Youth hunters, mentors must understand late-season regulations

Young hunters in Colorado who take advantage of special late elk seasons must be certain that they are hunting in the proper Game Management Units (GMUs), and that they and guardian adults understand any special regulations for that unit.

 During December in the San Luis Valley, Colorado Division of Wildlife officers contacted several youth hunters and mentor adults who were hunting elk in the wrong GMUs. Through January, Private Land Only licenses are available in GMUs 80, 81 and 82. Permission is required to hunt on private land.

 “Any hunter who harvests an animal in the wrong unit will be subject to appropriate fines and penalties,” said Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager in the San Luis Valley. “Be sure you understand the regulations before going into the field.”

 In December, late seasons in the San Luis Valley are scheduled in units 68, 79, 80, 81 and 681.

 In Colorado, youth hunters — ages 12-17 — who do not fill their regular season cow-only or either-sex tags are allowed an opportunity to hunt in special late seasons immediately following the end of the fourth rifle season. Youths with unfilled bull elk licenses are not eligible.

 Youth hunters interested in this opportunity should search the 2008 Colorado Big Game Hunting Brochure to find a GMU anywhere in the state where a late antlerless elk season is scheduled after the regular fourth season has ended. Youth hunters with either-sex tags must go to a DOW office to convert the license to a cow tag for the selected unit. Those with an antlerless permit do not need to go to a DOW office. Those who turn 18 after purchasing the original license are still eligible to hunt during a late season.

 Hunters under 16 must be accompanied by a mentor. Mentors can hunt with a youth only if they hold late-season licenses that are valid for the same unit, dates and geographic restrictions.

 The scheduled late seasons should not be confused with special “distribution” hunts designed to prevent game damage.

 “Adults and youths must know the specific regulations that apply during these late seasons and in these units,” said Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager for the San Luis Valley. “Be sure to read the regulations in the hunting brochure. Hunters who violate the rules can lose their hunting and fishing privileges.”