Outdoor options

Final weeks of summer offer many activities for outdoors lovers

Granted, the recent span of cooler mornings haven’t been sufficient to make us break out the skis and boots, but the noticeably shorter days and 60-degree mornings give one a sense of the passing of summer.

Upland bird hunters get a bit restless around mid-August, with dove season only two weeks away and the cool weather sure to chase most of the thin-skinned birds south for the winter.

Other upland bird seasons opening Sept. 1 include: dusky and mountain sharp-tailed grouse (no Gunnison sage grouse season), chukar, and various falconry seasons.

There also is the deer and elk archery season on the Western Slope opening Aug. 31, guaranteed to pull you away from the TV.

And that’s just by Sept 1. The calendar really starts to fill up by mid-September, with archery moose (Sept. 7) and black powder big-game hunters (Sept. 14) in the field.

Elsewhere on this page, you’ll find notes about hunter programs offered by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Novice and experienced hunters can learn new tricks about mule deer and upland birds in these free sessions.

Bighorn sheep hunters in Sheep Unit 15 saw their hunt go up in smoke this year because of the West Fork fire, which burned nearly 110,000 acres in southwest Colorado.

At the Parks and Wildlife commission meeting last week in Trinidad, the commission closed the 2013 season in that part of Game Management Unit 76 but agreed to offer the seven hunters holding tags the choice of a refund (both license fee and preference points) or a voucher good for the 2014 season.

“In unit 15 the fire burned about 80 percent of the area where the sheep are,” CPW spokesman Randy Hampton said. “And an administrative closure by the Forest Service in the burned area makes it impossible to get to the area where 90 percent of the sheep have been taken.”

Of the seven hunters affected, five are holding ram licenses and two hold ewe licenses. It’s estimated the area holds about 200 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

It goes without saying that sportsmen were surprised in mid-July when Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Rick Cables jumped the CPW ship for a new position with Vail Resorts.

As has been previously published, Cables accepted an offer to assume Vail Resort’s newly created position of vice president of natural resources and conservation.

An announcement from Vail said Cables’ job includes managing natural resource issues for the company, “including land use, water and wildlife” and oversee the corporation’s impacts on public lands.

The move comes only two years after Cables took over at Parks and Wildlife, shortly after the merger between the divisions of wildlife and parks.

In an interview with Scott Willoughby of the Denver Post, Cables said his intent “was to be in this (CPW) job longer but circumstances change, opportunities come when they come.”

His task with Vail won’t be quite as daunting as that facing him when he hitched his star to Parks and Wildlife, which had just undertaken the controversial and yet-unfinished merger.

Prior to his tenure with Parks and Wildlife, Cables had topped out a 25-year career with the U.S. Forest Service as the Rocky Mountain Regional Forester, where one of his jobs was working with Vail Resorts.

CPW’s Hampton said the agency hopes to find a replacement by November.

Information about the position is available at wildlife.state.co.us.

Current Northeast Region manager Steve Yamashita has been tabbed the interim director.


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