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Final week for big game draw applications

With the April 5 deadline for Colorado’s big game draw fast approaching, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is reminding hunters that a few hours spent planning now can help ensure a memorable and successful big game hunt this fall.

Colorado wildlife managers estimate the state’s 2010 post-hunt elk population at more than 280,000, which means the Division of Wildlife continues to manage more elk within its boundaries than any other entity in North America. Colorado offers hunters a remarkable diversity of elk-hunting choices, from wilderness and backcountry public-lands hunts, to outfitter-supported group hunts and private-land-only tags.

“A Colorado big game hunt creates memories to last a lifetime,” said Division Director Tom Remington. “With more than 23 million acres of public lands and deer, elk, moose, sheep, pronghorn and mountain goats to choose from, Colorado truly is a land of opportunity for big game hunters.”

Remington noted that with 48,000 elk harvested in 2010, Colorado’s annual harvest continues to lead the west by a large margin. Although licenses in some elk units remain strictly limited to grown trophy bulls, Colorado remains the only state to offer unlimited over-the-counter bull elk tags in the majority of units to residents and non-residents alike.

In 2010, Colorado hunters also harvested a record 12,000 pronghorn, while rifle hunters enjoyed a 50-percent success rate during deer seasons, Remington said.

The 2011 big game seasons open in late August for archery hunters and continue into mid-winter with late-season private land tags. Information about season dates and license application requirements can be found in the division’s redesigned big game brochure. The new brochure features include easy-to-read tables, a detailed list of new hunt opportunities in the state and a reference page with important information about Colorado hunting regulations.

Copies of the brochure may be downloaded from the division website and are available anywhere licenses are sold. The online version contains numerous links to videos hunters will find helpful when planning their hunt.

Also new this year is a video tutorial to using the Division’s online license application system. About 64 percent of big game license applicants now use the online system.

“One of the benefits of applying online is that the system prevents you from making some of the more common mistakes,” said Henrietta Turner, the division’s License Administration Manager. “But to avoid the potential that computer problems could hold you up, don’t wait until the last minute to submit your application.”

During the next week, customer service representatives and specially-trained Hunt Planners will be available to assist hunters by phone from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and will be standing by until midnight on April 5. They can be reached at (303) 297-1192. Hunters can also get personal assistance at one of the division’s regional service centers in Denver, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs or Durango or any one of the division’s area offices.

To improve their chances of success, hunters are encouraged to apply for second- and third-choice licenses available through the leftover draw. In addition, over-the-counter and additional leftover licenses will become available starting in July.

Sportsmen are also reminded that starting this year, hunting and fishing license applicants will need to purchase a $10 Habitat Stamp before they apply for or purchase their first license for the 2011 seasons.

Hunters who don’t already have a stamp and who intend to submit multiple paper applications must include the $10 stamp fee for each application, all but one of which will be refunded. Hunters who apply online will be automatically notified if they need a Habitat Stamp.

Colorado’s $10 Habitat Stamp fee is similar to New Mexico’s and Montana’s stamp fees and is less than stamp fees charged by Arizona, Idaho and Wyoming. Unlike several other western states, Colorado does not require non-residents to purchase a general hunting license in addition to a big-game tag.

Enacted by the Colorado legislature in 2005, Colorado’s Habitat Stamp has helped the division conserve 103,074 acres of wildlife habitat, including 46,000 acres of big game habitat and migration corridors, while securing 40,635 acres of new public hunting and fishing access in the past five years.

Hunters born after Jan. 1, 1949, are also reminded that they must have completed a hunter education course prior to applying for a hunting license in Colorado. Since the hunter education requirement was imposed in 1970, hunting accidents have significantly declined in the state.

To buy your big game license online, go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us/ShopDOW/AppsAndLicenses/.

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