First season notes: Sun’s out, so are elk
The elk are here, where is the weather?
The first of this year’s major rifle hunting seasons started Saturday under clear skies and temperatures a bit above average, neither of which are particularly welcome to determined elk hunters.
Still, early reports indicate many hunters are at least seeing elk if not putting one in the freezer.
“The report from North Park is that the hunting has been good with hunters getting into elk about everywhere,” said Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton on Tuesday. “On the west side of the divide it appears to be slower but that could be a reflection of having had fewer licenses available in the draw.”
The division in recent years has been trimming the number of elk licenses in some areas as elk populations edge closer to desired levels.
However, in those areas where plenty of licenses have been made available, such as on Grand Mesa, hunters haven’t had any trouble running into elk.
“The first season started out pretty good with plenty of hunters but no overcrowding,” said JT Romatzke, area manager for the division’s Grand Junction area. “But this is our elk-only season and we typically don’t see as many hunters as we will in the second or third seasons.”
In those latter seasons, hunters can purchase over-the-counter licenses, which should bump up the participation.
Romatzke said hunters on Grand Mesa reported seeing small herds of elk instead of the larger herds that will gather once the weather starts to change.
“It’s still kind of dry and a little change in the weather would help,” Romatzke said.
The weather forecast for Grand Mesa calls for rain and possibly snow showers later in the week, which will benefit hunters by making it easier to track and stalk elk.
The elk-only season ends today with the first combined deer and elk season starting Saturday and going through Oct. 31.
“I was working around the Bonham (Reservoir) area south of Collbran and checked a few hunters and they were pretty happy,” Romatzke said. “It’s still pretty early to tell how the season will go but most guys are seeing elk and that’s a good thing.”
Leftover elk and deer licenses for the later seasons still are available on the division website at wildlife.state.co.us.