Man was armed with 30.06 rifle with scope and told deputies he "was on a journey"

Kern County Sheriff's deputies arrested a man armed with a high-powered rifle Friday in the hills south of Taft Heights.

It started just before noon when residents called to report an armed man in the fields south of Garfield Street.

They were able to follow tracks and sighted the man a distance away at the top of a ridge line above a ravine west of 25 Hills Road.

The suspect, identified as a 22-year-old Michael Dale Hawks., was arrested without incident.

Deputies were armed with assault weapons as they went after the suspect.

"It was potentially very dangerous," Senior Deputy Kevin George said.

Deputies had to climb steep hills to reach the suspect.

"He could have had us in his sights," George said.

The gun was not loaded when deputies reached him, but ammunition was laying nearby, deputies said.

Deputies took the man to the Taft substation for questioning and processing and will book him into jail on charges of trespassing and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Senior Deputy Kevin George said the man told deputies he was a convicted felon.

George said he will also be evaluated to see if drugs or a mental condition played a role in his actions.

"That's a possibility," George said.

When asked why the man was carrying the 30.06 rifle equipped with a scope and a backpack, George said the man told deputies "he was on a journey."