DOW reports dry weather slowing harvest of area elk

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— Increased problems with road hunting in Routt County are occurring during the second rifle season, as dry weather means mainly sportsmen trekking into the backcountry or on private land are harvesting elk.
Monday, local Colorado Division of Wildlife managers set up a decoy off the road on Dunckley Pass, in south Routt, and wrote about eight tickets to hunters shooting from the road, area manager Jim Haskins said.
Hunters have to be 50 feet from the center line of the road to shoot legally at an animal.
Haskins said many of the hunters had doe deer tags, and he doesn't understand why they need to be shooting from the road.
"It's simple to go on public land and get a doe," he said.
This is the first deer season for rifle of the year. Haskins said those hunters are doing pretty well.
However, the elk hunters he has seen and heard about aren't doing as well at least the ones who aren't packing in or are on private land.
The season kicked off on Saturday, which was the first time over-the-counter bull-elk tags were available this year. That flooded the county with hunters over the weekend.
"The harvest (on public land) is down considerably," Haskins said.
Haskins believes the herds have moved onto private land or deeper into the forest.
Plus, the dry conditions make it difficult for tracking animals.
"It's a little discouraging for the hunters," Haskins said.
Reports throughout the county were that some camps were picking up and heading out. But hunters who are working hard and going deep into the forest are successful.
"The guys that are packing in on horseback, I think are doing OK," he said.
Numbers at the Steamboat Meat and Seafood Co. are pretty good, with 85 animals coming in over the weekend, meat manger Rick Spencer said.
"It's every good for us this season as is was last season. Even better," he said.
If snow accumulates before Friday, when the second hunting season ends, Haskins sees things improving for hunters on public lands, if they choose to stay around.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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