Quandary: Hunting season in Colorado: rules, safety tips and common sense suggestions
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Quandary, an old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to any question about life, love and laws in the High Country. Questions? email firstname.lastname@example.org
When is deer season in Colorado and what do I need to do to be prepared?
Well this question makes me a little uncomfortable, but since you’re going after those big-headed bucks, instead of a strapping goat, I’m happy to oblige. You have some fine timing as deer and elk season — west of I-25 and Unit 40 — opened up on Aug. 27. However, this is completely dependent on what kind of weapon you’re packing. You see not only does the type of animal and location of the hunt determine the season, but so does the method of takedown. Right now, we are in archery season for these over-compensating-antlered animals. If you prefer something with a little less string and a little more boom, muzzleloader season kicks off on Sept. 10 and rifle season will get going in October, again depending on where in the state you are hunting.
Now I’m not sure where you’re starting from Buckskin, do we need to go over some basic animal identification? Goats are the cute short ones that you should never try to take out, deer are the bigger ones with the fancy headgear, elk are even bigger and moose are huge and just mean looking, with more cup and less branch to their antlers.
Also, know that before you go hunting in Colorado you need to pass a Hunter Education course and get the proper license. If you are a Coloradan, you get one heck of a discount, with licenses for deer alone going for $34, compared to $379 for out-of-state visitors. Licenses for some of these big guys are only available through a drawing, and if you haven’t jumped on that bandwagon yet, you are far too late — applications were due by April 5. Someone with more knowledge and a less-driving desire for self preservation can fill you in on the details for all of these requirements if you contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), but for now, I’ll go over the basic ways you can avoid fines, jail, death and other grim outcomes.
Luckily we are in Broncos country here so you might already have enough daylight fluorescent orange to cover your hide, but in case you are wondering, you must have at least 500 square inches covering your top half, including a hat, if you are hunting with a gun. If you are bow hunting, there is no orange requirement, though I’m sure the Broncs would still appreciate your support, and it is still a good idea if you are going to an area where there are a lot of known hunters. If your are bringing Fido along, there are even accessories so you can have matching outfits instead of matching scars. (Note: You cannot use dogs to hunt big game, but in case you hike in popular hunting areas, some doggie dayglow can still be a good fashion statement.)
The biggest way you can get yourself in trouble is obviously being foolish with your guns. Hunting can be perfectly safe — from your perspective, less so from mine — if you follow the rules and use some common sense. One big thing to keep in mind: Cars and guns don’t mix. I’m not saying you have to bike to your hunting grounds, but just wait until you get there before loading your guns. It is illegal to transport loaded rifles or a primed muzzleloader, not to mention fairly foolish. In addition to being empty, your guns should be encased before going on any road trips. Given that rule, this next one might come as a real shock: It is illegal to hunt or drive wildlife from a motor vehicle. I know, the wheels are spinning looking for the loophole on this one, but be forewarned, CPW has heard everything, including “I didn’t want to travel with a loaded gun, so I discharged it,” or “I didn’t think you meant from a snowmobile.” Yes, every kind of vehicle your imagination can come up with is outlawed: from motorcycles to helicopters, your best bet is to keep your feet on the ground. Also, don’t shoot while you are standing on a road or even within 50 feet of one — you too archers — and don’t drink or try any other mind-altering concoctions while hunting.
Lastly, lets get down to the nitty gritty here. We’re all just trying to survive in this crazy world, if bagging a deer helps you to do that, go for it. Just don’t take down a deer unless you intend to eat the meat — except the organs, you don’t have to eat those. If you go out on a trophy hunt this season and only take the hide, antlers or other brag-worthy portions of the animal you can end up with felony charges. So when you make that once-in-a-lifetime, nobody-is-going-to-believe-this shot take everything you can and fire up the barbecue to make sure you get the most buck for your bang.
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