• Colorado Elk Hunts - You're in For a Treat By Chuck Ellisor
• Colorado Elk Hunting. Does It Get Any Better? By: Verlyn Ross
• 3 Things To Improve Your Mule Deer Spot & Stalk By: Fred Marinos
• Ensuring the Conservation of Mule Deer and their Habitat By Todd Black
• My Awesome Colorado Hunt By Rylee Dearen
• Big Bucks & Good Company By Kevin Samz
• Bio: Mule Deer
• 14-Year Old Boy Takes the Largest Buck in the Last 30 Years! By Kyle Lopez
• Colorado Elk Hunting Tips By John Lindell
• How To Hunt Elk In Colorado By Stevee Martin
• Elk On The Fringes How to find Colorado's Biggest over-the-counter Bulls By Mark Kayser
Colorado Elk Hunts - You're in For a Treat
By Chuck Ellisor
Colorado Elk hunts are a dream for many a hunter and if you have never experienced an Elk hunting trip in Colorado,
you're in for a treat.
Colorado has one of the largest Elk populations in the country. The Rocky Mountain Elk foundation estimates at
least 292,000 elk in the state. There are three great public land areas available to Elk hunters.They are the
White River National Forest, the San Juan National Forest and the Bear's Ear portion of the Routt National Forest.
You can also make arrangements to hunt on private land in the state as well.
The Elk hunting season in Colorado starts with archery season in late August through September, muzzle-loading
season in September and rifle season from October through November.
Colorado offers some of the best Elk hunting guides and outfitters. When searching for an Elk guide make certain
they are licensed in the state. Many of the professional outfitters in Colorado grew up in the state and have first
hand knowledge and expertise when it comes to hunting Elk there. They know the terrain of the Colorado mountains
and where the best places are to be successful at getting an Elk.
Colorado Elk hunts are like nothing you've ever experienced before. From Steamboat Springs south to Durango,
you'll find excellent Elk hunting. Most of the Elk are in the Colorado high country so be prepared for the rugged
mountains and high altitude.
High altitude requires you to be in good shape physically. Your physical health can make or break an Elk hunting
trip to Colorado so start early to get in shape. Being out of shape in high country will have you out of breath very
quickly. Altitudes can be up to 10,000 feet.
Colorado Elk hunts can be trips of a lifetime so make sure you do your due diligence, plan ahead and then enjoy!
Ready to make that Elk hunting trip in Colorado a reality and not just a dream? Imagine... what if you could have
your very own Colorado Elk guide sharing all his insider tips and secrets with you on how to plan that once in a
lifetime Elk hunting trip?
Colorado Elk Hunting. Does It Get Any Better?
By: Verlyn Ross
According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, elk hunting in Colorado during 2008 across all seasons and methods of
take produced an elk hunter success rate of 20%. A total of 45,271 elk were harvested in Colorado in 2008.
Traditionally success rates for elk hunting in Colorado have hovered around the 25% range, so 2008 was a somewhat
less productive year compared to years past.
Data regarding the 2008 hunting seasons are available. A review of the data reveal a handful of gaming units that have
enjoyed a higher than average hunter success rate. Unit 61, a unit on the Western slope encompassing portions of the
Uncompahgre National Forest, harvested a total of 677 elk in 2008 producing a hunter success rate of 49%. Hunter
success rates were 50% in units 40 and 851. Unit 40, where 920 elk were harvested in 2008, is also on the Western slope
adjacent to the Utah boarder in Mesa County. Unit 851, where 286 elk were harvested, runs along Colorado's southern
border and is southwest of Trinidad. The highest noteworthy elk hunting success rate was 67%, found in unit 682.
Unit 682 is in the south central portion of the state slightly northwest of the Great Sand Dunes National Monument.
Division of Wildlife data estimates the post 2008 elk hunting season statewide elk population to be approximately 283,210.
DOW information relative to elk populations is examined with respect to herds that may traverse more than one gaming unit.
With respect to the aforementioned hunting units, estimates from DOW suggest that approximately 21,430 elk are in or about
unit 851. In addition, estimates show unit 61 with a herd of approximately 10,680 elk roaming through or about the area.
Units 40 and 682 have markedly smaller herds, at 4400 and 300 elk respectively.
As any elk hunter will concede, if you show up in the middle of a herd of elk you will have a much easier time harvesting an elk.
Inasmuch as this is true, it is also true that many other aspects of elk hunting preparation produce success. Knowing where elk
are abundant and success rates are high may assist in future elk hunting success, but any astute elk hunter should be wary
of the difference between the correlation of data, and its causation. There may be other circumstances inherent in
some gaming units that produce higher success rates than others.
3 Things To Improve Your Mule Deer
Spot & Stalk
By: Fred Marino
I start my scouting
each year by checking the internet for new places to hunt,
by using the map feature
on the hunting channel online. Pull up 3D images of the areas
researched through fish and game reports and pope and young
entries. Then look for the structures and lanscape features known
hold deer. These are: Water holes, Saddles, Benches, Intersecting
Transition areas and Funels.
It is these primary areas that give me my first indication
where to start scouting.
Methodically examine these areas in 3D mode of THC maps
figuring out how they are all interconnected and how deer
would use them.
Afterward I create maps with GPS coordinates and notes
to help me locate sign when its times to actually start
Taking my maps and corralate them with stuff like deer/car
accident reports, look closely at time of year, time
of day, deer ratio,
frequency and location, then add this to my notes and
Once season draws near I will go to those areas picked
out and begin looking for sign like: Droppings, Evidence
Tracks, Rubs, Scrapes, Hair and anything else that might clue
me into what is using the area.
Once I have determined deer are frequenting an area I
will set up trail cameras to record as much deer activity
I can pattern any bucks in the area. Some times I will
just set up a blind and sit back and observe deer so
Ii can get a first
at their behavior. Itis very important to learn how deer
act and react to your intrusion, anyway this is another topic
Ensuring the Conservation of Mule Deer
and their Habitat
By Todd Black
First, let me say
I really enjoyed reading Dr. Charles Kay’s last article in MDF, “Where Have
All the Flowers Gone”. Hopefully the title didn’t
scare too many of you off, because the article did an excellent
demonstrating how both, man-caused management and natural processes,
are important components to mule deer habitat and how they have
changed things significantly over time.
In my last article I wrote about predation, but I left with the
statement, “Habitat is the primary factor we need to concentrate
on in maintaining good suitable populations of mule deer.” In
the Sept/Oct 2008 issue of MDF, in another article on predation,
Dr. Bruce J. Mincher (Idaho) stated, “Only in rare situations
is predator control likely to benefit mule deer. The single most
important thing we can do to benefit mule deer is to maintain
as much quality habitat as possible.”
Alright, I’ll ask it…just what is mule deer habitat
and, for this article, what is ‘quality’ mule deer
habitat? To be honest, knowing what I know, I have a hard time
paraphrasing what mule deer habitat is in twenty words or less
so I asked good friend and hunting consultant, Adam Bronson of
the Hunt’n Fool Magazine; a mule deer crazy junky, Ryan
Hatch owner of MuleyCrazy Magazine; and former biologist/manager
MDF CEO), Miles Moretti, to tell me, in twenty words or less,
just what their definition of mule deer habitat is:
Adam: Diversity in vegetation types throughout summer and winter
ranges with connectivity between the two is critical to sustaining
mule deer populations.
Ryan: Any given terrain that holds enough of the major components
(browse, water, cover) to healthfully sustain and perpetuate
the dynamics of a deer herd.
Miles: A plant community which has sufficient food, water, and
cover for fawning, allow survival of winter conditions, and escape
predators ensuring mule deer sustain or increase their populations.
My own personal definition is: Anywhere where you have mule deer
that have persisted over time and will continue to persist but
the area must include water, browse (the higher the protein the
better), and herbaceous matter (flowers/forbs—again with
high protein levels), at key times of the year.
As you can see, there are some pretty major differences in what
mule deer habitat is, even from the experts. I’m sure that
if you asked mule deer hunters from the Sonoran desert what their
definition was, they would tell you something completely different
than someone from the Panhandle of Idaho, or the Badlands of
Montana/North Dakota, or the Sandhills of Nebraska, or the Wasatch
Front of Utah.
The truth is, these are all areas where mule deer live, but they
all have very different habitats. So, how is it that a species,
which seems to be in trouble from a habitat standpoint, can live
in these ecologically different areas?
Mule deer in general are a very adaptable species. After all,
in their distribution across the West, we can find them in 18
states, four Canadian provinces, and in Mexico. The habitat they
use spans over seven different eco-regions (no other big game
species does that). They have been documented as to eating hundreds
different plants and plant parts from cactus, bark, fruit, vegetables,
grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees, and likely, even some human
food. They can find thermal and escape cover in grasslands, sagebrush,
rocks, thickets, brush, trees, and even in back yards. Yet, we
find them in this day and age being out-competed and displaced
by man, elk, and even white-tailed deer—all of which, the
experts tell me, can be tied back to some sort of habitat issues.
On an almost daily occurrence, I hear about loss of habitat,
protection of habitat, degradation of habitat, improving habitat,
projects, fragmentation of habitat, and conservation of habitat…habitat,
habitat, habitat. Yet, I still find it difficult to find one person
who can show me a picture, take me to a place, or even paint me
a picture of quality mule deer habitat. I have yet to find one
mule deer that will say, “Todd, this is what I need to survive
and propagate to my fullest potential…will you make it for
me?” So is it fact, (we have crappy mule deer habitat all
over), or is it fiction, (mule deer habitat is fine, something
else is the problem). Is it all gone? Is there any left? What does
it look like and why do we hear about it all the time. Why? If
mule deer are so adaptable, why are they struggling so much—what
is wrong with their habitat?
This we do know, mule deer habitat must consist of three important
components: food, water, and cover/shelter. Based just on that
definition, I can think of many places where there ought to be
mule deer, but there are not. So, it must be a little more complex
than just those three things. The truth is, mule deer habitat
is complex and varies across the range of mule deer. How the
water, and cover is arranged on the landscape, what is adjacent
to it, how far away are they from each other, and what condition
each of the three are in, are all equally important.
As I look at these facts, I scratch my head and think which is
the most important, and which is the most critical component
of mule deer habitat? Obviously, one would say food, and it is.
know that mule deer can make it without water for a few days;
much of their water can be gleaned from the food they eat. We
cover can be a wide open field if needed. What then, constitutes
mule deer food or groceries? Why is it the limiting factor? Is
there one magical snickers bar that can satisfy all mule deer?
I’ve always maintained that if I was king, I would plant
forty acres of alfalfa hay for every section of ground in mule
But again, it’s likely not as simple as that.
What groceries deer learn to eat, when they eat them, and what
groceries are important from place to place and season to season,
are critical to know. Generally speaking though, (and it has been
demonstrated through studies), mule deer need and do best with
groceries that are high in protein, easily digestible, and readily
available. Again, this varies from place to place but most of these
groceries can be considered, or are found, in areas where plant
communities are in an early successional stage (see www.answers.com/topic/ecological-succession-1).
Here, we typically find a lot of green groceries, (grasses and
forbs) that are high in nutrients, (including protein), easy to
digest, very accessible and perfect for what mule deer key in on
and need. They are a much-needed resource for does with fawns,
and for bucks to grow antlers. The problem that I believe much
of the West has lies in the balance between ‘quality habitat’ and
available cover. Too many of our vegetative communities have reach
climax stage (overgrown, no regeneration, and/or decadent). Once
our vegetative communities reach climax stage, they are not very
good for mule deer other than from a cover standpoint. Additionally,
they become vulnerable to a catastrophic fire (not that fire is
bad) where large tracks of land are burned and in many cases unavailable
and gone for many years due to invasive species such as cheatgrass.
As Dr. Kay pointed out in the last issue MDF, rangeland managers
must recognize that there is a problem. We can’t continue
status quo with our mule deer habitat. It’s not good for
mule deer for so much of our habitat to reach climax stage; there
needs to be diversity and many different successional stages found
across the landscape. We as sportsmen and conservationists need
to realize and understand that these things take time and money.
We must work closely with our land mangers and start slowly to
identify issues, define goals, objectives, and implement actions
and strategies to make changes. We need to realize that these changes
will take time…and even longer periods of time will be
needed to see changes in mule deer numbers.
So here’s the take home message…the next time you
are out in your neck of the woods, ask yourself what is missing
this particular mule deer habitat, what was once there in abundance
that is not there now? What are the causes of this change and
what can be done to improve the situation? Only by understanding
the needs are and what can be done from a practical standpoint
can we work to really improve, restore, and conserve mule deer
The Western Mule Deer Working Group (WMDWG) has gone to great
efforts to identify mule deer habitat, threats, actions and strategies
by eco-region across the western U.S. and Canada. To learn more,
review the publication “Mule Deer Changing Landscapes Changing
Perspectives,” found at www.createstrat.com/i/muledeerlettersize.pdf
and/or visit www.muledeerworkinggroup.com/index_files/Page444.htm
to view the completed mule deer habitat by eco-regions.
My Awesome Colorado Hunt
By Rylee Dearen
My story begins on a warm Saturday (November
1st) afternoon. It was the first day of my first Colorado deer
hunt and my father, Kenny Dearen, was taking me hunting. Also accompanying
us was my Uncle Donnie and his father-in law, Mr. Catalano. At
first we went up on a ridge to check on some previously located
bucks. Well, when my hunting party and I got up on the ridge we
located a couple of decent bucks and one shooter, with a bunch
of does off to the south. We were busted right off the start and
couldn't get on the shooter buck, so we decided to go check on
another place and let these deer calm down. This didn't work out
too well, so we decided to go back to where we saw that shooter
buck earlier in the day.
On our way back to the ridge we saw some other people going up
there, so we decided to wait and see what happened. Thankfully,
a short time later we saw the other people coming back off the
ridge and decided that since it was just the first afternoon,
and we had the whole hunt to spend looking other places, we
back up on the ridge and wait until dark, and hopefully the big
buck would show himself once again.
When we got on top of that lucky ridge, we were so thankful that
the by passers had not spooked the deer, but merely moved them
a little farther away from us than before. We didn't see the
big buck we had seen before, but off to the north the buck of
walked out of the trees. We moved into position and struggled
forever to get into a comfortable shooting position. Then it
finally the moment had come and I had the buck in my scope…so
I shot. I really thought that he would be down, but my dad said, "Baby
you missed him clean", and then I realized that I, a Dearen,
had missed. After the first shot, the buck started to trot farther
and farther away from me. My dad stopped him in his tracks with
a call. I knew then, this was going to be the moment of truth,
the moment that I was going to get this buck. As I took a deep
breath and leaned into my rest, my dad whispered, "If you're
not 100% comfortable, then don't shoot, it'll be okay." Then
my uncle whispered, "You got this Rylee, no problem".
I told my dad, "I got him". He told me to take the
safety off and hit him right behind the shoulder.
When the gun went off, I knew that my shot was fatal to that
buck. I looked up to see that monster muley drop like a stone.
and jumped up and down with joy as we ran to see the monster
of a buck. When I got to him I almost cried, as I couldn't believe
the size of his antlers. He was a 29-1⁄2 inch wide four
by four and the buck of my dreams. He gross scores around 192
nets a little over 181.
I would like to give a special thanks to my dad, my uncle D
and a huge thanks to Mr. Catalano. I never knew the feelings
hunting can bring. It was an awesome experience.
Big Bucks & Good
Written by Kevin Samz
They say male bonding isn't cheap, but
one could never put a price on this experience. For years now,
I have been going out west to hunt elk and mule deer. It's not
so much a hunting trip, but more of a reunion with my brothers
This particular season, Colorado's second combined rifle season,
I headed out to Colorado from my North Carolina home. I am an
active duty Marine, and after spending 10 months in the Persian
this was a welcome respite.
We hunt in an area southeast of Silt, Colorado in the oak brush
country. This terrain is very steep and choked with aspens, oaks,
and occasional pockets of spruce. At times, one's vision is totally
obstructed, so naturally this thick covered, steep country is
a haven for elk and deer.
My brother, Dean, a native of Kiowa, Colorado is physically and
mentally well suited for this terrain. His long strides and huge
lung capacity makes it hard for and easterner to keep up. He
is always faithful to have a comfortable camp set up with plenty
food and firewood.
My brother Mike, a native of Green River, Wyoming and his son's,
Levi and Tyler, come down to camp and to see their eastern Uncle.
They are usually done hunting because Wyoming's elk and deer
season is earlier in the year. This makes for great conversations
previous Wyoming hunts and of course, my "Sea Stories".
It was a great camp with a dusting of snow, anticipation and
expectations were high. On opening day however, a huge west wind
set in and
the only relief for a man or beast were the south and east facing
slopes. We tried our best, but only a few does, fawns and one
cow elk were seen.
On the second day, a long climbing stalk with Dean and my oldest
nephew, Levi, enabled us to see one small buck and a dozen does.
Tim, a friend of Dean's from Denver, owner of "Never Summer
Snowboards", scored on a decent 2x3 muley, and also had
a decent legal bull walk within 40 feet. No tag however!
The third day started with a lot of snow. Dean and I decided
to hunt high, along a ridge above camp. We drove his jeep to
outfit camp, parked, and walked along the top of the ridge together.
We instantly saw a doe in her bed. It seemed a lot of deer were
moving about half way down the ridge, so we decided to split
I remained in the middle and Dean would push the bottom and the
pockets of spruce. Going was tough through blown down aspens
and knee-deep snow. Several does and fawns later, Dean, somehow
up a few hundred yards ahead of me and called on the radio to
find out where I was. Before I could respond, a shot rang out
I called Dean asking, "What did you get?" He responded, "A
big old' muley!"
The sight I saw when I got to him was unbelievable. The buck
was lying on his belly next to a blow down; his antlers were
300 yards away!
Another camp member, Butch, had left camp on foot that morning
and came across the same ridge, but in the opposite direction.
We believe that this action had confused the bedded buck. In
an attempt to elude Butch, the buck headed straight towards Dean
With his 7mm Remington, Dean made an excellent 150 yard shot.
In over 30 years of deer hunting by all of us, including my father,
this was the biggest buck my family has ever killed.
The next morning was more snow, and Dean and I were on the same
ridge we hunted in the wind on opening morning. We headed up
a steep cattle trail, and as we stopped to catch our breath,
down over a snow covered plain. Dean was mentioning how this
would be a good place to sit in the evening. Just as that came
his mouth, we spotted a deer standing broadside at about 300
yards. His rack could be seen with the naked eye and Dean said, "Good
I got down in a good kneeling position, 18 years in the Marine
Corps. taught me this, and Dean, like a good range coach said, "Breath
brother, I got your back".
I placed the crosshairs on the front shoulder and squeezed
away a shot. The buck jumped on impact and nose-dived into
It was my best shot in my life!
All in all, it was another fantastic hunt, especially having
taken two great bucks. Dean's buck is 30 inches wide, 20
and heavy. My buck measured 24 inches wide and 19 inches
Big bucks and good company, in a beautiful, free country---you
can't put a price tag on that!
Bio: Mule Deer
Mule Deer: Odocoileus Hemionus
Mule Deer are closely related to its
lowland cousin the Whitetail Deer. Mule Deer are a dark gray-brown
in color and have a small white patch on its rump and a black-tipped
tail. They get their names from their large mule-like ears that
can be turned to assist in hearing.
Mule Deer antlers are distinguished from Whitetail Deer antlers
by the forks. Whitetails points come off the main beam compared
to a Mule Deer antler that forks off in two equal forks.
A Mule Deer stands about 36 inches high at the shoulder. A mature
male can weigh up to 330 pounds and have antlers that spread
over 30 inches wide at the widest point.
All Mule Deer are opportunistic feeders and will feed on a wide
variety of plants. Their preferred foods are fresh green leaves,
twigs, lower branches of trees, and various grasses.
Mule Deer have stomachs that are divided into several areas where
they can store food. They can easily regurgitate the food they
eat and process it again, this is called chewing its “cud”.
While they rest they can frequently be seen lying down and chewing
their cud in the afternoon and early evening. They are generally
seen grazing during the early morning and later in the evening.
Deer are not especially vocal, although young fawns bleat on
occasion. Injured deer utter a startlingly loud "blatt" or
The life span of a healthy Mule Deer in the wild is 10 years.
November and December are the months that Mule Deer breed. As
cervidaes, the bucks fight each other for the right
the female who is in estrus. After the breeding season the bucks
continue their solitary lifestyle and the does return to the
family groups until winter returns to the high country. During
part of the winter Mule Deer travel together in large groups.
The bucks shed their antlers before April. They start to grow
them again in the spring.
Mule Deer does will give birth to usually two fawns around
May after about 200 day of pregnancy. The fawns weigh about
and are camouflaged to blend into their habitat by their reddish
color mixed with white spots. Mule Deer fawns also have little
or no scent which further protects them from predators. A Mule
Deer doe will care for its fawns until her next offspring are
Mule Deer can be found throughout the western United States
and Canada. Mule Deer can be found anywhere from lower desert
areas and lower mountain slopes to the very top of mountains
They tend to enjoy areas where they can see safely and recognize
well before actually being threatened. Typically a Mule Deer
will quietly sneak out of an area with out being seen.