The Colorado Division of Wildlife has released the results of the 2010 big game hunting seasons in the state and the overarching theme is “opportunity.”
“Hunters will continue to see great chances to get in the field in Colorado and access our world-renowned herds,” said Tom Remington, director of the Division of Wildlife.
This year’s biggest harvest result was the record-setting harvest of pronghorn. With recent expansion of access to licenses and lands, hunters statewide harvested a record 12,301 pronghorn during the 2010 seasons. That tops the previous record of 10,941, set in 2009.
“We’ve been working with landowners to reduce agricultural damage and increase hunter opportunity,” said Dan Prenzlow, southeast regional manager.” The partnership between the division and landowners paid dividends for sportsmen and we should be able to continue to increase the pronghorn opportunity.”
Colorado’s biggest draw continues to be elk hunting, with more than 214,000 elk hunters in the field last fall. With a 22-percent success rate, those hunters harvested 48,018 elk. Bull elk harvest continues to be available in both the limited seasons and the over-the-counter seasons, with the harvest split almost equally between the two license types. Colorado is the only state to offer an unlimited, over-the-counter bull elk tag during the second and third rifle seasons.
“While we’ve reduced elk numbers in recent years in areas where elk were raising issues for landowners, we’ve still got plenty of elk for people who want to hunt,” said Ron Velarde, northwest regional manager. “Our two largest herds in northwest Colorado have more elk than most other states and we have 43 other elk herds in Colorado.”
Now the elk hunting capital of the world, long-time hunters in Colorado will remember the days when the state was renowned for mule deer hunting and those opportunities appear to be returning. The 2010 harvest of 34,768 was up slightly from the previous year total of 33,922, but a deeper look at the statistics shows growing opportunity.
“Deer hunter success was over 50 percent during the rifle seasons,” explained Andy Holland, statewide big game manager. “From a management perspective we see no reason — outside of severe weather in the future — that Colorado’s deer herd can’t continue to provide great hunting opportunity for years to come.”
Colorado has an estimated 460,650 deer, 214,536 elk and 76,710 pronghorn, making it a top hunting destination. With more than 23 million acres of public land, the state draws hundreds of thousands of hunters every fall, contributing more than $300 million direct dollars into the Colorado economy.
Because of the large number of big game hunters in the state, the Division of Wildlife does not require hunters to report harvest on most species; instead, the agency utilizes phone and on-line surveys to establish harvest estimates. The statistics are extensively validated and audits have shown that the process is quite accurate.
Harvest stats from 2010 can be found at the Division of Wildlife webpage at http://wildlife.state.co.us/hunting/biggame/statistics/.