Youth hunters (age 17 and under) can now sign up for free upland bird hunts being planned at 11 locations across the state of Oregon in September (Baker City, Central Point, Corvallis, Eugene, Irrigon/Umatilla, John Day, Klamath Falls, La Grande, Madras, Portland, The Dalles/Wamic).
ODFW and partners stock pheasants at these special hunts that give youth a head start on regular pheasant seasons, which don't begin until October. Quail and dove may also be hunted. Volunteers from Oregon Hunters Association and other sportsman groups often bring their trained hunting dogs to guide participants. Some events also begin with a shotgun skills clinic, so participants can practice clay target shooting before hunting.
With the exception of a mentored youth hunt at EE Wilson Wildlife Area near Corvallis on Sept. 21, these events are only open to youth who have passed hunter education. An adult 21 years of age or older must accompany the youth to supervise, but may not hunt.
"If your child made it through hunter education but is still new to the sport, this is a great way to get them started," says James Reed, ODFW hunter education coordinator. "These events happen before regular pheasant seasons open and are a great opportunity for kids to get out hunting."
The hunts emphasize safety. Both hunter and supervisor must wear a hunter orange hat, eye protection and a hunter orange vest-equipment provided by ODFW at the clinics to anyone who doesn't have it. Hunters also need to check in and out of the hunt.
To register, sign up online, at a license sales agent, or at an ODFW office that sells licenses. Two locations, Fern Ridge Wildlife Area in Eugene and Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in La Grande, don't require advance registration.