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A Warning To Colorado Elk Hunters

I would like to share an unfortunate experience with you all concerning my third season annual hunting trip in South Park, Colorado.  You see, my family has owned and hunted some of the most beautiful land in Colorado.   Like most ethical hunters, I take care to respect the land and animals in that habitat.  Unfortunately, there are those that abuse the land and animals that most of us consider majestic.  They are more concerned with making money off of hunters and destroying good hunting areas.  It is this that drove me to write to all of you.  My hunting trip started as it normally does; wake up at 0430 hours, put on the warmest clothes I own, load my .270 and spray some really bad smelling fluid on my pants and coat.  As I ascend Reinecker Ridge I notice that something was missing that I have seen for the past twenty years; elk tracks on three major game trails.  I figured that the weather had not come in to drive the elk lower, but this was not the case.  As it was the first day of the hunt I was not too concerned.  I found a nice area above one of the common game trails and dug in for the day.  After about half an hour I saw something else that was uncommon, another hunter heading down the trail towards me.  The hunter came right up to me and said “Hey, how’s it going?”  I thought “really?”  A short conversation ensued in which I learned that he, along with ten other hunters on the ridge, were from Tennessee.  He went on to tell me that they had all paid $1200. to an outfitter named Bob Port.  I was in complete shock, and as you could imagine, I was very angry.  I knew it was not this guy from Tennessee’s fault that he was there, he was just looking for a good place to hunt.   In my twenty years of hunting this ridge, I have come across no more than two other hunters in one season, now there were eleven others.  That day I saw several others throughout the ridge.  As I stated, my family hunts this land every year.  This year my father and my buddy were hunting the ridge. Scanning our radios, we heard several other hunters on the ridge.  There were three other guys up there from Pennsylvania.  One of them was actually walking up and down the game trails WITH A DOG that was barking his head off!!!!!  On the radio, the guy with the dog says “Call Bob, these elk are running, I could take a shot but I don’t know where Bob’s property is.”   I’m thinking ‘no wonder there are no elk on the ridge’, thanks a lot Bob Port!!!!!!!  It should also be noted that these Pennsylvania guys had actually drove their Nissan Titan pick up half way up the ridge, that’s BLM.  Reinecker Ridge is surrounded mostly by private property, so these guys trespassed someones property to get onto the ridge.  After seven days of hard hunting, the only thing I came home with was frustration and the drive to write a warning to all of you looking at hunting in South Park, Colorado.  I came home and did some research, Bob Port operates Cowboy Camp Outfitters.  If you would like to hunt somewhere that has not been over hunted due to overbooking hunting areas, look elsewhere.  South Park Colorado WAS a great place to hunt, now this area has been over hunted and the elk have left.  Thanks Bob Port, thanks for NOTHING!

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Location: Western Colorado
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Welcome to the forums but the

Welcome to the forums but the problem that you described is going on in a lot of other areas here in Colorado and other states.  A person calling himself a outfitter will approach a land owner and offer him X amount of dollars to give him exclusive hunting rites on the property.  He then brings in all the hunters that he can find just to make himself some money by just charging them a tresspass fee and then goes on his merry way.  He doesn't care that the area will support 10 or fewer hunters all he cares about is the money.  Next year he'll move on to another property to do the same thing, perhaps under another name you never know.  Perhaps you should report him to the Colorado Office of Outfitters Regrestration if you haven't already done so. 

http://www.dora.state.co.us/outfitters/

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Joined: 11/13/2010
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Thanks for the info. I will

Thanks for the info. I will attempt to do whatever I can to get this fixed. Take care.

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Joined: 09/07/2010
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I think this becoming more common then we would like to believe

Sorry to hear about another money hungry, irresponsible outfitter ruining your hunt.  It is really unfortunate that these guys prey on the unknowing hunters and ruin hunts for the rest of us.  I have ran into this problem in 2 different locations .  The first was down by Bayfield, in an area that you had to pack into.  Every year we saw less and less elk as the outfitter increased the number of drop camps to the point where there was a camp in all of the meadows and creek drainages in the area.  As everyone's success dropped (including his hunters) he told me that he was having a great year financially but he just couln't understand why his hunters were hardly killing any elk.  The second happened near Craig where the outfitter was accessing the STL thru his private land (which I didn't have a problem with) but was having large groups of people, hunters and people who weren't hunting drive the game off of the STL and back onto his property starting 2 days before the season and every day during.  It sure puts a dent in your enthusiasm but I hope someday they get what's coming to them. 

CVC
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I am not quite sure who I

I am not quite sure who I feel worse for, you or the guys that traveled all that way and paid the bucks to hunt the area?  Of course, I feel bad that your hunt was ruined, but I think I feel equally bad about the guys that were, based on your account, duped and traveled half-way across the country for a sub-standard hunting location due to the high number of hunters.

I am not sure what you or anyone can do about this type of event.

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That is always a tough one !

I have seen this several times over the years both from outfitters and just hunters. One of the worst i ever seen I was around 11 years old and a group of guys would do deer drives and anything that got up and they could hit they would knock down. It didn't matter if it was a doe, fawn, or buck. Then they would come back at the end of season and take the best buck that they had killed to take home. My dad turned them in, but we do not know what happened if anything at all.

Another time in the late 80's a group from back east were using some type of poison on there arrows, a white powder in rubber just behing the broadhead, and they did get busted.

When it comes to outfitters I have seen them go as far as blocking roads, putting up false paper work by stands and blinds pretending to be CDOW and NFS. Also putting up private property signs on public land. One time during an archery hunt my brother and I headed down to one of our favorite spots for a evening elk hunt. When we got down to where a little 2 track goes down to where we walk in from a group of guys with 2 vehicles were blocking the road (Escalante Cattle Company). We asked them to move and they said no and that they had hunters in there. My brother and I said get out of the way and they started getting very agressive, so my brother and I drew our pistols and made them get out of the way. The game watrden at the time would do nothing about there activities. He is retired now and now we have a great warden in our area.

It happens alot out there, so be careful, and be prepared.

CVC
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Maybe this should be a thread

Maybe this should be a thread of its own, but I'll ask the question here.  This story and many other bad outfitter reviews makes me wonder how to protect yourself from bad outfitters.  Some things come to mind is to research the outfitter on the internet and visit some websites that offer outfitter reviews and go only with those that have been reviewed favorably and stay away from those that have bad reviews.

I guess also checking with past clients if they are avaialble.  And may one thing else, talk to the outfitter and see how you're treated before the hunt.  Still, with all this, I doubt that you can guarantee a good outfitter and hunt.

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Thank you to all that have

Thank you to all that have responded thus far, I agree with the fact that it was not the fault of the other hunters, I too understand that they paid a lot of money for a good hunt.  I also agree that there is need for some sort of "Martino's list" for outfitters; although I'm not sure what they would be graded on.  And truely, what does an outfitter do that you can't do on your own...find a place to hunt, book a room, find travel?  Surely you would be much better financially on your own.  I could not imagine sitting at home and selling out good hunting area just to make a buck, not caring what was happening to the area, not caring if the clients even had a good time, just making some money off of them and destroying it for all others.  No I do not blame those that paid the money, I blame the outfitter, I blame Bob Port and Cowboy Camp.

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I call up Bob

You should call up that Bob direct and give him a piece of your mind.  If they did trespass private property without permission I'd report it.  Unfortunately it's happening all over Colorado and all over the west.  I have no problem with responsible professional outfitters, but these fly-by-night operations have one interest only - money for the so-called outfitter.  I mean seriously what kind of hunters walk game trails with a barking dog???  It's not just outfitters but discourteous hunters who are out there too ruining it for all of us.  I have a few similar stories of past hunts ruined.  I'll tell you guys this one:

There's a good spot we hunt waterfowl in north eastern Montana almost every year.  Great spot where we encounter very few hunters, almost none most years.  Early December '07 we had been watching for a couple days as the ducks would consistantly go into this one warm water slough in masses starting about 15 to 20 minutes right before the end of shooting light.  It wasn't long before we found the slough they were going into for the night.  With all the rivers and big lakes frozen over there were a few open water sloughs that would offer great hunting during various times of the day. It was the last evening of our annual 5 day trip.  This was going to be good I thought to myself. We decided to get to the spot by about 3:45pm to get all set up and wait for the birds.  We were all hunkered down hidden in the reeds and cattails at waters edge, keep in mind it's early December in NE Montana so the mercury was lingering around -10°F by that late in the day.  We can see a black cloud moving fast on the horizon in our direction, it was that gigantic flock of mallards again headed right for our slough. Then suddenly we hear it, a man and woman talking and walking the field above us off in the distance, both wearing blaze orange, blowing a quail call and shouting out commands to their pointer dog all while walking.  What the f&*% we all thought.  They come closer to right where we were and stand on the drop-off ledge about 10 ft above us, all this is happening as the birds were coming in.  We look up in disgust as the man says "oh don't mind us we just want to watch".  That initial flock of ducks just flared slightly and flew off before they got into gun range.  The couple just stood their right out in the open.  We kept trying to hint that it wasn't going to work for us with both of them standing out in the open wearing blaze orange and their dog moving around.  So they just sat down.  What the hell, did it not occur to them that their presence was ruining our hunt??  Not to mension their pointer was barking at our lab.  Sitting down wasn't going to conceal them.  The four of us watched in horror as wave after wave of mallards just came within 50 yards of the slough and flew off, this happend for the next 15 minutes until we picked up and left at the end of shooting light.  I was annoyed, my buddy was enraged.  Trying to be polite, we didn't bitch them out though, we should have.  We shouldhave let our annoyance show, but I've figure out a few things in life.  One is never let emotions and tempers flare when everyone is holding loaded shotguns.  I don't think that couple had a clue they had just ruined our last day of that hunting trip.  It happens.

CVC
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If they didn't have a clue

If they didn't have a clue and were just ignorant, why didn't you politely educate them?  It sounds like they didn't mean any harm so they may have been open to some advice.

This reminds me that it is just not hunters that don't think about their actions and how they impact others.  I was running on a trail along a river yesterday with my lab.  He was on a leash and we were enjoying the run when we encountered three people walking on the trails with their two huge german shepards neither of which had a leash or collar on.  A guy in the group called one of them and kept him by his side, but the other came running up to my dog and me.

I controlled my dog, but had to stop and the woman came up to grab the dog.  Partly from being a bit winded, but also out of aggrevation, I barked, why don't you keep your dog on a leash like the law requires.  She just said sheepishly okay.

It is disrespectful and dangerous to allow your large dogs to run without a leash.  We could have had a real mess on our hands if they started fighting which does happen with dogs.

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we did

CVC wrote:

If they didn't have a clue and were just ignorant, why didn't you politely educate them?  It sounds like they didn't mean any harm so they may have been open to some advice.

We did indirectly clue them it after talking with them for a few minutes when retrieving decoys and gear, but it was already too late, that part of the hunt had already been ruined.  There is one thing we all talked about later that all 4 of us were thinking about at the same time, but did't want to mension it in front of the couple.  They were older, not old though, about late 40's early 50's.  They spoke the same language as us, meaning it was apparent to us they knew hunting and wildlife and were seasoned hunters theselves. It was just obvious by talking to them as short as we did that they were not novices.  All 4 of us know that there is a fish and game wildlife tech who manages that area and lives on property not far at all from that slough.  I mean we were a ways in and well concealed by both terrain and dormant vegitation, no one randomly out there would have known exactly where we were and walk directly to us by chance.  In the slough each one of us was thinking he was the tech.  It clued us in when we said shooting light is over and he kept telling us we still had 5 minutes, almost as if he was trying to entrap us or something.  It was just odd that he kept insisting we had more time than we did.  Not sure a fish and game tech would entrap us just to bust us, but we all were immediatley suspicious when he said that.  It was just odd that someone would even be out there in that area walking especially as cold as it was and as close to twilight as it was.  I gavethem the benefit of the doubt that they probably had no clue, but as we all thougth about it I think they knew exactly what they were doing, but who really knows for sure?

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