It's ironic that the only place local upland game-bird hunters can unleash their dogs with a good guess that they'll flush a few pheasants is smack-dab in the middle of White City's industrial area.
The Denman Wildlife Area and its popular fee-pheasant hunting program represents the best shot for hunters and their flushing dogs to find success.
"As far as places to hunt pheasants in the valley, there's very little, and all of it's private property," says Clayton Barber, the wildlife area's manager. "Except for a few people with access to that private property, we're it. It's kind of sad, but it's true."
This tried-and-true program opened Sunday after Saturday's youth-only pheasant hunt on Denman off Agate Road in White City. It runs through Oct. 7.
Four-hundred farm-raised pheasants will be released systematically into Denman's grass fields for hunters taking part in this 19-day hunt. The birds are purchased from an Idaho farm with a reputation for breeding good-flying birds.
Participants buy a special $17 tag to kill two pheasants a day on Denman tracts, often using hunting dogs to flush pheasants from carefully manicured fields restocked nightly with fresh birds.
"The quality of the birds is really high," Barber says.
The program artificially creates pheasant densities and hunting opportunities lost to development in Western Oregon.
Last year's program was one of the more popular, with 798 hunters logging 1,880 hours in the field to shoot 343 birds, according to Denman stats. That's 21/3 hours afield for every bird killed, with an average of .4 birds per hunter trip.
The 40 percent success rate is a slight increase from the previous year.
The pheasant program is installed at three other Oregon wildlife areas, and the foursome receive 3,300 birds annually.
Hunters can buy as many tags as they choose. Participants must carry a valid hunting license, an upland game-bird validation, and an HIP validation. All hunters must check in and out of hunt areas at self-service stations and carry the permit while in the field.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.