Outdoors - Hunting and Fishing

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Problems with Pebble

By Dave Buchanan

An Alaska Senator is the latest to join the opposition to an immense copper-and-gold mine proposed for the headwaters of Alaska’s famed Bristol Bay. In Monday’s edition of the Anchorage Daily News, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is quoted saying the proposed Pebble Mine cannot be developed without harming the Bristol Bay region’s world-famous red salmon runs. “Wrong mine, wrong place, too big,” Begich said in an interview with anchorage Daily News reporter Lisa ...


Rebirth of Arkansas River yields Gold Medal results

By Dave Buchanan

Colorado’s Gold Medal Trout Waters, considered among the best trout-producing waters in the state, grew by one-third last week with the addition of 102 miles on the Arkansas River. The designation was approved by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission at its January meeting in Denver. The reach of river now officially considered as Gold Medal is the longest such stretch in the state. It weaves from the upper river’s confluence with the Lake Fork of the Arkansas River ...

Shooting a key cog for economies in U.S.

By Dave Buchanan

Spending related to target shooting in 2011 contributed $287 million to Colorado’s economy and supported 2,574 jobs, according to new report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The NSSF is the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. The report, “Target Shooting in America: Millions of Shooters, Billions of Dollars,” was released Wednesday in Las Vegas at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT ...


Electronics, new gear lead the change in the ice-fishing climate

By Dave Buchanan

Among the innovations in ice fishing is what you see on, and under, the ice. Rarely, although it’s not impossible, do you see someone standing far from the hole, haggling with the same long rod, bulky reel and stiff nylon line used for warm-weather trout fishing. Today’s ice anglers, dressed for success in high-tech insulated layers or snug inside a wind-stopping portable shelter, seem to prefer short, fast-action rods with small reels and lighter-weight line. Lures may be ...


A lovely day at Rifle Gap

By Dave Buchanan

RIFLE — On a squinty-bright day on an ice- and snow-covered Rifle Gap Reservoir, it seemed there wasn’t much reason not to be ice fishing. The Broncos were off, Friday’s storm had blown over, and there were the hopes the reservoir might give up a few secrets one week before the big ice-fishing tournament. As it turned out, two out of three were the best most anglers could do. “It’s pretty slow,” said Hayden Flesch of Grand Junction as he readied ...


The search is on for shed antlers

By Dave Buchanan

One fast-growing outdoors pastime has nothing to do with a ball or score. It’s searching out and collecting dropped antlers, also called “shed antlers.” Discarded by elk and deer in the winter and early spring (moose drop their antlers starting in November) and then regrown later the same spring, elk and deer antlers are among the curious things both hunters and non-hunters acquire. So popular is shed-antler collecting that in some parts of the U.S. kennels train dogs ...

Regulations surround collecting shed antlers

By Dave Buchanan

Deer and elk lose weight in the winter, but it’s not all from the waistline. Wild ungulates also drop a few pounds of antlers each winter, with deer losing their antlers beginning in late January and elk about one month later. Biologist say deer, elk and other big game may lose 30 percent or more of their body weight during the winter, an amount that increases if the animal has to burn extra calories avoiding human disturbance. The “why” of the human disturbance ...

New Cabela’s ColorPhase camo a game changer

By Dave Buchanan

The hottest topic in outdoors hunting wear isn’t hot at all, although it changes color when it does get hot. Cabela’s, renowned among hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts for its extensive line of outdoors clothes, recently released the company’s new line of “ColorPhase” camouflage, designed to change colors as temperatures change. According to Cabela’s, the camouflage pattern changes from greens to browns and grays according to the ...


Ice fishing heats up

By Dave Buchanan

For many year-round anglers, the best part of winter finally arrives when there is enough ice on their favorite lake to drill a hole and drop a line through it. Anglers are by nature optimistic, perhaps none more so than the stoic, heavily garbed crowd you see venturing out on ice-capped lakes and reservoirs. For some ice-cap enthusiasts it’s only recreation. For others, it’s more of a passion. And for the most passionate, the heart of the season begins Jan. 18-19 with the ...


New book gives insights into how to cook ducks, geese

By Staff

Late-season waterfowl hunters have a conundrum: They still have three weeks left in the current waterfowl season and, depending on the weather, these final few weeks may prove the hardest and at the same time the best hunting of the season. The Pacific Flyway duck and goose season ends Jan. 26, which means a few more days of getting up early and huddling in a blind, all the time remembering that this late in the season the freezer may be getting a bit full. Forget the dried-out turkey of ...


Ice is nice

By Dave Buchanan

There always are the curious, the ones who put forth such questions as, “Isn’t it cold out there?” and “Are the fish really biting?” and “How do you know how thick the ice is?” Good questions, of course, and in order the answers are: sometimes; usually; and you measure it. Ice fishing isn’t rocket science, although some ice anglers have enough equipment to supply the International Space Station. It can be minimalistic, with tiny baits, ...

Kokanee salmon of concern at Granby

By Dave Buchanan

It’s become a familiar refrain for Colorado Parks and Wildlife — a topline predator fish eats itself out of its prey, forcing fisheries managers to find ways to control the predator. It happened at Blue Mesa, where lake trout plundered the kokanee salmon and eventually became over-populated, leading to some large-scale management and regulation changes at the southwest Colorado lake. Now, a similar situation has arisen at Lake Granby, once home to some of the largest lake ...


Winter fishing has its perks

By Dave Buchanan

To this reporter’s surprise, a recent Sunday noon found the Bureau of Land Management parking lot at the Gunnison Forks, where anglers can cross the North Fork to reach the main stem of the Gunnison River, empty of any signs of anglers. A few tire tracks showed where someone had been there earlier in the day, and a short walk to the bank of the North Fork solved the mystery. A lip of shelf ice, of indeterminate thickness and strength, stretched six feet into the stream, making ...



By Dave Buchanan

Dawn Gwin paused, thoughtfully taking census of the neatly arranged fly boxes arrayed before her. “I have different boxes with flies for different fishing situations,” said Gwin, reaching across the array of boxes while sitting at the well-appointed fly-tying table at Western Anglers Fly Shop. “I’ve done 12 boxes so far, and have more to do.” The exacting task — at last count up to 18 boxes — is a special duty for Gwin, a Navy veteran and ...


‘Net-gunning’ useful in preventing harm during research

By Dave Buchanan

The capture of wild animals is one of the most exciting and most difficult part of any research project. Among the preferred methods for capturing wild big- game is “net-gunning,” which involves catching the animal in a large net launched from a helicopter. A skilled and well-rehearsed helicopter crew can capture, immobilize and release unharmed four-legged targets ranging from coyotes to bison. Once an animal is captured and blindfolded, researchers are able to record a ...



By Dave Buchanan

Beginning early this month and continuing through late March, Colorado Parks and Wildlife employees are flying across expanses of wildlife habitat in search of big game animals. It’s not a sightseeing tour, but rather part of the agency’s annual survey to judge ages and sex ratios in herds of deer, elk and pronghorn. Hunters and outdoor recreationists are cautioned that low-flying helicopters or airplanes may be encountered at any time. In addition to that inventory of ...


Despite boycott attempt, hunting numbers steady

By Dave Buchanan

The outdoors side of the news for the last few days has been led by the results of the recent Colorado big-game hunting season, news made more “newsy” by the apparent failure of the highly touted nonresident boycott of Colorado. Apparently the boycott, called to protest the state’s tightening its gun laws, failed to have the punishing affect its backers desired. Instead, Colorado Parks and Wildlife says its preliminary numbers indicate a surge in elk, deer and black ...


Numbers game

By Dave Buchanan

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 ...


Rain, snow kept hunters working to find animals

By Dave Buchanan

You might forgive early season hunters this fall who forgot Colorado has been in an extended drought. Rain and snow, and significant amounts of both, greeted the archery hunters in August and never really relented through the end of the final rifle season on Nov. 17. “I had archery tags for deer and elk in a unit around Lake City but it rained most of the time,” recalled local bowhunter Denny Behrens, field representative for the Colorado Mule Deer Association. “I think ...

Processors good barometer of hunting season

By Dave Buchanan

If you want a real idea of how the hunting season went, it doesn’t hurt to talk to a meat processor. Packing plants that deal in wild game can offer a business-eye view of hunter success in the fall season, and long-time readers know two of my favorites are Old World Meat & Marketplace in Grand Junction and the Purkey Packing Plant in Meeker. “Just about everybody I see is nonresident,” said Jason Purkey, at 26 the fourth generation of Purkeys to work in the plant ...

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