Fewer over the counter licenses available

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A new hunting season structure means the last wave of hunters this fall won't have unlimited access to elk tags.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife unveiled a new season structure last November. The new structure goes into effect this year and runs through 2009.

One of the most noticeable differences between this structure and the previous one is that no over-the-counter elk tags are available in fourth season, which runs from Nov. 16 to 20.

Fourth-season elk tags are available through the draw only, but leftovers will be available over the counter.

DOW big game coordinator Bruce Watkins said the new season structure will allow the division to better manage cow-bull ratios because they'll know how many of each gender are harvested.

"Before, we had no control other than the four-point restriction," Watkins said.

By limiting the number of elk available, the DOW can control sex ratios on a unit-by-unit basis.

Without over-the-counter sales, fewer hunters will come into local retailers to buy licenses, but local business owners don't expect the change to have much of an effect.

Jim Simos, the owner of Cashway Distributors in Craig, said the changes won't hurt business at Cashway.

"We'll get the same am�--ount of hunters, we just won't sell as many (licenses)," Simos said.

Cashway is one of the state's leading hunting license retailers.

The other change Watkins expects hunters to notice is the four-day break between third and fourth season.

Watkins said the break will allow elk to settle down for a few days, which he said will improve hunting.

Having fourth season a few days later could mean more snow, which will mean more elk at lower elevations, Watkins said.

"Units where elk have been pushed lower could increase," Watkins said.

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