The heat spoils hunter’s fruit | CraigDailyPress.com

The heat spoils hunter’s fruit

Collin Smith

— It’s been an Indian Summer.

Although residents may find the continued warm weather a pleasant reprieve from shoveling snow and buying winter tires, hunters visiting Moffat County are less than thrilled, said sporting goods storeowners, as the atypical weather patterns are making it harder to find elk herds.

“Oh, they all complain about it,” said Joe Herod, Craig Sports owner.

Todd Nordstrom, part owner of Outdoor Connections, has heard similar reactions to the current hunting season.

Around this time of year, elk herds normally migrate off the mountains seeking warmer weather in the valleys, Nordstrom said.

The weather has been so warm, however, the elk haven’t felt any need to come down, where hunters are used to seeing them.

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“Basically, they’re still up high,” Nordstrom said. “We’ve had a couple people come in and say they haven’t seen any.”

It’s a problem that’s getting more usual than unusual every year, he added.

“It (snow falling) is getting later and later every year because of the warmer weather,” Nordstrom said. “When the snow doesn’t come, neither do the elk, generally.”

The issue is affecting at least one storeowner, as well.

Nordstrom is considering not buying a hunting license this year. It wouldn’t be the first time, since operating the store takes up most of his schedule, but this year, he had planned on it.

“We just need some snow,” he said.

One elk herd found its way off the mountains recently, said Jamie Skidmore, a 30-year local and Colorado Department of Local Affairs public contact representative for the Little Snake Field Office in Craig.

A herd of about 1,000 crossed Fortification Creek this week, she said.

Herod has heard better reports from hunters recently, as well, he said. According to them, the elk are starting to show.

Despite a lower success rate, the season has not been a bust for sporting goods dealers. Both Herod and Nordstrom said their businesses had done just as well as in past years.

This isn’t the first time the area has been warmer longer, and this year isn’t the longest time before winter came, Skidmore said.

In 1996, the county didn’t get snow until after Christmas, Skidmore said. The weather is not anything to be overly concerned about, or anything like an omen of impending changes.

“This does happen every once in a while,” Skidmore said. “About every four to five years, we just have that Indian Summer.”