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Youth pheasant hunt this weekend

Young hunters will get another shot at planted birds this weekend at the Denman Wildlife Area during a rescheduled youth pheasant hunt that will upend adult hunters for two days.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife rescheduled its September youth hunt for Saturday and Sunday after the original hunt was nixed because of unhealthy air from area wildfires.

The wildlife area will be closed to other upland gamebird and waterfowl hunting those days, says Clayton Barber, the Denman manager who runs the annual hunt.

The Oregon Hunters Association, Rogue Valley Retriever Club and ODFW teamed up to buy 600 birds for the two-day youth hunt, and therein lies the silver lining for adult hunters, Barber says.

“While conventional pheasant hunters lose two days of pheasant season at Denman, the majority of those 600 pheasants stocked for the youth hunt will be left over for them,” Barber says.

Sign-ups are being handled online through ODFW’s events calendar, but those who want help can call 541-826-8774.

COVID-19 safety measures will be in place, including social distancing and masks. All hunters will be provided with eye and ear protection as well as hunter-orange clothing.

Youth don’t have to register early to get a space, Barber says. Standby hunters will be granted access as others leave the field, he says.

The youth pheasant hunt is one of the best gamebird opportunities for young hunters, most of whom hunt with the aid of a volunteer bird dog and its handler.

Last year, when 667 pheasants were released for the two-day hunt, 133 youth bagged 215 birds. That’s a Denman record of 1.61 birds per hunter, Barber says.

Youth can sign up now, and they must have a valid hunter-education card. An adult 21 or older must accompany the youth to supervise, but he or she may not hunt.

Both hunter and supervisor must wear a hunter-orange hat, eye protection and a hunter-orange vest, and the equipment will be provided to anyone who doesn’t have it. Hunters also need to check in and out of the hunt.

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