New Oregon law says young hunters must wear orange

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by Anne Yeager / KGW

NWCN.com

Posted on October 1, 2010 at 10:28 AM

SALEM, Ore. -- Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Commission decided hunters under the age of 18 must wear an orange vest or hat.

The bold move comes on the heels of a Salem teenager who was accidentally shot because his camoflauge outfit blended into the woods.

"Matthew was my everything, we did everything together." said Rod Gretzon, a dad and Salem businessman.

Last December 6th, Gretzon lost his fishing and hunting buddy. Before the tragedy, he and his son Matthew, 15, argued about what Matt should wear during their upcoming hunting outing south of Salem.

Gretzon wanted his son to wear a bright, red jacket for safety reasons, but Matt insisted on wearing his new, camouflage jacket.

"He just thought it was the coolest thing, " said Rod.

But disaster struck. Another hunter thought Matthew was an animal and accidentally shot him dead.

Rod Gretzon came home without his son.

"To walk into our house and see that red jacket hanging on that chair and knowing it would have made a big difference...." he couldn't finish his sentence, overcome with emotion.

The family's incredible loss was why Rod and his wife, Leisa have been fighting to put a law in place to mandate Oregon hunters to wear blaze orange vests or hats.

In a unanimous decision, Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Commission made a compromise, requiring all hunters under eighteen to wear them.

"If it can save another family, it would be wonderful," said Leisa Gretzon, Matt's mother.

But not everyone was thrilled over the new law.

"Hunters are independent creatures, " said Carl Barner, longtime hunter and educator, "the less government, the better."

Rod used to feel that way, but not anymore. "We're driving and my little girl starts crying. I pull over and she points to heaven and says I miss Matthew."

The new law will take effect next August.

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