A lynx surveys its new home in the San Juan Mountains. Photo by CPW.
Colorado boasts one of the most diverse and abundant wildlife populations in North America. Home to an astonishing 960 wildlife species, it might be easy to assume that Colorado’s fish and wildlife have always flourished. However, many of the state’s most cherished and iconic species prosper today only because of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) species conservation and wildlife reintroduction programs.
From the majestic Rocky Mountain elk and bighorn sheep, to the esteemed cutthroat trout and the renowned Canada lynx, here’s a summary of some of the species that are benefiting from ongoing conservation efforts, as well as the fish and wildlife that are thriving today because of CPW’s long and distinguished history of past achievements.
Colorado Outdoors Online thanks CPW employees, both past and present, who have dedicated their careers to protecting and perpetuating Colorado’s fish and wildlife resources, and graciously acknowledges Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), sportsmen and the many conservation organizations who have generously supported these efforts. Read more
The author displays a San Juan turkey.
I’ve hunted Merriam’s turkeys on public lands in southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains for seven years running now with Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Habitat Watch Volunteer (HWV) Rick Hooley. Rick is a HWV for the San Juan National Forest, and there’s likely few outdoorsmen with his breadth and depth of hunting-angling experience in this part of the state.
We hunt an over-the-counter (OTC) unit, and the most recent Colorado Parks & Wildlife turkey harvest data (for 2015) shows a 30 perecent success rates for OTC licenses holders versus 50 percent for limited license holders. Realtree contributor, Steve Hickoff, says: “The [Colorado] Merriam’s population lives in some rugged country; their nomadic traits can really spread them out and test your patience. You can go for hours, even days, and not hear a gobble.”
But as American Hunter contributor, Sgt. Michael Marek (82nd Airborne Division), wrote: “If it was easy, everyone would do it … hunting is difficult, and that’s what makes being a hunter so great. You truly become a cut above the rest.” Mountain Merriam’s turkey hunting is both physically and mentally challenging, and—in my admittedly biased opinion—truly a cut above the rest. Read more
The author displays a Colorado bass.
Stereotype: “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.”
Do you think Colorado is stereotyped? I do. Firmly. And as with many stereotypes, the belief is not congruent with the reality. Is it a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not…depends on your position. As a Colorado outdoorsman, I think it’s a shame more of my peers don’t see through it. What is this oversimplified idea our fine state is tagged with? Trout . . . specifically the idea that trout are all Colorado has to offer anglers. Trust me, the stereotype doesn’t fit.
As a professional fisherman, I travel a lot. Since I angle from a traditional bass boat, I’m often viewed as “bass fisherman” – another stereotype that doesn’t quite fit because I pursue all kinds of fish but just happen to like a bass boat’s fishability on the water. Anyway, when “Joe Angler” see’s my boat at some gas station or even many of the lakes in our region, I very often get comments about our perceived lack of bass fishing. Same thing when the conversation turns to walleye, pike, panfish and a slew of other nationally popular species. Geez, last summer I coached the high school bass fishing national championship consisting of 175 high school teams from around the country competing on a huge lake in Tennessee. The fact that we were from “Colorado of all places” as the emcee put it at one point, was amusing until we won the whole event. In an ensuing interview, I was asked how we won it all given that “all you fish for is trout back home” . . . an incorrect assumption that perfectly makes my point. Read more
Elk gather at a baiting site in the Gunnison Basin. Video capture by Jerry Neal/CPW.
Gunnison, Colorado is famous for its severe winters and snow-covered landscapes. In fact, the small, Western Slope town has earned the reputation as one of the coldest places in North America because of its sustained periods of sub-zero and record-low temperatures.
By Gunnison’s standards, 2016-17 brought warmer-than-average temperatures throughout fall and early winter. However, above average snowfall across the region in late December and early January created difficult forage conditions for big-game animals. To locate food, elk and deer moved to the lowest areas of their winter range, bringing them dangerously close to Highway 50. Read more
Snow and ice covers Eleven Mile Reservoir in South Park. Video capture by Jerry Neal/CPW.
On a brisk morning in early February, three hatchery trucks from the Mt. Shavano State Fish Hatchery arrive at Eleven Mile State Park. Snow crunches beneath tires as the rigs creep down the North Shore Boat Ramp and prepare to unload their cargo of 16,000 cutbow trout. After spending nearly 15 months confined to hatchery raceways and traveling more than an hour over snow-packed roads, the cutbows face just one final obstacle before their release into Eleven Mile Reservoir: 12-inches of rock-hard ice.
For most states, frozen lakes and freezing temperatures would put hatchery operations and fish-stocking plans “on ice.” Yet, this unique and ambitious effort is all part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Winter Fish-Stocking Program. Read more
Images from the Colorado Outdoors annual photography issue. All images are copyrighted. Colorado Outdoors is published six times a year by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. To order Colorado Outdoors call 1-800-417-8986.
My brother and I camping with our parents.
From as early as I can remember, my summers were spent in campgrounds. I would hike with my parents, swim in the lake with my brothers and ride bikes with kids I hardly knew. My parents gifted me an incredible series of summers but, as I grew older, life stepped in. I took summer jobs, moved to a city, got a full time job and the lazy days of hanging out by campfires slipped into the past.
A few months ago, I was visiting one of Colorado’s state parks for a work project, and someone mentioned the Camp Hosts. Camp Hosts? This had my attention. Apparently there are people whose job it is to live at our state park and state wildlife area campgrounds for the summer season, greeting arriving campers, promoting interpretive/educational activities and performing minor maintenance tasks. In return, they get to live there. Amazing. I needed to know more, so I headed down to Cherry Creek State Park to do a ride-along with a few of these lucky folks. Read more
Daybreak on the Rusty Spurr Ranch.
It is 3 a.m., and my dad is ready to head out. After weeks of anticipation, the time had finally come. Finally, I was going on my first hunting trip for a mule deer. After jumping out of bed, stuffing my face with whatever breakfast was available, I boarded our van. We had started packing the evening before for a weekend of hunting and camping under the stars, and now it was finally time for the adventure to begin.
A distance of 105 miles from my home in Highlands Ranch awaited our hunting spot; Kremmling, Colorado . It was still dark at 6 a.m. when we reached our youth hunt coordinator, Ted Zagone’s, quiet residential subdivision. Mr. and Mrs. Zagone were very welcoming. Mrs. Shelly Zagone offered us hot chocolate, coffee and sandwiches. Mrs. Zagone showed me the pictures of her son who serves in the United States Navy. She was so proud of him and missed him so much. I felt so happy for her and hoped that I would make my parents feel proud someday of my accomplishments.
The Colorado Sportsmen’s License Plate. Design by Wayne Lewis/CPW.
Let’s face it: Few people like going to the Department of Motor Vehicles. In fact, the DMV ranks among the top places I try to avoid—right up there with Justin Bieber concerts and dental offices. However, when my license plate renewal notice arrived in the mail last week, I was actually happy (you might even say I was excited) to know that I’d be visiting the DMV soon.
Earlier this year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife released a new specialty sportsmen’s license plate. As an avid hunter and angler, I knew this plate would grace my bumper as soon as my old plates and registration expired. So, on Thursday morning I marched into the DMV, took a number (I had lucky # P209) and waited patiently for my turn to hand over my credit card. I’m proud to say that my new plates will arrive in my mailbox in a couple weeks and become a permanent fixture on my Toyota FJ Cruiser.
If you’re a hunter or angler and you still haven’t seen or heard about the new Colorado Sportsmen’s Plate, here are five reasons why you, too, should be excited to visit your local DMV office this year: Read more
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