Colorado has a reputation for our outdoorsy ways and adventurous attitudes.
We love to raft and kayak in whitewater, such as in the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. We water ski at places like Lake Pueblo State Park. We plunge down snowpacked mountainsides on skis. We mountain bike on remote single-tracks. We climb cliffs. We run steep inclines for exercise and fun. We fish and hunt and go wildlife viewing. We live life outside.
Every year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) big-game biologists compile data on the state’s deer, elk and pronghorn herds by Data Analysis Units (DAU). These DAUs encompass several of the Game Management Units (GMU) that hunters are more familiar with.
A primary tool used in the management of Colorado’s big-game animals is a limit, or quota, on the number of licenses issued in most game management units (GMUs). When applying for a limited license, a preference point is awarded when an individual is unsuccessful in drawing their first-choice hunt code. Preference points provide a mathematical advantage when applied to future drawings.
While the biblical Garden of Eden is said to have been located in modern day Iraq, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, in my mind, western Colorado’s piscine paradise is undoubtedly the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. The Lake Fork, which is located south of Gunnison along Highway 149 near Lake City, is the least known of the Gunnison River’s major tributaries. This comparatively uncrowded trout stream is surrounded by stunning scenery, has big fish potential, and angles particularly well in the springtime. It is a local favorite and where many area guides prefer to fish on their infrequent days off; I’m not sure a trout stream can receive a more glowing endorsement than that.
Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (R3) Programs Spreading Nationwide
Today, roughly 11.5 million Americans hunt in a country of 320 million people, according to American Hunter magazine. This means that less than 5% of people in the U.S. hunt. From 2006 to 2016, 1 million Americans stopped hunting. The Aspen Times stated in a 2007 article that the number of people hunting in Colorado decreased 24 percent from 1991 to 2006. In a Colorado Hunter article titled “Hunting is for Girls,” the author pointed out that the average hunter in Colorado is a 55-year-old white male. In other words, the clock is ticking.
When I was in college, a million years ago, there were two classes I needed, and dreaded, to complete my biology degree: parasitology and geology.
I put off taking them as long as I could but eventually had to bite the proverbial bullet. I was right all along about parasitology. It really bugged me. (Sorry.) But geology was a pleasant surprise. It really rocked. (Sorry, again.)
September in Colorado brings cooler mornings, the color change of Aspen leaves in the mountains, the fascination with pumpkin spice everything and most importantly, archery season. This year I got my first elk tag for a draw unit. In years prior, I hunted with an over the counter tag. The excitement of this hunt dwindled some as the summer passed due to the dozens of wildfires and severe drought. Hunting, in general, would be more difficult; I was going to have to work for it if I wanted a chance at harvesting a bull.
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
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
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