10Jan

Elk Hunting Colorado

Successfully hunting elk in Colorado may seem to be a daunting task. It requires a lot of preparation, scouting, and most importantly a lot of hard work. Fortunately at the DOW, we produced a series of videos not only to get people excited about going after one of the most elusive big game mammals in the forest, but also to assist them in preparing for a hunt.

The first video is my personal favorite, more or less a promotional video to get people excited about coming to Colorado to hunt Elk:



The second can be used as a helpful tool to assist you in planning your elk hunt in Colorado. It includes basic information on where to find harvest statistics, big game migration maps, regulations, and various information helping you have a successful hunt:

The third video is a seminar given by a DOW mapping specialist. It explains in detail how to use the interactive mapping software called MapIt! available for free on the National Diversity Information Source (NDIS) site. This presentation may come across a bit boring at first… but I highly recommend you to open the MapIt! database on your computer, and follow the explanations and give them a try on your own:



30Oct

Rocky Mountain Elk

Colorado is home to the biggest herd of Rocky Mountain Elk Cervus elaphus in North America, numbering more than 280,000. These majestic creatures graze lands from high mountain tundra, meadows, and forests in the summer to low lying valleys and prairies in the winter. Elk, or as native americans refer to them: wapiti, are one of the largest and most vocal members of the deer family.

Most of the year elk hang out in single sex groups.
Herd of Cow Elk
Every year male elk (bulls) grow a new set of antlers. Typically, males drop their antlers in late winter while new antler growth occurs throughout the summer. Their antlers grow a furry like substance called velvet Elk in Velvet Velvet is a sensitive skin filled with blood vessels that provide antlers with vitamins and minerals essential to their growth.

Come fall bull’s antlers reach full size. Bulls scrape or rub off their velvet by violently rubbing their antlers on trees. As fall moves forward bigger older bulls herd up their harem or group of female elk (cows) to prepare for breeding. This period is referred to as the rut.
Bull with CowsA bull elk starts to gather his harem in early fall

Throughout late September and October bulls challenge each other to establish dominance. Older more powerful bulls typically end up with harems of 20 or more cows while the younger bulls still hanging around the herd are called satellite bulls. The rut lasts for about a month, during this time the bulls are the most vocal, bugling to establish dominance and attract cows.

Recently we were fortunate enough to find a large elk herd with a monster 7X7 herd bull. This thing was HUGE! It was obvious this large herd of 70 plus elk was in the height of the rut. The herd bull was bugling loud and working hard at herding up his harem. It was quite the site watching nature’s beauty at its best…. best of all… we are bringing it to you in high definition.

So turn the lights off, grab some popcorn, and check out our latest a.m. Colorado episode:
(for full screen click on the icon with 4 arrows at bottom right hand corner of the frame)

For those of you who hunt elk I took the liberty of creating an MP3 audio file from this video. Feel free to listen to it here (click the play button): or better yet, DOWNLOAD THE ELK HERD MP3 FILE HERE throw it on your iPod and use it to practice your bugling and cow calling. There’s nothing better than calling in a big bull elk, but at the same time there’s nothing worse than sending one off to the races with a poor call… its never to early to start practicing

If you’ve never been lucky enough to hunt elk in Colorado but want to… Here is some information to get you started:

first of all you’ll need your Hunter’s Education Card

second, you’ll need to decide on a method of take: archery, muzzleloader (black powder), or rifle

third, you’ll need to decide on a time and place… this is where it becomes tricky… especially if you’re from out of state… but don’t worry. There are many resources out there to help you decide. The first and foremost is the latest Colorado Big Game brochure This brochure is your “go to” for all regulations regarding big game. It lists all big game species, seasons, and GMU’s (game management units). Colorado is separated into GMU’s so before you apply for a license you must decide which GMU you want to hunt first.

Colorado is the only state in the nation where unlimited “over the counter” (OTC) elk licenses are available. This means, anyone (except convicted felons) can walk up to any license agent and purchase an elk license that is good for unlimited GMU’s all over the state with out having to go through a draw. OTC licenses are available for archery season and 2nd and 3rd rifle season.

If you want to hunt in Colorado this should get you started… CDOW’s PlAN YOUR HUNT PAGE is a good resource as well. for more information visit the CDOW website or call the CDOW call center at (303)297-1192 (M-F 8am-5pm MST) GOOD LUCK!


26Jul

New Hunt Colorado Video

Colorado has some of the most diverse hunting opportunities in the west. The Centennial State’s unique topography provides everything from hunting the high country for Dusky Grouse and White-tailed Ptarmigan to hunting the eastern plains for Ring-necked pheasant, Scaled and Bobwhite quail, and Rio Grande Turkeys, not to mention the array of big game options.

Colorado is the only state that offers non-resident over the counter Elk tags. Meaning that anyone from out of state can travel to Colorado and purchase an unlimited over the counter elk hunting license. They don’t have to go through the timely process of a draw. That’s pretty cool and says something about Colorado’s elk populations… they are HEALTHY!

Check out the latest addition to the CDOW video library. This guide to game species provides an overview of what Colorado has to offer.

Hunting season is approaching fast, for those planning on hunting… get excited! For those who have yet to experience the thrill of one of America’s oldest traditions get enrolled in a CDOW’s Hunter Education Class to become legal to hunt in Colorado by earning your hunter’s safety card.


16Jul

Dreaming of High Mountain Lakes-Ice off above timberline

Fewer tornadoes and flash floods means that Colorado’s temperamental weather has potentially found its summer groove. Inclement weather just means waiting longer for ice-off in the high country. More often than not, when we are getting rain, above timber line is usually getting sleet, snow or both. If you live in CO you know what I’m talking about. June was filled with tough weather for the outdoorsy type, but this July’s heat spell has catalyzed the ice-off in the high country that we have been waiting for. Although, a few north facing cirque lakes shadowed from the south may remain ice covered.

This past weekend I finally made it into the high country for a weekend long backpacking/fishing trip. the Holy Cross Wilderness area near Vail and Leadville is a popular backcountry destination for the ambitious adventurer and one of the original spots where my high country fly fishing virginity was taken.
Holy Cross Wilderness You can see why I have been going back to this area pretty much every year.

Although originally, years ago, after trekking up this steep bushwack I was most often greeted with the presence of a little back country gem. Colorado’s native Colorado River cutthroat trout. Picture 21

But as always in Colorado’s high country, the invasive imports from the east coast, brook trout, are more than likely to show up on the end of your line.
Holy Cross Brook Trout But with a little research and a lot of work hiking up a steep bushwack…Lenny the Japanese Tourist

you may be rewarded with one of Colorado’s native treasures…
Picture 18

Picture 15

Picture 19

If you love fly fishing rivers and lakes but are yearning for something a bit more adventurous take a hike into the back country…
dreaming-of-high-mtn-lakes-11

see some scenery….
dreaming-of-high-mtn-lakes-15

dreaming-of-high-mtn-lakes-16

and get a line in the WATER!
Picture 20

and hopefully catch some fish.
Picture 16

Finally, if you actually read this and are seriously considering a trip into the back country, I’d like to leave you with one of the best resources I’ve found on the subject. A publication on Colorado Fishing that has detailed information on every drainage in the state. Including information on what lakes in the high country have what species and how good the fishing is at each location. Are you kidding me? A book that rates back country fishing locations? But there are so damn many in this state? Yes, this book covers A LOT of them. Originally this book was published by Tim Kelley in 1954. How would you like to have had his job? Fish the state and write a book about it. Sounds pretty sweet.

In 2001, Kip Carey updated Tim Kelley’s book. In 2003 Carey released the most recent edition. It is titled “Kip Carey’s Official Colorado Fishing Guide”

Don’t forget… all regulations in the book were updated 6 years ago. Always make sure to look at the Colorado Fishing Regulations Brochure (I heard the dude on the front likes to party) Check the regs before fishing any new waters, especially if you’re a bait fisherman or want to keep any fish. Last summer I saw a kid walking down a trail from the high alpine lake where I was hoping to find some big cuts. This young kid, who looked about 20 years old, was wearing an oversized 49’er football jersey and was carrying a big (20’+) fish in a sock. He bragged that he caught it with his hands. I told him that not only catching fish with your hands is an illegal method of fishing, it is also illegal to kill fish at this location. Not to mention, it’s unethical and it pisses a lot of people off (like me). I’m pretty sure he didn’t check the regs.

Now that I have a copy of the Official Colorado Fishing Guide, I’ve spent hours looking at maps and comparing them with Kip’s recommendations. I just keep wondering, what if I had learned about this book years ago?! I would of saved numerous days hiking to random lakes on the map casting to nothing but winter kill, or lakes that aren’t suited well for a trout’s survival in through winter. Kip kindly points out these temperamental lakes for us in his book. Thanks Kip, you are the man. Where do I sign up to update the next edition????


Fishing is a great American tradition enjoyed by generations for many years. Some of my most fun filled and vivid memories from my childhood are from fishing trips to the midwest. I remember having the best time fishing for bass and bluegill with my Grandpa, Dad, uncles, cousins and brothers. My grandpa would rig up a worm on my hook and I’d fish it all day without a care in the world.

While catching a fish is one of the most exhilarating feelings a kid can experience, the lessons a day on the water can teach a youngster are unparalleled. It’s our duty as outdoorsmen to pass this great tradition on to our children. This past father’s day I got a chance to do just that with my brother Tony and my nephew Trace

After picking up fly fishing it was quite an experience going back to fishing with a worm and a hook. Typically, fly fishing is strictly catch and release. Most popular fly fishing destinations are delicate fisheries where harvesting fish can be detrimental to the fishery. Well, bait fishing is whole other can of worms. The Colorado Division of Wildlife stocks hundreds of thousands of catchable trout (10 inches or longer) every year. A lot of these stocked bodies of water allow bait fishing. For example, the lake we took my nephew to: South Catamount Lake on the Pikes Peak Highway near Colorado Springs was stocked the week before we went. My brother logged onto the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Statewide Stocking Report and searched for a lake close by that had been recently stocked. Sure enough we fished for no more than 2 hours and caught about 7 nice fish. As a fly fisherman, I’m usually against killing fish… especially trout in Colorado. Although, I think its perfectly fine to harvest stocked trout. Especially when the trout are raised in hatcheries for the purpose of stocking them in lakes that allow bait fishing.

If you have young kids and have yet to get them out on the water I would highly recommend it. For more suggestions on where to go check out the CDOW’s 101(+) Places to take a Kid Fishing

Also, For tips on where to go check the CDOW’s weekly fishing report by region


19Feb

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

This fall we spent many days driving up and down I-70 looking for big horn sheep near Georgetown and Empire. If you ever want to go watch them yourself they are pretty easy to find. You can usually find them on the north side of I-70 across the highway from Georgetown. There is a viewing station right next to Georgetown lake on the south side of the highway or after exiting at Georgetown while heading west, you can take a hard right onto a dirt road if you’d like to get closer. Other spots we found good concentrations of sheep were on the north side of the road near Empire, behind the small town of Downieville, and in Clear Creek Canyon.
2sheep1
Two nice rams (males) taking a break from chasing ewes (females) all morning, this shot was actually worthy of the cover for the Sheep and Goat Regulations Brochure

You can catch them in the rut (mating season) starting in November and sometimes extending into January… and if you’re really lucky you may find a couple big rams head-butting to display their dominance. We got lucky and saw a couple… what a sight that is. It reminds me of Oklahoma drills during football practice.

After countless days searching and capturing these interesting mammals we put together the latest episode of a.m. Colorado:

Due to I-70’s obnoxiousness, I had to replace every piece of audio you hear in this video.


14Nov

Fall Spawning Runs

Changing colors and cooler temperatures means spawning fish. Check out the latest a.m. Colorado episode. The video includes Colorado’s native mountain whitefish, brown trout, and kokanee salmon.


27Oct

Colorado's Habitat Stamp Program

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to hunt or fish in Colorado, (and did it legally, by buying a license) you’ve probably asked yourself. What the heck is a habitat stamp? And why do I have to pay 5 bucks on top of the license fee I’m already paying? Well, the money has been put forth to good use, and here is a video that highlights a few of the properties the Colorado Division of Wildlife has recently acquired through the Habitat Stamp Program.

 


17Sep

Shira's Moose

My girlfriend got a little scared when we ran into some moose this summer, (they are known to charge when they feel threatened) but the latest in our “a.m. Colorado” series will hopefully help calm her nerves for the next time we encounter one of these magnificent creatures in the wild. They are really quite extraordinary, and huge! Just make sure not to approach one, even if you’re trying to get a good picture. 


04Aug

A Kind Review

Adam Cayton-Holland from Denver’s alternative newspaper Westword  gave the our a.m. Colorado series a review in his blog:

Thanks Adam, and we WILL keep’em coming!

http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/Videos/