The way Colorado's RFW (ranching for wildlife) is set up, its impossible to scout out the ranches BEFOREHAND, unless you know the rancher and have permission. Hiker stated he was familiar with the area, just doesn't know that ranch.
The RFW program requires that ranchers allow a certain number of people (non-paying public) to hunt their land in exchange for land owner tags that they can sell & use in their guiding business. So people that draw out on a ranch, usually do not know what the area is like, unless they have hunted there before. Usually the RFW tags are hard to draw out for.
BTW Hiker, you should do well. That ranch has an abundance of elk. What season did you draw for?
Location: Big Gulch Ranch is located about 7-10 miles north of Craig and runs east toward Hayden in six large blocks.
Area Maps: USGS Quads :
Moffat County USGS 1:50,000 – Sheets 3, 4
Routt County USGS 1:50,000 – Sheets 1, 3
National Forest: Routt NF
Species Available: Elk, Deer, Pronghorn
Terrain and Access: Elevations vary from 6,600 to 7,100 ft. The ranch is located in the rolling sagebrush hills that are the lower slopes of the Elkhead Mountains. Upper slopes have some pinyon juniper cover. Ranch roads provide adequate access to main parts of the ranch. These roads can become very muddy during wet weather. Hunters should be equipped with 4-wheel drive vehicle.
There are no antler-point restrictions for any of the ranches. No over-the-counter licenses are offered on these properties. Ranching for Wildlife licenses are open to Colorado residents only. Licenses are only for the season and ranch on the license. For more information on season dates and application deadlines, see the Big Game Hunting Brochure.
Big Gulch Ranch Hunting Rules
1. All State hunting laws will be enforced on the ranch. Failure to follow such laws will result in forfeiture of your hunt, as well as appropriate legal action being taken.
2. No ATVs allowed.
3. Hunting with snow machines is not allowed, however under certain conditions they may be used for transportation or animal retrieval.
4. The ranch is divided into several large hunting units. Each unit will have a limited number of hunters that will be allowed access to that unit each day. Some hunting areas require the use of guides at no charge to the hunter, most areas of the ranch are open to unguided hunting.
5. Units will be assigned on a first come basis. To avoid overcrowding you must hunt on the unit you are assigned for a full day. You can change tracts for the next day, by checking in at the Ranch.
6. No pre-season scouting access is permitted.
7. Each hunter may bring one guest; however, no firearm may be carried by that person.
8. Each hunter is requested to make every effort to retrieve wounded animals. If you wound an animal and it leaves the ranch, contact a DOW officer or Big Gulch RFW manager to assist with retrieval. If you attempt to do so on your own and you are trespassing there will be nothing we can do to help you.
9. Camping on the Ranch is not allowed.
10. No fires.
11. Consumption of alcohol is not permitted on the Ranch.
12. All hunters are responsible for picking up their trash.
13. Please close all gates, as there are always livestock on the Ranch.
14. It is mandatory that all hunters return their hunt questionnaire to the Ranch. Failure to do so will result in forfeiting your privilege to hunt next year. Questionnaires will be provided at the time you check in.
15. There are road closures in certain areas. They will be marked with road closed signs and we can point them out on maps at check in. The roads will be opened at 1 pm for game retrieval.
16. Check in is at the Ranch Headquarters, (5 miles north of Craig on Hwy 13, on the east side of the Hwy). Check in begins at 3 pm to 6 pm on the day before your season begins. During your hunt the Ranch Check in and out will be staffed from 7 am to 9 am and 3 pm to 5 pm. If staff is going to be gone from the Headquarters a phone number for contact will be posted.
17. The liability waiver must be signed and in the possession of the Ranch before access can be granted.
18. Please respect other hunters – if you observe a violation of these rules or state laws please write down the license number and report them to the Ranch Headquarters. Two or more complaints on any person will result in loss of hunting privileges.
19. Hunting should be a pleasant experience for everyone. Please follow these rules, relax, and enjoy a good time on our ranch.
Big Gulch RFW is located in an area where elk herds are substantially over herd objective and the elk herd is migratory. The ranch is working with DOW to aggressively harvest antlerless elk to assist in achieving herd objectives. Since antlered elk do not always remain on the ranch and harvest levels off the ranch are high, the size of bulls available to hunters should not be considered "trophy" class.
Motels are located in Craig. There is a KOA Campground in Craig.
Thanks for the information.
We drew for the 1st Hunt, October 15-19 and then we have a few days in the beginning of Dec.
You're right about, a hard tag to draw. I had 7 Points and my wife had 6 points, so hopefully we will get a nice Bull, although I know the area doesn't produce very many "nice" bulls. I'd be willing to hunt hard and get off the road a ways and hold out for a nice one.
This will be my wifes first elk, she has harvested a muley buck, antelope buck & a blonde black bear. I can't wait to see the expression on her face when she gets a bull elk. LOL
Has anyone on here hunted Big Gulch and can give us some tips?
This is my one and only experience with Big Gulch (Ranching for Wildlife).
A few years back I contacted Mr. Cooke for a Guided hunt for my wife and me. We agreed on a price. This was December. He mailed me a contract in March. I had it in my hand. All was as we agreed. Then came Late March. I received a phone call from Mr. Cooke (Curtis first Name) saying he could not honor the contract as specified. He would require more Money to provide the hunt. I graciously declined and let him off the hook (so to speak).
No malice here intended; just the facts as they happened.
Good luck; Good hunting man!
congrats on the elk tags. The ranch is a great place to hunt. Don and his brother Curtis are great to work with when it comes to the hunters. The ranch is broken up into several tracts. This helps alleviate hunting pressure. My wife and I have hunted the ranch a few times and have filled our tags. This year we too will be hunting the ranch and will have the either sex tags also. We hunt the Dec. season. You'll probably want the eastern tracts to hunt in the early season as most of the elk will still be on the mountain. In Dec. they may have started their migration and the west tracts will also be productive. Have fun!!!!
Understanding wind currents and thermals in hilly, broken terrain can often be incredibly frustrating. I've found that collecting and storing milkweed seed pods during the late summer has made me a better hunter in the bluff country that I hunt. These little feather like seed dispersers will float on the lightest of air currents and will show you what the wind is not only doing right at you're location but more importantly down range. I like to use the off season to float them...