Youth pheasant hunt won't go up in smokes

WHITE CITY — Young guns going afield during next month’s youth pheasant hunt may have to wear an all-too-familiar safety item at the Denman Wildlife Area.

On top of eye protection and a hunter-orange hat and vest, youth hunters may need a N95 face mask capable of filtering particulate matter from wildfire smoke.

Denman’s popular youth pheasant hunt is set for Sept. 15-16, and smoke from area wildfires could come into play as it did last year.

Wildlife area officials kept masks on hand for those who wanted to keep their lungs clear of woodsmoke, but few took advantage of them.

“It’s still pretty early to tell yet, but if that’s a concern, we’ll put them out again for people to use this year,” wildlife area Manager Clayton Barber says.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking reservations for the two-day hunt, and virtually nothing is different than last year except the dates.

The Denman youth hunts are open to people younger than 18.

Signups are being handled online through ODFW’s events calendar at www.myodfw.com, but those who want help can call Barber at 541-826-8774.

Kids don’t necessarily have to register early to get a space, Barber says, because stand-by hunters will be granted access as others leave the field.

ODFW stocks 500 pen-raised pheasants for the event, and volunteer hunters often bring dogs to help the youngsters hunt.

Last year was a typical year for youth hunters at Denman, where 157 kids logged 406 hours of hunting, Barber says. They bagged 212 birds, for an average of 1.3 birds per hunter, and that’s just about par for the long-term average.

Two out of every three youth hunters hunted with a dog, either bringing their own or being assisted by an experienced dog and handler who volunteered for the event, Barber says.

Participants must have a valid hunter-education card to hunt. 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 by ODFW to anyone who doesn’t have it. Hunters also need to check in and out of the hunt.

Latest Free Fishing Weekend here

Free Fishing Weekend will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 1-2, allowing people to fish, crab or dig clams in Oregon without licenses or tags. That includes both spring and fall chinook salmon and summer steelhead on the Rogue River, where only anglers who possess harvest tags must log the fish they keep.

While licenses and tag restrictions are waived, all other regulations, such as bag limits, gear restrictions and closed areas, remain in effect.

This is the third of four Free Fishing Weekends scheduled for Oregon in 2018.

The first was Feb. 17-18 to coincide with Presidents Day, followed by the traditional one on the first Saturday and Sunday of June. The final one for the year is Nov. 23-24, the two days after Thanksgiving.

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

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