Beyond the Badge

Mornings in a duck blind bond two lieutenants

Two men in camouflage outfits in a field.
Lt. Ricardo Jauregui, left, and Lt. Thomas Presson are longtime friends who work at Sierra Conservation Center. The pair spend their off-time hunting.

Two CDCR lieutenants, Ricardo Jauregui and Thomas Presson, have similar life stories as well as a shared passion for hunting. They went to high school together and later joined the department just six months apart. Rather than letting the stress of work and life come between them, they’ve found ways to strengthen their friendship through a shared love of hunting. Our latest story in the Beyond the Badge series takes a closer look at their rural route to maintaining work-life balance.

The two work at Sierra Conservation Center but that wasn’t always the case. Lt. Presson began his career at San Quentin State Prison, transferred to Deuel Vocational Institution and then went to Sierra Conservation Center, where he’s been since 2012.

The two promoted through the ranks together but have continued to find time to do what they enjoy. Two years ago, they became duck hunting partners.

“It has helped us both decompress from daily stresses of being in corrections,” said Lt. Jauregui. “We love hunting ducks because of the work and preparation it takes to call them in to you. It’s an art.”

Lt. Presson said hunting allows him to spend time devoted to his family.

“Duck hunting allows me an avenue to leave the daily stress of work behind and remind me of what life is really about, which is spending time with your family and friends and appreciating what nature has to offer,” he said. “I have made hunting a family activity with my wife and kids. Teaching my kids how to hunt has benefited them by learning several important lessons in life to include responsibility, firearm safety, the importance of fair chase and conservation.”

The activity also allows his to spend quality time with his friend.

“Lt. Jauregui and I have known each other and been friends for over 20 years. Hunting together has strengthened our friendship. We often sit in the duck blind and talk about life and our families. Lt. Jauregui did not come from a hunting background but wanted to get involved so I started to take him hunting,” he said.

Lt. Presson said hunting is about much more than shooting guns.

“Hunting is an activity that is rich in tradition that requires a lot of preparation and work. Duck hunting is more than seeing how many shells you shoot or how many ducks you harvest, it’s about the experience as a whole and who you share it with, making memories that will last a lifetime,” he said. “Being able to trick wary waterfowl is an art in itself.”

Passing along traditions is something Lt. Presson sees as critical in a consumer-oriented, fast-paced, digital world.

“I am lucky to have a good friends and a loving family to share the experience with. As a hunter, it is my responsibility to pass on the tradition. I hope one day Lt. Jauregui will pass on the tradition of hunting to his children,” he said.

While non-hunters may not understand, the pair respects the animal and the hunt.

“They are beautiful animals, but also very tasty. Honestly the benefits of hunting in general are awesome,” Lt. Jauregui said.

The time they spend waiting is more time the friends are able to connect with one another.

“We’ve developed a bond with one another and talk about life and family while sitting in the blind waiting for ducks,” he said. “We get our exercise in and also have moments of relaxation. We get to see some pretty cool scenery and the most amazing sun rises while waiting for shoot time. The wildlife we see is also totally worth it.”

Aside from roast duck on the table, Lt. Jauregui said it’s also made him better at his job and improved his personal life.

“I’ve seen it personally enhance my decision making and mental discipline,” he said.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

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Water with reeds and ducks.
The lieutenants find their time in the duck blind gives them opportunities to unwind and experience nature.