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September 14, 2016

Hunting in the


Take One

San Luis Valley

Guide to Hunting Services


Valley Publishing

(719) 852-3531 )LUVW$YH‡0RQWH9LVWD

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Hunting in the San Luis Valley

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hunting elk and deer around the San Luis Valley BY ANTHONY GUERRERO SAN LUIS VALLEY— The 2016 Colorado hunting season has officially begun. The San Luis Valley area is an excellent place to hunt big game especially deer and elk. There are several tips hunters may find useful in their adventures as well as regulations to keep in mind in order to be ethical and successful. The elk and deer hunting season began on Saturday, Aug. 27 and will continue through Sunday, Dec. 31. Hunting by archery is allowed from Aug. 27-Sept. 27. The muzzle season is from Sept. 10-29. There are four rifle seasons for elk and deer running from Oct. 1 to Dec. 14. There are some rules for the 2016 hunting season which hunters should be aware of and try their best to comply with. Hunters born after 1948 must have a hunter education card when attempting to purchase a license. Licensing agents will accept cards from other states, however, cards from previous years or photocopies are not accepted. The licenses can be purchased from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) offices, licensing agents, by calling 1-800-244-5613 and from the CPW website. Purchasing licenses online from the CPW website is the most accurate, fastest and easiest way to obtain a license. Colorado residents receive a significant discount. In 2016 hunters over the age of 50, and U.S. military personnel who identify as active duty, reserve duty, veteran and National Guard are eligible to test out of hunter education require-

ments by passing an online test. CPW is also offering apprentice licenses for free to encourage more people to learn the skill and sport of hunting. With an apprentice license the requirement for hunter education is deferred for one year. Apprentices must be at least 10 years old and accompanied by a hunter over 18 who has hunter education. This year hunters may also wear an alternative color of fluorescent pink instead of only the traditional bright orange. The Colorado legislature passed 16-068 approving this change. Any person who is hunting elk, deer, pronghorn, moose or black bear must wear daylight fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink. Hunters are allowed to hunt both deer and elk in different seasons. Hunters are encouraged to be aware of the regulations regarding off highway vehicles (OHVs) in the area they are hunting. In the San Luis Valley there is significant private land which hunters may hope to chase their game into. To be able to access these lands a hunter must have a Private Land Only license and permission from the landowner. Hunters are not only enjoying a recreational activity, but also helping in Colorado’s management of big game. Hunting comes with responsibilities and those participating should follow some basic ethical guidelines. Hunters should attempt to have their hunting techniques provide a fair chase scenario for the animals. It is important to be educated on the different

Considering bowhunting Looking to take your hunting skills to the next level? Bowhunting may be the next natural step for you. Many hunters across the country have taken to archery, and there are many reasons. Bowhunting has a way of connecting you with nature as you discover a more primitive approach of hunting. It also teaches you discipline and patience as you hunt your game and opens up a world of new equipment and gear to explore. According to a recent study by (provider of recreational safety education materials for all 50 states), 24 percent of those who claimed they hunt with a bow cited the longer season as their top reason, and 11 percent said it was because bow season had an earlier start. No matter your reason for entering this fastgrowing hunting segment, it’s easy to find the right equipment and get started on advancing your newfound passion. Choosing the Right Bow Before heading to your local outdoors shop, you have to decide what type of bow you want to use. Do some research on the variations, including compound, re-curve or long bow. If you’re just starting out, the compound bow will most likely be your best bet. That’s because they are equipped with various accessories to increase your shooting accuracy and improve your sight. The other types of bows require more training and practice before you can expect to feasibly take down

your game of choice, but you may be up to the challenge. Sign up at your local range for training sessions to start sharpening your skills. When it comes to what you’re looking for in a bow, draw weight is one of the biggest factors to consider. Defined as the amount of force it takes to pull the bowstring back to the full draw, this measurement can vary by weapon. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recommends 40 pounds or greater for a clean, ethical shot. Bowhunting Safety According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, there are two general bowhunting practices that lead to injuries: not being safe in tree stands and having arrows out of the quiver when they shouldn’t be. Equally important is making sure your equipment is in good shape. Shoddy equipment can lead to personal or animal injury, both of which should be avoided at all costs. Here are some things to check on before heading out on your hunt, according to the UDWR: • Make sure the laminations on your bow are not flaking or separating; • Check the strings on your bow for fraying; • On a compound bow, make sure the pulleys and cables are in working order; and • Assess the the stiffness of the arrow’s shaft to make sure it matches your bow’s draw weight.

Courtesy photos

habits of the animal being hunted. A good rule of thumb is to be aware of the area in which a hunter is in and to follow all known regulations regarding the campsite and hunting grounds. It is illegal to shoot a moose during elk and deer season in the southwest region of Colorado. Hunters may mistake moose for elk so it is important to be informed on how to distinguish the two animals. The fine for accidently killing a moose is $1,370. If the animal is accidentally killed and the carcass is abandoned the shooter may be charged with a Class 5 felony. A moose generally has a dark black and brown body, a bell on its throat and whitish-gray legs. With those ethical guidelines in mind, there are many tips hunters can use to be successful in their pursuit of elk and deer. The San Luis Valley hunting region offers terrain which is moderate from very difficult to access. Hunters also have to be mindful of private land as well as locations such as the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Baca National Wildlife Refuge where hunting is always prohibited. There is a current effort to expand hunting into these areas. Deer hunting success has been steadily improving in the Valley. Elk hunting can be very good but requires hunters to be willing to access very challenging terrain. The weather is a dominant issue for hunters in this area. Snow can improve elk hunting as they will move down quickly from higher elevations. However, the Valley’s winter weather can make travel difficult. Colorado is home to an estimated 420,000 deer. In 2014 the success rate for hunting deer was around 44 percent. There are some guidelines hunters can follow to improve their

chances. Mule deer are most active at night and can be found in meadow areas during low-light hours. Stalking deer very slowly with binoculars is recommended. One advantage for hunters pursuing mule deer is their curiosity. When they are spooked they will often run a short distance, but quickly turn around to determine if they are being followed. This may give hunters a good opportunity for a clean shot. Hunters should avoid attempting a headshot and instead aim for the vital organ. Headshots can result in injury with the animals dying unnecessarily slow deaths. Elk hunting is more challenging than one might be led to believe. The 2014 success rate was only 19 percent. There is an estimated 280,000 elk in Colorado, the most out of any state. Elk are very intelligent and quickly move away from hints of danger and hide in rugged terrain. Hunters have to work very hard to catch one of these prizes. Hunters should remove themselves from their OHVs and hunt slowly and quietly away from any road. When an elk is spotted the hunter should line up their shot very carefully because they are difficult to knock down. The best area to shoot at is the critical area of the lungs and heart just behind and below the front quarters. Following these tips, suggestions and regulations will help ensure a successful hunting experience. With the proper preparations and information hunters in the San Luis Valley region will have a very memorable and fruitful experience. For more information, tips and useful resources, please visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website at

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Be sure to know where you’re hunting

SAN LUIS VALLEY — Harvesting a deer or elk in the wrong Game Management Unit is not only illegal, it can be very expensive. Consider the experience of an Oklahoma couple hunting in southwest Colorado. A Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer drove into their camp late one morning during the first rifle season. When he asked how the hunt was going the husband explained that they had each killed a cow about a mile away from their camp. The officer congratulated them and then asked to see their licenses. After looking at the licenses he asked exactly where they’d hunted. “Well, we were just over that ridge there,” the husband said, pointing to the west. The officer shook his head slightly and said, “Well, I’ve got some bad news. You were hunting in the wrong unit.” The man protested and attempted to point out their location on the basic map that’s printed in the Big Game Hunting brochure. The map provides little detail, shows only the location of major roads and offers no topographic markings. The wildlife officer pulled out a topographic map and showed the man that they were at least 15 miles — as the crow flies — away from where they were authorized to hunt. “But we’ve been hunting here for years,” the man said. Politely, but firmly, the wildlife officer explained the consequences: The meat would be confiscated and donated to a local food bank, and each of them would be fined $1,500. The couple’s hunting privileges in Colorado were subsequently suspended. “There is no excuse for hunting in the wrong unit,” says Matt Thorpe, area wildlife manager in Durango. “Most unit boundaries have been in place for years and they seldom change.” Despite that fact, hunting in the wrong GMU is a common mistake.

Photos courtesy of Moe Jones

ing in the right unit: • Go to page 61 in the 2016 Colorado Big Game Brochure, find the GMU number and read the official location description. • Buy a high-quality topographic map that includes the GMU area and locate the boundaries; then mark the map. • After you arrive at your hunting location, study the map and the landmarks in the area to make sure of the boundaries of the GMU. • If you have any questions, contact the nearest Parks and Wildlife office.

Hunters must also be aware of the location of private land. To hunt on private land you must obtain permission. In Colorado, landowners are not required to post or mark their property. GMU descriptions can also be found on the Parks and Wildlife website: cpw.state. Story courtesy of Colorado Parks and Here’s how to make sure you are hunt- Wildlife

Gun Safety Rules Statistically speaking, hunting is among the safest sports in the world. Basic safe gun handling and storage is easy to achieve, especially for responsible gun owners. Whether you have been taught gun safety by a family member or have enrolled in a training course, it’s important to always put your knowledge into practice when heading out for your next big hunt. Doing so will help ensure your safety and the protection of others. Safe Handling One of the first lessons every shooter and hunter should lern is to treat every gun like it is loaded and ready to fire at all times. Following this mindset will help you handle your gun with the respect it deserves. Experts teach that even the safety of a gun — the mechanical device designed to prevent unintentional firing — can become faulty and inoperable. Trusting that a safety will always perform as intended can lead to deadly consequences. Follow your common sense to realize that a gun can cause serious harm and death if improperly handled. There is no marginf or error. You owe it to yourself to know as much about your gun as possible to ensure safe handling 100 percent of the time. Helpful Tips The National Shooting Sports Foundation offers the following tips for safe gun handling: • Never touch the trigger on a firearm until you actually intend to shoot; • Keep your fingers away from the trigger while loading or unloading; and • Never pull the trigger on any firearm with

the safety on the “safe” position. Following these tips will help keep your hunting trip enjoyable and safe. Don’t forget to pass along these tips to others, especially inexperienced shooters. One of the tenets of responsible gun ownership is sharing what you know with others, so spread the word. Wear the Right Gear Understanding your weapon is the most important aspect of safe hunting. Another key factor is wearing the right protective gear while you’re hunkered down in your blind or taking in the view from your tree stand. Wear shooting glasses and some form of hearing protection at all times when shooting. If you’re exposed to shooting noise without the appropriate buffer, your hearing may become damaged. The right glasses can protect your eyes from debris and falling shot during your hunt.


JOURNAL Valley Publishing 835 First Ave. Monte Vista, Colo. (719) 852-3531

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How to hunt elk

COLORADO—The popular hunting magazines often display colorful photographs of huge bull elk standing in open meadows presenting easy targets. The reality in the mountains of Colorado, however, is far different. Stalking the wapiti is challenging and most hunters won’t get easy shots. You’re more likely to find elk on a steep hillside, in a dark ravine, or in thick timber than standing Bull elk (David Hannigan) Photo courtesy of CPW out in the open. The hunter success rate dark timber--cool north-facing slopes--and not be for all manners of take in Colorado was 20 percent hesitant to hunt in difficult areas. Hunters should in 2013, and a total of 43,600 were harvested. A move as quietly as possible for short distances total of 219,000 hunters went after elk last season. and then scan the woods for 10 minutes or more It’s estimated that there are about 265,000 elk in before moving again. Even in dense forest it’s a Colorado, the most of any state. good idea to use binoculars so you can discern If weather is warm, elk stay spread out over vast subtle movement or unusual colors in the trees. areas at high elevations at and above timberline. If you find the areas where animals graze at In those conditions hunters need to work extra night it’s likely that you’ll find them in adjacent hard. When snow falls, elk will usually start to areas during the day. move, bunch up, and look for food sources at When hunting in areas with roads, move far lower elevations or on slopes where vegetation above or far below the roads to find elk. In areas is exposed. However, the snow fall must be sig- where two roads are in close proximity, locate the nificant; usually more than a foot of snow must most difficult terrain in between. be on the ground to get elk moving. Line up your shot carefully because elk are Hunters must get off their ATVs and hunt difficult to knock down. The best shots are delivslowly and quietly far from any road. Elk are very ered in the critical area of the lungs and heart just smart, move quickly at any hint of danger and hide behind and below the front quarters. Never try for in rugged terrain. Compounding the challenge a head shot, as this can result in only wounding for hunters is the fact that elk typically gather in the animal. groups of 10 or more. If one is spooked they all To learn more about hunting elk, check out “Elk move and they can run easily for a mile or more. Hunting University” on the Colorado Parks and Elk are most active during the night and are Wildlife web site: This program gives extensive likely to be grazing in transition areas--meadows information regarding all phases of elk hunting. next to heavy timber, where different types of To learn how to field dress big game and sightvegetation meet and just above or below ridge- in a rifle, see the videos at: lines. Hunters should watch these areas at first Pages/HuntVideos.aspx. light and at dusk. During the day, hunters need to move into the Story courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How to hunt mule deer COLORADO—Hunting mule deer in If the wind is blowing in the direction you Colorado is always challenging. Hunters can are moving, a deer will likely pick up your improve their success by understanding the scent. Deer avoid going to creeks in daylight so there is no advantage to hunting near movhabits of these critters. During the 2013 seasons, for all manners ing water sources during the day. One advantage mule deer give to hunters is of take, 74,000 hunters harvested 33,000 mule deer for a 44 percent success rate. It their curiosity. When mule deer are spooked, is estimated that Colorado is home to about they’ll often run a short distance then turn to determine if they are being pursued. That 400,000 deer. In the mountains and foothills, mule deer may give you one good chance for a shot. A small amount of snow will get deer movdon’t spend much time in heavy timber. They are primarily browsers and prefer aspen and ing quickly out of high-altitude areas. Usually forest edges where there are plenty of low by late October migrating herds will move to shrubs, small trees, oak brush and varied winter range areas, even if there is no snow. Hunters should aim at the vital organ area vegetation types. Mule deer are most active at night and which presents a small target--about the size can often be found in meadow areas during of a dinner plate just behind the front quarter. low-light hours. During the day, they’ll bed Hunters, no matter how good they are at the range, should never try to make a head shot. down in protective cover. In warm weather, look for deer along Many animals are injured and die slowly ridgelines where wind is consistent and helps because of attempted head shots. For more information: to keep them cool. During the low-light hours of evening and Story courtesy of Colorado Parks and morning, hunt in meadows at the edge of thick cover. If you see where they are feed- Wildlife ing during times of low-light, it’s likely they’ll move into nearby timbered areas to rest for part of the day. Deer tend to move during the middle of the day toward the areas where they feed in the evening. A slow stalk is recommended. Spend a lot of time scanning slowly with binoculars--a deer can appear at any time. Pay attention to the wind direction. Mule deer buck (Michael Seraphin) Photo courtesy of CPW

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Hunting Perfect morning for hunting ethically? COLORADO—Hunting is an integral part of wildlife management in Colorado. While you are involved in an enjoyable recreational activity, remember that you are also an active and important participant in managing big-game herds. With your license comes a responsibility to hunt and conduct yourself in an ethical manner. Please, take a few moments to answer the following questions; then remember the answers when you are out in the field: • Are your hunting actions providing a “fair chase” scenario for the animal? • Would you behave the same way if you were hunting with a wildlife officer or being videotaped for the evening news? • Do you know exactly where you are hunting? Are you in the right GMU? • Do you know the habits of the animal you are hunting? • Are you in good enough shape to be able to hunt in mountainous terrain and properly retrieve a harvested animal? • Do you know how to properly field dress a big-game animal? • Do you minimize the impacts of your camp on the landscape and do you leave a camp site cleaner than how you found it? • Do you pack out all of your trash? • Will you report rule violations–yours and others–to a Colorado wildlife officer? • Have you read the Colorado Big Game brochure to check the rules and regulations for the area in which you are hunting? Ethical behavior is critical to the future of hunting. Please, consider how your actions impact wildlife, fellow hunters and the general public. For more information about hunting in Colorado, see: Story courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Photo by Zach Cerny

A crisp fall morning in the San Luis Valley offers a variety of hunting opportunities including water fowl.

Hunting boosts Valley economy


SAN LUIS VALLEY—The value of hunting has long been recognized in the San Luis Valley and, as the population grew, so did its value as an economic engine. When ancient nomads recorded their hunting tales on rocks in the area, they were proud of their success. Each animal provided tools for survival, skins for housing and clothing, bones and skulls for totems and meat for sustenance. That was the economic multiplier. Today, economists use the “economic multiplier” in describing industry — and hunting is an industry. First off, licenses must be purchased, putting extra dollars into the hands of outfitters, sporting goods stores and even the “big boxes.” Hunters purchase weapons suitable for bagging the quarry they seek. The first season here is archery and it has begun. What does the sport pump into the economy? Many bow hunters use ATVs to get to where the animals are. This requires gasoline. The sport also requires special clothing, gear, arrows and equipment and, often, tents and food for hunting camp. Each dollar spent here passed through several sets of hands. Though many hunters have gear they use year after year, they purchase fuel, food and other necessities. The next season is muzzleloader season, which adds a few more purchases to the list. This specialized sport takes the hunter back to pioneer days, though it requires modernized equipment. That equipment is purchased from sporting goods stores and the ammunition is expendable, so it is a constant need. Rifle season is probably the simplest. First,

File Photo

Many seasoned hunters realize hunting season does not begin on “opening day.” Rather, it can take weeks or months to get ready for a successful season. the hunter must wear flame orange and specialized headgear, then proper ammunition must be bought, along with a means by which to carry it. Many hunters rent hotel or motel rooms rather than setting up hunting camps, so there are more dollars sent into the economy. Hunting camps are a bigger economic boost, with food, wood for heating and cooking, beverages and other life necessities being purchased each season. Local hunters who use home base also purchase necessities that they carry along. From a single roll of toilet tissue to an expensive ATV, RV or tent, each dollar passes through at least five sets of hands each day of hunting season. From the end of August well into the late fall and early winter, hunters enrich the area in their search for wild meat and outdoor fun, not to mention bragging rights. In the San Luis Valley, this is a big boost to the economy.

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Where the deer roam

Photo courtesy of Division of Wildlife/David Hannigan

Deer enjoy time in a valley near Bailey, Colo.

Take your cell phone into the backcountry


COLORADO—These days, most of are dependent to some extent, on our cell phones. While service can be non-existent or, at best, sketchy in remote areas, emergency rescue experts suggest that hunters carry their phones with them in the field. Cell phones have become the most important tool for finding people who are lost or injured. Here are some tips on the use of cell phones in the backcountry. Start your trip with the phone fully charged. You can always top off the charge in your vehicle on the way to your starting point. Also, turn on the phone’s automatic location setting. This allows emergency services to get a “ping” and calculate your position using GPS. Then, keep the phone turned off. When phones are on they are constantly searching

for a signal which drains the battery. Try to store the phone close to your body – keeping it warm also helps conserve battery power. Turn your phone on at least once each day for about five minutes. When powered up the phone will search for, and hopefully find, the nearest tower. Even though there might not be enough signal to make a call, it can be enough to leave an electronic trail that can be used later in an emergency. Cell phones, like radios, work off of a line of sight. This means that land features such as mountains, heavy tree cover and rock formations can block signals. If you are going to make an emergency call, find the highest and most open location search for a signal. Hold the phone in the air at arm’s length and rotate around until you find reception. I was on an elk hunting trip some years ago where the only service I would find was in a spot about 50 feet from camp, next to a fence line. I would power up the phone and check in twice daily from that location. If you do not have enough reception to make a call, or if reception is spotty, it’s possible you can send a text message. Send it to someone you know, give the location and the problem you’re having. Your friend can then call 911 with the information to request help. If the text doesn’t send, just keep moving. As soon as the phone locates a tower, the message will be sent. Given that cell phone service is becoming available in more and more remote places, it’s a good idea to carry your cell phone with you in the backcountry. Mark Rackay is director for the Montrose County Sheriff ’s Posse. He can be contacted at

Hunting gear checklist Preparing for a hunting trip is a major ef· Cleaning supplies, trash bags; fort. Listed below are a few common items · Flashlight/lantern; · Game bags; that hunters often forget as they get ready · Sunscreen; to go into the backcountry. · Toilet tissue; · First aid kit (include mole skin/duct tape for blisters); · Hunting license; · Compass and high-quality maps; · List of family/friends phone numbers; · Fire starter for use in the field; · Extra water bottles; · Knife sharpener; · Water purification pump or tablets; · Latex gloves for field dressing animals; · Extra batteries; · Rain gear; · 2016 Colorado Big Game Hunting brochure. · Blaze orange vest and cap; · Extra fuel for camp-stove; For more information, see: cpw.state. · Tire chains;

Photo by Zach Cerny

Surviving high altitudes SAN LUIS VALLEY—Every year more than a few hunters must be rescued from the wilds and high country of Colorado. Hunters get trapped by snowstorms, injured in various types of accidents or simply get lost in the woods. Hunters must remember that altitude can affect their health and their ability to move easily. And in the Rockies, weather can change quickly with fast-moving storms dumping a couple of feet of snow in just a few hours. Be prepared for all types of weather—wet, cold, dry and hot. Take appropriate clothing and the right camping gear. If possible, especially for those coming from lower altitudes, spend a few days at higher elevation just before the hunting season to allow your body to acclimate. Heavy snowfall can occur starting in September. High-country hunters, especially those who backpack into wilderness areas and have to get out on foot, need to watch the weather closely and pick their escape routes before they choose a campsite. Snow can obliterate trails or make them impassable. Survival experts recommend that you never go into a wilderness area alone. Unavoidable accidents do happen that make self-rescue impossible. Learn how to use a compass, take a map of the area and orient yourself before leaving camp. Explain to your hunting partners where you’ll be going and when you plan to return. Always carry a survival kit and know how to use it. Such a kit should include a knife, waterproof matches, fire starter, compass, reflective survival blanket, high-energy food, water purification tablets, first aid kit, whistle and unbreakable signal mirror. If you get lost, sit down, regain your composure and think for a few minutes. Many times people who are lost can figure out where they went wrong and make it back to camp. If you truly don’t know where you are, stay put. Survival experts explain that survival is 80 percent attitude, 10 percent equipment and 10 percent skill and knowledge. If you are caught in a storm or forced to spend the night out, there are three keys to survival: shelter, fire and signal. If you can’t find camp and have to overnight in the wild, your first priority is shelter. Even if you have nothing else going for you - no fire or food - an adequate shelter that is warm and dry will keep you alive until rescuers find you. That means anything from an overhanging rock shelf to a cave, a timber lean-to or snow cave. Always prepare for the worst and build a shelter that will last. Cut boughs from evergreen trees and use them as padding and for covering. Dress in layers and take extras with you. Put on layers before you become chilled and take off a layer before you become damp with perspiration. Staying warm is a process of staying dry. Do not dress in cotton – it becomes wet easily and is difficult to dry. Use wool, wool blends or synthetic clothing that wicks moisture away from skin.

Be sure to carry a quality stocking cap that is made of wool or synthetic fleece. You lose up to 45 percent of your heat around your head, neck and shoulders. Winter headgear should conserve heat, breathe and be water repellent. The old saying, “If your feet are cold put your hat on”, is good advice. Use waterproof footgear, wool or synthetic socks, and always remember to carry gloves. Fire is the second priority if you are forced to stay out overnight. Know how to build a fire even in wet or snowy conditions. That means carrying a lighter, metal matches or wooden matches in waterproof containers and a fire-starter – such as steel wool, cotton or sawdust saturated with paint thinner or alcohol. Camping stores sell a variety of fire starters. Experiment with various materials before going into the field. A fire will warm your body, dry your clothes, cook your food, and help you to signal for help. The third priority is signaling. This can be done by fire--flames at night or smoke from green branches during the day; with a signal mirror in bright sunshine; and with sound-hence the whistle. You can live up to three or four weeks without food. You will, however, be more efficient and alert, and have more confidence if you are able to satisfy your hunger. So carry some high-energy food in your survival kit. Water is more important to survival than food. Your body needs about three quarts of water a day to metabolize its energy reserves and carry away waste. Carry iodine tablets to add to water taken from streams or snow banks. Avoid drinking ice-cold water which can cause your body temperature to drop. Altitude sickness is another danger. Hunters who are fatigued, cold or exhausted are vulnerable. At the very least, altitude sickness can ruin a hunting trip; at the worst, it can be fatal. Hunters who are coming to Colorado from low altitude areas should be especially careful. Take time to acclimate and do not move quickly above 8,000 feet. Symptoms of altitude sickness include shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, headache and loss of appetite. To avoid altitude sickness get in shape, limit alcohol consumption, acclimate for a few days before the start of the season and drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is a key factor in reducing your chances of getting altitude sickness. Hunters with any heart problems should be extra careful in Colorado’s high country. If you have a heart condition you should keep any prescribed medication with you at all times. Inform your hunting partners of your condition. Finally, be sure to leave accurate information at home about where you’re hunting and when you’ll return. For more information about hunting in Colorado, see: Story courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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How to hunt safely

Courtesy photo

Use OHVs properly; know the rules

COLORADO—The number of off-highway vehicles used during hunting seasons has been increasing steadily during the last decade. While the vehicles can be useful tools to aid a hunt, some hunters are using them improperly and causing a variety of problems. Hunters must be aware of Colorado OHV rules, local regulations and new federal travel management regulations for national forests and BLM lands. All OHVs must be registered in Colorado. Your home-state registration is not valid. To register your vehicle call the Colorado Parks and Wildlife office at 303-791-1920, or go to the web site: Hunters need to remember that rifles carried on OHVs must be completely unloaded and placed in a hard or soft case–no bullets in the chamber or magazine. Bows must also be carried in a case. On national forest and BLM lands, OHV travel is allowed only on roads and trails designated for such use. Roads and trails open to motorized use will be signed as “open”, or be shown as open on forest service and BLM travel maps. It is recommended that you consult with the local forest service or BLM office prior to your trip to make sure you understand travel regulations in your hunting area. Federal fines, up to $500 per incident, may be levied for violations of travel management regulations. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers are authorized to write tickets for illegal OHV use. Besides the federal fines, violators who are using OHVs while hunting, fishing or trapping will be assessed penalty points against their license privileges: 10 points for most violations, 15 points for riding into wilderness areas. Hunters who accumulate 20 penalty points lose their ability to buy hunting or fishing licenses for at least one year. Matt Thorpe, area wildlife manager in Durango, explained that hunters must minimize their use of OHVs if they expect to see any big game animals. “There are some hunters who drive around on OHVs all day and then they complain that they’re not seeing any animals,” Thorpe said.

The constant drone of OHVs also causes problems for other hunters. OHVs are noisy and cause animals to move deep into inaccessible territory. Just one vehicle can cause problems for numerous hunters. “There is getting to be a real backlash against OHVs from people who actually get out there and hunt the way they’re supposed to,” Thorpe said. Big-game hunters who wish to be successful must walk slowly and quietly well away from roads. It is unlikely during hunting season that a hunter will see a big game animal from the road. And if an animal is spotted, a hunter doesn’t have time to get off the vehicle, take a rifle or bow out of its case, load the weapon and move off the road to take a shot. Besides disturbing animals and other hunters, improper use of OHVs can cause resource damage when they are driven off of established roads and trails. That action can destroy vegetation, compact soil, and lead to stream and water-quality degradation. Please, remember these rules and guidelines: · Rifles and bows carried on OHVs must be completely unloaded and secured in a case. · Be sure to check with local U.S. Forest Service and BLM offices for the local travel management plans in areas where you will be hunting. · In most areas an OHV cannot be used to retrieve harvested animals. Check with local BLM and forest service offices for specific game-retrieval policies. · OHVs cannot be driven into designated wilderness areas. · Be careful not to trespass onto private roads. · Be considerate of other hunters. Drive slowly to reduce noise; minimize driving distances; don’t hunt from the road. · Explain these rules and guidelines to young hunter s and those unfamiliar with proper OHV use. For more information and to register OHVs, see: Story courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

COLORADO—Hunting accidents have declined rapidly since the passage of two laws in 1970. One law requires hunter education training for all hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1949. The other requires hunters to wear at least 500 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing above the waist--including a head covering visible from all directions. Colorado averages fewer than two hunting fatalities per year. Since 2000 hunting has continued to post the best safety record of outdoor recreation forms, with a per-year average of only 1.3 fatalities and approximately 12 total incidents involving injury from a firearm, arrow or other gear used in hunting. Most hunting incidents involve hunters; there are no records of non-participant injuries resulting from a hunting accident in Colorado. “Hunting is safe and getting safer all the time in Colorado,” said Todd Schmidt, hunter education coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Still, the agency sells more than 560,000 hunting licenses every year, resulting in several million hunter recreation days. Over the course of all the hunting seasons--small game, upland game, waterfowl and archery, muzzleloader and rifle big game seasons-tens of thousands of individual hunters will take to the field carrying bows and arrows, shotguns and rifles. Consequently, safety must always be a primary concern. Almost all hunting accidents could have been avoided if the hunter had exercised a little more care, Schmidt explained. “With hunting one moment of carelessness can mean a lifetime of consequences,” Schmidt said. Long before the hunting season starts, hunters should head to the shooting range for practice. “Get out to a range and practice and be familiar with the guns you’ll be using,” Schmidt said. “Practice makes for a much safer and enjoyable hunt. And it also increases your chances for a successful harvest.” Most hunting incidents involving firearms occur around vehicles. The reason: that’s where guns are usually loaded or unloaded and where hunters are standing close to each other. Exercise extra caution when loading and unloading a gun, and do it well away-100 feet or more--from your vehicle. Hunters are also reminded that it is illegal to place a loaded firearm in or on a vehicle. It’s also unnecessary. It is illegal to hunt from or shoot from a vehicle. Hunters must be at least 50 feet from the center line of a maintained road before shooting. The distance is further in some areas, so check local regulations in the Colorado big game brochure. On forest service or BLM roads you need to be just off the road. It is highly recommended that firearms be unloaded when you’re crossing streams and fences, and while walking on unstable, steep or rough terrain. The gun’s safety isn’t always enough to prevent it from firing because it can be moved to the fire position by clothing, vegetation or a fall. “The safety is a mechanical device that can break or fail. It is not a substitute for proper gun handling and safety,” Schmidt said. As soon as the hunt is over, whether that

Photo by Tyler Cerny

means an animal has been harvested or you’re finished for the day, unload your gun. Firearms should be unloaded well before getting to the vehicle or camp, and then double- or even triple-checked to be certain they are empty before placing them in a case or vehicle. “At the end of a long day in the field when hunters are tired, it is more important than ever to be extra careful with firearms,” Schmidt said. The following are brief summaries of a few hunting incidents that have occurred in Colorado. Every hunting accident is different, but these examples provide useful information for all hunters. As you read these think about situations you might find yourself in. In one fatality, a father and son were kneeling side by side ready to fire at an elk. The son also was holding the lead rope of a string of horses. When his father fired, the horses spooked, pulling the son’s rifle toward the victim. During the commotion the gun fired and the father was killed. One accident shows the danger of walking on difficult terrain with a rifle. A hunter was walking with a guide on a steep hillside. He slipped, the rifle hit the ground and discharged. The bullet struck the guide in the head, killing him. If you are on difficult terrain or walking near someone, it’s best to unload your rifle. In another incident, a bow hunter took off alone in pursuit of elk. At some point he fell on an arrow--which was not in a quiver--and cut the femoral artery in his leg. The hunter bled to death. “This is a graphic reminder that most bow hunting incidents are the result of selfinflicted wounds,” Schmidt said. Non-fatal hunting incidents are more common; here are some examples: An elk hunter was running in an attempt to get ahead of some elk. He stumbled, his .308 rifle fired and shot him in the leg. Never run while carrying a loaded gun. Another big game hunter was using his rifle as a walking stick. The rifle fired, shooting off the tip of his thumb. Always carry a rifle with two hands, never put your hand over the muzzle and never use it as a support. Talk to your hunting partners, youngsters and new hunters about safety in the field. Firearm safety should be considered every time you go out hunting. For more information: Story courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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Hunting in the San Luis Valley

View for miles

Looking out over hunting unit 76 in Mineral County Photo by Lyndsie Ferrell

Know the rules and know your limits COLORADO—Hunting is challenging. Not only must you understand the habits of the animal you are hunting, you must also understand regulations, laws governing public and private lands and your own limitations. Following are some reminders and things to consider before you start your hunt. · To obtain a license, all hunters born after 1948 must present a Hunter Education Card from Colorado or another state. · You must know the specific rules that apply to the Game Management Unit in which you are hunting. If you violate rules you can be cited and fined. · Be sure to know where you are hunting. You can only hunt in the Game Management Unit that your license specifies. · As you are hunting be aware of buildings, homes, roads, and your overall surroundings. Make sure you know what is behind an animal before you shoot. A bullet shot from a high-powered rifle can easily carry for more than 1,000 yards. · Make sure that someone at home knows where you are hunting, your vehicle’s license plate number and where you are staying. · Weather in the fall can change rapidly in Colorado. A day that starts sunny and warm could end with a snow storm. Be sure you are prepared for all weather conditions. · Make sure you can recognize the symptoms of hypothermia in your hunting partners. · Know how to get back to your camp. · Cell phone service is not reliable in the moun-

A good dog

Photo by Tyler Cerny

A good hunting dog is a best friend.

tains. Don’t expect to contact someone by phone if you are lost or if your vehicle is stuck. · Make sure to drink plenty of water. Colorado’s dry air and high altitude can quickly dehydrate you and deplete your energy stores. · Be sure to consult Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations to understand antler requirements for taking bull elk. · Do not attempt to shoot at animals that are in areas where you could not retrieve the meat. Know your physical limits. · If you harvest an animal, make sure the carcass is properly tagged. Tags must remain with all processed meat. · If you transfer an animal killed by another hunter, ensure that it is properly tagged. You could be cited for illegal transport of a game animal even if someone else made the error. · Do not strap a harvested animal on the outside of your car. · Operate ATVs and OHVs responsibly. The vehicles must be registered in Colorado even if it is registered in another state. Off-road vehicles can cause resource damage. Be sure to know the local travel management rules for public lands. OHVs also disturb animals and other hunters. · If you see hunters violating laws, please report the actions to a wildlife officer or other law enforcement agency. Actions by a few hunters can reflect badly on all hunters. For more information: Story courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hunting in the San Luis Valley