At a glance
Third season: Ends Friday
Fourth season: Runs Wednesday through Nov. 15
Tags are still available for the fourth season. They can be purchased at any regular hunting license dealer or the area Division of Wildlife office. In Steamboat, Bucking Rainbow, Elk River Guns, City Market, Safeway, Shop and Hop, Sports Authority, Steamboat Fly Fisher, Straightline Outdoor Sports and Wal-Mart are on a DOW list of retailers.
Available licenses also can be viewed and bought at the DOW's Web site, http://wildlife.s...
Steamboat Springs The 2009 elk and deer season is about to enter the fourth quarter, and how things are going depends on who you ask.
If you pulled Jon Wade aside, for instance, a certain impression would be unmistakable.
Wade, who works in Steamboat Springs at Colorado Group Realty, picked up his first Colorado elk during the second of the four available rifle seasons.
He woke up early, drove to some ground a buddy had given him permission to hunt on, walked over a ridge and took a shot almost immediately.
"They weren't running, but they definitely weren't walking, so I went down to try to shoot off my knees, but couldn't see," he said. "I pressed on downhill, stood back up and shot off hand."
It took him less than an hour to fill his tag, and he was back to work, the elk hauled out, skinned and taken care of by the time his co-workers were returning from lunch.
"I thought, 'Can I shoot one this soon?'" he said, having been mentally prepared for a long morning stalking his prey. "But I said, 'Ya know, I'll take a gift right now.'"
Dell Bean, meanwhile, said he's still waiting on his present.
Bean runs Black Elk Outfitters out of Fort Collins and outfits elk and deer trips in the North Park region.
He said he's managed to help provide some good opportunities and an average number of kills for his clients. It hasn't been easy, though.
"It's been rough," he said with a grumble. "It's just been really slow. Really slow."
Those hunters who have had trouble have issued complaints as regular as the weather.
Usually, in fact, the problem is the weather.
Perk Heid, a guide with Del's Triangle 3 Ranch in Clark, said at first, it was almost too cold. He said his hunters tagged out but that it was difficult.
"It was terrible," he said about one early day during the first rifle season, which stretched from Oct. 10 to 14. "That morning, it was cold and windy and tough on the hunters. They weren't quite dressed appropriately. There were a lot of elk there, but it was hard for the guys to stay still to get a shot."
Bean, meanwhile, said a lack of sustained cold weather has kept animals from moving lower into his ranches.
His frustrations festered even more through the past week. A full moon shining through clear skies - "bright enough to read a newspaper," he said - let the herds graze through the night and hunker down in thick timber during the day when the hunters are on the prowl.
Still, his hunters had their moments. The group came across a herd of 300 in the second season and dropped four.
He was optimistic about the remaining opportunities. The third season wraps up Friday, and the fourth and final season runs Wednesday to Nov. 15.
"We've been killing a few, just not with the regularity that was there in the past," Bean said. "For the fourth season, it should be a little cooler, and we won't have that full moon, so hopefully we'll be seeing a little more movement."
Those still considering getting in on the hunt are running out of options. Some do still exist, however.
Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said fewer tags were made available for the Steamboat Springs region as area herds were being brought down to target numbers.
Still, he said leftover tags are available for some area regions, and there are stacks still waiting to be purchased for the Meeker area.