Colorado Parks and Wildlife reports hunting in western Garfield County is booming

Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Director of Wildlife Brian Gray packs a backpack before heading to the high country to check on hunting activities.
Chelsea Auto / Independent Post

License sales data is not yet available for the fall hunting season, but for the record, hunting in western Garfield County continues to increase, a Colorado spokesperson said. Parks and Wildlife.

“Early snow is always a good thing for animal tracking,” said Ivan Archer, an area wildlife manager from CPW. “The way the animals behave in the weather, especially in the snow, makes hunting a little easier. Hunting is a little more difficult, but the snow increases your chances of harvesting.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Director of Wildlife Brian Gray is working to remove lymph nodes from an elk brought to the CPW office by hunters after a successful hunt. Lymph nodes are removed to test for chronic wasting disease.
Chelsea Auto / Independent Post
Two hunters wait while Colorado Parks and Wildlife District wildlife director Brian Gray removes an elk’s lymph nodes for a test for chronic wasting disease.
Chelsea Auto / Independent Post

At Hayward Ranch, a private hunting complex with access to 25,000 acres, hunting groups have harvested six male elk since the area’s first rifle season opened, said Tor Hayward, owner of Hayward Ranch Outfitters.



“It’s been a fantastic season so far,” said Hayward. “We have 6 inches of snow on the ground and a lot of meat is already hanging. “

While the archery and muzzleloading seasons for deer and elk began in September, Western Slope’s first archery season began on Saturday and ended Wednesday. The second rifle season, which allows deer and elk hunting, is scheduled between October 30 and November 7, and the region’s third rifle season, also a combination of deer and elk, will run from 13 through Nov. 19, Archer said.



As the pandemic pushed more people outside, CPW has seen an increase in hunting license sales – a trend that continues into 2021.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Director of Wildlife Brian Gray leaves the storage container after removing lymph nodes from a recent moose shot by hunters at the CPW office in Canyon Creek. The lymph nodes are removed and tested for chronic wasting disease.
Chelsea Auto / Independent Post

“The majority of Western Garfield hunters are residents,” said Archer. “Out-of-state hunters are certainly a component, but the majority are local.”

More hunters means more time in the field for CPW game wardens.

“They’ve been incredibly busy this year and last,” Archer said. “While law enforcement is a component of what we do, the vast majority of the time we make contact with people on the ground and ensure public safety. “

At Hayward Ranch, Hayward said his hunts were booked years in advance for the first time since the outfitter was established about 20 years ago.

“The pandemic has been a horrible thing, but with people locked in their homes for so long, we see them wanting to come out and explore this incredible state we live in,” he said. “We have already booked until 2023.”

The increased interest in the sport is only one aspect of the ranch’s success.

“All of our guides are amazing and local,” said Hayward. “They live in Rifle and Glenwood Springs, and I can’t say enough how lucky we are to have such a great team.”

Journalist Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at [email protected]

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