The third season began with fewer hunters than normal. As host for hospitality events I ride motorcycle to visit and interview successful hunters for the Big Game Hunters Radio Show. Sometimes there are many hunters to interview and photograph, sometimes it is more difficult. On Sunday I rode about 50 miles and found no interviews. Penny Emery was hunting in the National Forest bordering my property. She bagged this buck and drug it to my driveway. I could have stood there and waited rather than spent all day not finding another successful hunter!
Return to this page for updates and photos from the rifle seasons in Pagosa Country.
See Pagosa Country Huntin’ Song, The Movie
While your’re here, look around The Journal for recent articles and the Adventure Guide for all the great recreation and fun Pagosa has to offer.
Mike Hayward wants hunter to know the best bucks are also the smart bucks and have moved to private property, as in his back yard. Happy viewing Mike!
The first and second rifle season produced healthy and nicely marbled with fat elk. Overall the hunting was good with several large racks seen.
It has been a hard season for wildlife in the San Juan. The spring saw a long dry spell with a late hard frost in some places. A lot of the forage was crippled including the scrub oak. Bear, in particular, were hard pressed to find food. This drove them into neighborhoods and they have been a problem all summer. Deer and elk faired a little better as monsoons rains brought their dought stunted forage back to life.
Kevin Schuchart from The Buck Stop Processing Service shows a nice elk rack taken in early seasons. Bernie Schuchart notes the action was a bit better than last year, which was a good season. The game and racks look good with several really big ones taken or sighted. There is always a monster bull reported, but we can’t pass on rumors with locations for the health of both wildlife and hunters.
Many early season hunters go to near timberline to find the elk. Some ride horses, some do the climb on foot while the smart hunters drive one of several roads to the same elevation park and hunt. For example, the area up the West Fork is known for excellent game. It is a long hard hike up the West Fork, but one can drive to the summit of Wolf Creek Pass and then to Lobo Overlook and hike west. You end up in the same place without the climbing. When you are on or close to the Continental Divide be careful as the hunting units can change on these natural divisions.
`KWUF and Pagosa.com prepared with the largest Hunter’s Hospitality Event in the U.S.A.
Coming to Pagosa to hunt?
Watch for The Adventure Guide creator and Journal editor traveling the highways and byways of Pagosa Country bringing hospitality to hunter’s camps.
The popular Big Game Hunters Radio Show can now be heard on KWUF’s internet site. Hunters can call home and let friends and family in on all the fun we have during the hunting seasons. In future years hunters can listen to the show and get a lot of information on how the hunt is going in the previous seasons before traveling to Colorado.
Best Camp Contest
Norm is looking for the best camp for each season. These can range from camps with big RVs to “canvas castles.” Norm is looking for friendly, clean and well designed camps with a close eye on hunters doing a good job with trash.
Best Camp Cook Contest
Yum Yum! Hunters like to eat well and so does Norm!!! Offer Norm a sample of your best dish or a left over tid bit from last night’s meal and your camp cook will be entered in the “Best Camp Cook Contest.”
Help Keep Our Forest Clean and Green Contest
Hunters “caught” by Norm doing a good job with trash in camp, at hunter’s dump sites or along the roads will be presented with a prize.
Best Hunter Radio Interview Contest
Prizes for the best hunter interview for each season. This may include successful hunter interview or for an interview with a meaningful or funny story that can be told on the radio.
The “Best Camp Cook Contest” winner for the Third Season. Shrimp and brisket for lunch, what suffering!
Norm, in blue, hands a Springs Resort pass to a hunter. His friends nominated him for “The Dirtiest Hunter in the San Juan Contest.” He won!!!
Introduction to San Juan Big Game Hunting
by Norm Vance
In autumn a very special mood saturates the atmosphere in the great San Juan Mountains. The heat of summer gives way to cooling north winds and nights become cool and crisp. Great stands of Aspen turn pale green and then erupt into electric orange, yellow and red. The color punctuates and gives new definition to the forest. Rivers once full and raging now trickle and bubble over and around riverbed boulders. Above the forest formations of birds fly south. Under the canopy of the trees wildlife prepares for a long winter.
Autumn causes a rushing, high spirited, excitement in the hearts of many men, a spirit surely born of ancient hereditary responsibility. Like the wildlife, it is time to put in food stores for winter. It is time to hunt.
During early October hunters begin arriving in Pagosa Country. Jeeps, trucks, and a wide assortment of motorized campers and renovated school busses trudge down the highways burdened by loads of camping, survival, and hunting gear.
High in the mountains, along all forest access roads, camps of every description spring to life. Huge tents with tarpaulin sheds dot the landscape. Makeshift kitchens come together, lanterns are hung in trees and men slowly become boys once again. In town restaurants and bars vibrate with excitement and tales of past hunts are told. Along the streets signs announce specials from beer to bullets. Grocery store workers are challenged to keep food on the shelves.
By the last few days before the season begins the air is thick with anticipation. The number of hunters has grown until they seem to be everywhere. Clumps of them fill sidewalks, parking lots, and all free space. The conversation topic is always the same, where is the big buck and the great bull elk. Ears are highly attuned to accounts of recent weather patterns and local citizens are questioned about where the herds are.
At night campfires blaze along access roads, trails, and across valleys. The good sound of laughter and high spirits can be heard in the distance. Beyond orange hats and vest which are mandatory for hunters the hunters are dressed in military camo or in outfits with a strong cowboy influence. It’s interesting to observe the hunter. He stands there with a scruffy week old beard; his boots are dirt covered, and he likely smells of horse and Mother Nature. Chances are that a week ago he was in a three piece suit, clean, well groomed, and smelling like roses.
Hunting is a time to let go for most hunters. It’s a time of great friendship with buddies acting out macho dreams of boyhood. It’s a time to go into the wilderness and face life on the raw edge. It is also time to face one, to weigh life’s values and to search for moments of truth. For two months each fall the mountains become what they were in years past. Gone is tourist picking flowers along trails, not yet come are skiers who placidly slide on snow. For these two months the mountains echo with high
powered rifle shots reminiscent of mountain men of the deep past. In town trucks parade about with disembodied heads and antlers mounted proudly on top. Some summer tourists or winter skiers would faint at the sight.
To the person who understands, a hunt is beautiful. A hunt is rare and special moments in life to be remembered forever.