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RBC I The hunting seasons for elk and deer are off to a good start, but weather uncertainty raises a few questions about the upcoming rifle hunts, Colorado Parks and Wildlife area game manager Bill de Vergie said in Meeker on Monday.
“The archery seasons for deer and elk went pretty well,” de Vergie said. “Between the snows and rains, I would say it was a normal to above-normal season. There is a lot of food and water available, and it doesn’t seem like the snows have really closed any areas although there is a lot of mud out there.”
de Vergie said he checked in some “really nice bulls — 6×6 bulls” during the archery season and while he was out in the field on Sunday, but that he didn’t really see or hear of any large bucks taken, “although I am sure there were some; it’s just that I didn’t see them or hear about them.”
de Vergie’s prognostication for the rifle elk and deer seasons, which started Saturday, is a bit mixed.
“The Miller Creek and Sleepy Cat areas were slow the first couple of days, and that is because there just weren’t any animals moving there,” he said. “Those who were hunting the Pagoda Peak and Trappers Lake areas did quite well; we checked in several bulls in that area.”
How about the weather?
“It would be tough to say if the weather is to credit for the good number of game animals harvested in some areas,” de Vergie said. “There is food and water everywhere, so there really isn’t much of a reason for the elk to be on the move yet.
“There is some snow up high, but there really hasn’t been enough cold to send the animals down to the lower elevations yet,” he said. “I was up high (off County Road 8) on Sunday, and there were places that had four to eight inches in places, but by the time I came down later in the day, at least half of that amount had melted.”
He said that lots of good-sized elk have been shot and more have been spotted, “…so I expect we will see a pretty good rifle season. If the temperatures drop and we continue to get the snow at the higher altitudes, we could have a much-improved season.”
Regarding the deer, de Vergie said that with the warm temperatures, several of the large deer have stayed high, but that by next week, that trend could see a change.
“It goes almost without fail that the larger numbers of deer will head down to lower altitudes in the third week of October — next week.” he said. “There are already some good-sized bucks down low, but there will be a definite increase in the numbers of all deer headed lower.”
He also urged motorists driving on Rio Blanco County roads to keep an eye out for deer and elk on the paved and back roads, particularly from dusk until sunrise.
Rio Blanco County as a whole, and particularly Highway 13 between Rifle and Craig and Highway 64 between Meeker and Rangely, ranks very high on the list of highways in Colorado with the most vehicle-game collisions.