Category Archives: Featured

TRULY NATIVE

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) biologists have discovered a unique genetic lineage of the Colorado River cutthroat trout in southwest Colorado that was thought to be extinct. The agency will continue to evaluate the findings and collaborate with agency partners to protect and manage populations of this native trout.

The discovery was officially recognized earlier this year thanks to advanced genetic-testing techniques that can look into the basic components of an organism’s DNA, the building blocks of life. This find demonstrates the value of applying state-of-the-art genetic science to decades of native cutthroat conservation management and understanding.  Read more

THE 2018 COLORADO OUTDOORS HUNTING GUIDE IS AVAILABLE NOW!

2017 Hunting Guide Cover

This special edition of Colorado Outdoors magazine features articles that will help you make the most of your fall and winter out in the field. Discover where species and hunting seasons align to create opportunities for multispecies hunts. Learn tactics for locating early season mule deer. And protect your investment with gear care tips and much more.  Purchase your copy or an annual subscription today. Read more

Becoming a Real Straight Shooter

 

“Do you know how to shoot straight?”

While some people might take offense at such a question, it is one that big game hunters need to ask themselves every year. Shooting an animal with a high-powered rifle, no matter the distance, is not a natural skill. Hunters must know the capabilities of their rifles, the intricacies of their scopes, the characteristics of their ammunition, the distance of their targets and their own ability to quickly set up an ethical shot.

“Shooting is a perishable skill. If you haven’t done it in a while, you’re going to get rusty,” says Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager in the San Luis Valley. “There are people who believe they can go out, buy an expensive rifle and without any practice start shooting like the guys on the hunting shows on TV. Well, they can’t.” Read more

Long-term efforts saved Colorado wildlife

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Bowhunter. Photo by © Vic Schendel/CPW.

In Colorado 150 years ago wildlife faced a dire future.

To provide food for miners and settlers streaming west during the gold rush and land rush of the mid- and late-1800s, market hunters slaughtered deer, elk, bear, buffalo, bighorns, pronghorn and any type of bird that could provide meat. Fish fared no better as nets and even dynamite were set in rivers and streams. Polluted water flowing from mining operations also devastated hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. Read more

High-altitude Survival

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Every year, more than a few hunters must be rescued from the wilds and high country of Colorado. Hunters get trapped by snowstorms, injured in various types of accidents or simply get lost in the woods.

Hunters must remember that altitude can affect their health and their ability to move easily. And in the Rockies, weather can change quickly with fast-moving storms dumping a couple of feet of snow in just a few hours. Read more

Colorado’s Passport to Adventure

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Some people swear by calendars, others are list makers. But to consistently get outdoors, you need to be looking forward, planning and prioritizing time in your busy schedule. We all know that spending time in nature is good for our mind and bodies. We feel the benefits of exercise. We even feel the stress slip away as we challenge ourselves on bike rides, hikes, kayak adventures…you name the activity. Even researchers are starting to compile mountains of evidence supporting what we all believe to be true – the simple fact that getting outdoors is good for us and provides long and short-term mental and physical health benefits. Yet, many of us fail to commit to this beneficial time. Me included. Read more

Big Game Hunting – Leftover License Update

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Colorado big-game hunter. Photo by © Vic Schendel/CPW.

The official leftover big game limited licenses list for deer, elk, bear and pronghorn is now available on the CPW website. These remaining limited licenses provide hunting access on specific Game Management Units (GMUs) and offer Colorado big-game hunters some great opportunities this big game hunting season. The leftover licenses go on sale Tuesday, August 7 at 9:00 a.m (MDT). NOTE: at 9:00 a.m. licenses will be available for purchase online (CPWshop.com), by phone at 1-800-244-5613 , in person at CPW offices and at license retailers (sporting goods stores, hunting and fishing supply stores, etc.).

There are more than 50,000 big game hunting licenses available on the leftover list this year.

  • Bear – more than 4,900 limited licenses available
  • Deer – more than 8,400 limited licenses available
  • Elk – more than 29,100  limited licenses available
  • Pronghorn – more than 7,400 limited licenses available

Read more

Fly Fishing Basics – Part II: Fly Selection for Colorado

Picking the right flies for your first fishing trip can be an intimidating experience. And while most local fly fishing shops will be happy to guide you through your first purchase, there’s something to be said about being an informed buyer. Howard Horton, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Angler Outreach Coordinator, takes the mystery out of filling your fly box by revealing a combination of flies that will work in a range of waters, from Colorado’s mountain streams to the reservoirs. Howard discusses basic fly selections, including dry flies, nymphs and streamers – walking you through setups like the dry-dropper that are sure to increase your confidence and success on your next outdoor fishing adventure.

Fly Fishing resources mentioned in the video:

For more fly fishing information, watch Fly Fishing Basics – Part I: Gearing Up and learn exactly what you’ll need to get out on the water without breaking the bank.

What to See Now: Shrikes

YOTB_stacked_KIn celebration of the Year of the Bird, we will highlight some of the birds and their behaviors that you can observe at certain times throughout the year.

 

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A pair of loggerhead shrikes from the Pawnee National Grasslands. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW.

Driving down County Road 57 on the edge of the Pawnee National Grasslands, I saw a flurry of avian activity on a barbed-wire fence just ahead. I pulled over to see three of the four birds had moved off a bit, leaving one little bird sitting alone. Well, “sitting” isn’t quite right, because its legs were sticking out at odd angles. “Resting” isn’t correct either, because there wasn’t much peaceful about the scene. The small brownish bird was “stuck.” I edged my truck a few feet ahead to try and get a better idea what species I was looking at, but that didn’t help. It’s hard to identify a bird when it is missing its head.

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This small bird had fallen prey to a group of loggerhead shrikes.

It wasn’t really a mystery at all as to who was responsible: Three black-masked culprits impatiently waited nearby — two just one fence section down and another above on a powerline. They had clearly ignored the posted “no hunting” sign. I waited a few minutes, hoping they would return to the scene of the crime so my camera could catch them doing other naughty stuff, but they all flew off, apparently not wanting to be seen with the victim. I put my truck in drive and headed about 1,000 yards ahead before making a U-turn to sneak back and snap some damning photographic evidence, but I was too late. In that short time, the butchers had spirited the victim away.

While the identity of the victim will never be known, the perpetrators were instantly identified as shrikes. Shrikes are gray, black and white, robin-sized songbirds. I picture songbirds as cheerful, friendly, Disney-like birds — and maybe shrikes are, too, when they aren’t impaling grasshoppers, lizards, mice and small birds (sometimes when the prey is still alive) on thorns, spines and the barbs of barbed wire. Birds as big as meadowlarks and robins fall prey to shrikes, and even the occasional bat is eaten. Since shrikes lack talons like those of raptors, they stun or kill their prey with rapid blows from their poweful, hawk-like beaks and they will kill vertebrates by biting through their necks. Their impaled victims may be consumed right away or cached for later consumption. The cache also marks their territories and helps in attracting mates. Thus, butcher birds, one of the shrike’s nicknames, is a very accurate and appropriate description. They are also called thornbirds (they use thorns in hunting and also nest in thorny shrubs and trees) and blockheads (because many think their heads are too big for their bodies).

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Loggerhead shrikes search for their prey from vantage points such as trees and power lines.

Although I could easily ID the butchers, figuring out the type of shrike was harder. There are only two shrike species in North America and both can be found in our state. Colorado is home to northern shrikes, as well as their close relatives, loggerhead shrikes. Northern shrikes breed in Alaska and Canada, and their range dips down into northern Colorado. Loggerhead shrikes will nest in Colorado and can be found year-round in southern parts of the state. The Pawnee National Grasslands on the Eastern Plains is one of the areas where their ranges overlap. I reached out to Bruce Gill, an author and former biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and had him review my photos. “My guess is they are all loggerhead shrikes,” said Gill. “Northerns winter here, but don’t breed here. The ones in which the black does not extend across the bill are young of the year that have not yet developed adult plumage. Northerns breed far north along the Arctic Circle and Alaska.”

Gill, in his article “Butcher Bird” from the March/April 2013 issue of Colorado Outdoors magazine wrote: “Aside from contrasting distributions, several subtle physical characteristics distinguish adult loggerheads from northerns. At first glance, they look very much alike. But careful inspection reveals that northerns are slightly larger. The breast feathers of northerns are crisscrossed with very fine, wavy, contrasting dark lines. Breasts of adult loggerheads are mostly gray, lacking wavy lines.

“The black facemask of the loggerhead is broader than the northern’s and runs completely across the base of the beak whereas the narrower mask of the northern ends at the base of the beak. The hook on the upper mandible of the northern is also slightly longer than that of the loggerhead, but this characteristic is difficult to judge without side-by-side comparisons.

“Perhaps the most useful field-distinguishing characteristic from a distance is behavioral. The northern shrike has a habit of raising and lowering it’s long tail when perched, a gesture rarely used by the loggerhead.”

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Loggerhead shrike with the remains of a grasshopper. The author watched this bird remove the grasshopper’s legs and wings before swallowing it.

After some review, I determined that the culprits were loggerhead shrikes. However, the beauty of writing for blogs is that if I am proven wrong, I can quickly change the words on the screen.

“I’m not bad, I was born this way,” kept popping in my head as I thought about the scene I had witnessed. Bluebirds are often thought of as signs that happiness is on its way — unless you’re a cricket in its sights. Robins are welcome signs of spring — unless you’re a worm. Heck, even the little headless bird had been a very effective predator up until its untimely end. Don’t think of shrikes as avian Vlad the Impalers. Instead, think of them as the kindly butcher on the corner, just going about their business and providing for their families.

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES


Wayne D. Lewis is the editor and art director of Colorado Outdoors magazine.

Fly Fishing Basics – Part I: Picking the right gear

Between great local fishing supply stores and a number of low-cost fly fishing outfits available online, there’s never been a better time to take up fly fishing. Howard Horton, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Angler Outreach Coordinator, dispels the myths that prevent many from trying fly fishing. Learning to fly fish does not have to be expensive or intimidating. Howard walks through gear selection and rod setup, showing you exactly what you’ll need to get out on the water without breaking the bank.

Next Lesson – Part II: Fly Selection for Colorado

Now that you’ve got the basics on gear selection it’s time to pick some flies. Watch Part II: Fly Selection for Colorado to guarantee a great fly selection for your next fishing adventure.

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