Archery Season Offers Unbeatable Hunting

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With Colorado elk populations at near record numbers and deer herds stable or rebounding in most areas, the 2003 Colorado archery hunt promises to be as good as it gets.

“If you’re an archery elk hunter, Colorado is unbeatable,” said Jim Goodyear, northeast assistant regional manager for the Division of Wildlife (DOW). “No other state or Canadian province gives an archer more elk hunting opportunity in terms of season length, elk numbers and public property.”

Deer hunters have it good as well, with more than 560,000 deer in the state and many of them inhabiting huntable public lands. The combined deer and elk archery season west of I-25, including game management unit 140, begins Aug. 30 and ends Sept. 28. The season offers archers plenty of time to pursue deer and elk during the most magnificent and dynamic time of the year. Beginning with late summer weather, running through the fall foliage season and potentially ending in snowfall, the four-week archery season offers the best of all hunting worlds.

“The early part of the season gives archers a chance to get out and hunt animals that haven’t been chased,” said Allan Nielsen, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Bow Strings in Meeker. “The season typically begins around here with little hunting pressure and hot and dry conditions – it’s a good time to hunt around water.

“By the middle of the season, the weather usually cools and action picks up with the bulls bugling – that’s when we see more hunters taking to the woods.”

According to DOW biologists this season will start hot and dry in many areas. However, compared to last season conditions have generally improved.

“Early spring moisture has resulted in good forage,” said Bob Davies, southeast senior wildlife biologist for the DOW. “Expect deer and elk to not be as concentrated from dry conditions as they were last year.”

In Davies’ corner of the state, deer and elk herds are in “good” shape going into the fall archery season. The same report is echoed by wildlife biologists in the southwest, northwest and northeast quadrants of the state, where many deer and elk herds are at or above population objectives.

New for this archery season is the availability of over-the-counter archery antlerless elk licenses valid in all game management units except 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 19, 20, 29, 39, 40, 46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 56, 57, 58, 61, 66, 67, 69, 76, 84, 104, 191, 201, 391, 461, 481, 500, 501, 512, 561, 851 on the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area and on public land in units 4, 5, 12, 23, 24, 33, 441. The antlerless archery elk licenses are List B licenses, meaning that a bowhunter can possess the antlerless license as well as an either-sex archery elk license.

Also new for the 2003 archery season are restrictions on the sale of archery bear licenses. Archers can no longer purchase over-the-counter bear licenses for the following game management units: 21, 22, 30, 31, 32, 40, 41, 42, 52, 53, 411, 421, 521, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 711, 741, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 83, 85, 133, 134, 136, 140, 141, 142, 143, 147, 681, 751, 771, 851. Licenses for archery bear hunting in these units are limited and were available only through the drawing or through the leftover license sale (all leftover archery bear licenses have been sold).

As in the past, archery deer licenses throughout the state are limited and are available only through the drawing or through the leftover license sale. For a list of leftover deer licenses still available for purchase visit the DOW’s Web site at or call (303) 297-1192.

Archers are reminded to consult a 2003 Big Game Brochure before heading to the field to ensure they’re hunting in a legal game management unit with their license.

“Every year we have bowhunters with unlimited, over-the-counter elk licenses hunting in limited units,” said Dan Prenzlow, area wildlife manager for the DOW. “It’s a good idea to double-check your license against the game management unit you’re planning to hunt to make sure they’re compatible.”

2003 Big Game Brochures are available at DOW offices and license vendors statewide and on the Web at The brochure contains information about archery seasons – including plains archery seasons – hunting regulations, game management units and rifle seasons for deer, elk, bear, moose and pronghorn antelope.