Colorado hunting draw

Photo by Shannon Schaller/CPW.

The Luck of the Draw: My First Colorado Goat License (Part 2)

Almost everyone has seen the movie “A Christmas Story.” And if you have ever anxiously awaited something in the mail, then you can relate to Ralphie when he is waiting for his Secret Decoder to arrive. That’s exactly how I felt waiting for my goat license to show up. As I mentioned in my last post, the anticipation was killing me.

Shannon Schaller poses for a photo on a scouting trip for goats. Photo by CPW.For more than 10 years, I had given advice to other goat hunters on how to prepare, how to hunt and where to hunt. Now it was my turn to see if my own advice really worked.

I knew that a lot of my scouting in the early months was going to be “cyber scouting, ” since there was a lot of snow remaining in the high country and access was limited. Nevertheless, I decided that I was going to know everything I could about my hunting unit from my computer so that when foot access opened up, I could hit the trails fully prepared.

In my opinion, the single best program to assist with cyber scouting is Google Earth. To begin, I plotted all the past harvest locations within my specific game management unit (GMU) into Google Earth’s maps.Three mature billies as seen through my spotting scope. This information is readily available on the “statistics” link on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) website, and shows the overall distribution of goats within a specific area and where hunters had filled tags in past years. I also knew that just because a hunter harvested a goat in a specific location during a previous season, it did not necessarily mean that another goat would be standing in that same exact area on my hunt. However, previous kill-sites are a great indicator of goat habitat and always provide a good starting point for scouting.

From my past experiences working as a district wildlife manager, I knew to focus my efforts along alpine ridges dominated by high-elevation grasses and sedges. I also knew to look for rocky ledges and slopes adjacent to these grassy areas where goats typically spend the day chewing their cud. Because goats are a prey animal and use escape as their main defense, the animals usually spend the majority of their time on high peaks and along steep ledges where they can remain safe from predators. Equipped with soft, “sticky” hooves, goats are the ultimate mountaineers. They are able to use their hooves like individual toes to grip and bound effortlessly along sheer cliffs and vertical rock faces.

In addition to using Google Earth and CPW’s harvest statistics, I bought maps that showed roads and trails in and out of my GMU, so I could plan my on-the-ground scouting trips. To prioritize my efforts, I circled areas on the maps where I thought I was almost certain to find goats, marked areas where I thought that the habitat might have goats and then identified areas that I thought were unlikely to hold any animals at all because of poor habitat. My plan was to focus my scouting efforts on the “sure bet” and “good” areas to ensure that I was able to see as many goats as possible before the start of the hunting season.

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Popular Q&A

When are the Colorado Powerball drawings?

The next Powerball drawing is on 5/27/2009. The estimated jackpot is $222 million with a $113 million cash option.

What is the standard draw weight to hunt.

I assume you are talking about archery. Around 45 pounds of draw weight would be a minimum of what you should hunt with. I use 60 lbs. The arrow flies flatter and has a faster travel the more weight you shoot. Just don't turn it up too much or you won't be able to pull it back at the moment of truth!

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