Ten young guns will have a good shot at bagging a tom turkey this spring because of an agreement with a local ranch that helps create hunting access and wildlife habitat.
The hunt on the C2 Ranch near Lake Creek is done through a drawing by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Winners will get one day of guided turkey hunting on the ranch either during the youth turkey season that runs April 13-14 or any time during the general spring season, which runs April 15 through May 31.
Southwest Oregon has the largest turkey population in the state, and the C2 Ranch's oak savannah and brushy areas provide very good turkey habitat not accessible to the general public — and it holds turkeys galore.
"Turkeys are smart," says Vince Oredson, an ODFW habitat biologist managing the hunt. "It doesn't take long for them to realize they're being chased and harassed. Hunting a private ranch like this without pressure from other hunters really gives these kids a better chance at success."
The drawing is free and open to youths age 17 and younger. Applications will be taken until 5 p.m. Sunday, March 31, Oredson says.
During a similar drawing last year, 105 youths applied for the 10 slots, Oredson says. Four of them bagged a bird for a success rate of 40 percent.
"Everyone had close encounters with birds around them, Oredson says. "They all had chances at turkeys, but four actually shot one."
The overall success rate in the Rogue Unit for the spring turkey hunt is 36 percent, according to ODFW statistics.
To enter, fill out a brief application online at www.dfw.state.or.us/lands/AH/docs/C2_Application.pdf and fax it to 541-826-8776 or email it to email@example.com.
Applications also can be picked up and dropped off at ODFW's Central Point office at 1495 E. Gregory Road.
The drawing will be held April 1, and winners will be notified that day, Oredson says.
Winners will be given a telephone number to call C2 Ranch managers to set up their hunt, Oredson says. Winners can be accompanied by a parent or other family member.
Winners must supply their own $14.50 juvenile hunting license and $10.50 juvenile turkey tag and earn a hunter-education certificate. Kids ages 9 to 13 who don't have the hunter-education certificate may apply and hunt under the Mentored Youth Hunter Program by using an adult's tag, but only during the general spring season dates.
This is the second round of youth turkey hunts under an agreement between ODFW and C2 Ranch under the state's Access and Habitat Program.
The A&H Program gave C2 Ranch a $24,000 grant toward funding myriad habitat improvements for big game and other wildlife species. In return, the ranch owners agreed to provide 28 guided youth deer hunts and six adult archery deer hunts last fall, and will offer 10 youth turkey hunts this spring.
The same hunts will be offered in fall 2013 and spring 2014.
The inaugural, three-year, $11,000 grant that expired last year helped remove blackberries and improve forage on the ranch.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.