White River National Forest offers hunting tips as season begins in Colorado
Summit Daily News
Each year as the weather turns and golden leaves are replaced with dazzling white snow, the start of rifle hunting season quickly follows.
This year, Colorado’s first rifle elk season begins Saturday and will end Wednesday. This means many hunters will be making their way to the White River National Forest and the western part of Colorado to set up camp.
Ahead of rifle season, the White River National Forest offers a reminder for hunters to follow regulations and to leave no trace at their designated campsites.
Blanco District Ranger Curtis Keetch said hunters should always review the Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations, especially those specific to off-highway vehicle registration. Keetch also said hunters should be aware of regulations specific to White River National Forest.
“Any hay you bring into the forest needs to be certified weed-free, and off-route motorized travel is not allowed for any reason, even to retrieve an animal,” Keetch said in a news release.
Keetch recommends carrying a motor vehicle use map, which will show which trails are open to motorized travel. These maps can be found at every U.S. Forest Service office or online at FS.USDA.gov/whiteriver.
Keetch said that one of the biggest problems forest officials see after hunting season is trash left at campsites. It is not uncommon for Forest Service rangers to remove hundreds of pounds of trash and leftover camping equipment left by neglectful hunters. Often, these hunters attempt to burn their trash but fail to consider metal cans and glass bottles.
“Have a plan for removing all of your trash and equipment at the end of the season, which includes planning for room in your vehicle to bring a harvested animal home,” Keetch said in the release.
This would not only help reduce the trash rangers have to collect at the end of the season but also ensure a healthy ecosystem in the process.
Another thing hunters commonly leave behind are materials used for an outhouse, Keetch said, such as toilet seats and camp chairs with a hole cut in the middle.
White River National Forest officials also want to remind hunters that the weather in Colorado can change in an instant.
“We have hunters pack up to head to the woods when it is 70 degrees, and they fail to plan for quickly changing weather conditions and forget those heavier layers of clothing or the tire chains,” Keetch said.
It is common for hunters to overlook how a big snowstorm might affect their camp.
“Will you be able to get out if there is a foot or more of snow?” Keetch wrote in the release. “Is your equipment and gear securely stashed so it won’t be buried in snow and difficult to find?”
The last piece of advice that Keetch offers is to make sure all warming fires are staunched out before leaving the camp.
“Every year, we respond to forest fires that are caused by hunters building a warming fire and then kicking some dirt on it and walking away,” Keetch said. “If you have a warming fire, please make sure it is completely out and cool to the touch before moving on. It really comes down to being respectful of the land and each other.”
• Through Wednesday: Elk and bear; first season
• Oct. 30 to Nov. 7: Deer, elk and bear; second season
• Oct. 30 to Nov. 9: Whitetail only, plains deer (east of Interstate 25)
• Nov. 13-19: Deer, elk and bear; third season
• Nov. 24-28: Deer, elk and bear; fourth season
• Dec. 1-14: Whitetail only; plains deer (east of I-25)