The arrival of fall brings a cool breeze to the air and a new palette of colors to Colorado’s landscape.

The rich autumn reds and yellows blanketing the mountain side not only means good fishing in Colorado, it also represents the arrival of hunting season.

Colorado boasts one of the largest elk herds in north America: The White River Elk Herd.

With an impressive number of Mule Deer, Pronghorn, Moose, Big Horn Sheep, and Mountain Goats Colorado has a lot of options when it comes to big game hunting. With nearly 300,000 elk in the state, its understandable why Colorado is the only state in the country where you can just show up during hunting season and buy an elk license. Elk hunting is a personal favorite. These large mammals are amazing creatures, especially during the fall. The cool weather triggers the elk rut, or heightened time of breeding activity. Especially with mature males. These large beasts scream or bugle loudly to attract cows (females) and compete with other bulls to protect the cows in their harem. Cows have a specific squeak to let the bulls know they are in their estrus cycle and ready to breed. The male and females social and vocal interaction makes hunting elk at this time a unique experience.

If you are interested in hunting in Colorado but don’t know where to start here are a couple resources to help you out.

First of all, if you are brand new to hunting you’ll need your hunter’s education card. Check Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) Hunter Education CALENDER for a class near you or you can take a class online through the CPW or through the IHEA In the hunter’s education class you will learn many valuable lessons on firearm safety, ethical hunting and Outdoor Survival

Second, you’ll need a license. Limited or draw licenses must be applied for before April 3rd, but over the counter (unlimited licenses) are available for bull elk 2nd and 3rd rifle seasons. You can visit your local license dealer or purchase one ONLINE

Third, you’ll need a place to hunt. Colorado has over 22 million acres of public land so there are plenty to choose from. CPW’s HUNTING ATLAS is a great place to start your search. I’d recommend pulling up the big game species layers which allows you to view migration routes and corridors, summer and winter concentration areas. For help see the HELP VIDEOS

Fourth, No matter how long you look at a map nothing will be more valuable than actually visiting the area you plan to hunt. From my experience scouting is the single most important thing you can do you to increase you chances of success. Scouting allows you to get to know your area and the patterns of the animals before you hunt rather than getting to know the area while you hunt.

Lastly, if you’re successful you’ll need to field dress the animal, click HERE for CPW’s Big Game Field Dressing Tutorial (Credit: Joe Lewandowski)

You can take the meat to your local butcher or what I prefer is to butcher it myself. Invite some buddies over for a couple beers and a meat cutting session …

… Just make sure to reward them

Nothing beats a meal fashioned straight from the field

A Colorado Surf and Turf (Fresh caught trout and elk loin steaks) can be a nice reward after a hard day of hunting or fishing.

ELK HUNTING UNIVERSITY is an informational series of training articles compiled by CPW’s hunting experts.
Elk Camp the website
ELK CAMP a sweet video produced by CPW to pump you up and get you excited to go Elk Hunting in Colorado
a.m. Colorado video series ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK IN AUTUMN

About the author

Nick Clement is a creative professional focused on visual media and motion picture. He is based out of Denver, Colorado

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