Bull Elk

Important Information for Early Season Hunting in Colorado  Muzzleloader and archery hunters heading to Game Management Unit 21, located south of Rangely and west of Highway 139, are advised that the Bureau of Land Management will conduct excess wild horse gathering operations in the area beginning Sept. 14, coinciding with the start of the early hunting seasons.  If you plan on hunting in this area, this is critical information!

The BLM says they will focus on gathering 167 horses in West Douglas Horse Area first, but if they are unable to gather the required number of horses there, they may move operations east into GMU 22. The BLM estimates that operations may run a week to ten days, and they will be using helicopters, ground vehicles, and support people on the ground.  Obviously this will have a major impact on any hunting in this area.  Until the operations have concluded, the BLM is asking everyone to avoid the area. Hunters are advised to seek alternative hunting areas within the GMUs.

“We prefer that this take place at a time that does not affect hunters, but that is not our decision,” said Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  “All we can do is alert hunters that they need to take the horse gather into consideration when making plans.”

For more information, contact the BLM at 970-210-2126 or 970-878-3842, or click here.

On another subject, the topic of how many arrows to carry comes up a lot in conversations about archery elk hunting deep in the wilderness, in places where you can’t make a trip back to your truck to get a few more.  Most quivers that attach to a bow will hold between four to six arrows, and ideally you will only need one.  But in reality, if you are on a ten day hunt in the wilderness, one is definitely not enough, and six may not be enough.

Of course we all practice well in advance of the season, but in actual hunting situations you could hit a tree branch that sends your arrow way off target, never to be found again.  Or a missed shot could end up hitting a rock and destroying your broad head.  Having an elk in your sights in the wild is not the same as shooting at a target on the range; your adrenaline is pumping, you are likely winded from climbing a mountain, the wind is swirling in different directions, it’s just not the same.


My bow and quiver

Also, after five days of eating freeze dried food on a back pack trip, with five more days to go, the chance to kill a grouse for some fresh meat is very appealing, and I was very glad that I had a few arrows with field tips for this very purpose on many back country elk hunts.  Grouse are in season if you have a small game license, and they tend to inhabit some of the same areas as you will encounter when hunting elk.  The grouse flush like pheasants, often right in front of you as you are sneaking along looking for elk, but they tend to land close by and present a good shot at some fresh meat.

For me, I use a quiver that holds six arrows, and in that quiver I have four broad heads and two field tips.  I also put in my pack on the way to camp a tube-like quiver that I use on the practice range with six extra arrows with no tips on them.  I put extra broad heads and field tips in a small tin container in my pack, and I leave these at camp.  If I need extra arrows during the trip, I can assemble them as needed when I get back to camp.  If I need more than 11 arrows on a hunt, then I shouldn’t be hunting, but in 30 years of archery hunting I have never needed more than three, which includes the field tip arrow for grouse.  I have never shot an elk or a deer with more than one arrow, but I have missed a few shots.

My advice for deep wilderness hunts is to be prepared and have the gear with you that you might need.  Don’t be arrogant and think that you will get through a ten day hunt with only six arrows.  You may very well do that year after year, but the one year you don’t is the year that you will see the monster bull of your life, and you need to be prepared for that moment.