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More birds equals more fun for youth hunt

Outdoor Journal

CENTRAL POINT ' Young guns will have their best shot at bagging a pheasant during an upcoming special youth hunt that will sport the most pheasants ever planted for the event.

A combination of state-bought pheasants and extra birds purchased by a local hunting organization will mean 500 birds will be in the Denman Wildlife Area fields for the special youth game-bird and waterfowl hunt Sept. 27-28 in White City.

Typically, the juvenile hunters get 400 birds stocked in Denman's grasslands ' 300 bought by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and 100 underwritten by the Rogue Valley Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association.

But a lack of available pheasants kept the OHA from buying its regular complement, so the group rolled over last year's money and paid &

36;1,800 to buy another 200 birds for the Denman youth hunt this year.

— OHA members see their contribution as a way to give kids a positive first experience in hunting, with hopes that they will join the ranks of Oregon's 600,000-plus hunters.

The OHA is trying to make the chances for a successful hunt as high as possible for these (kids), says Merv Wolfer, the chapter's president. We want them to have a good, successful hunt, and the state has limited resources.

Last year, 150 kids 17 and under took part in the Denman hunt, in which only 85 kids can be in a particular hunt area at a time and reservations are normally required.

The kids shot 105 of the 300 planted pheasants, Denman manager Vince Oredson says.

That's pretty typical, Oredson says. They normally shoot about a third of what we put out there.

With the extra birds, it's highly likely that the participants will average better than an average of one bird per hunter.

Those extra birds should make a big difference in the harvest, Oredson says.

Also, Oredson has mowed some paths through the grass fields of the units open for the youth hunt, which should help get more kids more shots.

Some of the grass can get kind of tall and the little guys can't see real well over it, Oredson says.

The hunt is open for kids 14 through 17 years old, and they must possess valid hunting licenses and proper bird validations as well as hunter-education cards.

To pre-register for the hunt, call the wildlife area at 541-826-8774. On both days, registration for open spaces begins at 6:30 a.m., with shooting hours running from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For safety, a maximum of 85 hunters are allowed in the field at any given time. As those hunters leave the field, stand-by hunters will be allowed to participate as long as the 85-hunter maximum is kept.

Denman has hosted the youth hunt accident-free since its inception in 1990.

That has not been the case at other wildlife areas, where teen-age hunters showed a little too much exuberance and racked up several gunshot injuries during two bad seasons in the late 1990s.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife since has enacted extra safety rules for the youth hunt. Adults can supervise just one hunter at a time, and they both must read and sign a safety-review card.

Participants must wear blaze-orange vests, and hats are optional.

Only non-toxic shot is allowed on the wildlife area.

Regardless of whether visitors participate in the pheasant hunt, kids can join the shotgun skills clinic that runs both days.

Birds that survive the youth hunt often stay on the wildlife area, which hosts a fee-based pheasant season Oct. 1-16.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail