Private land big-game hunts offered

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in cooperation with two local landowners, is offering big-game hunters an opportunity to apply for a limited number of high-quality elk and mule deer hunts on private ranch land in the Meeker area.A total of 27 hunts will be available to hunters who have already drawn limited deer and elk licenses for Game Management Unit 23 for the coming big-game seasons. Hunters who are interested in applying for these hunts must do so in writing by Oct. 3.“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for hunters,” said district wildlife manager Bailey Franklin. “We encourage everyone to take advantage of this chance to enjoy this rare, high-quality private land hunting experience.”This unusual opportunity grew out of the working relationship between local rancher Mike Grady, the Klinglesmith family and wildlife managers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Local wildlife managers are spearheading a large-scale big-game habitat improvement effort in the region. Grady and the Klinglesmith family have placed conservation easements on more than 13,000 acres of important big-game habitat in the area and are participating in the habitat improvement program.The properties are within the White River mule deer and elk herd units, which are the two largest big-game populations in the state of Colorado. Habitat varies on the 13,000-acre properties, consisting of high elevation aspen forest, mountain shrub lands and lower elevation pinyon-juniper woodland and sagebrush.A limited amount of public access for mule deer and elk hunting was negotiated as part of the perpetual conservation easement agreements on both the LK Ranch and the Grady properties, which are jointly managed as a big-game recreational hunting enterprise. Some limited form of public access will now occur annually on these properties.Between now and Oct. 3, the Meeker Service Center of Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be accepting applications from hunters with valid tags for GMU 23. These hunts are open to all eligible hunters, though special preference will be given to youth and military veterans. There is no cost associated with the application.The following hunts will be available:Four Unguided Buck Mule Deer Huntsn Second regular rifle season Oct. 22-30n Applicant must have drawn a limited deer license for DM012O2Rn Applicant must confirm eligibility and indicate interest in buck deer huntsn Five day access – Days are selected by landowners and the Meeker District Wildlife Manager Four Unguided Bull Elk Huntsn Fourth regular rifle season Nov. 16-20n Applicant must have drawn a limited elk license for EE012O4Rn Applicant must confirm eligibility and indicate interest in the bull elk hunt 19 Unguided Late-Season Cow Elk HuntsFirst Cow Season Nov. 25-29n Five hunters will be selectedn Applicant must have drawn a limited license, or purchase a leftover license for hunt code EF011P5Rn Applicant must confirm eligibility and indicate interest in the first season cow elk huntSecond Cow Season Dec. 3-7n Five hunters will be selectedn Applicant must have drawn a limited license or purchase a leftover license for hunt code EF023P5Rn Applicant must confirm eligibility and indicate interest in the second season cow elk huntThird Cow Season Dec. 11-15n Five hunters will be selectedn Applicant must have drawn a limited license or purchase a leftover license for hunt code EF023P5Rn Applicant must confirm eligibility and note interest in the third cow elk huntFourth Cow Season Dec.19-23n Four hunters will be selectedn Applicant must have drawn a limited license or purchase a leftover license for hunt code EF023P5Rn Applicant must confirm eligibility and indicate interest in the fourth cow elk huntTo be considered for these hunting opportunities, eligible hunters must submit an application to:Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Meeker Service Center, Attn: Bailey Franklin/Special LK Ranch Hunts P.O. Box 1181, Meeker, Colo., 81641 All applications must be received by 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. Applications can be printed from our website at the following link: http://wildlife.state.co.us/SiteCollectionDocuments/DOW/Hunting/BigGame/LKRanchSpecialHuntApplication.pdfHunters who have qualified will receive notification and specific dates and details in early October.All selected hunters will be required to follow travel restrictions and access rules designated on a LK Ranch public hunt map.Please call the Colorado Parks and Wildlife office in Meeker with any questions, at 970-878-6090.