Colorado’s big-game hunting seasons are underway. We’re hearing stories about some great archery and muzzleloader hunts and now many of our rifle hunters are heading out for their hunts. If you are lucky enough to be holding a tag and preparing to head out into this beautiful fall weather, you need to set aside some time to review the Colorado Big Game Brochure. The brochure explains many of the common violations and how to avoid them.
Every hunting season, officers for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) hand out hundreds of tickets for violations that cost hunters hundreds of thousands of dollars. While some of those tickets are for flagrant violations of wildlife regulations and hunting laws, many more are for minor violations that could have been avoided.
Hunters are reminded that not only can they be fined for violations, they can also lose their hunting privileges in Colorado and the 45 other states that cooperatively participate in a nationwide wildlife compact agreement.
1. TRESPASSING. Going onto private lands without getting permission first while hunting, fishing or performing any related activity is illegal. Private lands do not need to be posted or fenced, so it can be difficult to see boundaries. Violators may be suspended for up to 5 years for trespassing. This includes State Land Board properties not leased and signed by CPW, unless permission is given by the lessee. You must have permission from the landowner to enter private land to retrieve a harvested animal. First, you should try to contact the landowner on your own. If that effort fails, call the local CPW office (inside front cover).
2. Failing to make a reasonable attempt to track and kill animals you wound or may have wounded. Remember that it’s against the law to pursue wounded wildlife that goes on private property without first obtaining permission from the landowner or person in charge.
3. Failing to reasonably dress, care for and prepare edible wildlife meat for human consumption. At a minimum, the four quarters, tenderloins and backstraps are edible meat. Internal organs are not considered edible meat.
4. Hunting without a proper license. Anyone who hunts wildlife must have in their possession the appropriate and valid Colorado resident or nonresident license that includes their Customer Identification (CID) number, and must only harvest wildlife of the species and type indicated on the license.
5. Mistakenly killing wildlife. You must report big-game animals unintentionally killed, not due to carelessness or negligence, to a CPW office (inside front cover) (or the local Sheriff’s office after CPW regular hours) before continuing to hunt and as soon as practical. Before contacting CPW, field dress the animal. CPW evaluates the circumstances, including shots fired, species and number of animals present, firearms, ammunition, etc. Big game accidentally killed does not count toward annual bag limits.
6. Not showing evidence of sex. Be sure to leave evidence of sex naturally attached to the carcass. Evidence includes the head, the vulva or the scrotum. See “Evidence of Sex” on page 16 Improperly voiding and/or attaching a carcass tag. You must sign and detach the carcass tag from your hunting license immediately following taking your animal. It is illegal to sign or tear the carcass tag before harvest. The tag must also be attached to the animal properly. See “Carcass Tags,” page 16 of the Colorado Big Game Brochure for more details.
7. Carrying loaded firearms while in or on any motor vehicle. Firearms must be unloaded in the chamber. Muzzleloading rifles are considered unloaded if the percussion cap or shotshell primer is removed, or if the powder is removed from flashpan. It is illegal for anyone to have a loaded electronic-ignition muzzleloader in or on a motor vehicle; the chamber must be unloaded or the battery must be disconnected and removed from its compartment. Most accidents involving firearms occur in or near vehicles.
8. Carrying loaded firearms (except handguns) on an OHV during deer, elk, pronghorn and bear seasons. Firearms (except handguns) must be unloaded in the chamber and magazine. Firearms (except handguns) and bows must be fully enclosed in a hard or soft case. Scabbards or cases with open ends or sides are prohibited. This does not apply to landowners or their agents who carry a firearm on an OHV to take depredating wildlife on property they own or lease.
9. Improperly voiding and/or attaching a carcass tag. You must sign and detach the carcass tag from your hunting license immediately following taking your animal. It is illegal to sign or tear the carcass tag before harvest. The tag must also be attached to the animal properly. See “Carcass Tags,” page 16 of the Colorado Big Game Brochure.
10. Hunting with rifles, handguns or shotguns firing a single slug, or archery equipment within an area 50 feet on each side of the centerline of any state highway or municipal or county road, as designated by the county. Before firing a shot, you must be at least 50 feet off a designated state or county road, and just off U.S. Forest Service or BLM roads. You also cannot shoot across a road.
Stay safe and legal. And enjoy your time in the field this fall!