Oregon implements blaze orange law for youth

By Dick Mason, The Observer August 05, 2011 08:57 pm

Gavin Young of La Grande wears hunter orange during a pheasant hunt at Ladd Marsh. The new Oregon hunter orange law states that hunters age 17 and younger are required to wear a hunter orange exterior garment or hat when hunting game mammals or upland game birds with any firearm. JIM WARD photo
Gavin Young of La Grande wears hunter orange during a pheasant hunt at Ladd Marsh. The new Oregon hunter orange law states that hunters age 17 and younger are required to wear a hunter orange exterior garment or hat when hunting game mammals or upland game birds with any firearm. JIM WARD photo

The new state law took effect Monday, but its first major test is 56 days away.

Oct. 1 is the opening of general deer rifle seasons in Oregon, the first major hunts in which the new mandatory blaze orange requirement will be in effect.

The law requires hunters age 17 and younger to wear an orange hat or vest for most hunts in Oregon. The law’s compliance rate will depend largely upon how well parents serve as role models, said Walt Blackman of

La Grande, a former hunter safety instructor.

“If Dad doesn’t want to dress in orange, more than likely they (their children) will not do it (wear orange),’’ Blackman said.

David Bronson, also a La Grande hunter safety instructor, shares this sentiment. He has the following message for parents:

“Think of yourself as a role model. Tell yourself, ‘If I’m a dad I’m wearing blaze orange....Always lead by example,’’ said Bronson, who works for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.

Hunter or blaze orange is not popular among many adults who prefer more fashionable camouflage outfits. This may influence the tastes of children likely to follow the lead of their parents. Bronson advises youths who want to wear camouflage to don the hunter orange camouflage patterns now available.

Blackman believes the best way for blaze orange to become fashionable is for parents to wear it.

“It is a way of telling them that this is awesome. It is a way of protecting yourself,’’ he said.

Blackman said that whether or not something is fashionable should never enter into one’s decision to don blaze orange because of what it means in terms of safety.

“Good grief, we are talking about a life,’’ Blackman said.

Bronson emphasizes that wearing blaze orange does not hurt one’s chances of taking deer and elk because the big game animals can’t see the color.

Parents are not required to wear blaze orange when hunting with their children. Still, Bronson urges parents to wear orange and not only because he wants them to be role models.

“You want to give your child every chance to see you, and you want them to have every chance to be seen,’’ Bronson said. “The biggest thing you can do to avoid being in a (hunting) accident is be seen.’’