There is no denying northern Colorado is an incredible place to call home.
The golden triangle of Fort Collins, Loveland and Windsor has routinely been recognized among the top five best places to live in the United States. The area is the largest producer of beer in a state considered the “Napa Valley” of craft brewing. The elaborate biking system, with 310 miles of trails, recently placed Fort Collins at No. 11 among the nation’s most biker-friendly cities. Finally, two local restaurants — Jay’s Bistro in Fort Collins and Chimney Park Bistro in Windsor — were recognized among the nation’s top 100 restaurants.
That is quite an impressive list, but there is an additional award of which the golden triangle is just as deserving.
The World Fishing Network recently announced a competition to crown a number of U.S. cities as America’s Ultimate Fishing Towns. It is a pretty easy argument as to why the local communities in northern Colorado within the Big Thompson and Poudre drainages should once again top the ranks. I present exhibits 1 through 5 as evidence of the area’s superior position as Fishing Town USA:
1. Big Thompson River
A Big Thompson rainbow caught on a dry fly. Photo by Iolanthe Culjak.
The upper section of the river between Idlewilde and Olympus dams has largely not been impacted by whirling disease, a parasite that decimated the rainbow trout population in the Poudre River during the mid-1990s. The Big T remains among Colorado’s finest wild-rainbow-fishing destinations with sections of river boasting up to 2,000 adult rainbow trout per mile. Read more
The spring snows continue to come but soon they will fade to the green leaves of a new season’s birth for Colorado. Turkey season is just a month away, and I find myself tuning calls, checking my old turkey vest and, at times, day dreaming about those gobbles at first light.
I thought about how we might approach this new season for the novice hunter and will work to provide some insight about what you should attempt to put in practice in the woods this spring. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the upcoming season: Read more
Pheasant hunters on a 2014 NHP hunt. Photo by Tony Dymek/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.
That’s the idea behind the Novice Hunter Program, a new Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) effort to help recent hunter-education graduates master the basics of pheasant hunting. The brainchild of Northeast Regional Manager Steve Yamashita and his staff, the program enjoyed a successful launch in 2013 and is currently underway for the 2014 seasons. Read more
A black Lab proudly displays a rooster pheasant. Photo by © Jerry Neal/CPW.
On Nov. 8, hunters and bird dogs alike will celebrate as Colorado’s 2014-15 pheasant season opens statewide.
According to wildlife managers, pheasant populations have improved significantly over last season. Precipitation returned to much of the core pheasant range this summer — just in time to improve habitat and begin the rebuilding process of Colorado’s pheasant crop. Although pheasant populations remain far below where they were five years ago, there are enough roosters to keep things exciting and plenty of additional reasons to lace up your hunting boots and explore Colorado’s Eastern Plains this fall.
As an avid wingshooter, pheasant hunting has long been one of my favorite outdoor pastimes. The flash of brilliant color and raucous cackle of a rooster pheasant bursting from dense cover is enough to make even the most seasoned hunter giddy with excitement. I’ve hunted these amazing birds for decades, and it’s a sight and sound that still captivates me. Read more
Photo by Shannon Schaller/CPW.
For Colorado hunters, April of every year is a time of excitement and anticipation over the big-game license drawing. Although many of Colorado’s big-game licenses are available over-the-counter, hunters must apply for and draw the more coveted licenses for species like bighorn sheep and mountain goat.
This past year, as I was getting ready to submit my license application, I was especially excited because I knew that I had enough preference points to potentially draw a goat license.
When I first started hunting big game in Colorado, I was only interested in hunting deer and elk. However, as a district wildlife manager (DWM) in Summit County, I was fortunate to have both sheep and goats in my district. Over the years, I started applying for both species because they fascinated me. Sheep and goats live in such rugged terrain, and I always thought it would be the ultimate challenge to pursue them. Read more
“If the purpose of hunting is only to kill an
animal, then the process is moot; we contain the
technological ability to kill all animals.”
–Allen Morris Jones
The phrase “fair chase” has a very specific meaning in the hunting world. The Boone and Crockett Club defines it as “the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big-game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.” This means fair-chase hunters pursue their quarry on foot; hone their skills so they make quick, clean kills; and obey the law.
Jim Posewitz, the founder of Orion, The Hunter’s Institute, writes (in Beyond Fair Chase) that fair chase “addresses the balance between the hunter and the hunted. It is a balance that allows hunters to occasionally succeed while animals generally avoid being taken.” The principle of “fair chase” is revered by ethical sportsmen and a cornerstone of the American hunting heritage.
Roosevelt enjoys a hunt in Colorado’s backcountry.
It was President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter of big game, who in 1887 joined leaders such as George Bird Grinnell, William Tecumseh Sherman, and Gifford Pinchot to form the Boone and Crockett Club, a group of sportsmen dedicated to stemming the destruction of America’s natural resources and wildlife at the end of the 19th century. Together, they worked to save Yellowstone, advocated for the principles of fair chase, and embraced the principles of science-based management of natural resources. Read more
A Rio Grande cutthroat. Video capture by Jerry Neal (CPW).
Nestled in the rugged mountains of southwest Colorado lies a remote, privately-owned ranch that shelters the pristine waters of Haypress Lake. Each June, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s fishery biologists and hatchery personnel set up a spawn-take operation at Haypress to collect roe and milt from Rio Grande cutthroat trout. Haypress Lake is the primary collection site for Rio Grande cutthroat eggs in Colorado. The offspring of the Haypress fish are then restocked into nearly 80 lakes and streams throughout the Rio Grande Basin. This short video provides an intimate look at this unique, annual event. Special thanks to John Alves, Ben Felt, Doug Sebring, Kirt Achenbach, Landes Randall, Kevin Terry and Ruthie Brown for their contributions to the Haypress spawn-take and Rio Grande cutthroat conservation efforts.
If you live in Colorado and watch much TV, chances are you’ve seen the “Hug a Hunter” and “Hug an Angler” commercials. But what you may not realize is these popular and informative TV spots are part of a much larger public-education campaign – one that has expanded beyond its origin in Colorado and captured the attention of conservation groups and wildlife agencies from across the country.
The “Hug” commercials are just one part of a multifaceted marketing effort managed by the Colorado Wildlife Council.
Established in the late 1990s by the Colorado State Legislature, the Wildlife Council’s primary objective is to educate the general public about the important role hunters and anglers play in habitat conservation and wildlife management. The Wildlife Council’s ongoing mass-media campaign, funded by a 75-cent surcharge on every Colorado hunting and fishing license, includes radio and television spots, billboards and a variety of Internet-based advertising and promotions. Read more
Fishing guide Iolanthe Culjak in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.
Think fishing is a male-dominated sport? Not exactly!
There has been a growing trend in the number of female anglers participating in fishing. A 2012 study by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation found that female anglers represented the largest group of new folks hooked on fishing. The unprecedented growth in a male-dominated sport has led to more than 12 million women fishing nationwide with ladies now making up nearly 30 percent of all anglers. If those numbers do not catch your attention, consider that there are now two times the number of women fishing than there are playing golf.
Here in Colorado, women have become particularly attracted to fly fishing; one in eight fly anglers are women.
“I have noticed a recent upward trend among the female fly-fishing community,” said Mike Kruise, owner of the Laughing Grizzly Fly Shop in Longmont. ” We get more and more women in the shop every year.” Read more
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 that toppled over in the slightest gust of wind.
What I discovered, however, is a modern, first-class shooting facility. Quite simply, Cheyenne Mountain’s archery range can be summed up in one word: awesome. Read more