DURANGO, Colo. (AP) The colors are about to change in the mountains again, and this time it will be hunter orange.
Thousands of Coloradans and visitors will begin taking to the hills Saturday as the big-game rifle season opens with a limited draw, elk-only season.
Tony Gurzick, local manager for the Division of Wildlife, said he expects 34,000 hunters in the Durango area alone during the season.
Gurzick said hikers and bikers have little to worry about.
''It seems like when you have people out there with firearms, it would be a dangerous activity. But the reality is, it's very safe,'' he said. Gurzick said an average of one person per year is killed in Colorado in hunting accidents, and the victim usually is a hunter or his or her partner.
Nonetheless, Gurzick and Butch Knowlton, the director of emergency preparedness for La Plata County, both suggested anyone venturing into the wilderness this month wear bright colors.
''If you look at the statistics, there are not high numbers'' of people getting shot. ''Still, I think it would be very prudent to wear bright colors so that the colors can be associated with human movement,'' he said.
Hunters are required to wear at least one article of exterior clothing that is fluorescent orange.
Gurzick said it should be a good season for elk and deer hunting. Elk populations are flourishing, so much so that hunters have been granted permission to take both a cow and a bull in some areas. And, for once, the weather seems to be on the hunters' side.
Recent rains will keep crackling leaves from giving away the locations of hunters stalking their prey, and the early frost should force the animals out of the hard-to-reach high country and into the lower hills to look for food.