Deer-hunting opportunities rebound

Keirra Hall, 13, shot her first buck mule deer on Oct. 22 while hunting east of Collbran with her grandfather, Doug Hall.

Kierra Hall chose the perfect time to go deer hunting.

A resurgent deer population, boosted by more than a decade of limited hunting pressure and a progression of mild winters, meant many deer hunters this fall had an opportunity to harvest a nice buck.

Kierra, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Holy Family Catholic School, also had the advantage of hunting with her grandfather, Doug Hall.

“She’s been going with me for three or four years and last year she got a doe,” said Hall, who hunts a parcel of family land east of Collbran.

Colorado regulations require a hunter to be at least 12 before obtaining a big-game license.

This year, Kierra was waiting on a stand when the buck walked up the trail.

“There were a lot of bucks up there,” said Hall, who passed on deer hunting this year because he finally had drawn an elk tag for unit 10 in northwest Colorado.

That trophy unit requires at least 17 preference points to drawn a license and Hall made the most of his opportunity, killing a 6x6 bull.

Kierra’s deer, however, may be even more significant.

Colorado’s once-world class deer hunting was woeful prior to the state adopting totally limited licenses in 1998.

That restriction on hunting pressure helped herds rebound and hunters in recent years have reported seeing more mature bucks.

“We are seeing a lot of yearling and older bucks,” said J Wenum, area wildlife manager in Gunnison for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “I think we are starting to turn the corner.”

Deer there were particularly hard hit in the winter of 2007–2008, but in many areas subsequent winters have been milder and deer numbers again are starting to climb.

“I predicted it would take three to five years to get to where we are and this is year three,” said Wenum, who had hunters tell him they were able to turn down shots when picking out a buck.

Similar reports were heard elsewhere during the recently finished big-game season.

Northwest Region manger Ron Velarde said hunters going through a game-check station reported excellent deer hunting.

“The last couple of winters were tough but overall the consistency of the bucks we’re seeing is good,” Velarde said. “They were bigger and people are getting a lot more picky when it comes to killing one.”

Which may mean Kierra Hall and other Colorado deer hunters have many good years of deer hunting ahead.


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