Success smiles on youth

By Dick Mason, The Observer September 10, 2010 12:39 pm
Gavin Eddy releases a pheasant into the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area while his sister, December, covers her ears to muffle the noise of its frantic wing flapping. They were helping release pheasants prior to the annual Youth Pheasant Hunt at Ladd Marsh last year. This year’s hunt will be conducted Saturday and Sunday. The public will be able to help release pheasants today at Ladd Marsh starting at 5 p.m. The Observer
Biologist Cathy Nowak knows the answer before posing the question.

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.

Brothers Gavin and Grant Young watch, as their sister Madison, releases a rooster pheasant prior to last year’s youth pheasant hunt at Ladd Marsh. This year’s pheasant release will start at the Ladd Marsh headquarters at 5 p.m.  today. Kids, accompanied by adults, are invited to participate. The youth hunt will begin at 8 a.m. the following day. Ladd Marsh staff will assist with registration as early as 6:30 a.m. The hunt will run through the weekend. For more information, call 541-963-4954. Photo
The number of wild pheasants available to hunters is down this year due to a wet spring, Nowak said. Pheasant broods hatched later because of the rainy weather. This means many wild Ladd Marsh pheasants are too small for hunters to determine if they are roosters or hens. Only roosters can be taken by hunters.

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.’’