One Rogue Valley hunter was among the 22 people who earned prizes in Oregon's inaugural Take a Friend Hunting contest.
Gordon Bristlin of Medford won a $50 Dick's Sporting Goods gift card late last month as part of the contest designed to encouraged experienced hunters to take adult neophytes or lapsed hunters afield.
Mark Anderson of Ione won the top prize, a statewide deer tag, which was authorized last fall by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission for this inaugural effort.
Other top winners included Erik Hasselmen of Eugene, who won a Siberian Sidekick Cooler donated by Mule Deer Foundation; Dylan Boyer of Coos Bay, who won an Eberlestock Team Elk Pack donated by Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; and Jason Saucedo of Tualatin, who won a Leupold rifle scope.
In all, 1,546 people — half of them mentors and half mentees — signed up for the contest, says Michelle Dennehy, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. That was enough to convince agency leaders to hold a second contest beginning this spring, Dennehy says.
"We hope to see an increase in those numbers," Dennehy says.
The second contest may be tweaked a bit to make it easier to enter, such as moving it over to ODFW's new mobile-friendly website at www.MyODFW.com, Dennehy says.
Registration for this year's contest, which will run throughout the calendar year, should be up and running in time for the April 15 start of the spring turkey-hunting season, Dennehy says.
The contest is part of a larger effort to reverse steady declines in hunting participation in Oregon by targeting new hunters as well as those who have walked away from it for several years.
The idea is to have experienced hunters find a newbie or lapsed hunter, take them afield and mentor them in hopes that the knowledge, assistance and even success will get and keep them on Oregon sport-hunter rolls.
To be eligible for this year's contest, both the veteran and inexperienced hunter must have valid 2018 Oregon hunting licenses and be at least 18 years old. The inexperienced hunter must have never held an Oregon hunting license, purchased their first license last year or have not been a licensed hunter for the past five years.
Each person must hunt on their own licenses and tags. All types of hunting qualify as long as they are legal, ethical and safe, according to the agency.
For instance, both the mentor and newbie could buy general season black-tailed buck deer tags or get upland game-bird validations. The new hunter could also accompany a mentor, or vice versa, on a controlled hunt as long as only the person with the valid tag carries and uses a legal weapon for that particular hunt.
Unlike the agency's Youth Mentor Program, this is designed for adults.