Hunter education instructor Ginger Bailey and a youth share time afield in eastern Colorado. Video capture by © Jerry Neal/CPW.
For most of us, the New Year is a time of reflection. Specifically, it’s a chance to look back at the previous 12 months and identify the things we would like to change in our lives. But more importantly, changing calendars also provides a convenient benchmark that allows us to start anew and to begin looking forward. The proverbial blank canvas that emerges as one year ends and a new one begins is a prime opportunity to recreate ourselves and focus on what we deem most important.
Often, in our quest for self improvement, we tend to come up with the same, almost cliché, New Year’s resolutions year after year. We strive to lose weight (again), quit smoking (again), exercise more and eat less. And don’t get me wrong, these are all worthwhile and admirable goals (I certainly could afford to shed a few pounds myself after the holiday season).
However, as hunters and sportsmen, I think one of the most important resolutions that we can make is to share our passion for the outdoors with others. One of the best opportunities to contribute to this effort, aside from inviting friends and family to join us on our hunting trips, is by volunteering with Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Hunter Education program. Read more
Tom Remington and his English Setter, Tess, after a successful hunt.
— Article and photos by Tom Remington
Pheasant hunting is almost never easy, but hunting late-season pheasants can be particularly challenging. In December and January, you may be chasing less than half the roosters available in November. The survivors are battle hardened and educated to the ways of hunters and bird dogs. Pheasants learn to avoid draw bottoms, fence lines and other linear covers preferred by hunters and, instead, move to the middle of large fields.
My friends and I, through years of hard experience, have developed some unconventional strategies that work well late in the season. Roosters respond to hunters in predictable ways, and these tactics can help you take advantage of pheasant behavior. 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
When I was a kid growing up in northern Minnesota during the 1970s, most of my friends hunted and fished, and many trapped, but my outdoors social circles during those elementary and early middle school years were boys’ clubs. It was rare to encounter a girl who hunted, although, there were surely many about. In recent years, though, women are a bright spot in the general downward hunting-numbers trend.
Women are spending more time in tree stands and duck blinds — and putting fresh meat on the table. Although men still account for the vast majority of the 13.7 million U.S. hunters, the number of women actively hunting is on the rise. The total number of women hunters surged by 25 percent between 2006 and 2011, after holding steady for a decade, according to Census Bureau statistics. At last count, 11 percent of all U.S. hunters were women, compared to 9 percent in 2006.
“During the 1980s, we saw a pretty good increase in women hunting, which flattened out in the 1990s,” said Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, a research firm specializing in outdoor recreation trends. “And now there seems to be an increase in the past three or four years.” Read more
A chukar partridge at CPW’s research facility in Fort Collins. Photo by Manda Walters/CPW.
Upland game hunters may have additional opportunities to pursue chukar partridge thanks to an effort by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to introduce the birds in Larimer County.
In August, CPW biologists released 168 chukar on public land in the Lower Poudre Canyon. The release site, located 30 minutes west of Fort Collins, supports ideal habitat for the birds and has the potential to provide a close-to-home hunting location for northern Colorado residents.
“Our primary goal with this transplant project is to establish a self-sustaining, huntable population of chukar along the Northern Front Range for upland bird hunters,” said Mark Vieira, CPW wildlife biologist. “We are always striving to improve hunting opportunities and are excited about the prospect of offering chukar hunts in the near future.” Read more
Virtual scouting is important if you want to increase your chances of harvesting a big-game animal. The Colorado Hunting Atlas is a great tool, developed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s GIS team, to help you achieve greater success in the field. In this Colorado Outdoors Online “Quick Tips” video, you will learn how to use the Colorado Hunting Atlas and see an overview of the main functions and features.
1. Humility and Judgment
A young hunter seeks direction on a pheasant hunt. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.
“A man’s gotta know his limitations.”
— Harry “Dirty Harry” Callahan, “Magnum Force”
Callahan’s wise advice is particularly appropriate for small-game hunters, for the many species of animals and birds they may hunt present a broad array of hunting challenges. Todd Schmidt, Colorado hunter education coordinator, emphasized during an interview that small-game hunting is a foundation for developing skills and traits important to all types of hunting. “The lengthy, five-month hunting season, not only enriches the hunter through a broad variety of experiences, but it can also nurture good character,” said Schmidt. “Terrains differ, as do shotgun gauges, rifle calibers, arrow selection and physical fitness requirements – each offering unique lessons.”
Acting honorably in diverse environments with different firearms demands humility and judgment. Some years ago I was on a varmint hunt sponsored by a major firearms company. I had a .22 Magnum that had not been sighted in to my standards. A colleague challenged me to shoot prairie dogs at about 200 yards. I declined. Although otherwise quite sufficient, my skill level would be compromised using this rifle and the likelihood of unethical shots would increase. Read more
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
A black lab holds a retrieving dummy. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.
With leash laws strictly enforced these days in most cities and counties, it can be difficult to find a place to train, exercise and swim your high-energy hunting dog during the off season. And anyone who has trained a dog for upland or waterfowl hunting knows that keeping a hunting dog fine-tuned is a year-round endeavor.
For Denver residents, the Dog Off-Leash Areas (DOLAs) and Sport-Dog Training Areas at Cherry Creek and Chatfield State Parks offer a convenient location to train and exercise field dogs.
Located in Littleton, Chatfield’s DOLA features 69 acres of grassy fields, unimproved prairie and a variety of well-maintained trails. The diverse terrain also includes two large-sized ponds — perfect for practicing water retrieves with a Chesapeake or Labrador retriever. Cherry Creek’s DOLA, located just south of Denver, offers a vast 107 acres of short-grass prairie for upland field work and provides creek access in multiple locations.