Grand County elk, deer herds some of Colorado’s largest
Grand County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GRAND COUNTY, Colo. ” Grand County, which encompassed most of the Middle Park area in Northern Colorado, has always been one of the favorite hunting grounds for deer and elk.
Since the early Native Americans to the present day, hunters have always enjoyed success in this area which is known for its abundant herds of deer and elk. Grand County and Middle Park are part of northwest Colorado which is home to the largest migratory herd of elk in North America. This same part of the state also has the largest mule deer population in the United States.
Within the Middle Park area are the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Game Management Units (GMU) 18 , 27, 28, 37, 181 and 371 where hunting is permitted. All of these GMUs have good numbers of deer and elk.
The weather in this area can change rapidly with the higher elevations receiving more precipitation. Cold temperatures can occur during the hunting season especially after dark and early snowfall is not uncommon. Hunters should be prepared for these weather changes.
Middle Park’s weather also affects where the deer and elk will be found. Early heavy snowfall will drive the animals to lower elevations. But if the weather remains fair, they will remain widely dispersed and usually at higher elevations.
Another factor is the ongoing mountain pine beetle epidemic that has hit Grand County and Middle Park. As the lodgepole pine trees die, their needles fall and the stands of trees become more open. With the late summer and early autumn rains, more abundant forage is produced which will usually keep the deer and elk results at the higher elevations.
All of the terrain in the GMUs of Middle Park is considered steep to very steep. Four-wheel drive is recommended. Because areas can become snowbound, chains should be taken.
Wildlife officers say the better hunting will usually be found at least one-half mile away from roads.
While most of the land covered by the GMUs is mountainous, there are valley bottoms which cover roughly about a third of their area. Most of these valley bottoms are private lands which will require hunters to seek private land permission early before hunting. The remaining two-thirds of this area is public land. GMU 27 has less public land than the other GMUs.
Before going into the GMUs, hunters are advised to check U.S. Forest Service maps for all-terrain vehicle closures/restrictions. Horses and pack animals are recommended for remote tracts and wilderness areas. Hunters in the Grand County and Middle Park area should be aware that timber-salvage work due to the pine beetle epidemic is ongoing in this area. Also, due to the proximity to Denver, there are many weekend hunters and recreationists such as mountain bikers, hikers and ATVers who will be in the area.
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