Season brings surplus of hunters
Paul O’Connell came all the way from Beech Mountain, N.C., – the highest town east of the Mississippi – to aim his muzzle at a few elk near Rifle. For hunters like O’Connell flocking to the Western Slope as the second hunting season kicks off Saturday, there’s one place to stop to pick up supplies – the Army and Factory Surplus Store in Glenwood Springs. “We’ve always stopped here when we come up hunting,” O’Connell said. “We just know they have a lot of things.”Indeed, the hunting seasons in October and November account for 15 to 20 percent of all the business the surplus store does in the fall, said store manager Joe Gornick. Hunters visiting the area spend $21 million annually in Garfield County, said Glenwood Springs Tourism Director Stephanie Kiester. “I think it’s pretty clear that hunting is a vital part of tourism in Glenwood Springs,” she said. Take a stroll through the surplus store this week, and you’ll find shelves packed with hunting gear, including camouflage T-shirts, bright orange vests and hats and a virtual smorgasbord of supplies required for safely tagging that prized elk. Though many of the hunters slinking through the isles of the surplus store on Thursday were from out of state, Gornick said most of the store’s business hails from Garfield County. Most of his customers hunt around Glenwood or in the Flat Tops, he said. Early in the week, it was unclear how well business was doing this hunting season compared to those of previous years. Gornick speculated that Thursday or Friday would be the store’s busiest day of the hunting season. “Hunting season is a burst of activity these couple of days,” said surplus store camping manager Glenn Wysocki. Most of the store’s customers Thursday afternoon were gearing up for the weekend’s big hunt. Aspen resident Lee Shoaf was trying on a new pair of jeans for the weekend. He had just returned from an elk hunting trip near Montrose and planned to head into Unit 444 this weekend on a deer hunting trip.Shoaf said he shops at the surplus store because of the good prices. “Everybody I know speaks highly of it,” he said. Roger Champ, a county commissioner from Morefield, W.Va., said he hunts in Colorado often, but decided on Garfield County because he was tired of prowling the San Juans around Durango and Cortez. “I thought it would be better hunting,” he said. “I got burned out down there.” He said the surplus store has a reputation. “My nephew told us to come here,” he said. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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