"His leadership abilities are legendary, and he has gained the respect and admiration of all who have had dealings with him," said Hendrickson, who served for a year on the Fish and Game Commission with Kellogg.
Kellogg's even keel as he listens to both sides of an issue at the Fish and Game Commission may be the reason three governors have named him to the commission for a term that has lasted a decade. Former Gov. Gray Davis first chose him. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gov. Jerry Brown reinstated him.
Kellogg was voted president of the commission this summer after Commissioner Dan Richards was effectively demoted from the position. The embattled Richards, who earlier this year was pictured hugging a mountain lion he had legally shot in Idaho, will sit on the board for six more months. Kellogg took the uproar in stride and is looking forward to getting back to the business of the commission.
"It's not easy," he says of the controversies that often embroil his commission, "but I guess I must do some of it right. Even my adversaries will sit and break bread."