Big game in Rio Blanco


Rio Blanco county has much to offer the big game hunter.

From the wide open spaces of Bureau of Land Management grounds to the west and the White River National Forest to the east, thriving elk and deer herd populations mean plenty of licenses and hunting opportunities.

The White River National Forest is home to the largest migratory elk herd in North America, estimated at around 38,000. While it is still possible to find trophy animals amongst the sizable herd, from the Colorado Division of Wildlife's perspective, more elk means a need for more hunters.

Randy Hampton, DOW public information specialist for Northwest Colorado, said that Rio Blanco county Game Management Units 21, 22, 23 and 24 are open to an unlimited number of bull elk licenses and he urges hunters to apply for the limited cow elk licenses this year.

"In a couple of years, the number of cow elk licenses might be down, but now we're trying to cut herd sizes, so if you want to hunt cow elk, now is the time," Hampton said.

While Rio Blanco is by no means an antelope hot-spot, with only three registered pronghorn doe harvests last year, the county is home to two substantial black bear populations, concentrated heavily in two areas, in the White River National Forest and near Douglas Pass, just south of Rangely. Licenses are capped and are available on a first-come, first-served basis by application or over the counter after July 10.

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