Colder, snowier weather should aid hunters as third rifle season begins | CraigDailyPress.com

Colder, snowier weather should aid hunters as third rifle season begins

Matt Stensland/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Colder, snowier weather should aid hunters as third rifle season begins.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Snow and colder weather should help hunters as they head out into the woods this weekend for the third rifle season.

“As the weather gets worse, the hunting gets better,” said Matt Gorevan, with Elk River Guns in Steamboat Springs.

Hunting is big business in Colorado and contributes $919 million annually to the economy, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The third rifle season for elk and deer kicked off Saturday and runs through Nov. 11. It is also bear hunting season until Nov. 18.

Parks and Wildlife will not know exactly how many hunting tags it has sold until next year, but anecdotally, the season appears to be going well.

“There are a lot of things that can contribute as to whether sales are up and down,” Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Porras said.

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Steamboat’s Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf said he thinks this region might have been positively impacted by wildfires in other parts of the state that were still active when the rifle season started Oct. 13.

Hunters had to quickly evacuate when the Silver Creek Fire northwest of Kremmling blew up Sept. 12.

Closures have since been lifted, but Middledorf thinks hunters might have changed their plans and gone to alternate locations.

“We saw more people probably coming more our direction,” Middledorf said.

He said in the two days leading up to the second rifle season that started Oct. 20 the Steamboat office sold more hunting tags that any other office in the state.

The current weather should aid hunters because it encourages animals to move to lower elevations.

So far, Middledorf said overall harvest has been average, and muzzleloading and archery hunters did well.

The Hot Sulphur Springs Parks and Wildlife office in neighboring Grand County reported the deer harvest has been good.

They base this off of the number of carcasses that come in for mandatory chronic wasting disease testing.

The Hot Sulphur Springs office was reporting their elk population has proven to be elusive this season.

According to wildlife officials, this could be caused by the drought, which might have caused the population to shift their locations.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.