Colorado Parks and Wildlife reports western Garfield County hunting is booming | PostIndependent.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Colorado Parks and Wildlife reports western Garfield County hunting is booming

Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Brian Gray packs up a backpack before heading out into the high country to check on hunting activities.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

License sales data is not available for the fall hunting season yet, but anecdotally, hunting in western Garfield County is continuing to trend upward, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson said.

“Early snow is always a good thing for tracking animals,” said Ivan Archer, a CPW area wildlife manager. “The way animals behave in the weather, especially in the snow, makes hunting a little easier. Being out there hunting is a little harder, but the snow increases your chances of harvest.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Brian Gray works to remove the lymph nodes from an elk brought to the CPW office by hunters after a successful hunt. The lymph nodes are removed to test for chronic wasting disease.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent
Two hunters wait while Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Brian Gray removes the lymph nodes from an elk to be tested for chronic wasting disease.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

At the Hayward Ranch, a private hunting resort with access to 25,000 acres, hunting parties have harvested six bull elk since the area’s first rifle season opened, said Tor Hayward, who owns Hayward Ranch Outfitters.



“It’s been a fantastic season so far,” Hayward said. “We’ve got 6 inches of snow on the ground and plenty of meat already hanging.”

While archery and muzzleloader seasons for deer and elk began in September, the Western Slope’s first elk-only rifle season started Saturday and ended Wednesday. The second rifle season, which permits deer and elk hunting, is scheduled between Oct. 30 and Nov. 7, and the area’s third rifle season, also a combination of deer and elk, runs Nov. 13-19, Archer said.



As the pandemic pushed more and more people outdoors, CPW saw an increase in hunting license sales — a trend that is continuing in 2021.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Brian Gray leaves the storage container after removing the lymph nodes from a recent elk kill brought in by hunters to the CPW office in Canyon Creek. The lymph nodes are removed and tested for chronic wasting disease.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“The majority of hunters in Western Garfield are residents,” Archer said. “Out-of-state hunters are definitely a component, but the majority are local.”

More hunters means more time in the field for CPW’s game wardens.

“They’ve been incredibly busy this year and last,” Archer said. “While law enforcement is a component of what we do, the vast majority of the time, we’re making contact with people in the field and ensuring public safety.”

At the Hayward Ranch, Hayward said his hunts are booked out years in advance for the first time since creating the outfitting company about 20 years ago.

“The pandemic has been a horrible thing, but with people being holed up in their homes for so long, we’re seeing them want to get out and explore this amazing state we live in,” he said. “We’re already booked through 2023.”

Increased interest in the sport is but a single aspect of the ranch’s success.

“All our guides are amazing and local,” Hayward said. “They live in Rifle and Glenwood Springs, and I can’t say enough how lucky we are to have such a great team.”

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at ifredregill@postindependent.com.


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User