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Train-to-hunt competitors off to nationals

Ashland native Trever Neistrath will head to Utah next month to defend his national title in the third annual Train to Hunt Challenge, a biathlon of sorts for archery hunters looking to get into shape for the upcoming season.

Neistrath, 34, will be joined by two others from their Ashland-based club at the nationals set for Aug. 13-14 at a shooting range outside Salt Lake City.

Also headed to the national championships is Neistrath's wife, Lindsey, and Steven Dahn of Ashland, both of whom qualified during Oregon state championships and qualifiers held July 9-10 at a range outside Eugene.

Lindsey Neistrath won bronze in the Women's Open field, while Dahn took a silver medal behind Trever Neistrath in the Men's Open.

Nick Bakke and Ian Berg of Talent and Drew Baily of Ashland also qualified for nationals at the Oregon challenge, but they will not be competing in Utah, Baily says. Bakke and Berg took a pair of gold medals in the Men's Open Teams, while Baily took overall gold in the Masters Mens division.

Also competing but not qualifying for nationals was Talent's Geoff Davis, who placed ninth in the Men's Open.

Neistrath won last year's championships outside Denver and is something of the poster boy for this new sport, which is gaining traction among woodsmen and women looking to get into elk-hunting shape year-round.

The challenges happen over two days, with the first day consisting of a series of physical challenges that imitate what bowhunters might find in the woods, such as running a shooting course, firing at targets from various positions in rapid succession and finishing with a mile run while carrying a 100-pound pack, which simulates a fast hike out of the woods to preserve freshly killed elk meat.

Some of the shots entail jumping up and getting off a kill shot in fewer than five seconds.

The second day entails a series of shots around a charge up a mountain as if competitors are trying to get in front of a moving elk herd. The runs are timed, with seconds added or subtracted based on how good, or bad, the bow shots are. Lowest scores win.

Preference points now for sale online

Oregon hunters can now buy preference points online and at local point-of-sale license agents through Nov. 30.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife sells preference points that hunters can use to improve their chances at gaining tough-to-draw big-game hunting tags in future controlled-hunt lotteries.

Hunters who didn't apply for a controlled hunt or get a preference point through applications this past spring qualify.

Preference points are available for the buck deer, bull elk, antelope, antlerless deer and spring bear hunts under ODFW's controlled-hunt umbrella.

The preference points cost $8 apiece and one can be bought for each available hunt series. 

Preference-point purchases were previously available only through mail or fax order.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.