Young guns looking to test-drive upland game-bird hunting during annual, free, youth pheasant hunts next month again will have to do some work online before they get into the fields.
The usual telephone-registration format gave way last year to the World Wide Web, and online registration will again be required for the hunt, which is set for Sept. 20-21 at the Denman Wildlife Area in White City, as well as for 10 other similar events statewide.
"We switched to online last year and had a few glitches, but generally it worked pretty well," says Clayton Barber, the wildlife area's manager.
The biggest glitch in the system was that it improperly let kids reserve a hunt time for both days, Barber says. Even though kids can reserve entry Saturday or Sunday, they can hunt only on a stand-by basis on the other day, he says.
"So if they do register for both days, we just call them and ask them what day they want," Barber says.
Most kids who look to hunt both days typically register for Saturday and hunt stand-by on Sunday, which normally does not fill so they can usually get on right away, Barber says.
The hunt is open to kids younger than 18 who have passed a hunter-education course. They can register online or through point-of-sale licensing outlets for a spot during the popular event, which is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife with a lot of help from local hunting organizations.
The local hunt is run out of the ODFW office on the wildlife area at 1495 E. Gregory Road.
To register, go to or.outdoorcentral.us/or/license and then go to the "online license sales" page. Fill out the various name and hunter/angler ID spaces and select the green "register for a class" tab. Then select the "youth upland hunt" tab and select the hunt of choice.
Complete the checkout process and that will log in your reservation. Hunters need not bring receipts to the field. Registration is free.
Five-hundred pen-raised pheasants will be released into the fields of two Denman hunting tracts for the youth-only hunt, which is meant to whet the appetite of the next generation of upland game-bird hunters.
A maximum of 85 youths are allowed afield at any given time — one of several rules enacted to ensure Denman continues its perfect safety record.
On both days, walk-up registration for spaces not filled through the preregistration process will begin at 6:30 a.m. Shooting hours run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Only nontoxic shot is allowed on the wildlife area.
Regardless of whether they participate in the pheasant hunt, young hunters can join a shotgun-skills clinic that runs both days. Also, breakfast and lunch will be served.
An adult 21 or older must accompany the hunter afield but can't hunt. Both hunter and supervisor must wear eye protection and a blaze-orange hat and vest. Hats and vests will be provided for those who don't have them.
Some bird dogs and their volunteer handlers will be on hand to help flush birds for kids, but not everyone will get a chance to hunt with a volunteer, Barber says.
The popular hunt usually sees kids bag an average of one to two birds over the two days.
Kids who really want to double-dip can travel to the Klamath Falls area and hunt Sept. 15 or 16 at a similar youth hunt at the Klamath Wildlife Area.