Hunting off to strong start


— Elk and deer muzzleloading seasons are producing big harvests with large animals.
"I've seen more big bucks this year since I have in the last three years," said Ray Heid, of Del's Triangle 3 Ranch.
Large bull elk also have been spotted. In fact, one of Heid's clients harvested a rare nine-by-five bull elk nine points on one side of the rack and five on the other with a black-powder rifle last week.
"It's going to be in the top 10 in the country," Heid predicted.
His camps have 19 archery hunters and muzzleloaders this year, a dramatic increase from the four he had last year.
Colorado Division of Wildlife Area Manager Susan Werner said that the hunt this year is good, but she is seeing average numbers of hunters in the field.
"In some areas there seems to be more people, while others are less," she said.
One of the busiest places Werner knows about is hunting unit 214, east of California Park near Hayden.
Besides that, "It has been relatively quiet," she said.
However, cool conditions and lots of wildlife are making for good harvest numbers.
Steamboat Meat and Seafood Co. has twice the amount of business it had during last year's archery and muzzleloading seasons, accepting 100 animals so far this year to process, freeze and store.
"We've been getting 15 a day since black powder started," owner Bill Hamil said.
Muzzleloading season began Sept. 9 and ends Sept. 17, while archery season will extend to Sept. 24.
Other hunting seasons are for blue grouse, which goes from Sept. 1 to Nov. 12, and sharp-tailed grouse, Sept. 1 to Sept. 24.
DOW officers get an idea of how many birds have been shot by checking bins where hunters drop a wing from the birds harvested.
"They've been pretty full," Werner said.
Marmot season also is going on right now, starting on Aug. 10 and ending on Oct. 15. But Werner hasn't seen anyone going after those animals.
Seasons for other small game, such as cottontail rabbit, squirrel and sage grouse, begin Oct. 1.
The first of four rifle seasons for elk and deer begins Oct. 14. That season typically brings in the largest number of hunters of all the seasons. The first season is for draw only and lasts until Oct. 18. That's followed by to combined deer and elk open seasons from Oct. 21 to Oct. 27 and Nov. 4 to Nov. 12.
The last season is a draw deer hunt from Nov. 11 to Nov. 15.


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