Hunting for information
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Barb Suits likes hunting season. Not only is she a hunter, but she has also been providing useful information to hunters – which come to Rifle each year looking for that trophy elk or deer – at the Rifle Hunters’ Hospitality and Information Center, for the past 15 years.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Suits said.
As a Visitor Information Specialist for the U. S. Forest Service, Barb helps out each year at the center to answer questions for hunters. While the past couple of years have seen fewer hunters at the info center, Suits said that this year was better than last.
“We definitely had an upsurge in hunters this year,” Suits said. “It wasn’t fabulous, but compared to last year it was definitely more.”
Each year the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce extends its hours of operation on Thursdays and Fridays, for the Hunters Information Center, located at 200 Lions Park Circle in Rifle. Several volunteers from the Colorado Division of Wildlife and, like Suits, from the U.S. Forest Service, are on hand to provide answers for hunters from outside the area concerning weather, hunting management units, trail conditions or anything else they may need help with.
Chamber President and CEO Annick Pruett agreed that this year had a much better showing from out-of-area hunters than last year.
“It was really good,” she said. “We were really busy. It was busier than it’s been the last couple of years here at the information center.”
The information center was only open Thursday and Friday before the second and third elk and deer combined rifle seasons, Pruett said. In previous years, the information center was open beginning on Wednesday, too, but Pruett said that over the past couple of years the number of hunters dropped off so much that they decided to only open for two days a week this year.
“The traffic had been declining on the Wednesdays, so we tried this year to do only Thursday and Friday, and it seemed to work really well,” Pruett said.
Pruett and Suits said that the center saw a lot of out of state hunters from as far away as Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, and California. However, there were still plenty of hunters from Colorado visiting Rifle this year, which is typical, according to Suits.
Pruett estimated over 200 hunter visits per day, over the four days the center was available this year.
According to Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton, the DOW will not have hunter tag sales or harvest numbers for deer and elk until early spring 2011. Hampton did say that, in general, the hunter numbers are off slightly this year due to the economy and an intentional reduction in the number of cow elk licenses available. The DOW reduced the amount of cow elk tags this year as the population goals have been reached in many of those herds.
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