Author Archives: coloradooutdoorscontributor

A Hiker’s Guide to Dog Training

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All photos by © Jenn Fantasia

On a crisp Friday morning, I wind my way up a solid dirt path with my faithful Saint Bernard, Bailey, alongside. We’re in route to Herman Gulch, a stunning and popular lake destination for hikers in Colorado. Tall evergreens line the well-traveled path and a crystal-clear river provides a pleasant soundtrack to our ascent. After hiking 3.5 miles uphill, we reach the ridge. My hiking boots punch through remnants of snow patches and Bailey happily throws gulps of snow into her mouth, chomping at the tiny pieces of ice as they spill out of her jowls. We crest the ridge and gaze upon the sparkling lake below, cradled in a natural bowl surrounded by jagged mountain peaks. We stop to take it all in. Read more

2018 Pheasant & Quail Forecast

Pheasant Hunting Conditions

In comparison to last year, Colorado’s forecast for the 2018 pheasant hunting season is going to be right around the average mark. Conditions for nesting and brood-rearing weren’t optimal this year, but the conditions weren’t bad either. Last winter was dry, which means that there wasn’t a lot of soil moisture early this year. So green wheat and early brood-rearing habitat didn’t get an early start. Wet weather did arrive in May, which was good, and then June dried out, with warmer than normal temperatures for several days. In late July and early August, a series of pretty significant hailstorms came through the core pheasant region. And those storms definitely had an impact on habitat, as well as birds with some being killed by hailstones. Read more

Volunteering for the Walleye Spawn Operation

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Growing up among so much beauty I would find myself asking, “Who put the fish in the lakes?” Once again faced with a “Chicken and the Egg” dilemma, I put it down to Mother Nature and natural progression.

In this case of the “Fish and the Egg,” I would find my answer 15 years later with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Aquatic Biologists. These awesome biologists do everything from managing habitat to monitoring water conditions, figuring out fish populations, and protecting our native fish from invasive species and pollution as “all in a day’s work.” Come rain, sunshine, snow or high winds, our biologists are out there helping our wildlife survive and flourish. Read more

BACKCOUNTRY BASICS

IMG_0675-web.jpgFOR THE HIKING BOOT-CLAD FLY FISHERMAN

Every outdoorsman has their specialty. Whatever the pursuit, there is somebody passionate enough to fill that niche. For me, that niche is backcountry fly fishing. I’m fortunate that I live in Colorado, where miles and miles of backcountry wilderness sit at my backdoor. For years I’ve explored rivers and lakes without names and no permanent address on topographic maps. Some are seasonal ponds or creeks only to be found during runoff, and I suppose others are ones the cartographer just never got around to naming, so they sit patiently waiting for the weary fly fisherman to come along and unlock their secrets. These waters can be either quite rewarding, painfully stubborn or barren of any life form. However, most tend to be quite willing to relinquish a few fish. At altitude, these fish have a short growing season, which means they are quite occupied with filling their gut with as many invertebrate vittles as possible. This is excellent news for the angler, but certain strategies can enhance success and even the quality of fish one might land. Although most backcountry fish have rarely — if ever — seen a fly, they can still be extremely spooky at the slightest disturbance. The following are guidelines I follow trip after trip that have treated me well over the years. Read more

Hunting Colorado’s Mountain Merriam’s (& The Tenth Legion)

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The author displays a Merriam’s turkey.

The best-known book of turkey hunting’s poet laureate, Colonel (retired) Tom Kelly, is Tenth Legion. The title comes from the Tenth Legion of the Roman Army, a matchless military force that stood fast against barbarian hordes for centuries. Over generations, the soldiers forming the Tenth Legion’s ranks became a cult, a breed apart, and their feats have become a touchstone for unstinting commitment, writes Jim Casada in his American Hunter article, “Reflections of a Marvelous Madness.” Such is the commitment and dedication I see demonstrated by those like my friend, Rick Hooley, and conservation officer, Rob Brazie. Read more

Walden Ice University

Tyler Stephen Werner Ice fishing

The lakes surrounding Walden provide a multi-tiered challenge for ice anglers. Photo by Tyler Stephen Werner.

By David Harrison

The 2014 census listed 1,394 people in Jackson County, and the 2016 and 2017 stocking report for the 656-acre Lake John numbered 1 million fish.  This means that if you want to catch a trout through the ice, North Park is where you want to be. Read more

Turkey Biology and Hunting Tactics

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Many people mock the tale of Benjamin Franklin suggesting the wild turkey as a symbol for our young nation. Those people have obviously never hunted for turkey. If they had, ol’ Ben wouldn’t seem so far off base. Photo by © Vic Schendel/CPW

During the last 30-plus years, I have hunted in four states and have harvested one or two turkeys each year (I struck out one year). Having spent my professional career as a biologist, I’ve always combined my hunting experience with biology. Most of my hunts have been for the Rio Grande subspecies in river bottom habitat, but I also have hunted the Merriam’s subspecies in three states.

There are key turkey biological periods during a typical spring hunting season, and hunting tactics need to match these specific periods. Learning to recognize these distinct periods can be the secret to harvesting the long beards in any area.
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Trapshooting Gaining Popularity

 

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Melinda sharpens her shooting skills at the  Pikes Peak Gun Club (PPGC). Photo by David Lien.

By mid-summer, the exhilarating memories of hunting cagey mountain Merriam’s turkeys during April have started to fade and thoughts of fall hunts begin creeping into the psyche of hunters everywhere. One of the best ways to scratch that itch is to visit the local gun club or public range and start blowing the dust off of latent shooting skills.

Shooting trap is perhaps one of the easiest ways for both experienced and novice upland game hunters (and others) to get back in the swing of swinging a shotgun. Clay targets are launched from a single machine. The targets usually move up and away from the shooter before gliding down to the ground. This is the simplest form of clay shooting and probably the best for working on basic shooting mechanics. Read more

Summertime Bass Fishing With Frogs

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The author with a Master Angler largemouth caught with a frog lure.

Picture this: You cast out into the small opening in the weeds. The plastic frog barely hits the water when a 5-pound bass crushes it, throwing water everywhere.  You pause a second then set the hook with all your might, sending the hooks solidly into the fish’s mouth.  You crank as fast as you can, skipping the bass across the mat of thick weeds.  As the bass comes closer it fights harder trying to get away.  The bass comes up to the side of the boat and slides right up on your thumb.  You take a couple of quick photos of the Master Angler lunker and then you release the bass safely to the water where he returns to his weedy haunts. If this sounds fun to you it’s time to give summertime frog fishing a try.
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The Argument for Conventional Tackle

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Photo by Chad LaChance.

I love to fly fish. Been doing it since I was 12 years old, am decent at it  and I have about 15 fly rods in my collection. I’ve tied flies (for money even), own all the assorted fly gadgets and have caught everything from snook and redfish, to bass and walleyes, to trout and grayling, all on feathers and fur. Geez, I even live in Colorado…how much more fly is there than that?

But this is my argument for conventional tackle…yep, even the fly fishing community needs spin-polers. Read more

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