Summit County hunting season has begun |

Summit County hunting season has begun

Two mule deer prepare to clash antlers in Colorado. Across the state, hunting season for bow, rifle and shotgun is about to begin, with tags available for all species.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife / Special to the Daily |

A great deal of hunting expertise hinges on experience. Skills like reading an animal’s trail and knowing what areas prey usually congregate in, as well as how weather will affect an animal’s patterns, can only be learned with time and dedication. However, this shouldn’t dissuade you from getting out and trying the sport. Luckily, we’ve got the basics covered with the latter in our 2015 hunting season preview.


The most important factor as to where and when you can hunt depends on which type of license you get. First off, don’t even think about hunting without a license — it’s a serious crime. Before you can get a license, however, all applicant hunters must pass an education class and receive a validated hunter identification card from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). Once this has been completed, three license options are available. These are leftovers, over-the-counter (OTC) and OTC with caps. Leftovers first went on sale on Aug. 4, and very few for any game remain in the Summit County area. OTCs are unlimited; however, only rifle and archery hunting for elk as well as archery hunting for pronghorn can are available in Summit. OTC with caps are obtainable up to a certain number and are only available for bear hunting.


Elk are one of the most popular species to hunt in Summit County and largest in population. They are bigger in size compared to deer and have more reddish-brown coloring. Known for their boisterous mating calls and sizable antlers, elk are a classic big-game hunt of trophy-catch proportions.


Archery: Aug. 29 – Sept. 27

Muzzleloader: Sept. 12 – 20

Rifle: Oct. 12 – Nov. 29

Where to find them

One positive of beetle kill is that it has allowed for new undergrowth where trees have died. Never-before-seen grass has developed that is quite popular among deer and elk populations. Look for both in areas where the effects of beetle kill have been most extensive.

Rule to remember

Bull elk killed in Summit County must have at least four points on one side of their antler or a distance between the two smallest points of at least five inches.


With a population usually ranging from 10-12,000 — and according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, a 44 percent success rate among hunters — deer can be easily found with diligence.

“The best deer hunting is going to be away from roads and far from people … . I won’t start hunting until I’m at least a mile out … most people don’t go more than a quarter mile out; it’s pretty pathetic,” explained CPW public information officer Mike Porras.

The two varieties of deer found in Summit are white-tail and mule. Mule deer have a black-tipped tail and stiff-legged bounce in their gait, while white-tails have smaller ears and a loping gallop.


Archery: Aug. 29 – Sept. 27

Muzzleloader: Sept. 12-20

Rifle: Oct. 15 – Nov. 8

Where to find them

Like elk, deer can also be found in heavy-beetle kill locations with significant undergrowth. Deer are more of a nocturnal animal, and can be found in meadows and along ridge lines when weather is warm. White-tails have shown a preference for river bottoms.

Rule to remember

Hunting white-tail and mule deer, requires two separate licenses. It is illegal to shoot either if not possessing the correct license.

Moose and Bear

Although only small quantities of licenses exist, moose and bear are legal to hunt in Summit County. Both of these animals are big and can be dangerous, so remember to approach either with caution.


Moose Archery:

Sept. 12-27

Bear Archery: Sept. 2-30

Moose Muzzleloader:

Sept. 12-20

Bear Muzzleloader:

Sept. 12-20

Moose Rifle: Oct. 1-14

Bear Rifle: Oct. 10-14,

Oct. 17-25, Oct. 31-Nov.

8, Nov. 11-15

Where to find them

Look for drier areas with berries and foliage for bears. Moose, on the other hand, can be found almost anywhere as they have a widely-varied diet.

Rule to remember

Believe it or not, moose are often mistaken for elk, and vice-versa. Be careful to analyze your specimen before shooting. Just seeing antlers is never enough.

Four Tips To Remember

Have the proper equipment. Hunting is a risky sport, and, if done incorrectly, there can be severe consequences. In addition to having the proper rifle, wearing orange is not only important for blending in with surroundings, but also can be crucial for being seen by other hunters.

Be prepared. Weather at our high elevations can change in a minute, and the last thing you want is to be miles deep in the woods, without the proper gear.

“You’re out there on a hilltop two miles from home … storm rolls in, you can’t see 30 feet,” explained Porras. “You have a choice: You have the choice of keep getting lost, or you can hunker down and ride it out as long as you have the equipment to do that.”

Respect the landscape. Many predatory animals exist in Summit — like bear and mountain lions — and the last thing you want is to stumble upon any of these, especially when they are with their young.

Have your paperwork in order. CPW enforces licenses very strictly, as does the federal government. Federal agents routinely patrol these areas, so expect to show full documentation at all times.

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