Unseasonably warm, dry weather slows elk harvest

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RBC | Unseasonably warm and dry conditions are making life tough for a lot of hunters this fall. With the third combined deer and elk rifle season coming to a close on Sunday, deer hunters are seeing more success than their elk hunting cohorts. Warm, dry conditions allow elk to stay at higher elevations and in darker timber where it’s harder to find them. “The first season had areas at higher elevations on the forest, with almost normal harvest rates. As usual, some locations did better than others,” said Bill deVergie, Area 6 Wildlife Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The second season was not quite the same.” According to deVergie, public hunters and outfitters reported lower numbers of elk harvested and fewer than normal observed during the second season. “There were a few specific locations across the area where harvest was good,” deVergie said, adding, “There were some nice quality bulls taken again this year.” Deer hunters had their first opportunity during the second rifle season, and hunting was normal to better than normal. “A lot of hunters said they saw lots of buck deer and some nicer quality antlers. Most had success early in the season and then tried to focus on elk hunting,” deVergie said. Because the deer are in the midst of their annual migration, their locations are very transient from one day to the next. “Unless the weather changes soon and cooler temperatures and snow arrive, the third and fourth rifle seasons may be a bit slower as well for elk. Especially if the weather does not encourage the elk to migrate west. Deer hunting could be good again, with hunting access easier due to the lack of snow,” deVergie added. Fourth season is scheduled to begin Nov. 16, and the long-range forecast from the National Weather Service indicates a continued pattern of warm, dry weather.