Into The Thick of the Backcountry
The 2020 Hunting Season is fully underway way throughout Colorado. In fact, it officially began back on September 2 with the archery season. However, the coming weeks will likely see the thick of visiting hunters in Leadville and Lake County as rifle season initiates on October 10 with the 4th season wrapping up on November 22.
The extended October weather forecast calls for mostly sunny skies which is always nice for getting out into the woods. However, for those looking to harvest an elk or deer, the cooler weather along with traces of snow up high tends to turn the odds in their favor as their gamble of man against beast plays out in the woods. Regardless, for most hunters, the 2020 Hunting Season represents the opportunity to get out into the backcountry, out into the fresh mountain air, to be close to the earth before the possible next round of shutdowns sets in.
But harvesters – especially those from out-of-state – should note that there are a few changes in place this season concerning public health restrictions. In addition, Colorado wildfires have impacted many hunters’ draw as well as access to Colorado backcountry. To that end, here’s some hunting news you can use. Have a great season and be sure to share some of those trophy photos on any of Leadville Today’s social platforms or email to email@example.com.
Colorado Wildfires Impacts on Hunting
For hunters whose hunting opportunity will be impacted by the Pine Gulch, Grizzly Creek Fires, Williams Fork, and Cameron Peak Fires revised refund policies are now in place. If you hold a deer, elk, bear, turkey or sheep license for an upcoming 2020 hunting season in units impacted by the fires, you may be eligible for a refund and restoration of preference points (+1) if you choose to return your license.
- Please see the following document which will be frequently updated for more details on wildfire impacts: Wildfire Refund Options
- For the most up to date information on closures and cancellations, and on how CPW is responding to COVID-19, please visit the COVID-19 Response page.
From the CPW Director: What’s New?
Big Game License Refunds – Under the Director’s Disaster Relief authority, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will allow big-game license holders requesting a COVID-19 related refund to receive both a monetary refund and preference point restoration (with limitations). See details about COVID-19 Big Game License Refunds below.
Statewide Mask Requirements – Governor Polis has issued Executive Order D 2020-164, extending the required use of non-medical facial coverings/masks in public indoor spaces statewide for all individuals aged 11 or older, effective August 14. Read more about the Statewide Mask Requirements below.
Reducing the Risk During COVID-19 – Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds anglers, hunters, and all other outdoor recreationists that it is your responsibility to research and understand the specific guidance, ordinances, and restrictions in place for any planned local recreation – know before you go. Follow the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommendations. It’s important for everyone to follow the recommendations from CDPHE for easy, everyday actions to protect yourself and those around you.
Youth Hunting Expands in 2020 Season
Colorado Parks and Wildlife now offers youths more opportunities than ever before to head into the field to harvest a big-game animal. One of the foremost goals at CPW is to expand youth opportunity and turn first-time hunters into lifelong sportspeople. Offering more chances at success builds the foundation of solid hunting skills and passes down the appreciation of the outdoor lifestyle we cherish.
The former late-season elk hunts are now an extended season, giving youths a chance to harvest antlerless deer or elk throughout the rifle seasons, and doe pronghorn during (NEW!) all December seasons in the state, and the season in units 9 and 191 that now runs until Jan. 31, 2021. Below are explanations and documents to help youths purchase a license and plan where to hunt during the extended season.
Know the Basics
- Youths ages 12-17 have an opportunity to keep hunting if they don’t harvest a deer, elk or pronghorn with their original license. See below for specific details.
- To participate in the extended season, youths must first purchase a limited license for: antlerless deer, antlerless or either-sex elk or pronghorn. If the original license remains unfilled when the season ends, then the youth can hunt the same species during the extended season.
- Limited licenses can be purchased through the draw, the leftover draw, vouchers, from the leftover list?.
- Youths with unfilled antlered tags for elk or deer and buck pronghorn may not participate in extended season hunting.
- Youth hunters must be accompanied by a mentor who is 18 or older and also meets hunter education requirements. Youths and mentors must be able to see and hear each other while hunting.
- Follow the rules! No matter what the original license, youths must follow all the rules of rifle hunting if they participate in the extended season. This includes wearing legal hunter orange and following any unit restrictions where they choose to hunt (such as descriptions of hunting boundaries, private-land-only and Whitetail only designations).
Stamp Supports CPW Stewardship
Coloradans have a rich tradition of embracing an outdoor lifestyle and participating in outdoor recreation that involves wildlife in their natural habitats, including hunting and fishing. The state’s outdoor resources are the foundation of a strong economy as well as a key contributor to the Colorado way of life. In order to ensure that outdoor traditions can be passed down to future generations, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is dedicated to protecting critical wildlife habitats so wildlife and recreation can be enjoyed in Colorado for decades to come.
So it’s good-to-know that the people that purchase a hunting or fishing license help maintain healthy wildlife populations through sport and by funding conservation projects. Many people may not realize that when hunters and anglers buy their licenses they also purchase a Habitat Stamp. This additional stamp allows Coloradans and visitors alike to enjoy wildlife in their natural habitats while also paying it forward to protect habitats so wildlife can flourish into the future even in the face of increased human populations.
“Colorado hunters and anglers are very important contributors in ensuring our state’s wildlife legacy continues to prosper in a meaningful way,” said Brett Ackerman, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Southeast Region Manager. “We are grateful that sportspeople who purchase a Habitat Stamp take pride in funding wildlife conservation efforts that range from improving riparian habitat for fisheries, anglers and river mammals. In addition, funds from the stamp go to protecting lands that can be enjoyed by the public, including Colorado’s second-largest state park.”
Habitat Stamp purchases provide the core funds for the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program (CWHP), a program dedicated to protecting important wildlife habitat in Colorado. The Habitat Stamp funds at work proves that money generated from hunting and fishing licenses can successfully nurture healthy landscapes and coexistence between humans and wildlife for generations to come.
Since 2006, CPW has invested approximately $152,000,000 to secure:
• Conservation easements on 250,000 acres.
• Public access on 117,000 acres.
• Fee title on 11,000 acres.
• River bank access along 319 miles of riverbank.
About Colorado Parks and Wildlife
CPW partners with private landowners, local governments, conservation organizations, and Great Outdoors Colorado to leverage dollars and expand the program’s reach to increase the number of protected wildlife habitat properties and opportunities to hunt and fish on private land. These collaborative partnerships help secure a successful wildlife legacy for Colorado.
These powerful conservation partnerships have implemented conservation efforts, such as:
- CPW’s 19 fish hatcheries produce and stock around 90 million fish annually into Colorado waters.
- In 2019, $7 million in Habitat Stamp funds were crucial to purchasing the privately-owned Fishers Peak property, announced by Governor Jared Polis as Colorado’s 42nd state park.
- CPW helped fund 12 wetland habitat improvement projects for 8 priority waterfowl species on public and private lands.
- CPW awarded $650,000 to eight Fishing is Fun projects in 2020, all geared to improve angling access, habitat improvement, and trail and boat access.
- Protecting wildlife habitat and state and federal species of concern
- Restoring sagebrush or cutting down invasive trees
“Whether you hunt, fish, hike, climb, or participate in water sports, all human outdoor recreation has an impact on wildlife populations and the overall use of our parks and state lands. To appreciate nature is to give back and nurture nature and recreate responsibly,” said Dan Prenzlow, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Visit the CPW website or explore the Learn to Hunt Webinar Series and Learn to Fish resources to learn about outdoor recreation opportunities that support conservation efforts in Colorado. For more information on the CWHP application process, visit the CWHP webpage.