Oregon hunters who see red over state proposals that might require them to wear blaze orange have a chance to speak their piece tonight in Medford.
The Rogue Valley Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association is hosting the state wildlife biologists who will offer their options for possible regulations that could make Oregon the 41st state to require at least some orange clothing while hunting.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will be on hand to take comment on the various blaze-orange options as well as gauge input on various recommendations of tag numbers for controlled hunts set for this summer, fall and winter.
Tonight's meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Eagles Club, 2000 Table Rock Road, Medford.
The agency has held several meetings across Oregon, and hunters have consistently shot down the proposals.
"The feedback we've been getting is what we've expected," says Chris Willard, ODFW's education-services manager. "The majority of people at these meetings don't want to be told what to wear. They want to have the choice."
Several hundred written comments sent to the agency have also been dominated by dissenters, Dillard says.
Locally, OHA leaders expect much of the same.
"Our guys are no different than anybody else," chapter president Ron Sherva says. "They're going to want to have that choice themselves."
At the behest of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, ODFW has set out five options that are now up for comment.
The first option is to keep it voluntary, while the second would be to require kids under 18 to wear some kind of shirt, vest and hat while hunting with any firearm for anything except turkeys and waterfowl.
So-called "option 3" would require everyone, including adults, to wear a hunter-orange upper garment or cap with 360-degree visibility while hunting big-game animals and upland game birds, except turkeys, with any centerfire firearm or shotgun. Waterfowl hunters are exempt.
Option 4 would be the same as option 3, except a hat and upper garment would be required.
Option 5 would require everyone wear an hunter-orange upper garment and cap with 360-degree visibility while hunting any animals except turkeys with any firearm. Waterfowl hunters are exempt.
Sparked by the death of a 15-year-old Salem boy shot Dec. 6 by his uncle, who mistook the camouflaged teen for an elk last fall, the commission in December questioned whether the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife should do more than just strongly encourage Oregon's hunters to wear blaze orange.
Though rifle hunting remains a relatively safe outdoor pursuit and Oregon ranks as one of the safest states to hunt in the country, it is not without blemish.
Half of the 170 weapons-related hunting accidents here in the past 20 years were vision-related, and two-thirds of the 32 fatalities over that time frame were vision-related.
All the comments will be collected for a briefing to the commission on June 4 in Salem. Any change to the rules would be decided at the commission's Oct. 1 meeting in Bend.
Until then, comments can be mailed to ODFW Information and Education Division, 3406 Cherry Ave. NE, Salem, OR, 97303. E-mails should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail email@example.com.