Posts Tagged ‘Deer Hunting’

How Deer Think; Democrats et al

December 21, 2011

Ted Nugent, rock star and avid bow hunter from Michigan , was being
interviewed by a liberal journalist, an animal rights activist. The
discussion came around to deer hunting. The journalist asked, ‘What do you
think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you shoot him? Is it,
‘Are you my friend?’ or is it ‘Are you the one who killed my brother?

Nugent replied, ‘Deer aren’t capable of that kind of thinking. All they care
about is, what am I going to eat next, who am I going to screw next, and can
I run fast enough to get away. They are very much like the Democrats in

The interview ended

Deer tales: Continued

January 5, 2010

Continuing from HERE:

Charlie took the boys to the road nearby and showed them how to pluck the birds without getting down all over the campsite while Jason saw to the trout as I fired up the Coleman stoves, and got the fire going in the ring. The fire ring is a bit of a story in and of itself.

When we discovered this tiny piece of land that pierced the private property into national Forrest the fire ring was there, but nearly buried. As Charlie and I dug it out we noticed that several of the large stones that made it up were carved into. Most simply had name cut into the stone, along with dates. A couple of them were really surprising though; One said Jim Thom (son, I think, it was pretty unreadable), it was dated 1836 and said “I killt a Silver bar here” sic. Meaning, a Silver-tip, or grizzly I surmise. Another said a name that I do not remember, but said “Good beaver area, but the Indians are pretty bad.” Dated 1842, others had names and dates all the way up to 1942. So much for “discovering!”

The stoves heated up, and I was stoking the fire to roast the grouse on when all of a sudden the boys let out a shriek, Charlie screamed for me to get the rifle and I instinctively looked in that direction. At the same time I heard a loud snort, and a large black bear  came tearing through camp and cleared the stream in a single leap… To this day I’m not sure who was more afraid, the boys, or that 300 pound bear!

We got the crew fed and watered, did a last check on the gear,and turned in… I know the boys didn’t sleep a wink, not after the bear and the excitement of their first high country hunt. Four A.M. came early, and both boys were blurry eyed, but fired up and ready to head out. Breakfast was out of a can, corned beef hash, and Texas Toast Colorado camp style. meaning hobo bread cut thick, and more or less burnt on the stove!

Then we headed out. Jerry decided to head up the near side mountain alone. It is almost straight up, but, if you can make it to timberline the chances of getting a shot at a Colorado Classic Timber Buck are pretty good, and if things didn’t work out that way on the hike back down you would be on top of where a herd of does tended to congregate. (He had tags for both sexes.)

Charlie took Michael down the road to the trail that led toward the Great Muddy Slide (Do a web search) intending to get Michael onto a Bull Elk as the big fellas tend to use a saddle near there to cross between the parks in the area.

I tossed our tree branch bridge across the stream, and took Jason with me. I looked at him and told him to unload the rifle. he asked why,and I told him that after crossing our “bridge” that he would understand, I also told him that, with this being his first hunt that he would shoot the first legal animal that he had tags for… That there were plenty of future hunts when he could look for horns that he couldn’t eat. With an OTC Buck tag, and an Elk tag to match he had also drew a doe deer tag. I felt confident that he would at least have a decent chance at bringing home some freezer food.

I wiped down my rifle, and told Jason to go and get a change of clothes on, and we would try again. Yes, he fell into the stream… I told him that he scored a solid five for form and demeanor. That’s right, at one time or another each of us has taken that ride! ( My best score, as assigned by Charlie, was an eight. he refused to allow me any extra for cursing etc. After all, he has the Championship at nine…)

Jason’s second attempted crossing went much better, and we headed across the scrub meadow to the gate that gave access to the forest, the fog was settling now, and I knew that would be good for hunting. It seemed to confuse Deer, Elk,and Bears, and that gave us two legged predators an edge. Jason asked, is this why you call it the enchanted forest? Sure is I responded. ” Jason, this fog gets pretty thick at times. If we get separated for some reason, stay put, don’t go wandering around. It will burn off in an hour or two, and we will hook back up. He acknowledged what I had said, added that he had been told of sudden drop offs, and that we had better start whispering because the fog would carry our voices. I nodded to his wisdom, chambered a round quietly, and motioned for him to do the same, and follow me.

I call it the enchanted forest because in the dense fog anything, and everything can, will, and just might blow your mind as it happens. After about going a hundred feet, I shifted off the trail went to a blow down, and sat, getting acclimated to the surreal environment. Jason whispered to me about the scope covers,and I told him to keep them on for now, that the fog would probably mess with things. Just then the boys eyes got really wide as he looked past my shoulder. Thinking that the bear had decided to exact a little revenge for the earlier fright that had been put into him (or the peanut and honey sandwiches that were in our backpacks!) I slipped the Ruger 41 Mag from the holster at my hip,and slowly turned… Jason, sat there as quiet as a church mouse, and popped the covers from the scope.

I got turned, my eyes focused on the front sight and did a hasty search of the area that had been behind me… No, no bear was in sight. I glanced at my watch; legal hunting time was ten minutes past. I whispered; Jason, he’s really close, and hes facing us almost straight on, I want you to aim at his nose, right between his nostrils… I think I heard an “Uh huh” and the Remington shattered the strange quiet of the Enchanted forest… “Jason follow me!” I yelled we ran a scant ten feet and I told him to “rack a round, get up next to him, and put it right where his front leg joins his chest, point at the same spot on his other side, and pull the trigger!” ‘Okay, he said, then what? Do it again, then get back behind me and reload!” The boy did as I had said… for the first shot. He turned and asked, the fear in him very apparent; “Is he dead?”

I yelled ” I don’t know, now shoot him again like I told you to do!” He did, and got right behind me and loaded three more rounds into the rifle that has earned the nickname “Mister Death.”

The smell of Elk urine was more than apparent, as in death the huge Bull Elk died. I looked at Jason, and told him. “You just did something that few life long Elk hunters accomplish Jason, say a prayer.” Jason’s first big game animal was a Branch Antlered Rocky Mountain Elk Bull. A Basic six point, with a seventh nub point. After the required drying period, it scored 370 even. I told him that Charlie would be one of two things. Pissed, or really proud. Why is that Jason asked as he stared at the noble beast that would be used for food and many other things. ” Because, I think this is the Bull that Charlie fell out of a tree a few years ago trying to arrow it!”

As we went about the real work involved in a successful Elk hunt I noted that my time in Africa had payed off in spades. The very first bullet had hit dead center under the Bulls chin, and broken it’s spine at the second cervical vertebra. Still, I was glad that I had had the young one shoot twice more. “It’s the dead ones that kill you.” I don’t know how many times I have heard that. I don’t know how many times it should be repeated. But? It is a truth of truths, and must be passed on.

By about  ten in the morning we were ready for the first phase of the haul back to camp. The Bull was quartered and tagged as the law required. I had showed Jason how to make a pack frame of his basic backpack. We heard two shots in rapid succession from the west. That would be Charlie and Michael.

“Why are the horns, hide, and other quarters strung up in the trees? And why double looped? He asked” Because you made a “friend” last night son,and, because it’s just good sense to keep your meat cool. We headed back to camp,and no, he didn’t get any style points for crossing…

We hung the meat after putting the pieces into bug bags, and prepared to head back up when we heard a shot. It was close, within two hundred yards. Then we heard Jerry’s voice; “Hail the Camp! Anyone there? I could use some help, I got a Doe!”

On our way Bro! I yelled. I looked at Jason and said. “He don’t know it, but he just became a Mule!”

We hiked the distance…. About fifty feet… Yelled to Jason to get his butt over here, dragged the doe away from the road. Gutted her, and as Jason arrived I told him? “Nice shooting! Now, let’s get her back to camp, and then the real work will start!” We did a quick and dirty field dress of the Doe. Got her back in Camp, and hung her on the Camp Tree. I told him then; “You ready to work now?” he looked at me like I was dumb stupid… Your Son did better than you, me,Charlie,or any of the guys at work have ever friend. Three more loads Bro. You up for it?”

“Lead the way Ranger.” Now,that, is the sort of response that I expect from a Marine. After all, I am a Marine Corps Brat!

I am ending this thing now, but, it didn’t really end there. There was a First Fish caught on a fly. A lesson in making wet wood burn. A bear cub that decided that our camp was home, and many other things.

Oh? Those shots that we heard off to the west? Charlie finaly got his elk, and Michael got his first Deer.

Cross posted to Hunters Central in Yahoo groups

Deer Tales: Another Hunting Remembrance

January 2, 2010

Jerry, an old friend spoke with me on the phone for a bit yesterday. He reads the blog, but never comments, and asked why I don’t do more story’s  about the hunting trips that all of us enjoyed so much in the years gone by. His son Jason was listening in the background. He burst out laughing, and said that I should write about the time we went Deer /Elk hunting when he was thirteen… Jason, this is for you!

Colorado GMU 15 is rugged and beautiful. Everything that people think of when they think outdoor recreation in Colorado. The entire Lynx Pass Area is a natural wonder that you should make sure and get to at least three times if you are an outdoors person. There are Grouse, Mule Deer, Elk if you are lucky in the least, and the stream that follows the gravel road harbors great numbers of Brook Trout as well as an occasional Cutthroat and Cutt/Bow hybrid. It is also just about surrounded by “Draw” License tag areas for Elk, and in 1990 it was an OTC Deer tag. Need I say more?

Jerry,  Jason, and Michael all poured themselves into the land Cruiser and found myself and fellow hunting addict Charlie on the tiny and only spot where the land is public on the south side of Lynx Pass Road. Charlie and I were putting the finishing touches on the camp as they pulled in and all were happy that they had not only found us, but that they were in one piece. Earlier, we had heard that there had been a pretty bad accident on Gore Pass, and we hoped and prayed that our friends were not involved in it. They were all amazed that such wild beauty could be found a scant four hours from Denver.

Then things went south, so to speak…

Charlie asked if they had finally sighted in their rifles. See, he and Jerry worked together, the response was not what was expected, and Charlie reacted accordingly. Soon, after a bit of this and that, they all piled into Charlies Toyota, and headed South, as in away from our hunting area to get the rifles sighted in. This would normally have not been an issue as Charlie and myself are dyed in the wool bow hunters. But, this year our schedules and the stars just didn’t cross.

Two hours later they returned. Sadness abounded on their faces and demeanor. Jason’s new rifle simply refused to shoot straight. Charlie handed me the rifle,and said that he had tightened all the screws and so on, and that it was all over the board no matter who was behind the trigger. I nodded, and held the rifle up, and looked through the scope. It had been mounted improperly, but, something told me to look a bit farther. I rested it on the table, on top of a sleeping bag, sighted on a distant rock, and told Charlie to tap the rifle… he did,and the reticule danced. I held the rifle a little more firmly, and asked for a repeat. I got a repeat…

Jason looked like he was about to burst out in tears. I looked at him and said, “Boy,  go over to the back of my car, and get that rifle case out.” He did, and I opened the case up, and his eyes got really wide.  It was my bread and butter gun; a Remington 7mm Express that I had killed my very first Buck with near Camp Las Pulgas, on Camp Pendleton when I was a kid. I would shoot my sons 270 as it wouldn’t be right to lend his rifle to a child without his permission. Besides, he still has the 7mm Mag BDL that he “borrowed” some time in 87

A quick trip down the road, and I was satisfied that Jason could,in fact, hit the broad side of a dinner plate at 200 yards with my trusted rifle, only a slight windage adjustment was needed… ( Not to mention that the lil’ piss ant shot way tighter groups than I do with it!)

We returned to camp, and I set about getting things other than beer and whiskey ready for supper. Jerry had usedmy Wrist Rocket to secure nine Blue Grouse for the pot, and Charlie had pulled about twenty Brook Trout from the stream.

To be continued.

Ted Nugent and the French…

April 11, 2009

While surfing around WordPress I found this. It is just to good not to pass on to others! Enjoy!

p.s. I think this is humor, and didn’t really happen.

Ya Gotta Love Ted

Ted Nugent, rock star and avid bow hunter from Michigan , was being
interviewed by a French journalist, an animal rights activist. The
discussion came around to deer hunting. The journalist asked, ‘ What
do you think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you
shoot him? Is it, ‘ Are you my friend? ‘ or is it ‘ Are you the one
who killed my brother? ‘ Nugent replied, ‘ Deer aren ‘ t capable of
that kind of thinking. All they care about is, what am I going to eat
next, who am I going to screw next, and can I run fast enough to get
away. They are very much like the French. ‘ The interview ended.



January 12, 2009



Burlington, Colo. – Two more parcels of land have been set aside for wildlife recreation and added to the South Republican State Wildlife Area in eastern Colorado.  The Colorado Division of Wildlife and landowner Rodney Kleweno established a joint land protection agreement on 1,760 acres in Kit Carson and Yuma Counties. The agreement includes public access for sportsmen.

The north parcel, in Yuma Co., is about 660 acres of cottonwood, river bottom, and agricultural crop land.  The South Fork of the South Republican River flows through this parcel and provides excellent waterfowl, turkey, small game, and deer hunting opportunities, as well as wildlife habitat for nongame species.  The south parcel, in Kit Carson Co., is about 1,100 acres.  It is a mixture of shortgrass rangeland and CRP land.  This property will provide pheasant, small game, and deer hunting opportunities.

“The funding for these easements came from money provided by sportsmen who bought Habitat Stamps as part of their hunting and fishing license purchases,” said Shaun Deeney of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.  “These are excellent properties that benefit many wildlife species including deer, turkey, upland game birds, waterfowl, raptors, song birds, and a variety of small game species.”

“This project gave me the opportunity to protect my property from future development.  Knowing this land will be kept in agriculture for my family to continue to farm and ranch is important to me,” said Kleweno.

Since the parcels are in the immediate vicinity of the South Republican State Wildlife Area near Bonny Reservoir, they will be managed under the same regulations as the South Republican SWA.  The parcels will be open to year-round walk-in access to hunters, anglers, or anyone who purchases a Habitat Stamp, but the properties will remain in private ownership.

For directions or more information about hunting or fishing opportunities, call the South Republican SWA at 970-354-7317.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:

Obama’s message of ‘change’ may include gun rights

December 14, 2008

The Obamanites, and “change? We shall see…

Obama’s message of ‘change’ may include gun rights
By Forrest Fisher

The regular New York State big game firearm season ended last Sunday (Dec. 7) and the next day, the short nine-day late archery and regular muzzleloader seasons started so there is still time for hunters to take a whitetail. Every deer is a trophy, regardless of size.

There is nothing quite like the incredible challenge and joy of hunting deer in the woods to develop new savvy and skills. Sportsmen readily express moments of treasure during the Western New York deer hunting adventure of the last three short weeks. Hunting time is priceless and hard to come by for many sportsmen, especially with the holiday season upon us. Plus, recent studies show that 42 percent of Americans work longer hours now than just five years ago and many of the working class spend more than 50 hours a week at their job. So, for all of these folks, hunting season brings more than simple relief.

However, our rights to enjoy the outdoor hunting experience may be changing, friends. With the final coat of post-season gun oil on all metal parts and firearms returned to secured safe places and storage cabinets, there appears to be clamoring discussion in many corners of these United States about the very freedoms of the season in change. Hunting with a firearm of our choice may be about to take new meaning.

Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association have provided early warning information. NRA is tabulating the opening appointments from new president elect, Barack Obama, and the effects it may have on American hunting traditions as we know them. LaPierre figures as Obama selects key personnel for premium cabinet posts, he sends a message about his policy as upcoming president. According to the NRA study, it goes like this.

Obama first appointed to the White House chief of staff Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel who has been known as the “point man on gun control.” According to LaPierre’s message, “He will wield enormous power in the battle for the future of our firearm freedoms.” Not good if you have grown up in the tradition of safe firearm use allowed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Then, of course, Hillary Clinton was selected as Obama’s secretary of State. If she is confirmed, word inside the NRA is that she will try to remove the second amendment right because as the nation’s top diplomat, she would have the power to determine whether the United Nations will pass (and Obama will sign) that global gun ban treaty that it has wanted for some time now.

Obama also nominated ex-Senator and former Majority Leader Tom Daschle, known as a confirmed adversary of the NRA, to be secretary of Health and Human Services. If Daschle is confirmed by Congress, which is now overwhelmingly controlled by the democratic party, he could also hold ultimate power to declare guns a “public health menace” and regulate away essential American firearm liberties long taken for granted, especially by sportsmen too lazy to write a letter, make a phone call or express their position.

Then, Obama is nominating Eric Holder to be attorney general. As former assistant attorney general, Holder was a key architect and vocal advocate for the sweeping gun ban agenda of the Brady campaign and the Clinton era. He was the power-drive behind national handgun licensing, mandatory trigger locks that make home defense difficult and ending gun shows. More recently, Holder opposed the Supreme Court’s Heller decision in the District of Columbia that, of course, declared the second amendment an individual right.

According to the NRA, there is a chilling notice to job applicant gun owners that they are not welcome to serve in his administration. The NRA states, “In case you trusted what Obama said about maintaining your second amendment rights during his presidential campaign, in the job application for the Obama Administration, he made it clear that gun owners are not his campaign cabinet choice and essentially told 80 million gun owners not to even bother applying for a job.”

Also according to the NRA, “If all of that wasn’t bad enough, the Brady Campaign just issued a completely bogus poll claiming that two-thirds of Americans, including 60 percent of all gun owners, favor gun registration, licensing of firearm owners and other sweeping restrictions on our firearm freedoms!” Where does the Brady group get this stuff? Skewed data reporting defies common sense since the data tells a different story. Interpretation of data is a science, but use of statistical terms is more a mystical science that can mislead readers.

What can sportsmen do? I don’t agree with everything that the NRA supports, but their objective is to preserve the second amendment. In this light, they represent the most viable voice for firearm rights. So, joining the NRA should be an option. Also in response, Americans have increased their firearm purchase rate by 300 percent following the election.

Sportsmen should prepare to adapt to a new environment of firearm change with hunting and target shooting freedoms requiring a bit more energy to be sustained. There is a new and unsure season ahead for sportsmen. Some sportsmen could seemingly care less to understand firearm ownership and second amendment issues. Learn more about your rights. Advance and be recognized!

Hunting season each year reminds us that the second amendment stands for more than simple words in our constitution. While time has shown that our forefathers exhibited uncanny wisdom in developing the winning road map in the United States, Obama is sending a message that we have entered a time of ‘change.’ Second amendment change? Only time will tell.



July 1, 2008

Let’s start a bit of controversy, among my friends, as well as others that wish to weigh in. Just what, is the best rifle type, and caliber for the most common type of hunting that you do, where you live.

Here is my honest answer: There just isn’t one. Small game I like the Ruger Ten Twenty Two, 10/22. Varmints that are a bit to large for the 22 long rifle? I have long been a fan of the Remington model 700 medium weight barrel rifle chambered in 22/250. For Deer sized game, and Pronghorns? Several combination will do the job, and again, territory has a lot to do with this… Model 700 in 280 Remington; But if I could have two? A model 70 in 257 Roberts, and a Marlin 336 in the venerable 30/30. Then we get to big deer, and Elk, and Bears that top 400 pounds. The 300 Winchester Magnum wins hand down for caliber and I could care less if the rifle is Ruger, Winchester, or Remington. I have a caveat here though. In thick stuff, like dense Elder, or Black Timber? The Marlin guide gun in 450 Marlin…

This was for North America, let the fireworks begin! 🙂

Energy Development in the PICEANCE BASIN

April 17, 2008

The PICEANCE BASIN, my stomping grounds. That is where I learned to hunt branch antlered Mule Deer and Rocky Mountain Elk, the hard way. During the seemingly never ending  drought years, and later during years when multiple Doe Deer tags were available in an attempt to keep the deer from eating themselves out of house and home.

It is the place where I learned that a flat shooting 280 rifle was plenty enough to bring home the venison, and that shoulder canons just cost more money. I’ll cover that at a later time in more depth.

It is where the last energy boom brought the boom / bust cycle back to an area that was only to familiar with those economics. Oil shale was going to save us all. Not…

Then the development had little negative impact on the land that I could detect. That was also a different type of mining though. I have been privileged to draw more than one license for the Forrest of the Bear, Bosque Del Oso State Wildlife Area near Westcliff, Colorado. The area is covered with natural gas wells, and the deer and elk don’t seem bothered by them in the least. Nor do the Wild Turkeys that abound there. The noise from them is something else though, you have to hear it to understand what I mean though, as words simply cannot convey what it is like to put a good sneak on a big tom then to have your nerves suddenly shattered by the load screech from a nearby well…

I have no idea what the impact on the Sage Grouse will be, as noted below, the species is under review for EPA protection as endangered. If those birds are endangered it is because no one actually went out and took a look for them, perhaps with the help of a good flushing dog. Find the right pockets, and you will be into thousands of those birds. Hint* Ryans Gulch, go to the top of the hill heading west from Piceance Creek road. Park, and hike due west. You will find birds…

Energy experts say Colorado’s Piceance Basin is one of the largest natural gas reserves in North America. Biologists, conservationists and sportsmen value the Piceance Basin because for its incredible diversity and abundance of wildlife. As the energy industry makes a move to tap the gas resource, wildlife experts are examining ways to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts to wildlife and habitat.
The Piceance Basin is home to one of the largest migratory mule deer herds in the nation. It winters thousands of elk. The basin is also home to a high-elevation population of greater sage-grouse, Colorado River cutthroat trout, and numerous other species, both rare and common.
Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) researchers are working with the energy industry and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to study ways to reduce and mitigate the impacts that thousands of gas wells may have in the Piceance Basin. The DOW’s Central Piceance Basin Project brings together a strong team of researchers that will implement a comprehensive, multi-species, landscape-based approach to understanding the success of existing mitigation efforts and helping to craft new mitigation strategies.
“We’re looking for solutions,” explained Ron Velarde, northwest regional manager for the DOW. “We want to advise energy companies on ways to minimize their impacts. As a wildlife agency, our role is to make sure that the wildlife resource survives and thrives while this work is occurring and after the gas is gone.”
The Central Piceance Basin Project is one of the largest comprehensive energy and wildlife studies proposed to date, with an estimated cost of more than $1.3 million dollars a year over the next five to ten years. Initial support for the project is strong.
“As an agency, we stepped out on a limb and hired researchers to conduct the studies, but we aren’t going to get the work done without help,” added Velarde. “It isn’t just money. We’re asking companies, conservation groups and other agencies to work with us by providing things like volunteers, expertise, permission to access land, and agreements to allow habitat manipulations that might be outside of the norm.”
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the agency that regulates drilling activity in the state, has contributed $150,000 towards the research project. The Colorado Mule Deer Association has made a $100,000 pledge to support deer research in the Piceance Basin. The national Mule Deer Foundation has also contributed $15,000. BLM is requesting $100,000 a year for five years through their budget process to support this project.
Three natural gas industry leaders – EnCana, Shell and Williams – have committed to assist with the project. In addition to pledging significant financial support, the companies have agreed to allow researchers to access thousands of acres of land the companies own in the research area.
EnCana, one of the largest natural gas firms operating in western Colorado, has pledged $900,000 in financial support for the research effort.

“Supporting a program that will ultimately inform our industry about additional ways to minimize the impacts to wildlife and their habitat while still providing a much needed clean-burning resource is an important part of doing business in Colorado,” said Byron Gale, North Piceance Team Lead, EnCana Oil & Gas (USA). “As a community, we all enjoy what this great State has to offer – we want to preserve its great landscape and heritage for the generations that will follow.”
Williams, another large producer in the region, has committed $550,000 to the project.
“Williams is committed to working in partnership with DOW, BLM and other agencies to conduct ground-breaking research that will provide critical data concerning Colorado’s wildlife,” added Rob Bleil, Williams’ principal environmental specialist.
While not producing large quantities of natural gas in the Piceance, Shell is actively researching oil shale possibilities in the basin and has pledged $325,000 to the Piceance wildlife research thus far.
“We especially appreciate the cooperative and collaborative approach taken by DOW to develop real partnerships that will benefit wildlife and habitat but also accommodate the development and production of the energy Colorado needs,” commented Terry O’Connor, Manager of Government Affairs for Shell Exploration and Production Company. “We plan to continue to partner with the DOW and others to develop the knowledge, understanding and expertise to not only minimize impacts to wildlife but make real improvements in management and recreation related to wildlife in Colorado.”
It isn’t just large companies that are supporting the effort. Delta Petroleum has pledged $25,000 over the next five years to help fund the research.
Another critical show of support for the DOW research project has come from the BLM, the federal agency that manages the majority of land and wildlife habitat in the Piceance Basin and oversees federal oil and gas leasing.
“BLM looks forward to working very closely with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and industry partners in developing these research proposals for the Piceance Basin,” said Kent Walter, Field Manager for the BLM’s White River Field Office. “Close coordination from the beginning and continued flexibility from all partners will ensure this research provides the most useful information to best minimize future impacts to wildlife and wildlife habitat.”
Assistance for the project has also been provided by environmental consulting firm Buys and Associates. Dave Diss with Buys and Associates has donated considerable time and effort to coordinate communication efforts with the dozens of energy companies operating in the region.
“The energy industry understands that better science helps everyone,” explained Kim Kaal, DOW energy liaison for northwest Colorado. “This research is designed to educate all of us on how development can occur while impacts are minimized or eliminated, and that’s something everyone seems willing to support.”
Mule deer and elk
Big game hunting is a critical part of the tradition and the economy of many western Colorado counties. A 2002 economic study commissioned by the DOW found that big game hunting contributes more than one million dollars annually in direct expenditures to the economies of Mesa, Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat County. Hunters are generally from outside of the area and, unlike other revenue streams, hunters’ activities generate revenue year-after-year without burdening government services or infrastructure.
Thousands of deer utilize the Piceance Basin during the year. In the winter, this critical area becomes home to even more deer as herds from the surrounding mountain areas move into the lower parts of the basin in search of food and relief from the snow.  
“Our study is designed to examine mule deer response to positive changes in development practices and habitat enhancement projects,” explained Chuck Anderson, DOW mule deer researcher.
To assess deer benefits, researchers will monitor factors including over-winter fawn survival, over-winter body condition of does and fawns, movement patterns and deer densities over time. The study will utilize GPS and radio telemetry collars to monitor and track the deer.
In addition to the deer population, biologists estimate that about 9,000 elk call the Piceance Basin home year around. Thousands more elk winter in the basin’s lower elevation lands before returning to higher ground for the summer.
Greater sage-grouse
The greater sage-grouse has become a key focus for state and federal wildlife agencies, ranchers, energy companies and environmentalists as the bird undergoes a new review for potential inclusion under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act.
“Ultimately, it is in everyone’s best interest to do everything possible to keep populations healthy and avoid a listing,” said Velarde. “Scientific data is needed and that’s what the research aims to provide.”
Avian researchers involved in the Piceance Project are starting with a project to generate detailed seasonal habitat-use maps for greater sage-grouse to help industry avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts. Researchers hope to assess sage-grouse response to removal of pinyon-juniper that has encroached into former sage-grouse habitat.
“We’re also hoping to continue and expand existing greater sage-grouse monitoring efforts,” explained researcher Brett Walker. “We’ll be monitoring changes in survival, reproduction, habitat use and movement.”
Much of the monitoring work is being done with permission on private land owned by energy companies. The companies own hundreds of thousands of acres of land and without access to these large sections, the research effort is much more difficult.
Ask any real estate professional the three keys to real estate investing success and they’ll tell you “location, location, location”. It a similar story when you ask about wildlife. The three key things for wildlife to thrive are “habitat, habitat, habitat”.
DOW Researcher Danielle Johnston is taking a comprehensive look at habitat factors in the Piceance Basin.
“We want to examine ways to promote restoration practices that most benefit wildlife,” Johnston said. “Beyond the area around well pads, we’re also interested in assessing weed control, soil manipulation and herbicide use as they apply to pipeline reclamation success.”
Major pipelines crisscross the Piceance Basin with several future pipelines in the planning stages. While these pipelines raise concerns, they also provide an opportunity to determine what reclamation efforts are best in the dry, high, sage lands of the West.
While researchers have already begun radio-tracking sage-grouse and mule deer in the Piceance Basin, the DOW continues to meet with potential donors to raise the remaining funds necessary for the project. Groups or companies interested in partnering on the research should contact Kim Kaal, DOW energy liaison for northwest Colorado at
Ask any of the ranchers who call the Piceance Basin home and they can tell you that the area has changed dramatically in the last five years. Not many of them would hazard a guess as to what the basin will look like in another thirty years. But if a team of wildlife researchers are successful, the area’s abundant wildlife resource will stand witness to a unique collaborative research effort.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife is the state agency responsible for managing wildlife and its habitat, as well as providing wildlife related recreation. The Division is funded through hunting and fishing license fees, federal grants and Colorado Lottery proceeds through Great Outdoors Colorado.
Editor’s note: Photos to accompany this story are available using the following links. Photo credit: Colorado Division of Wildlife
Photo 1: A drainage in the Piceance Basin shows the intermix of sage and agricultural lands
Photo 2: A deer fawn wears a radio collar as part of Division of Wildlife efforts to track the animals in the Piceance Basin
Photo 3: Pipelines, roads and well pad in the Central Piceance Basin Study area
Photo 4: A gas well in the Central Piceance Basin Study area
Photo 5: Deer from the Piceance Basin gather on sagebrush winter range

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:

Be sure to click on the photo links! Great work! 🙂


March 20, 2008

The Colorado Division of Wildlife will hold a public meeting to discuss deer and elk hunting license numbers for the 2008 hunting season for the Gunnison Basin on March 28 at the Holiday Inn Express in Gunnison.  
Two sessions are scheduled: From 10 a.m. to noon wildlife officials will discuss Game Management Units 66 and 67; from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., they’ll discuss GMUs 54, 55 and 551.  
Wildlife managers will present deer and elk population estimates, and discuss license numbers for the upcoming big game season. The information they use to determine these numbers includes the previous season’s harvest numbers, post-hunt aerial survey data and estimated winter mortality.  Each year wildlife managers strive to meet population and sex ratio objectives established in deer and elk management plans.  The harsh winter season and the ongoing feeding operation will be taken into consideration.   
Written comments also are welcome. Please send to: Brandon Diamond, Colorado Division of Wildlife, 300 New York Avenue, Gunnison, CO  81230. Written comments must be received by April 4.  
The Colorado Wildlife Commission will set license numbers on May 1 at its meeting in Grand Junction. Big game limited license applications are due April 1.  

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:

Bears, flat tires, and Big Deer

November 4, 2007

buck-in-snow.jpgI don’t remember what year it was, 1988 or 89 somewhere there about. I went out to the Pieance basin, near Meeker Colorado during the third season. I had a Buck Tag, and an extra draw Doe License as well. Richard had a Buck license, and Robert had drawn a Doe Tag. All of us also had bought over the counter Bull Elk licenses as well.

We were in Roberts Dodge pick up heading up north of Meeker on Pieance Creek road, and had just passed the sign that announced that this was winter home to the largest migratory deer herd in the world. When suddenly the truck started to swerve…. Well guys, we got a flat. Robert was able to control it well enough that we didn’t end up in the creek at least. We piled out and began the task of tire changing in the snow that had started to fall a short time before. It began to get almost surreal, the early dusk. the snowfall, and gray shapes moving quietly all around us as we worked. There were deer everywhere. Some would stop and look at the crazy humans seemingly without a care. That task finished we headed up the road, and turned west at Ryan’s Gulch road.

We turned off and headed up a dirt road that had been made during the failed shale oil project days, past a windmill that fed a stock pond and rounded the top of the hill where we would again set up our deer camp, as we had been doing for so many years. Our hunting friends from Michigan were already there getting settled in about fifty or so yards away.

I was pounding in a tent peg when there was a sudden yell from their campsite that bordered on a scream. “Bear! Bear! Big G-D DAMN BEAR!” Now, you have to understand that most bears were already in their winter digs and fast asleep, not to mention that bears in this area were pretty rare. As I looked over at the commotion Robert was getting his rifle out and loading it in what might be called Rapid Order Drill… And I saw the bear, it was big, at least for that part of the state, about a four hundred pound animal! It was running for all it was worth to get away from the people that were screaming for all that they were worth. It ran right past us, through the camp that we were in the process of setting up and disappeared over the hill. All this took perhaps five seconds. I think that our collective blood pressures returned to normal about two hours later…

The next morning was opening day, and I had left camp about an hour before dawn. I position myself  just below the crest of a hill overlooking a small gulch that I had seen deer and elk pass through several times over the years. I set the model seven hundred to my side, sprayed myself all over with no scent goop, and then rested the rifle across my knees, and waited. The false dawn was in full swing as a small herd of does came through the draw that led to the path that the deer used in the gulch. I checked my wristwatch as I watched them. Ten more minutes to legal shooting time. The deer passed by, apparently unaware of my presence, and went on down the path. I removed the covers from my Burris six power scope, and then wrapped my arm into a relaxed hasty sling. That would allow me to raise the rifle into a sling supported sitting position without very much movement, and I worked the bolt of the rifle, chambering a Federal 140 grain cartridge into the 270, and set the safety. Then I waited. It was legal shooting time now, and I could hear soft hoof beats in the distance. I heard a shot from some distance off, probably a mile away. The hoof beats became louder, the deer were on notice now, and would be wary.

I don’t know which was louder, or more rapid, the hoof beats, or my hearts pounding. But suddenly, over the rise of the saddle came a small herd of young bucks, they slowed as they surveyed the ravine that they were about to enter, but were still moving. The rifle came to my shoulder in a well learned routine, scope to my eye, all in a silent and fluid motion. The cross hairs of the scope found the spot on the deers chest, the rifle cracked, the buck jumped once, and then tried to catch up with his buddies that already had after burners lit up. He made it about three bounds, and fell. It was a clean kill, with no needless suffering. I said a prayer thanking God for that, and for the harvest. Then waited fifteen minutes or so, and went over to my fallen quarry. He had lived about three years, and would be tender. His antlers were well matched and were close to twenty by twenty inches, a very good specimen of the Mule Deer genus.

Later in the week, I also harvested a doe, and a rag-horn Bull Elk. For some reason though, that young buck is what stands out in my memories of the hunt that started with a flat tire, and a hair raising encounter with a huge bear that was more frightened of us than we were of it!

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