Cheyenne Mountain State Park Archery Range Hits Bullseye

An archer takes aim on the competition-style shooting course. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

An archer takes aim on the competition-style shooting course. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

When Mitch Martin, manager at Cheyenne Mountain State Park, invited me to attend and photograph the grand opening of his park’s new archery range, I have to admit, I really didn’t know what to expect. The term “outdoor range” immediately evoked memories of summer camp back in middle school, which consisted of lobbing arrows at hay bales and flimsy, easel-mounted targets.

What I discovered, however, is a modern, first-class shooting facility. Quite simply, the archery range at Cheyenne Mountain can be summed up in one word: awesome. Continue reading

First Turkey

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David Lien displays his Merriam’s turkey taken in southwest Colorado.

Anyone who’s heard the echoing Gobble-obble-obble! of a longbeard at dawn during April knows something primordial lives in the woods, hills, mountains and valleys of this country and continent. It’s an explosive vocalization, one like no other, that my friend David Petersen says is, “at once high-pitched, deep-throated, melodic and maniacal, with emphasis on the last quality.”

The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is endemic to North America and evolved more than 11 million years ago. While they have no close relatives, they’re cousins of pheasants. And not unlike a male pheasant, the wild tom, with his bold tail fan and bright wattle, is one of a kind. Prized for his keen senses and fabled intelligence, a tom can reach 30 pounds or more with a wingspan pushing 5½ feet. Continue reading

Let the Games Begin (Part Two)

Cow and bull elk

This or that? Applying for either-sex licenses will increase our chance of success. Photos by Wayne D. Lewis (CPW).

April 1st is quickly approaching. Normally I would be planning an April Fools’ prank or two, but not this year. If my hunting partner, Alex Kedas, and I do not get our big-game limited license applications submitted in time, we will be the fools.

Kedas and I needed advice, tons of it, and help was just a door away. Amy Bulger’s office is right next to mine where she does an incredible, and sometimes thankless, job producing the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) regulation brochures. After a short chat, Amy offered up the services of her newlywed husband, Aaron. He built CPW’s hunt planner program, and for years guided hunters through the application process. He has since left the agency for a career as a paramedic and fireman, but he has taken his knowlege with him. (CPW hunt planners can be reached from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (MST) Monday through Friday at 303-291-7526 (303-291-PLAN).

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Colorado Outdoors March/April Issue Now Available

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It’s March madness, Colorado style. For hunters and anglers, March is the perfect month to shake off the delirium of cabin fever by preparing for the upcoming spring/summer hunting and fishing seasons. It’s also an excellent time to look back and reflect upon last fall’s big-game hunts.

The March/April issue of Colorado Outdoors features the “2013 Big-Game Wrap-Up,” which includes a statewide recap of last year’s deer and elk seasons. In addition, hunters will learn how to select camo for the upcoming spring turkey season in “Crazy About Camo.” Anglers will learn tactics for fishing the Gold Metal waters of Gore Creek in “Dredging Gore Creek Gold,” and how fly fishing with streamer flies can produce large, trophy-sized fish in “Streamer Trout.” To view the entire contents page for this issue, click here.

To order the March/April issue or to purchase an annual subscription to Colorado Outdoors magazine, call: 1-800-417-8986.

Let the Games Begin (Part One)

The author's quest for an elk has just begun.

The author’s quest for an elk has just begun. Photo by Wayne D. Lewis (CPW).

Alex Kedas

Alex Kedas. Photo by Wayne D. Lewis (CPW).

 

One of the most discussed barriers for novice hunters getting out to hunt is that they have no one to go with. Those novice hunters haven’t met Alex Kedas. Kedas is an Illinois resident, and an avid whitetail and turkey hunter, beaver and otter trapper, and warm-water fisherman. A typical weekend will find him taking his three kids to a movie, or to a park to play catch, but that’s after they all go sighting in their bows at a range. He is also a lover of all things Colorado. And when a hunter sets sights on Colorado, the main target is elk.

Kedas and I met briefly years ago, but a few months back ran into each other (like everyone does nowadays) online. Our chats quickly turned to an elk hunt. I offered to help him scout, and then go along to document and photograph his hunt for an article in Colorado Outdoors, the magazine for which I am editor and art director. With a pitbull’s tenacity, his hunt quickly became our hunt. He figured if I’m out there with him, I should be hunting. And, BAM, with that push, this long-time employee of Colorado Parks and Wildlife is going on his first hunt in more than 30 years. Continue reading

Hunting for Experience

Hunters explore a meadow in the San Juan Mountains. Photo by David Lien.

Hunters explore a meadow in the San Juan Mountains. Photo by David Lien.

Hunting has always been driven by curiosity to discover what lies over the next hill and, accordingly, much of human exploration has been driven by hunting. Some 14,000 years ago, human migrants from Asia entered the New World. These people hunted and gathered wild animals and plants. Many of these Stone Age hunters, in what is today the western U.S., focused their predatory attention on giant, wide-horned bison. Today, Utah’s Henry Mountains are home to the only free-roaming, huntable herd of bison in the 48 contiguous United States.

Although there are few bison-hunting opportunities in North America today, many hunters from across the country venture out West to explore and experience places like Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana to hunt elk and other big game, including mule deer, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Some hunters are ultimately successful in harvesting an animal, but many head home without meat for their freezers. Continue reading

CPW Seeks Participants for Novice Hunter Program

A group of hunters poses for a photo-op after a recent NHP pheasant Hunt. Photo by Theo Stein (CPW).

A group of hunters poses for a photo-op after a recent NHP pheasant Hunt. Photo by Theo Stein (CPW).

Experienced hunters enter the field confident of finding game. For new hunters, gaining that confidence — knowing the where, when, how and why of hunting — is often the biggest barrier to success.

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To Catch a Cougar: A Bowhunter’s Search for a Colorado Mountain Lion

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Bowhunter Mindy Paulek poses with a large, tom lion that she harvested near Durango, Colorado on Feb. 4, 2014. In addition to this trophy-sized lion, Paulek has taken record-sized bears and mule deer with her bow.

Calling mountain lions “elusive” is a radical understatement. It’s as if the ultra-secretive cats are equipped with cloaking devices that allow them to remain nearly invisible in their surroundings, while leaving behind only vague clues of their presence. In fact, relatively few people will ever catch a glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild, and most are perfectly happy to keep it that way. But, for bowhunter Mindy Paulek, seeing mountain lions became an almost routine experience. However, finding and harvesting the “right” mountain lion turned into a monumental challenge for the archer — one spanning three years and hundreds of miles in Colorado’s backcountry.

Fortunately, challenges are nothing new for Paulek. The 30-year-old Durango resident has amassed an impressive hunting resume, harvesting bears, deer, elk, wild hogs and bobcats – all with her Mathews compound bow. She’s also bagged kudu, bushbuck, springbok, wildebeest and jackals on African safaris. But three years ago, Paulek set her sights closer to home on the one animal that had eluded her: a tom cougar.

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Blue Mesa Yellow Perch

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Ice fishers find yellow perch near a steep cliff at Blue Mesa Reservoir

Blue Mesa Reservoir – The pile of yellow perch in front of Cally Westcoat grew larger during the day. Although she and her fishing partner Colt Emich saw periods of slow action, there were times when she could not get her lure to the bottom before another perch was on her line. When the catch was tallied at the end of the day, Cally, Colt and Dan Emich had reduced the perch population by 72. Continue reading