Rifle chamber expecting good turnout of hunters | VailDaily.com

Rifle chamber expecting good turnout of hunters

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Rifle, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado ” Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Annick Pruett is expecting a good hunting season for Rifle, Colorado this year, despite economic problems plaguing much of the nation.

With the first separate rifle season for elk coming to a close on Wednesday, and the second rifle season, a combined season for elk and deer, beginning this Saturday, Pruett expects the people in orange to be out and about this week in good numbers.

“The second season is a lot of out-of-town hunters, they make their plans well in advance,” Pruett said. “So it’s possible that we may see a decline in last-minute folks, but most of these folks have been coming here for years and years.”

Bryan Ryder, co-owner of Timberline Sporting Goods in Rifle, couldn’t say how the hunting season would be for sure, but he expected it to be another good year for Rifle and Garfield County.

“First season is never really a good judge of how the rest of the seasons will be,” Ryder said. “The main time is through second and third season when you get the nonresident hunters coming in.”

Ryder said that one way he measures how the rifle seasons will be is by how the archery season played out. This year, Ryder said, his shop in particular was very busy for archery season, which was Aug. 30 through Sept. 28.

“Archery is a good indication,” he said. “There were a lot of nonresidents coming through, and I wouldn’t see any reason why second or third (rifle) seasons would be any different.”

Some have worried that with the nation’s economic downturn of late, many hunters may not be coming to Garfield County this year, which would mean less economic benefit to the county from its most lucrative tourist attraction.

According to Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton, the DOW had an economic report done last year by BBC Research and Consulting based in Denver that showed that hunting and fishing in Garfield County for 2007 brought in more than $54 million in direct and indirect expenditures, and accounted for 579 jobs related to fishing and hunting. Hunting and fishing also bring the state of Colorado more than $1.4 billion annually, and is second only to the state’s ski industry.

Pruett and Ryder are optimistic that this hunting season will be similar to years past because a lot of nonresident hunters purchased tags early in the year. And when they are paying around $250 for a tag, they are more than likely going to use it.

“They locked in their hunts, so it’s not like they are not going to come,” Ryder said.

Pruett and the chamber are expecting a high volume of hunters and are still welcoming them to the Hunters Information Center (HIC) located at 200 Lions Park Circle just west of the Interstate 70 Rifle exit. The HIC will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, and again on Oct. 29-31 before third season begins.

This is the third year the HIC has been in this location. There will be free pizza on Wednesday, and free coffee and doughnuts each morning, along with representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, the DOW, the White River National Forest and Colorado State Parks to provide information on anything from management unit access points to updated off-highway vehicle (OHV) rules and regulations.

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