Colorado is Open Now for Big Game Hunting
Colorado is Open Now for Big Game Hunting
DENVER – Colorado is open for fall hunting with more than 23 million acres of public land.
“Colorado is known worldwide for its pristine hunting and fishing areas,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “Some federal refuges are closed here and in other states, but Colorado has elk licenses available and hunters are welcome this fall to hunt on other public land.”
Colorado is the only state that offers over-the-counter rifle bull elk license for resident and non-resident hunters. The licenses are valid in more than 90 game management units during the second or third rifle seasons. The second rifle season runs Oct. 19 – 27 and third rifle season is Nov. 2 – 10.
Colorado has more than 260,000 elk in the state and hunters are important to help manage those large herds. In addition, hunting provides a $1.8 billion boost to the state’s economy each fall. State officials have been notified that National Wildlife Refuges in the state and some military installations may be impacted by the shutdown but those lands make up less than one-half of one percent of the federal land in the state.
Colorado Hunting Season Dates 2017
Elk & Deer August 26 – September 24
Moose Sept 9 – 24
Pronghorn(bucks only) August 15 – 31
Pronghorn (either sex) September 1 – 20
Deer/Elk/Moose September 9 – 17
Plains Deer east of I-25 October 14 – 22
Pronghorn September 21 – 29
Moose October 1 – 14
1st Season Elk only October 14 – 18
2nd Season Deer/Elk Combined October 21 – 29
3rd Season Deer/Elk Combined November 4 – 12
4th Season Elk (limited Deer) November 15 – 19
“It’s unfortunate that hunters are receiving mixed messages from the federal agencies,” said Steve Yamashita, Acting Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “While all of the National Forests in Colorado are open, the shutdown has confused sportsmen across the country and we’re trying to make sure people get the right information. Colorado is open this hunting season.”
Individuals hunting Colorado’s public lands are advised that some of the formal campgrounds may be closed or have limited service but dispersed camping is allowed in most areas. Hunters should be prepared to pack out their own trash and bring their own water.
The early snow in Colorado has local hunters excited after several years of warm, dry fall weather. Cold, snowy weather concentrates big game herds and moves them out of rugged areas toward lower elevation winter range. That movement means better hunting conditions.
“Hunting in western Colorado has been tremendous so far,” said JT Romatzke, an area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We have had great late-season rains, and bulls rallied to the rut during the last couple weeks of archery season.”
Hunters are being reminded that snow can mean muddy roads and cold temperatures. But mud and snow shouldn’t keep hunters from venturing out to try their luck. Despite some potentially mucky terrain, Romatzke anticipates a fruitful season.
“We are looking forward to what could be one of the best hunts we’ve had for a few years,” he said. “We just need the hunters to come get them.”
Be sure to know where you’re hunting
By Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Harvesting a deer or elk in the wrong Game Management Unit is not only illegal, it can be very expensive. Consider the experience of an Oklahoma couple hunting in southwest Colorado.
A Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer drove into their camp late one morning during the first rifle season. When he asked how the hunt was going the husband explained that they had each killed a cow about a mile away from their camp.
The officer congratulated them and then asked to see their licenses. After looking at the licenses he asked exactly where they’d hunted.
“Well, we were just over that ridge there,” the husband said, pointing to the west.
The officer shook his head slightly and said, “Well, I’ve got some bad news. You were hunting in the wrong unit.”
The man protested and attempted to point out their location on the basic map that’s printed in the Big Game Hunting brochure. The map provides little detail, shows only the location of a few major roads and offers no topographic markings.
The wildlife officer pulled out a topographic map and showed the man that they were at least 15 miles ‒ as the crow flies ‒ away from where they were authorized to hunt.
“But we’ve been hunting here for years,” the man said.
Politely, but firmly, the wildlife officer explained the consequences: The meat would be confiscated and donated to a local food bank, and each of them would be fined $1,500. The couple’s hunting privileges in Colorado were subsequently suspended.
“There is no excuse for hunting in the wrong unit,” says Matt Thorpe, area wildlife manager in Durango. “Most unit boundaries have been in place for years and they seldom change.”
Despite that fact, hunting in the wrong GMU is a common mistake.
Here’s how to make sure you are hunting in the right unit:
Go to page 61 in the 2017 Colorado Big Game Brochure, find the GMU number and read the official location description.
Buy a high-quality topographic map that includes the GMU area and locate the boundaries; then mark the map.
After you arrive at your hunting location, study the map and the landmarks in the area to make sure of the boundaries of the GMU.
If you have any questions, contact the nearest Parks and Wildlife office.
Hunters must also be aware of the location of private land. To hunt on private land you must obtain permission. In Colorado, landowners are not required to post or mark their property.
GMU descriptions can also be found on the Parks and Wildlife website: cpw.state.co.us.
For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.