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Dense vegetation will challenge youth pheasant hunt participants

Dogs will be the best friends of young hunters this weekend at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.

Hunting dogs like Labrador retrievers will be needed by boys and girls participating in the annual youth pheasant hunt at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. The reason in part is meteorological — vegetation is much denser at Ladd Marsh now because of an unusually moist spring. Dogs will be needed by hunters to find and flush birds and then retrieve them.

“We recommend that everyone come with a dog,’’ said Dave Larson, manager of the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.

The annual youth pheasant hunt, for boys and girls age 17 and under, will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. both days. All youths must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old age. An adult can accompany just one youth and cannot bring a firearm.

Larson said vegetation is thicker at Ladd Marsh than it has been in about six years. Wetter spring weather is not the only reason. Plant growth is also thicker because of extensive planting the ODFW has done. Native grasses and shrubs have been added, often replacing less dense grain fields.

Most of the pheasants hunters will be taking this weekend will be among the 200 birds that will be released late this afternoon by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Anyone who would like to assist with the release should come to the ODFW’s Ladd Marsh headquarters at 5 p.m. The headquarters are about 1.5 miles south B&K Auto Salvage at 59116 Pierce Road.

The ODFW purchased 100 of the birds and the Oregon Hunters Association bought the other 100.

“Kids will have a lot of opportunities to see a lot of birds (during the weekend hunt),’’ Larson said.

Hunters will see few pheasants that were hatched at Ladd Marsh this spring. The reason is that the wet, cold spring provided pheasants with poor nesting conditions.

“We had one day in June when it rained and the temperature only reached 47 degrees,’’ Larson said.

Such conditions often cause pheasant nests to fail. On the plus side, Larson noted that pheasants are determined nesters. Some will nest up to three times in the spring in an attempt to get one successful hatch.

This will be the 17th annual  youth pheasant hunt at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. Young hunters usually take about 60 percent of the 200 pheasants pheasants released for the hunt. This means there will be close to 100 pheasants remaining for the regular pheasant hunt that begins Oct. 11.

A free shotgun skills clinic will again be held in conjunction with this weekend’s youth hunt. The clinic will run at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area headquarters from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. ODFW personnel will provide instruction on shotgun use at the clinic, which people can come to any time. A sporting clays trailer will be at the clinic, allowing people to test their shooting accuracy.

Shotgun shells will be provided to everyone attending the clinic. Shotguns will also be provided to anyone who does not have one.

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