Hunting sees new trends for Craig, Moffat County | CraigDailyPress.com

Hunting sees new trends for Craig, Moffat County

— The consensus across Northwest Colorado is that it may have been a different kind of hunting season, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

With the majority of the hunting season completed as of Sunday, feedback has been mostly positive for Craig and Moffat County outlets with regard to the conditions.

Christina Oxley, executive director for the Craig Chamber of Commerce, said visitor numbers were high in the month of October, with many recent hunter comments referencing the area "pocket herds," smaller groups of animals who went against the trends of regular migratory patterns.

"They were pretty mobile and moving around, but I think those who were willing to put in the work were pretty successful," Oxley said. "Usually in the early season, people have to be up high hunting, and this year there was a lot of success in the lower units."

Oxley added that with the recent colder climate, only now have larger groups begun to congregate as the third (Nov. 1 to 9) and fourth (Nov. 12 to 16) seasons for deer and elk have concluded.

"We're used to that happening more in the second season (Oct. 18 to 26), and I think third season is where people really struggled," she said.

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Betty Crane, with Colorado’s Mountain West Outfitting Company, said the low country terrain of the property maintained by her family in Game Management Unit 3, west of Craig, saw good turnout from deer, but elk was a different story.

Hunters “saw some elk, but they just weren't successful," she said.

Traditionally, the Cranes' business has had no trouble signing up people for trespass hunts, with the cow season coming up from Monday to Nov. 30. The past month has been no different, if not a banner year.

"Nothing noteworthy, just a season," Crane said.

Varying numbers weren't seen just in the herds, but in the hunters themselves. Elk Run Inn owner Randy Looper said he saw a trend of single hunters renting rooms instead of the clusters of friends he often sees in the final weeks.

"All my big rooms that normally rent out a year in advance were empty, so that was different," he said. "I still was busy, I just wasn't sold out or dealing with large groups."

Alternately, the motel was packed in the early part of the year.

"September was fantastic," he said. "Muzzleloading and bow-hunting was the best I've ever had."

The late season also looks promising for Looper's business, and even previous regulars who were unable to make it out this year and last already are making reservations again for 2015.

"To me, what makes hunting fun is seeing the same guys over and over again," he said. "The new guys are great, but it's the friendships you build with the hunters who come back to this area year after year that are important."

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.