Colorado big game draw
1. Muzzleloader Season –
Muzzy season is the hardest to draw hunt in Units 25 and 24. Depending on the year, non-resident hunters can draw this tag with 1-3 preference points. Resident Colorado hunters can draw with no preference points. The musketeers must have a hell of a lobbying group. They were able to get muzzy season during the peak of the rut here in the Flat Tops.
Muzzleloaders have a distance advantage over bows and the bulls are still giving away their position by bugling and coming to calls. Muzzleloader is the most consistent time to harvest large bulls in our area. During a 5-night trip, it is not uncommon to lose a couple nights sleep. The bulls are bugling that close to our wall tents!
2. First Rifle –
The first rifle season is the most productive and enjoyable rifle season for most hunters. This is particularly the case if you don’t have a strong comfort level with snow. Back when first season was not a draw tag, this season was the most popular hunt. We would pack in over 35 hunters every year in this short season alone. The weather is more comfortable and less volatile. On average, hunters get more time in the field because snow storms are not keeping them in their tents or ruining travel plans.
Also, the elk have not been driven into their refuge areas. Once you get into the 2nd and 3rd seasons, the elk have been hunted and they work hard to hole up in hard-to-reach areas. Last, during the first season it is common for the rut to still be on. It is unlikely you will run into bulls fighting and gathering cows, but they are still giving away their location via bugles. In big country like ours, that is a huge advantage.
For the past couple years there has been a 100% chance of drawing a 1st season rifle tag, even for non-residents without preference points.
3. Fourth Rifle –
Some guys love hunting elk in deep snow, and for good reason. Snow keeps otherwise nocturnal deer and elk up during the day. The associated cold and lack of feed forces the game to eat longer into the morning and come out earlier in the afternoon to graze. Tracking game in the snow is easier. Most importantly, new naive elk will move into the area after heavy snow fall. The challenge is that you have no idea what the weather will be during hunting season, when you are planning your trip in June.
2nd rifle and 3rd rifle season fall during the last week of October into the first week of November. Some years it is still dry and 60 degrees. Other years we have 4 ft of snow during this period. However, by the second week in November, during 4th rifle season, it’s a cold day in hell that we don’t have 3 ft of snow or more at our high camps. Hunting fourth season almost guarantees a snow hunt. This certainty has pushed most Flat Tops outfitters out of providing 4th season hunts. Our 4th season hunts are ran out of our base camp where we have comfortable facilities.
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