Colorado is open for fall hunting with more than 23 million acres of public land that are not affected by the federal government shutdown.

“Colorado is known worldwide for its pristine hunting and fishing areas,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “Some federal refuges are closed here and in other states, but Colorado has elk licenses available and hunters are welcome this fall to hunt on other public land.”

Colorado is the only state that offers over-the-counter rifle bull elk license for resident and non-resident hunters. The licenses are valid in more than 90 game management units during the second or third rifle seasons. The second rifle season runs Oct. 19 – 27 and third rifle season is Nov. 2 – 10.

Colorado has more than 260,000 elk in the state and hunters are important to help manage those large herds. In addition, hunting provides a $1.8 billion boost to the state’s economy each fall. State officials have been notified that National Wildlife Refuges in the state and some military installations may be impacted by the shutdown but those lands make up less than one-half of one percent of the federal land in the state.

“It’s unfortunate that hunters are receiving mixed messages from the federal agencies,” said Steve Yamashita, Acting Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “While all of the National Forests in Colorado are open, the shutdown has confused sportsmen across the country and we’re trying to make sure people get the right information. Colorado is open this hunting season.”

Individuals hunting Colorado’s public lands are advised that some of the formal campgrounds may be closed or have limited service but dispersed camping is allowed in most areas. Hunters should be prepared to pack out their own trash and bring their own water.

The early snow in Colorado has local hunters excited after several years of warm, dry fall weather. Cold, snowy weather concentrates big game herds and moves them out of rugged areas toward lower elevation winter range. That movement means better hunting conditions.

“Hunting in western Colorado has been tremendous so far,” said JT Romatzke, an area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We have had great late-season rains, and bulls rallied to the rut during the last couple weeks of archery season.”

Hunters are being reminded that snow can mean muddy roads and cold temperatures. But mud and snow shouldn’t keep hunters from venturing out to try their luck. Despite some potentially mucky terrain, Romatzke anticipates a fruitful season.

“We are looking forward to what could be one of the best hunts we’ve had for a few years,” he said. “We just need the hunters to come get them.”

Logo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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