Success smiles on youth
Nowak is among the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staffers who work at the local Youth Pheasant Hunt every September.
Each year youths take the first pheasants of their lives during the weekend hunt at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. Nowak can easily identify those who had taken their first pheasant before they check out and report their results to her.“You don’t have to ask. The smiles on their faces tell you that they were successful,’’ Nowak said.
Many young hunters will again be experiencing their first hunting success this weekend when the 19th annual Youth Pheasant Hunt is conducted at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.
The hunt, for those age 17 and under, will be conducted Saturday and Sunday. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. All hunters must register at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area headquarters, 59116 Pierce Road. Hunters can begin signing up there each day at 6:30 a.m.
To boost hunters’ chances of success, a total of 187 Chinese ring-necked pheasants will be released at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area late this afternoon and early in the evening. The pheasants were raised at Mortensen’s Purple Sage Game Farm in Middleton, Idaho.
The ODFW purchased 100 of the pheasants, the Oregon Hunters Association bought 75 and Les Henderson, owner of Oregon Trail Trader, donated funds for the purchase of 12 pheasants.
People who would like to assist with the release of the pheasants should be at the Ladd Marsh headquarters at 5 p.m. today. Volunteers will be given pheasants and directed where to go to release them.
The area open for the hunt is limited to 35 hunters. Once this capacity is reached no other hunters are allowed in until others leave. Over the past 16 years the 35-hunter limit has been reached at times but nobody has ever had to wait for an opening, said Dave Larson, manager of the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.
A total of 80 to 100 youths participate in the hunt each year. The weather has the biggest impact on how many young hunters come, Larson said.
All hunters must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 21. Adults can accompany only one youth and can not carry a weapon.
Each hunter must have in his or her possession a Hunter Education Certificate, HIP validation, a permit for the area, plus, if 14 years or older, a valid hunting license with an upland game bird validation.
This weekend’s event will be conducted a month before the state’s regular rooster pheasant hunt season opens Oct. 9.
“It is a fabulous opportunity for young people. It gives them an opportunity in which they are not in competition with the general hunting public,’’ Nowak said.
Parents snapping photos of their sons and daughters after taking their first pheasant will be a common sight at this weekend at Ladd Marsh.
“It is fun to see the kids and everyone excited,’’ Larson said.
First time pheasant hunters who do not take a bird will still emerge with a successful learning experience, Nowak said.
“They will take their first shot at a bird and will work with hunting dogs for the first time.’’
Working at the youth pheasant hunt is anything but drudgery for the ODFW’s staff, Larson said.
“It is definitely one of the most fun weekends of the year for us.’’