San Luis Valley - Elk hunters here and elsewhere in the state will be allowed to harvest up to two elk next season, as long as at least one of the animals is antlerless.
After a season described as poor, not only by game managers but also by rank-and-file hunters, the Colorado Wildlife Commission decided Monday to decrease the cost for non-resident antlerless licenses, from $450 to $250.
The price of a non-resident bull license, however, increases from $450 to $470 in order to keep pace with inflation. The price of a non-resident either sex license will remain $470.
Colorado residents, according to DOW, will continue to pay $30 for both cow and bull licenses in the 2002 season.
"Our statewide population objective is about 180,000 elk and our post-hunt count this winter will probably find the population is closer to 270,000," said John Ellenberger, the Division of Wildlife's big game manager.
"We issued 190,000 antlerless elk licenses last year, the most ever, because we needed to kill as many elk as we did in 2000 when we had a record harvest of 60,000."
Poor hunting conditions, economic recession and a dip in the number of nonresident hunters resulted in a harvest well below the 2000 record. Simply issuing more licenses would likely have little impact since there were 6,000 elk licenses that were never sold last year, Ellenberger explained.
He and other game managers recognized that additional steps were needed to increase the elk harvest.
"If we only increased the number of licenses without making them 'additional' and without recruiting more hunters through lower prices, we wouldn't get the job done," Ellenberger said.
Hunting units in the San Luis Valley area open for two tags include: 80, 81, 82, 83, 79, 76, 68 and 681.
Locally, the reaction was cautiously positive. "I really hadn't thought much about it," said Alan Colvin, gunsmith at Valley Gun Service, 1419 E. Highway 160 in Monte Vista. "I'm sure the local people are going to like it."
Colvin said he also hopes lowering the non-resident fee, even if only for cows, will help bring back some of the out-of-state hunters that were missing during the 2001 season.
Last year, approximately 40 percent fewer nonresident hunters participated in the big game seasons as compared to previous years.
The price of a nonresident elk license increased to $450 in 2001 from $250 in 2000. The price of a resident elk license has remained at $30 for more than a decade.
Colvin, who hunted in eastern Colorado during the 2001 season, said anything that helps put more hunters in the field can only have a positive impact on the area's economy, and his gunsmithing business.
"I'm sure there will be a lot of people who will be glad to hear about that" he said, returning to the task of fitting the lever action on an old Savage. "I know it sure can't hurt our business."
Beau Temple, who connected with a 6-by-6 bull during archery season, said he hasn't hunted during the rife season for a while now. "There's too many sloppy hunters out there," he said.
Temple, who turns most of his elk meat into jerky and hamburger, said if the harvest was as bad as DOW believes, the agency likely needs to do "something to thin them down."
And, as he thought about the prospect of being able to fill an archery tag, and then turn around and fill a rifle tag, he admitted he might even start taking his chances during rifle season once again.
"You know, I might have to look into it," he said. In an effort to reach deer population objectives, the Commission agreed to sell leftover buck deer licenses rather than destroy them as was done last year.
Hunters will also be able to harvest two does with one limited or special antlerless deer license in selected units. Elk hunters who participate in the fourth season and do not have the option of hunting deer in their unit will be allowed to hunt deer in a different combined season. All valid deer units are open for these hunters.
Other new regulations for 2002 include:
* Mandatory checks for mountain goats, bighorn sheep and bears must be completed within five working days of harvest.
* The use of smokeless powder is now prohibited during muzzle-loader big game seasons.
* The Division was given authority to issue special management licenses for bighorn sheep and mountain goats in an effort to prevent the spread of animal disease and unplanned expansion of sheep or goats outside established game management units.
* Instead of physical game checks, moose hunters are now required to complete a harvest questionnaire and submit it to the Division within 30 days after the close of their hunting season.
This is too bad.
I went this year for the first time and managed a 5X6 on public land. With or without the Elk I had a great time but the price is getting way out of hand.
It went from $250 2years ago to $450 last year and now $20 more for inflation?? C'mon what about the 80% increase the previous year.
Colorado is a beautiful place and the people were some of the nicest I ever met but i'm afraid this is gonna start to take a toll on the tourism dollars. A lot of the people I met out there depended highly on the hunters coming out every year but $500(yeh I rounded up) is too much. Sorry.
###There was six in our group that went every year,deer and elk,but we have all quit going,i could have handled $350.00 a 100.00 increase but come on $470.00??? not a chance.
###It is a shame,they are nice people and do depend on non-resident hunters who spend much money to hunt,they loose also.
If enough people quit going, the impact will be significant. ###But it will take a little more than that to make a differece (if it's possible at all). ###Instead of your tag applications this year, send a letter to the DOW explaining why you aren't coming. ###If you were a regular, or part of a regular group, make sure you tell them how much you generally spent to hunt CO, and what it will take to get you back. ###
In spite of anything else, the Colorado DOW is just like the DFG... it's gotta run like a business, and we are the customers. ###States like CO and MT that draw out of state hunters on such a large scale have got to do more to keep their customers coming back, or we'll start finding other places to spend our money.
When less hunters show up to hunt Elk, the local business will suffer. They can thank the greedy Colorado Wildlife Commission. They are pricing average Joe hunter out of the market. ### ### ### ### ### ### ### ### Fubar
How many hunters actually get excited about going out of state to shoot a cow elk? ###I can see if you live in a neighboring state. ###You could put a $1,000 of meat in the freezer. ###But, I would never drive from California to hunt for a cow. ###With the awesome elk population, it's not even a challenge, especially with a rifle. ###Now a bull elk bow hunt, that's worth traveling for. ###Not at $470 though. ###They will eventually learn their lesson. ###Those little towns need our tourist dollars. ### It's a great state. Looking forward to that bull tag coming back down to $250. ###
I'll be going this September for bow hunting. It'll be my first time to elk hunt so I'm pretty excited ... but, it'll be with a cow tag. Can't afford the $470 for a bull tag. Probably have the record book bull within 10 steps of me quartering away with his head down behind a tree trunk feeding. That'd be about my luck.
I agree with what Speckmisser said. If you don't go but usually do, send a letter instead of your application and let them know how you feel. Without positive feedback they can only assume why non-resident sales are down. And letting them know how much you normally spend there is a great idea, too.
I may not get to go again so I'm going while I can.
If the locals are hurting so bad from the non residents not showing up and spending money in there economy, than they should start speaking up and maybe consider carrying some of this outrageous price gouging onto ther tag fees. I thought so, you won't hear any locals wanting to help out there. They want there cake and eat it too!! I hate to see anyone get financialy hurt but it seems the non res is the one that allways gets it!!
Part of the problem that causes this. is that the CDW has really had their budget stretched the last few years by laws passed by referendum, (lost our spring bear and trapping, etc). ###These laws make the CDW control wildlife in new mannners which are not consistent with the science. ### They're trying to find new funding, and of course you guys don't vote here, so you're getting stuck.
It might be time for us (hunters) as a group to lok at how the CDW and other states are funded. ###In CO, they get no funds from general taxes, it's all licenses and P/R funds. ###What would happen if a new flat tax was applied to everyone, say $25, but if you record your hunting license number on the form, you're exempt. ###This would spread the cost of wildlife management to the non hunters, who get a lot of benifit from it without paying the cost.
Just a preliminary idea, but something else needs to be done.