Elk River Guns owner Ken Constantine helps out-of-state hunters, from right, Shawn Levesque, Jim Perry and Roger Christiansen on Friday at the store.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Elk River Guns owner Ken Constantine helps out-of-state hunters, from right, Shawn Levesque, Jim Perry and Roger Christiansen on Friday at the store.

Routt County hunters ready for rifle season, snow

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— Herds of hunters are arriving in Routt County with the hopes of filling their freezers.

“Lots of happy hunters,” said Ken Constantine, who was helping a steady stream of customers at his Elk River Guns store Friday. “Wonderfully busy.”

Saturday marks the beginning of the rifle hunting season for elk in Colorado. The first season goes through Wednesday, and the second season, which includes elk and deer, goes from Oct. 20 to 28.

“These first two seasons are the biggest,” said Jim Haskins, area wildlife manager with the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.

Hunting is big business in Colorado. According to the Division of Parks and Wildlife, hunting and fishing generate $1.8 billion annually and support more than 33,000 jobs across the state.

Constantine was anticipating a successful season for Coloradans as well as hunters who come from out of state. He said the game populations are high and hunting conditions are “pretty good.”

Weather moving into the area Friday was a welcome sight to hunters. Constantine said because of the dry conditions, walking in the woods has been like walking on a floor covered with Rice Krispies and the noise spooks the animals.

“If you move through the woods, you make noise despite your best effort,” Constantine said.

The forecast rain and snow is expected to quiet things in the woods, and Haskins said the cooler weather also should help the early-season hunters because their meat will be less likely to spoil.

“It will be really nice weather for the hunters,” Haskins said.

Constantine said snow forecast at higher elevations also could help hunters because it will be easier to track the animals.

Haskins said hunters should expect active herds of elk. He said snow is not likely to push elk down from the high country but said the animals would be moving because of “hunter pressure.”

“I think we’ll be OK,” said Jim Perry, who traveled to Steamboat from Minnesota with friends for a hunting trip.

Haskins said the number of available hunting permits for elk was decreased this year because the populations have been thinned recently.

“There were fewer permits offered, so there will probably be fewer hunters in the forest,” Haskins said.

Despite that, Haskins said it is still a good idea for non-hunters recreating in the woods the wear blaze orange.

“We’ve never had safety issues, but it’s still advised,” Haskins said.

Haskins said hunting seasons this fall have been successful, especially for bear hunters who are required to bring their bears to wildlife officers after they’ve been shot. Between 55 and 60 black bears were killed during the September seasons.

“That’s probably the highest we’ve had,” Haskins said.

Snow, rain expected through Saturday

Snow and rain showers are expected for the Steamboat Springs area through Saturday.

Little accumulation is expected at lower elevations, but the mountains surrounding Steamboat could see four to six inches of snow by noon Saturday, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

Snow initially was expected to fall above 10,000 feet and move lower to 8,000-foot elevations by Saturday morning.

“Hunters should be prepared for winter-like weather this weekend,” the National Weather Service wrote in a winter weather advisory.

Drier weather is expected once the storm moves out Saturday. In Steamboat, overnight low temperatures are expected to be near freezing through Monday night. The high temperature Saturday is forecast to be 51 degrees. A warmup should occur after that with a high of 66 degrees forecast for Monday.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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