RBC I Except for two moose cows that were mistaken for elk and the fact that high temperatures and low precipitation have kept the elk high up in the mountains, the first three of four area hunting seasons this year have “gone very well, with some nice trophies having been harvested,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife area game manager Bill deVergie of Meeker said Monday.
“It’s been a real mix,” deVergie said. “We are seeing the best trophies in several years as far as the elk and deer are concerned. We are seeing some very good deer numbers and the harvest hasn’t been this good for deer in at least three or four years. As far as the elk are concerned, we are seeing some really nice trophies and the overall largest we have seen in years, but the numbers are down for the second year in a row just due to the weather.”
deVergie said the largest gatherings of elk are holding tight in the “dark timber up high and not many hunters have been able to flush them out.” He said they are, however, pretty scattered throughout the area.
“We have great quality and size; better than I can remember,” he said. “And the amazing thing is that it is all over the region—from high in the east all across to the Utah line and in many of the valleys. There have been some great elk harvested, but the mere numbers aren’t there, indicating that the majority of the elk are still holed up high.”
He said that while many of the elk that have been spotted have been in tremendous shape, the outfitters, landowners, the guides and the meat processors are just not reporting the numbers of elk harvested in a really good year.
deVergie also said the deer hunting so far this year has been “really good.”
“Again, across the entire area, we are seeing more deer, seeing nice mature bucks in good shape,” he said. “Even the does are doing well. We have fewer licenses this year, but the hunters had good luck there too with some nice big does.”
Regarding the bears being hunted this year, deVergie was highly optimistic.
“We have had by far the highest recorded harvest ever in this area,” he said. “Once again, the bears aren’t just in a few places but in all the units in the northwest corner of the state.
“We keep raising the number of licenses, and this was the third year for the increases,” he said. “We have lots and lots of bears, and we have really been pushing hunters of other animals to buy a bear license as well.
“There are a lot of bears out there, and we are really trying to lower the population of bears all around the area,” he said. “Because they are so tough to really spot when taking a survey, we don’t have a perfect picture of how any bears there are. But the sightings and numbers of bears reported in close proximity to the towns and homes indicate there are plenty of animals.”
The entire region only has four moose licenses, deVergie said. Of the two bull and two cow permits, he said he believed that the two bull licenses were filled this year and that neither one of the cow permits was filled.
Those two bull moose were harvested in the Ute Creek and Farm Creek areas, both of which are up County Road 8. Ute Creek, deVergie said, is just above Buford and Farm Creek is just above Buford but a bit farther south and east, a little farther off County Road 8.
deVergie said it has has been a fairly peaceful law-abiding season so far with the two major infractions being that two cow moose were accidentally shot by hunters who thought they were elk.
“Two is not good, but it is actually better than normal,” deVergie said.
He added that the trespassing offenses have also improved this season, due, he said, to an increase in global positioning systems (GPS) in use. He said the GPS systems give hunters a clearer look at where property lines are and where they are positioned.
The fourth and final season began Wednesday this week and runs through Sunday, deVergie said.
The fourth season is a little bit limited for in-state and out-of-state deer and elk hunters, but deVergie said he expects a good mix of both during the season.
“If we do have real cold with the storm that is coming in early this week and if we get a lot of snow high, then the elk may start to come down,” he said. “I don’t think we will see a lot of elk dropping down just by the end of this week because of the weather. But other than those that remain quite high, there have been some fairly good elk numbers in all parts of the units in the region.”
For the past two years, the animal numbers have been tremendous but the elk harvests have been a bit down.
“That usually brings a number of hunters to an area the next year because they know the numbers are up,” deVergie said.
“If we have an early, cold winter next year and the weather stays relatively mild this year, the number of animals harvested next year could be a record,” he said. “But it is up to Mother Nature; she seems to control what is going to happen.”