They took the time to take the classes and pass the tests.
And for youngsters who have a shiny new hunter education certificate, here’s the reward.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will be holding pheasant hunts at 12 sites around the state during September for kids age 17 and younger who have successfully completed their hunter-education requirement.
“It’s kind of a way to reward kids that have their hunter education, which is a time commitment,” said Michelle Dennehy, the department’s wildlife communications coordinator.
Because the hunts are held before the regular pheasant openers in October, it takes the pressure off young guns who don’t have to compete with experienced older hunters.
“We stock pheasants at each event, and it’s a way to get out way ahead of when regular seasons open, so it’s a chance to get out in the field with your parents or an adult family friend before the regular pheasant seasons open and just start getting in the practice,” Dennehy said.
Signups are free, but are required either online or at hunting/fishing license agents statewide including Fish and Wildlife offices, she added.
Youth-only pheasant hunts at state wildlife areas have been going on “for decades, a long time,” Dennehy said. But it’s just the second year for online registration.
Previously, the department would start taking phone-in signups beginning Sept. 1, which meant that a lot of kids and families already were in a time-crunch mode because of the impending start of schools and all of the accompanying activities.
“In some locations we have trouble filling them,” she said about hunting slots. “You have to think September. School’s starting. Football’s starting. All of these other sports and school activities are starting.
“And that’s why last year we started registration online. We opened this online early, and we got the word out.”
It’s also a golden opportunity for people with bird dogs who would like to get some preseason handling and training. Volunteers with dogs who want to accompany the young hunters in the field can sign up by calling the selected hunt site(s).
In addition to having their hunter-education card, each youth participant must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older to supervise but not hunt.
And both must wear a hunter orange hat, eye protection and a hunter orange vest—equipment that will be provided by Fish and Wildlife for anyone who doesn’t have their own.
Hunters also need to check in before and check out after their hunt.
Youth hunters need a valid hunting license ($14.50) and free Harvest Information Program validation. Youth hunters ages 14 and older also need an Upland Game Bird Validation ($8.50).
Only federally approved non-toxic shot is allowed.
Several of the youth events begin with a free shotgun skills clinic. Call the contact number for the site and date that you select for more information.
Even when you compare it to the rock-bottom fee that the department charges for an adult pheasant-hunting workshop, the free youth hunts are a real deal, Dennehy said.
“If you want a spot, and you should want a spot, you should sign up early, because some of them do fill up,” she said. “And this is a great opportunity.
“Other people (at the adult clinics) are playing $42 for this opportunity. It’s free, and you’re the first ones in the field.”
hemiller@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6725 or follow at twitter.com/henrymillersj and friend at facebook.com/hmillersj
Go to the license sales page at https://or.outdoorcentral.us/or/license
Enter the Hunter/Angler ID (ODFW ID No.), last name and date of birth of the youth hunter.
If the youth hunter never has bought a Fish and Wildlife document, choose “New Customer” under the “Hunter/Angler ID No” drop down arrow.
Select the green “Register for a Class” tab.
Verify your customer information.
Select Youth Upland Hunt tab.
Select hunt of choice.
Continue through the checkout process. It is not necessary to bring the receipt to the youth pheasant hunt.