Hunting Colorado’s Public Lands

Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s video production crew has been gathering footage for nearly two years for the production of Hunting Colorado’s Public Lands. The film is aimed at providing hunters with useful information to help them successfully plan and execute a hunt on public lands in Colorado. This is the trailer for Hunting Colorado’s Public Lands


Colorado Waterfowl Season

Although waterfowl season starts in the fall, wintertime seems to be the time when weather pushes most birds south. Here is a short teaser of waterfowl hunting in Colorado. I love to go back and watch it the night before a duck or goose hunting trip because it always gets my blood pumping.

Waterfowl Hunting Resources:
Ducks Unlimited MIGRATION MAP


Colorado Hunting Season

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


Manhattan Fly – Offshore Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

Manhattan Fly


Fly Fishing Pueblo Reservoir

Colorado Parks and Wildlife video production crew recently teamed up with fly-fishing guides Alex Zipp and Cody Hale from the Drift Fly Shop in Pueblo. They went searching for a Lake Pueblo grand slam which includes a smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass as well as a wiper and a carp.

The Drift Fly Shop
Lake Pueblo State Park


Outdoor Survival

Whether you fish, hunt, camp, hike, climb, or spend any length of time outside you should have some survival knowledge and gear. With the help of survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt, Colorado Parks and Wildlife produced an instructional survival video everyone who enjoys the outdoors should watch. No matter how long, or how far your trip is planned, the environment and elements can always change and potentially overwhelm you. If you find yourself in an unforeseen situation, your chances of survival are much higher if you have the right skills and gear.

For more information vist Peter’s Blog.
For the right survival gear visit Peter’s Store.


Long Island Stripers

A couple years back a friend hired a fly fishing guide out of Long Island named Robin Calitri with CSIC Again Charters. Robin not only put him on his first striper on a fly, my friend had a field day on the water, catching stripers left and right. After seeing pictures of him holding good size STRIPPED BASS and BLUEFISH I knew I had to try it out for myself.

My wife is from North Jersey and when we decided to get married on the east coast the first thing that came to mind (besides all those important wedding details) was Striped Bass. The drive from my in-laws in Bergen County, NJ to the North side of Long Island was surprising short. An hour and a half of hectic NY highways, paying tolls and the towering city scape above was a bit different than driving below the high peaks of the Continental Divide that I’m used to in Colorado. Additionally, instead of targeting delicate trout we’re going after a resilient saltwater predator. For that matter, I’ll trade a mountain view and a 4 weight rod for a metropolis view and a 10 weight any day!

We had a couple amazing days on the water. Catching stripers and bluefish over and over. We lost count after about twenty fish the first day while the first fish of the trip was a 32 inch monster. I wish I had caught it later in the trip to really appreciate its hugeness. After catching plenty of fish under 10 pounds that 14 pound 32 inch beast was a great fish to pop my striper cherry.

We caught a number of big fish while one of the 30+ inch fish was tagged by the AMERICAN LITTORAL SOCIETY

Check it out:

An interesting side note, Robin sent the information from the tagged fish into the American Littoral Society. In addition to receiving a patch he found out that two months prior the same fish was caught 60 miles northeast of where he caught it. At that time the fish was 28 inches. That means in two months the fish grew three and a half inches. I wish our docile trout grew that fast!


A Party on the Bighorn

I was freshly engaged a year ago when my best men asked me what I wanted to do for a bachelor party. Well, besides the obvious (That I wanted to party) I wanted to fish. I suggested a destination or two that I knew would yield good fishing. At first, I thought an exotic destination like Cabo, Central America or Cuba would be a great place to party and fish. Bonefish, permit and my favorite: Tarpon, would make for a sweet trip with my best buddies. I then quickly figured out that if you actually want your buddies to show up at your bachelor party AND your destination wedding then having a local and cheap party might be the way to go. Who am I to decide where my own party is anyway? Considering there are a handful of rivers in our neighboring states that I have not been to this local and cheap option sounded good to me.

The Green river below Flaming Gorge dam was the first river my best men suggested. I had never been but had heard good things. We spent months preparing the trip, from reserving a campsite to making sure all attendees had a spot on a boat. The plans were coming together nicely and the flows looked good until a couple weeks before our trip. With record snow pack they began releasing more and more water from the dam the weeks prior to our trip. We remained optimistic until the flows all of the sudden jumped to 8,000 CFS. I’m not really into white water rafting so we immediately established a back up plan: The Bighorn River in Montana.

Less than 8 hours from Denver …

… with 10,000 fish per mile, the Bighorn river offers great fishing

Effective flies on the Bighorn include everything from scuds like the bighorn original Ray Charles, to midges, caddis and San Juan worms. Even big streamers like the Sex Dungeon can be productive

With stream access laws that heavily favor public use, Montana is a great place to visit. The Bighorn has plenty of public use areas to access the river and camp. We camped at a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks property: Bighorn fishing Access site which also served as our take out.

Bighorn’s fish are educated, you must be quick on your hook sets or they’ll spit your fly faster than you think. While everyone in our group caught plenty of fish, even the beginners. One may assume that with 10,000 fish per mile the odds would be in your favor. Although, the fish in the Bighorn seem to fight like larger fish than they actually are. The fish in the Bighorn are wild and will give you and your rod a work-out …

… nothing is better than a hearty post work-out meal after a day spent flexing your guns and your rods

Although the Green River is still high on my must fish list, the high flows before our trip were a blessing in disguise. Fort Smith, MT is not the best place to throw a beer party. It’s a dry Indian reservation so buy your beer before you get there.


Columbian Sharp-Tailed Grouse

The way Columbian Sharp-Tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) breed, is more like a song and dance performance than it is a breeding. Early in the morning both males and females visit the strutting grounds which are referred to as the lek. While sounds of hums, rattles, clicks and chirps ring through the crisp morning air their impressive dance routine ensues. The colorful males spread their wings and rapidly beat their feet chirping, and running in circles. The females or hens observe, and wait until a male proves he is worthy. The proving involves more than just a dance.

Violent sparring occurs as the grouse viciously peck and spur each other in between their dance offs. The quarrels and dancing are supplemented by long-lasting face offs. The birds crouch down face to face chirping at one another waiting for the other to make his move. The entire spectacle is quite the theatrical display, which is why the CDOW’s video production crew decided it was a must for Columbian Sharp-tailed grouse to star in the next episode of a.m. Colorado:

It is said that the birds visit the same exact location year after year. This is interesting because a lot of mining, drilling, and expansion has dispersed them from their historic range. The lek in this video is a restored lek, the process in which a mine is reclaimed back into its native forage and into a lek seems to work based on this energy company’s study in Montana (It says they used electronic calls to lure the grouse back to the lek)

More info:
Columbian Sharp-Tailed Grouse’s Current and Historic range
Avian Web Species Profile
Interesting Article by Summit Daily News (Blue Valley Ranch is where the grouse in the above video were released)


Ice Fishing

When I asked my fiance if she would go ice fishing with me I was pleasantly surprised to hear her response, “Sure! That sounds fun” she said. With a big grin on my face I replied “Really? Wow!” Going fishing, AND spending time with the better half without the guilt of leaving her. Talk about a win-win for a guy about to enter the married world.

We’re not big ice fisherman, so we borrowed an extra rod, an auger, some snow shoes and a hut then set off to a Routt Country reservoir.

Hiking through the spring slush can yield a good work out, even with snow shoes and especially when towing a hefty sled. But the hike soon paid off.

With the right habitat and bug life stocked rainbow trout can grow to impressive sizes. They can be caught on a variety of tackle. I’ve seen most success on jig-heads, spoons and kast masters in small to medium sizes.

This rainbow was caught on a large spoon while targeting pike.

Typically midday (10am-2pm) are the best times for catching trout through the ice, but some swear by the early morning or late evening bite.

USE CAUTION – Early and late season ice conditions can change quickly, always use caution and check the latest ice conditions.

Colorado Ice Fishing Reports and Conditions:
CDOW Ice Fishing Report
Ice Fish Colorado Report
Ice Shanty Forum
Fish Explorer