Area retailers offer advice on stocking up

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When hunters walk through the doors of the Straightline sporting goods store in Steamboat Springs, they will find all the basic items they need for hunting.

The store carries more than 10 elk calls, all types of maps detailing Northwest Colorado and some of the most sought-after outdoor gear.

But the most important thing hunters will find inside Straightline does not fit on a shelf -- it doesn't even cost money.

Bruce Lee, owner and outdoorsman, said hunters will get important advice from experienced staff in his store.

"Everyone on our staff hunts, and they all love the outdoors," Lee said. "We are constantly talking to hunters and the people at the Division of Wildlife to keep up-to-date about hunting conditions and the best places to go."

Because they are hunters, the staff also can direct hunters to the items that are the most important to take with them into the backcountry.

Although large hunting retailers such as Cabella's have drained the market for guns and ammunition, his store offers hunters just about everything else they might need, including souvenirs and fishing gear for after the hunt.

There is no doubt that hunting is big business every fall in Northwest Colorado. Thousands of hunters looking for last-minute items, or those wanting to be outfitted from head to toe head for area stores to spend money before heading out in search of a trophy elk or deer.

Lee said hunters should make sure they have the latest maps of the areas in which they will hunt, along with plenty of food, water and survival gear. He said his store also offers a wide variety of compasses and some newer GPS locating devices.

"We tell all of our customers to be prepared for dramatic weather changes," said Jeff Corriveau, manager of Cashway Distributors in Craig. "Hunters need to be prepared for a 75-degree day or snow and freezing temperatures."

Corriveau, a longtime hunter, said he never heads into the backcountry without a backpack that contains a change of clothing, some kind of shelter material and water. He also says a PowerBar, along with a swig of water, can be a refreshing lift even if you're not lost.

To help hunters prepare, Cashway is selling "Survival in a Bottle," a prepacked survival kit that includes a 1-liter water bottle, survival blanket, flashlight and a 15-in-one whistle that would come in handy for a lost hunter who has to spend a night in the woods. The kit costs $8.95. "A backpack might weigh an extra seven or eight pounds, but that extra seven or eight pounds can save your life," Corriveau said.

He says he keeps a similar backpack in his vehicle and never ventures into the wilderness without the pack.

Corriveau said hunters can pick up just about any other items they might need at his store in downtown Craig.

Corriveau said that hunters already have started to come into his store.

He said every hunter who walks through his door is different. Some need to be outfitted completely, and others simply need a few last-minute items.

Like Straightline, the Craig store offers an experienced staff that can handle just about every hunting question.

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