RBC I From all standpoints, the 2015 hunting season was a good one for those in pursuit of wild game in the Meeker district.
Meeker Area Wildlife Manager Bill deVergie said Tuesday that conditions were darned near perfect for hunters these past four seasons regardless of whether it was elk, deer, moose, bear or antelope being sought.
It was a really good season for those hunting elk bulls and cows, deVergie said.
“The past couple of years have been fair for elk harvest due to the animals staying high and there being a lot of snow to keep the hunters out,” he said. “This year, the elk stayed high but there wasn’t much snow to keep the hunters out, and they got into the traditional elk areas.
“Not only did we have a good bull harvest,” deVergie said, “but we had quite a few really good bulls for being a general hunt area. We had a couple of really good six-point bulls and several of those scored in the 330- to 340-point range. That is really good for a general area. We may even have had a couple score close to 350 points,”
He said there were tremendous bulls taken in units 1, 2, 10 and 201 but that those are quality units and are tough to draw licenses in.
“We had some bulls harvested that came in over 400 points from those four areas,” he said. “There are always excellent bulls up there, but that is why it is so difficult to draw a license for that area.”
deVergie added that the harvest was also significant for the cows in the area and that if area processors are any indication there were lots of cows and quality cows included.
The harvest on deer was also “pretty darn good,” deVergie said. “The movement of the herds came a little bit late due to the weather, so I would say the number of kills was down a little bit in the first hunt because the deer just didn’t get down to their usual places in time.
“What we did see, however, were some really good bucks; they were just late,” he said. “We saw some really huge bucks and quite a few large non-typical bucks; most of those bucks we noticed were on the large side this year.”
deVergie also said the outlook for the future looks good as there was a noticeable increase in the number of fawns.
“We’ve had mild winters the past two years, and it is starting out really mild this season as well,” he said. “Unless we have a really killer winter in early 2016, I expect the survival rate will be quite good.
“I can easily see as many licenses this next year and, just possibly, a small increase in the number,” he said.
It was a good season for harvesting bears again this year, deVergie said.
“It was down just a little bit in the harvest, but there were some very nice big bears taken,” he said. “We didn’t really have a lot of trouble with them late this fall, but with the bears back in hibernation now, we shouldn’t see any problems with them for the next five months.
“We have a tremendous number of bears, so I expect we will be pushing hunters to get bear licenses again next year,” deVergie said. “I’m not quite sure why the harvest was down a little this year, but I look for another good year for those wanting a bear next year as well.”
deVergie said that as far as he knows so far, it was also a good year for the seven hunters who drew moose tags this season—there were three bull tags and four cow tags.
“I know all three bull tags were used and nice moose were harvested; and at least two cows were harvested,” he said. “I have not heard yet about the other two.”
He said the moose he knows of were all harvested in different drainages but that they were all taken within about 10 miles of Buford.
“We saw a lot of moose this season and saw some really good quality bulls,” deVergie said. “And for once, we had a lot of other hunters tell us that they saw a large number of moose out there.”
Those hunters with antelope tags also had a good hunt this past season, deVergie said.
“Most of the good antelope hunting was in Moffat County, and it appears that the harvest rate was pretty good,” he said. “We saw a lot of fair bucks but I must admit I didn’t see any giants nor did I hear of any giants this year.
“I would call it an overall average year,” he said.
He also mentioned a group of novice women hunters who were taken on a special hunt south and east of Meeker, “and thanks to all of the homeowners out there, the women all got their antelope.”
“We thought this was a good idea to get some new folks interested in hunting, and I think we accomplished that,” deVergie said.
In this hunting district, there was one big horn sheep license issued, and how that hunt went is unknown, he said.
“I know the hunter who had the license went hunting along the south fork of the White River,” deVergie said. “But I haven’t heard yet if the sheep was harvested or not.”
Regarding hunters’ behavior, deVergie said, “I would call this a normal year.”
“There were fewer cases of trespassing than in past years, and that is a good thing,” he said. “We also have a few good cases against hunters who committed blatant hunting violations like poaching.”
But overall, he said, there were no really major problems.
“As I said, we have a couple of really good cases that will likely go to court, but overall it was pretty quiet,” deVergie said. “With few trespassing violations, it looks like the hunters are finally learning that they have to know where they are at all times.
“Overall, I’d say it was a good set of seasons and, unless we have a horrible spring, it looks to be another great year next year as well,” he said.