Outdoors: First hunt with daughter a day to remember happily

By: Shane Ullrich

This year hunting has started off as an experience and a lesson all in one.

I am hunting with my 12-year-old daughter, taking advantage of the Oregon Mentor Youth Program that allows a child 9 to 12 years old to hunt with a licensed adult and get some hands-on experience, prepping her for a hunter safety course later on (for those who decide they like hunting).

As most of you know, hunting blacktail deer here locally is mostly being in the right place at the right time and a game of “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t.” That’s exactly what we got. Not being able to hunt until I was off work on Saturday gave us a late start, so our season actually started off Sunday morning.

The true test of a hunter is how well they take to the elements and Sunday was a drencher. We started off on a walk along a stand of timber next to a clearcut behind an open gate, courtesy of Cascade Timber Consultants. We started our hunt along a gravel road that I think was created to test my patience because the rocks were as loud as a locomotive in a quiet neighborhood.

We definitely sounded as if we didn’t belong there but. strangely enough, when we took a knee 15 minutes into our hunt for a quick call on a buck call I got from Dan Dees and, I kid you not, a buck showed up almost instantly. It was like playing hot potato as I practically threw the rifle into my daughter’s hands, but the 3×3 buck was quick to escape.

That, though, was just enough to get my daughter’s blood flowing and her senses numb to the chilling rain that continued to fall the rest of the day. We forged along the knell of trees and, after about an hour-and-a-half walk and stalk, we had seen about four more deer – does, though.

We were completely soaked by the time we made it back to the truck, where we made a quick drive home with the heater on flame thrower. Both our lips were blue as we made it inside and got a fire started and got some dry clothes. Refitted, we got ready to go out again.

It’s nice to see her so eager and willing to go out and beat the brush with Dad. There’s only a few real experiences that a father and daughter get to experience that really have a lifelong impact on us both and spending time chasing antlers through the woods rates up there as one of the top.

Kids are the funniest during hunting season. They don’t quite understand how it all works.

My 4- and 6-year-old sons were with me this week when we saw a 6×6 bull elk. They were cheering me on like the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders to “blast that sucker!” “It’s a 6×6 BULL ELK!” “Daddy, shoot it!” “It’s just standing there. It wants to die!” my oldest son says.

I then explain that it’s buck season.

“He has to wait three weeks before he can jump into our freezer.”

There are definitely some animals out there. Good luck to all of you hunters of all ages and congrats to those of you who have filled your tags – like that mighty hunter, Taylor Thorpe, who bagged a nice buck, making a memory that she and her father will share for a lifetime.

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On a less happy note (for some), with hunting season in full swing, the Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish and Wildlife Division is reminding hunters that the deer you try to shoot may not be what you think it is as the Wildlife Enforcement Decoy will be used during the 2007 fall big game seasons in an effort to bust poachers.

According to the OSP, the Wildlife Enforcement Decoy will be utilized this fall in select wildlife management units statewide to address tag compliance, unlawful take and prohibited harvest methods, along with other unlawful hunting issues where deemed appropriate due to recent and/or historical wildlife complaint locations.

“The Wildlife Enforcement Decoy Program has been used in Oregon since 1991 and helps the OSP Fish and Wildlife Division in its mission to assure compliance with laws that protect and enhance the long-term health and equitable utilization of Oregon’s fish and wildlife resources,” said OSP Lieutenant Dave Cleary.

The benefit of this program is that it allows for the violator, the animal, and the enforcement officer to be in the same area at the same time in a controlled environment. The use of a decoy prevents the loss to actual wildlife to violators. The contact with the violator then can be controlled with a focus on increasing both violator and officer safety.

In 2005 and 2006, the Wildlife Enforcement Decoy was used 499 times, with roughly half of those operations occurring at night. A total of 2,951 vehicles drove by the decoy and 1,343 persons observed the decoy. Those contacts resulted in 200 incidents wherein there was interaction between the violator and the wildlife decoy, resulting in 317 citations and arrests.

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Also on a serious note, hunters are reminded to have harvested deer or elk checked for Chronic Wasting Disease and to follow regulations that prohibit the import of any deer, elk or moose parts containing central nervous system tissue into Oregon from states or Canadian provinces with CWD.

CWD is an untreatable neurological disease that is always fatal to deer, elk and moose. Oregon is fortunate to be a CWD-free state today as no state or province that has detected CWD in its free-ranging wildlife has been able to eradicate it.

During rifle deer season or the first bull elk season in late October, hunters can visit one of several eastside check stations where ODFW staff and student volunteers from Oregon State University and Washington State University will be available to take samples. Check stations are generally open from dawn until dusk; look for highway signs indicating stations are open.

Hunters traveling to other states are also reminded that it is illegal to bring deer, elk or moose parts containing central nervous system tissue into Oregon from any state or province with a documented case of the disease (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, West Virginia and Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada).

Last year, OSP cited several hunters for failing to remove brain tissue before bringing their deer or elk back into Oregon. In one instance, hunters from Colorado had the antlers of their large bull elk seized because they had failed to remove brain matter and tissue on the skull cap.

The reason for the concern is evidence that prions, the agents that cause CWD, last a long time in the environment. Some hunters dispose of heads or spinal columns on the landscape where other wildlife could encounter the prions and contract the disease.

To see a demonstration of how to properly bone out an animal and remove central nervous system tissue, visit http://www.cwd-info.org/index.php/fuseaction/recommendations.video.

No evidence suggests that Chronic Wasting Disease can be transmitted to people. Nevertheless, hunters should always take simple precautions to protect themselves from exposure to wildlife diseases. Hunters should not harvest animals that appear sick; wear rubber or latex gloves when field dressing an animal; trim all meat to remove fat and lymph gland tissue; and only consume meat that has been thoroughly cooked to at least 165 degrees.

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Daily passage numbers for summer steelhead moving through the Willamette Falls fishway were continuing in the low single digits over the past week. The summer-run steelhead counted through Sept. 22 totaled 13,869. Most of the fish have moved to the middle and upper reaches of the tributaries, though there are some traveling through the lower stretches. Recycling of steelhead from the traps at Foster and Minto, combined with first-run fish, means there are good numbers of fish in the rivers.

Flow out of Foster Dam on the South Santiam will be held constant until fall rains start. Water conditions in the mainstem Willamette and in both forks of the Santiam are good, but pressure remains relatively light.

ODFW stocked Foster reservoir with 5,000 legal-sized rainbow trout two weeks ago.

Quartzville Creek above Green Peter are still holding good numbers of stocked trout. Baits, flies or small spinners work well.

Some trout are still available in Green Peter Reservoir. Anglers will find better success fishing at depths 25 feet or greater.

Shane Ullrich writes twice a month about the outdoors in The New Era. Contact him at the American Barbershop, 1121 Main St., or call 367-8086.