Oregon's young guns will get an extended first shot at the state's wild turkey population during a youth-only hunt that opens Saturday for hunters 17 and younger.

Oregon's young guns will get an extended first shot at the state's wild turkey population during a youth-only hunt that opens Saturday for hunters 17 and younger.

A misprint in Oregon's Game Bird Regulations booklet has created an extra day of youth hunting, so this year's season runs through Monday for kids.

The youth turkey hunt always is the weekend before the regular spring turkey hunt, which starts annually on April 15. Because of a staff error, the regulations listed April 8-9, which are a Sunday and a Monday.

To fix it, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in January adopted a rule to have the season open on April 7, creating the first three-day spring turkey hunt for youths.

Kids who don't fill their tag during the youth season can go on to hunt the general season that opens April 15 and runs through May.

Just how much more success the extra day will give youth hunters this season remains to be seen. Last year's cool, wet spring and similar conditions this year could dampen spring turkey-hunting success for youths and adults.

Last year's damp spring triggered relatively poor nesting success for turkeys and other ground-nesting birds, so there likely will be fewer jakes in the fields this spring, says Mark Vargas, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Rogue District wildlife biologist.

But last year's wet weather had no impact on adult birds, Vargas says.

"There should be more big birds around because the weather didn't mean much to them last year," he says.

But more stormy weather just before or during this weekend's youth hunt could cause turkeys to hunker down and not respond as well to turkey calls as they would during regular conditions.

The Forest Service has closed snowmobile use on the Great Meadow near Lake of the Woods after heavy rains melted the snow and turned the meadow into a shallow lake.

The meadow is a popular snowmobiling area off Highway 140 about 35 miles from Medford. But the weekend storm that brought near flooding to the upper Rogue River ate away the snowpack, leaving about two feet of standing water that freezes at night, said Michael Boles, recreation, lands and minerals staff officer for the Klamath Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

Those conditions not only are dangerous for "over-snow vehicles," they also pose potential pitfalls for snowshoers and cross-country skiers, Boles says.

The Forest Service defines an over-snow vehicle as a motor vehicle that is designed for use over the snow and runs on tracks or skis. The vehicles must be less than 60 inches wide and weigh less than 1,200 pounds.

Driving access between Gold Beach and the lower Rogue River outpost of Agness has been restored after contractors late Tuesday cleared a major slide that blocked access March 30.

The slide covered the Agness Road, also known as Forest Service Road No. 33, near milepost 15 during last week's storms. A similar slide near milepost 33 near China Flat effectively isolated the burg of Agness through the weekend.

Contractors were expected to work on the China Flat slide this week, as well as assess damage from several other slides that so far have not been reachable.

Those two slides together dumped more than 7,000 cubic yards of material on the roadway, according to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.