Tired of elk? Variety of game in area | SteamboatToday.com

Tired of elk? Variety of game in area

While most hunters come to Northwest Colorado for elk and deer hunting, there are plenty of other big and small animals out there to pursue.

Jim Haskins, the district wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said people hunt anything from bobcats, coyotes and foxes to grouse, beavers and porcupines.

“There is a lot of variety to choose from in this area,” he said.

Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said interested big or small game hunters should check with the DOW to determine which animals are available for hunting and which are not.

“There literally are hundreds of animals out there for people to hunt,” he said.

After elk, deer and pronghorn, black bear is the most popular big game animal to hunt, possibly because the hunter is allowed to hunt either sex.

Hampton said moose are becoming popular as an alternative big game animal.

The moose herd near Walden has about 630 animals, and the DOW has opted to allot more moose licenses this year because of their thriving numbers.

“Because we give permits based on how many animals we have, people can sometimes wait up to two years for a permit,” he said. “Hunting moose certainly isn’t something you typically think of when hunting, but it is getting more popular.”

For those who opt not to big game hunt, there are plenty of other small game opportunities such as snapping turtles, beavers, muskrats, squirrels, rabbits, rattlesnakes, red foxes, raccoons, marmots and sand hill cranes.

Haskins said that pronghorn are very popular because they are relatively easy to hunt and provide good meat. However, because pronghorn hunting season begins sooner than the other hunting seasons, during warm summer weather, hunters need to take extra precautions in preserving the meat, which can spoil before it is processed if not handled properly.

Haskins advises hunters to gut the animal right away and remove its hide and put it in a cool place such as in a cooler or on ice.

“Pronghorn is very good, tasty meat,” he said.

Pronghorn are also challenging to hunt, which make the animals a desirable catch.

“Pronghorn can see up to two miles away, they’re incredibly jumpy and a bit challenging for a sportsman. A lot of hunters are challenged by (pronghorn),” he said.

Hampton said hunters should always check with the DOW before hunting an animal they are unsure of because there are certain permit and license requirements for certain animals, as well as bag and possession requirements.

“We don’t want people to go out there and just shoot anything that moves,” he said.

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