In 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.
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. Read more
A harvested mourning dove. Photo by Jerry Neal (CPW)
When it comes to small-game hunting, doves are arguably the greatest challenge for wingshooters. Although these fast flyers are Colorado’s most plentiful game bird, you’ll need to bring your “A” game to fill the 15-bird daily limit. The following tips and information will help you have more fun and put more doves in your game-bag. Additionally, the 2017 season has been extended to November 29, which will give huners an increased opportunity to get out into the field.
A Lab retrieves a mallard duck. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.
If you are a duck hunter, you know the mingled joy (watching the sunrise over a river, calling in mallards to your decoys) and challenge (sitting quietly in a frosty duck blind) that comes with hunting waterfowl. In Colorado, the waterfowl hunting season is long and plentiful—which should give you plenty of time to experience both. The primary waterfowl season begins in October (check here for dates pertaining to specific areas).
“With waterfowl hunting opportunities extending from mid-September teal seasons to light goose conservation seasons ending in April, there are many opportunities for hunters to enjoy opportunities to harvest ducks and geese in Colorado,” said Jim Gammonley, avian program leader at Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). See our resource guide here.
Colorado’s waterfowl environments are diverse, ranging from shallow wetlands to large reservoirs. Most of the ducks present in Colorado during the hunting season are migrants from breeding areas north of our state, Gammonley noted. Typically the best hunting is available when a cold front pushes birds south along the Central or Pacific Flyways (or “aerial highways”) from southern Canada, the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming. Read more
Hunter: John Mehall
Photo by: Brandon KilstadAfter my father had unexpected surgery, I worked to put together an elk hunt for my dad and my son. The draw deadline had passed, so I focused on over-the-counter (OTC) units with public land, choosing one in the San Juan Mountains. Summer scouting revealed one bull that stood out among the others. My Dad took a 5X5 on opening morning then it began to snow so I hunted close to camp. During a break in the clouds, I spotted a herd and the big bull several valleys away. I headed out well before daylight and hiked about 8 miles at 12,000 feet. Nearing the basin, a few cows came over the ridge and pinned me down above tree line. While I lay there, the storm worsened with howling wind and lightening. When the cows fed off, I bolted for the trees to get out of the wind. Then I spotted the rest of the herd coming over the ridge, including the big bull. I crawled out from behind the trees and went prone with my rifle steadied on the bipod. I struggled to see through the snow with the scope, and scooped snow out of the scope repeatedly. As he was entering a drainage, I was able to see well enough to pick out the big bull against the snow. One shot at 425 yards with my .338 Ultra Mag put him down at 12,167 feet. We all returned the next day with a camera and horses to pack him out.
Urad Lake. Photo by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW.
If you are looking to either fish, hike, see the aspens change, wildlife watch or all of the above, you can do far worse than a trip to Urad Lake.
Urad Lake is in the Urad Lake State Wildlife Area, the newest SWA in Colorado. Located off of Jones Pass and Berthoud Pass in Clear Creek County, it is the result of a cooperative effort between the Climax Molybdenum Company (Henderson Mine), the City of Golden and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).
The property was historically open to the public for several decades, even though privately owned by the mine. In 2011, the property closed to the public as Henderson Mine did a massive, multimillion dollar mitigation project in the Woods Creek Valley.
During the closure, the mine, City of Golden (which owns the water and reservoir) and CPW were able to work out a long-term lease to turn over the management of the property to Colorado Parks and Wildlife which reopened the area in 2014. During that time, CPW stocked the lake with 6,000 10- to 12-inch cutbow trout. The lake is full of small brook trout, recently stocked rainbow trout and plenty of the cutbows. Read more
A father and son hunting GMU 37. Photo by © Wayne D. Lewis
If Colorado’s big-game seasons were a football game, we’d be halfway through the first quarter. Muzzleloader season just ended (but keep your muzzleloader out for rifle seasons, if you choose) and bowhunting continues until Sept. 25. If you haven’t ventured afield yet, there are still over-the-counter licenses available. Time to get in the game.
Wayne D. Lewis is the editor and art director of Colorado Outdoors magazine.
Article & Photos By Scott Willoughby
Jason Lieverst. Photo by © Scott Willoughby
Jason Lieverst is performing a magic trick. Or so it would seem. With just a few flicks of his 11-foot wand, the former captain of the British national fly-fishing team plucks trout after trout from a seemingly shallow pool in the Eagle River like some overgrown Harry Potter pulling a litter of rabbits out of a hat.
“What was that, about 14?” Lieverst estimates in a proper English accent as we hike back up the bank toward the truck before the engine had time to completely cool. “Not bad for an hour or so of fishing.”
Unlike most modern magic, Lieverst’s wizardry is no illusion. Rather, it’s a systematic technique originating in Europe and honed over nearly 30 years before making its way to the banks of the Eagle River near Avon, where it’s now being put on display on an increasingly routine basis. Read more
Article & Photos by Scott Willoughby
Floating a scenic slice of the Arkansas River through Browns Canyon. Photo by © Scott Willoughby.
When it comes to their favorite places to wet a line, fishermen are pretty tight-lipped by nature. So it comes as no surprise that the one-year anniversary of the designation of Browns Canyon National Monument came and went last February with little fanfare among Colorado’s angling community.
Besides, nothing has really changed along the scenic slice of the Arkansas River that qualifies among the nation’s premier public trout fisheries. And that’s precisely the point.
“I grew up in big, wide-open spaces in Nevada, and there’s been enormous change to the landscapes — transmission lines, oil and gas coming in, major hard-rock mines and other projects,” U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) director Neil Kornze said while rafting through the newly minted monument last July. “So I love it when I see a community come together and say: ‘Let’s not just trust that this will always be the way we love it. Let’s do something about it.’ It’s not necessarily about changing something in a dramatic way. Sometimes it’s about keeping what you’ve got and what you love.” Read more
A fly-and-bubble angler fishes in Pearl Lake State Park.
It’s not often that someone hates the title of your story before you write it, but that is the case with this piece. Last fall, while fishing with a good buddy (who prefers to remain nameless) we were discussing the merits of the angling method we’d been using for the last few trout-fishing expeditions — fly and bubble. He really liked how far he could throw a fly when the bubble was filled more than halfway with water which got me thinking. “Throwing Bubbles — that’s what I’ll call my article,” I said.
My enthusiasm was met with much manly scorn. And he had a good point. Something that can, at times, be brutally effective shouldn’t be described so frivolously. But it’s my title, and I’m sticking with it.
Many people, like my buddy and I, can only afford so much equipment and devote only so much time to their recreational endeavors. Learning how to fly fish, and getting geared up to do so, is out of the question for many spin anglers. But when the fish are ignoring spoons and spinners, and hitting flies instead, then something must be done to level the playing field. Read more
Doug Payne takes in the epic, snow-capped scenery at Lake Granby. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.
You just had to be there. That’s all I can really say about my recent fishing and kayaking trip, which was one of the most unusual and memorable outings that I’ve had in years.
Last week I joined coworker Doug Skinner and his friend Doug Payne for some early spring fishing at Lake Granby. Skinner and I talked about this trip for weeks, so I was excited that our “water cooler” plans were finally coming to fruition. In addition, this was going to be my very first kayak/fishing trip. To prepare for my maiden voyage, I purchased a new Ocean Kayak, which, sadly, had been collecting dust in my garage ever since it arrived by freight truck more than month ago.
Needless to say, the anticipation of getting on the water was killing me. Even the short, 90-minute drive from my home in Denver to the Grand County reservoir seemed endless. Although I’ve made this easy jaunt hundreds of times before, this time I was like the impatient child on the family road trip who keeps asking “Are we there yet?” every five minutes.
My youthful enthusiasm was short lived, however, when we finally arrived at our destination only to discover that the lake was almost entirely frozen. Big bummer. We knew this was a real possibility before we left Denver, but we kept our fingers crossed that some serious thawing had occurred in the warm days leading up to our trip. No such luck. Although these conditions would’ve iced most people’s kayaking plans, “the Dougs” and I saw this, instead, as a prime opportunity to shake off our cabin fever and embark on a springtime fishing adventure. And that’s precisely what we did. Read more