GARY SECORA of Sonora is an avid big game hunter who has taken several trophy animals over the years, including six big bull elk in the last six years on public land in New Mexico.

This year, he was successful again in taking a huge bull elk with a 9 x 6 rack that scored 384 2/8 in the Boone and Crockett record book.

He was hunting in southwest New Mexico along with his wife, Lori, and, during the course of the hunt, they spotted 17 other large bulls before Lori eyed the big one that he decided to take.

This would be quite an accomplishment for the average able-bodied hunter, but for Gary it was much more since he is a 100-percent disabled Vietnam veteran. Also, this year, he harvested an antelope with a horn height of 18 inches and a mule deer with a 5x4 set of antlers.

HUNTING IS something that goes back to our ancestors, who found it a means of supplying food for their families. As the heritage was passed on from generation to generation and limits were set, it became a sport for many as well as for supplying food. Game management was established, and seasons and limits declared to maintain a harvest that would keep the game from over-feeding their habitat which would create starvation and illness.

In recent years, anti-hunter factions have put pressure on the sport and it seems that most new, young hunters are introduced to hunting by their fathers or grandfathers who grew up hunting and those youths who never had such a connection never know what they are missing.

A few years ago, a study was of Wisconsin by Robert Jackson and Robert Norton. They interviewed and/or observed in the field more than 600 waterfowl hunters and 1,000 deer hunters and theorized that hunters pass through several distinct phases as they evolve.

Phase one is the shooter stage. These are usually beginners and getting a lot of shooting is the measure of the hunt.

Phase two is the limiting-out stage. The hunter is focused on getting a limit of birds or filling his or her big-game tag.

Phase three is the trophy stage. The hunter has switched from quantity to quality.

Phase four is the method stage. Hunters become zealous about hunting. They use huge spreads of decoys, the best tree stands, elaborate blinds and camouflaged boats. Taking of game becomes secondary to how it is taken.

Phase five is the sportsmanship stage. At this point, satisfaction comes from the entire hunting experience and often passing it on to others.

EVEN THOUGH waterfowl numbers in the San Joaquin Valley have increased since the recent storms, averages at the state and federal shooting areas have still been low.

Last Saturday, the highest average of birds per hunter was at Merced Refuge which posted a 2.7. Kesterson had a 1.5, Volta a 1.8, and San Luis a 1.8. With more birds in the area now, the key still remains the weather. The Sacramento Valley refuges are doing better since the rice fields are keeping more waterfowl in that area.

THE BEST fishing reports are coming from New Melones where anglers are doing well from shore at Angels Cove and Glory Hole Point. Chartreuse glitter Power Bait has been the best producer. Trollers are picking up a few rainbows with flasher-worm combinations and Needlefish lures at a depth of 15 to 20 feet.

The winner of last weeks Big Fish contest at the Outpost in Mono Village was Dale Pickins with a 14.5-inch, one-pound trout caught at Melones on a Woolyworm fly.