Businesses report a good hunting year
Chuck Gross of Silt enjoyed some better-than-average hunting seasons this fall.”It’s the best year I had in the last 10,” said Gross, who counts his success with game in hundreds, not individual elk or deer taken.Gross is an operator of Gross Locker Plant, which processes game meat and has been in his family for a half-century.He estimates that his company has processed about 700 animals over the various hunting seasons this year, up about 100 from last year. And when business is good for him, it means hunting has been good for hunters.”They had a real good year,” Gross said.Greg Wright, an employee at Timberline Sporting Goods in Rifle, agreed that this year was better than average.”We saw some nice racks going through town this last season here,” he said.Pat Tucker, area manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife in Glenwood Springs, said the agency won’t know for sure how good a year hunters around Garfield County had until it receives results of its surveys. But at least some of the four regular rifle seasons appear to have been successful.The first season was decent, and the second a little slower than normal.”The third season, hunters did really good,” Tucker said.The fourth season, which ended Nov. 10, could have been better. Warm, sunny days might have been great for other outdoor activities, but didn’t make for good hunting.”You break a sweat in the first hundred yards hiking, so your energy level goes down quite a bit,” Tucker said.Lack of snow on the ground forces hunters to try to track game across noisy leaves and twigs, and the animals also are able to seek refuge at higher elevations.By contrast, colder, wetter conditions prevailed during the third season.”The weather that we had, deer and hunters ended up in the same place,” Tucker said.He said hunters reported seeing a lot of deer, and were happy with the size of bucks. That boosts hopes that a decline in deer numbers in Colorado is being reversed.Gross said he thinks deer are coming back strong. Hunters reported “a lot of big, big bucks,” he said.Wright has heard the same thing from his customers.”We heard good reports of bigger and better deer, more deer being seen,” he said.In the case of elk, the concern continues to be that there are too many, not too few, at least in certain areas. Tucker said the DOW is hoping hunters had success reducing elk numbers this year.Last year in Colorado, hunters bagged 57,000 elk, down from 61,000 the previous year, he said.Gross thinks cooler, snowy weather earlier this fall drove down more elk, helping this year’s hunt. He said he would like to see the DOW issue a few more licenses for “spike” elk to reduce the animals’ numbers.Gross said the agency also needs to figure out how to get elk off private property, where they find refuge from hunters.He appreciates that the DOW has structured the big game rifle seasons so that there’s a week’s layoff between the second and third seasons. That enables businesses such as his to get caught up, which keeps more hunting-related business in Colorado, and results in fewer hunters taking their game meat elsewhere to be processed, he said.Gross Locker Plant employs anywhere from about a half-dozen to a dozen people during the hunting seasons.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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