Record duck populations could mean an excellent year for Colorado waterfowl hunters. Video capture by Jerry Neal/CPW.
The 2015-16 Colorado waterfowl season is underway and, by most accounts, hunters have plenty to be excited about this year. Thanks to unusually wet weather and ideal nesting conditions across the Continental United States and Canada, duck populations have soared to the highest numbers in 60 years.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the total breeding duck population estimate in the traditional survey areas in the Prairie Pothole Region was 49.2 million birds — up 8 percent from last year, which is the largest population estimate since waterfowl surveys began in 1955. Mallards, the most popular duck among Colorado waterfowl hunters, posted a breeding population of 11.6 million birds, surpassing the all-time record of 11.2 million birds set in 1958. The USFWS also estimated gadwalls, redheads, teal and northern shovelers at or near record numbers. 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.
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.
Online hunter-education courses make it easy for aspiring hunters. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.
Story by Gary Berlin
Formal hunter education training has existed since 1949 when New York became the first state to require hunters to complete hunter education prior to buying a hunting license. More than 20 years later, Colorado joined the ranks, requiring anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1949 to obtain a hunter education certificate to purchase or apply for a hunting license. Because of the success of hunter education training, which reduced hunting-related shooting incidents, today all 50 states and 11 Canadian provinces have some type of hunter education requirement.
Between 1949 and 2000, a typical hunter education class consisted of 12 to 22 hours of formal classroom training, passing a comprehensive written exam, demonstrating safe gun-handling techniques and firearms proficiency at a firing range. It was not uncommon for a student to attend three to six individual class sessions before obtaining their hunter education certificate.
At the onset of the 21st century, a number of far-sighted, state hunter-education administrators recognized that many of their residents were resorting to the Internet for their news, information, entertainment and education. These administrators submitted a proposal to the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) to create a program for online delivery of hunter education. Read more
Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s video production crew has produced a new film called “Hunting Colorado’s Public Lands.” Filmed in high-definition video and recorded in digital audio, the film explores Colorado’s hunting opportunities on public land for big game, small game, waterfowl and turkey. The 17-minute film also offers insights into the various land-management agencies and showcases the different “life zones,” that support wildlife.
Photo by © Wayne D Lewis(CPW)
CPW Field Journal
When it comes to outdoors expertise, no one understands Colorado’s fishery and wildlife resources better than Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s diverse staff of wildlife managers, park rangers and biologists. For these dedicated individuals, working for CPW is not just an occupation but a way of life. When they’re not enforcing fish and game laws, patrolling state lands or conducting fish and wildlife research, most CPW employees are avid sportsmen and women who spend their leisure time hunting and angling throughout the state. Here, CPW staff share their personal stories and experiences, provide on-the-ground field updates and offer a unique, “inside” perspective on all things hunting and fishing in Colorado.
In this segment of CPW Field Journal, Southwest Regional Manager Patt Dorsey explains how the solitude of hunting helps her to de-stress and escape everyday life.
Wood ducks provide exciting jump-shooting opportunities for waterfowl hunters.
Wood ducks comprise a good percentage of a hunter’s bag limit during the early duck season along the South Platte and Arkansas rivers. You may have a tough time decoying these agile and wary fowl, but if you religiously hunt the river bottoms and surrounding ponds, it is likely you will get some pass-shooting opportunities based on good numbers of wood ducks inhabiting these areas. Read more
Wasps, spiders, sunburn, allergies, rattlesnakes, mosquitoes and chiggers are just a few of the challenges you must brave. But if you enjoy a good wing-shoot and the fast-paced action of fishing for crappies, these unpleasantries may be worth tolerating to take advantage of some early season outdoor opportunities on the Eastern Plains. Read more
Colorado Outdoors “Quick Tips” Videos
Experienced waterfowl hunters understand the importance of using a natural-looking decoy spread to bring ducks within shooting range of the blind. In this video, you will learn about some of the different types of decoys that are available and how to setup decoys to pull in even the most wary, hunter-savvy ducks.
Colorado Outdoors “Quick Tips” Videos
Duck decoys are an essential tool for every serious waterfowl hunter. But organizing floating decoys and keeping anchor lines tangle-free is a constant challenge. In this video, you will learn how to setup and breakdown your decoy spread quickly and easily–all while keeping your hands warm and dry on blustery days. This innovative decoy-anchor system is based on the popular Texas-style rig but with a Colorado twist.