Numbers game

Firearms, fires, floods, feds can't keep hunters away

Big-game hunters this fall purchased more than 75,300 deer licenses, an increase of more than 1,500 over 2012, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. This one-antlered buck, photographed Monday near Austin, escaped the hunting season.

Call it, for the lack of a better name, the “Four Fs” of why hunters didn’t hunt in 2013.

“Firearms, fires, floods and feds,” is how Randy Hampton, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, put it when asked what kept hunters home this fall.

Not that a lot of hunters stayed home, according to some preliminary numbers from Parks and Wildlife.

Big-game hunting license sales were up for deer, elk and black bear, with only pronghorn showing a drop.

Those sales might have been ever higher, since the economy no longer seems the major factor for keeping people home.

“We had the so-called ‘boycott’ over our tighter gun laws, that’s firearms, one possibility,” said Hampton. “But we also had fires, including the big West Creek around South Fork, floods, and the federal shutdown, which left a lot of people confused about whether our national forests were even open.”

Hampton said the agency refunded “hundreds, if not thousands” of licenses to hunters, both resident and nonresident, affected by the floods, fires and fears about the supposed shutdown of western public lands. At least 2,600 refunds came from flood-related causes, Hampton said.

Hampton said the Parks and Wildlife call center fielded “hundreds” of calls from concerned hunters fearing there wouldn’t be any place to hunt.

“There were a lot of guys who assumed our forests were closed out here because back East a lot of the federal lands are National Wildlife Refuges and they were closed,” he said. “We reassured them Colorado was still open for hunting.”


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