Shelby, 12, and Casey Hubbard, White City, are a mother-daughter hunting team this season. - Bob Pennell

A Mother-Daughter Hunting Tradition Is Born

The concept of a Girls Morning Out will get a distinctly camouflaged makeover Saturday when the Hubbard women of White City forge a new mother-daughter tradition that bucks most Western trends.

Casey Hubbard is taking her 12-year-old daughter Shelby hunting in the hills ringing Eagle Point on Saturday, the beginning of Oregon's deer season for rifle hunters.

They're hoping Shelby will shoot her first blacktail buck on opening morning, just as Casey Hubbard has the past four years with the help of her husband, Robert Hubbard.

This time, Robert will be in eastern Oregon chasing mule deer with 9-year-old son Cody at his hip. That leaves Casey to pass on the family tradition to daughter Shelby.

"It's going to be just me and her," says Casey, 34. "Mom's going to have to stand back and let the daughter get the deer. She gets the first one."

The Hubbard family presents a refreshing alternative to the traditional father-and-son hunting paradigm that will be repeated across Oregon this weekend, when more than 125,000 rifle hunters hit the woods for the start of the general buck season in western Oregon and the controlled buck season in eastern Oregon.

The family normally hunts together, parents and children. But this time it's the boys on one side of the Cascades and the girls on the other.

Shelby realizes the other sixth-grade girls at Phoenix Middle School will be in ponytails kicking soccer balls while she tries to spy a buck through the cross-hairs.

"It's going to be my first time, so I know I'm going to be nervous," Shelby says. "But I know it's going to be fun."

Casey believes Shelby will shake off any first-timer jitters — just like mom did 14 years ago — and help fill the family freezer.

"Shelby's never had a problem standing right next to me while I shoot my deer," Casey says. "It's just her turn now."

Her turn truly is a rare one.

Women hunters remain an underwhelming force even in Oregon, where almost 10 percent of residents over age 12 hold hunting licenses. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife statistics show that 33,219 of the 237,631 Oregonians who bought hunting licenses in 2006 were women.

Girl hunters are even more rare.

Just 1,642 Oregon girls were part of the pool of 6,933 kids who in 2006 completed the hunter-education course required before they can qualify for hunting licenses and tags in Oregon.

Shelby turned 12 on Sept. 7, just edging under Saturday's deadline for Oregonians 12 and up to buy their own hunting license and general-season buck tag.

It's hard to imagine there's another 12-year-old girl with a fresh hunter-ed certification hitting the woods Saturday with only a .243-caliber rifle and her mother.

About the only trend the Hubbards match is one discovered repeatedly in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service studies — that people typically are introduced to hunting through a family member.

That's how Casey Hubbard, a retail clerk in Medford, found hunting 15 seasons ago.

"I married into it," she says.

Casey and Robert always have lugged the kids around the woods, which the family uses as its personal meat department. Their diet is heavy on Oregon deer and elk, as well as wild boar shot annually in California.

Earlier this year, Shelby joined her father on a combination buck-and-boar hunt on a private California ranch. She shot and missed a buck from 235 yards away. She froze before shooting a boar, which momentarily reminded her too much of a pig she once raised as a 4-H project.

"It just freaked me out," Shelby says. "But I can do it."

About the only place where this mother-daughter team lacks complete confidence is what to do when Shelby shoots her deer.

Robert normally dresses out the family's meat. It will be just Casey on the knife this weekend.

"That actually has me a little nervous, but I'll figure it out," she says. "Besides, all my husband's friends will have their cell phones on to tell me what to do.

"Otherwise, it's all Girl's Morning Out," she says.

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

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