Record Number of Leftover Licenses Purchased
Eager hunters bought a record 11,653 leftover licenses from the Colorado Division of Wildlife on Tuesday, Aug. 13, the first day they went on sale for the 2002-2003 seasons. Last year, 8,662 leftover licenses were sold.
"People continue to be very excited about hunting in Colorado," said Phyllis DeJaynes, a Division customer service manager who is in charge of leftover license sales in Denver and Fort Collins, the two offices that sold the most licenses in the state. "It's a wonderful place to hunt, we have a beautiful state and the elk population is perfect for successful hunting."
Leftover licenses are limited licenses that are left over after the application and drawing process. They are available to all hunters. A record 430,207 applications - the most in at least 10 years - went through the drawing process this year, compared with 391,555 last year.
Henrietta Turner, the Division's manager of license administration, said the volume of hunters who came to buy a leftover license was probably due in part to the sale of additional elk licenses. Since Colorado's elk herd is well over-objective, more cow licenses were issued this year, and there are more game management units where hunters can obtain an additional tag to kill an extra cow elk.
"Several people indicated they were holding another license," Turner said. "In earlier years, we didn't have as many licenses because the elk herd wasn?t so big. The other license numbers are pretty consistent with what we've offered in the past."
Also, in an effort to reach population objectives for deer, the Division sold leftover buck deer licenses rather than destroy them, as was done last year.
According to DeJaynes, however, there was no clear, across-the-board reason why so many hunters turned out to buy leftover licenses.
There were 39,182 elk licenses, 22,307 deer licenses, 13 bear licenses, 129 fall turkey licenses and 154 pronghorn licenses (a total of 61,785 for all species) that were left over and available for sale. For the start day only, there was a purchase limit for each person in line of four deer, four elk and one pronghorn.
Licenses went on sale at 8 a.m. at 17 of the Division's statewide offices. Almost every office increased sales from last year, with the Denver office selling the most at 2,043. The Fort Collins office saw the biggest gain from last year, selling 1,536 leftover licenses compared with 950 last year.
"It was incredible," said Fred Quartarone, a spokesman for the Division in Fort Collins who was working at the leftover license sales. "It was the biggest turnout we've seen in years. We were selling licenses until 5 p.m., and there was still a line out the door."
Service was on a first-come, first-served basis except for the Denver, Fort Collins and Brush offices. Hunters at those three offices drew a number for a place in line.
"The first hunter in Denver came in at 3:30 a.m.," DeJaynes said. "He was aware that he'd get a random number and wristband for a place in line, but he was just excited about being the first one to stick his hand in the box."
The Brush office saw the biggest crowd since it began selling leftover licenses.
"We opened up here at 5 a.m., and people were drawing wristbands at 5:30," said Larry Budde, area wildlife manager in Brush. "We had more Front Range residents than normal driving up here to avoid crowds in Denver and Fort Collins, and we also saw some Nebraska residents. We sold 375 licenses, which is quite a bit for a small office. And not very many people were turned away without a license."
In Colorado Springs, hunters camped overnight for a chance to get a limited license. The line started forming Sunday night, and by Tuesday morning over 300 hunters were waiting for the doors to open, said Dave Lovell, assistant manager of the Division's Southeast Region. At one point, the line was more than two blocks long.
"We experienced a very successful leftover license sales day, and the level of interest and participation appears to have increased over what we had last year," Lovell said. "The line extended out the door for most of the day, but the efforts of staff and a significant cadre of volunteers resulted in a very smooth process for our customers, with over 900 big game licenses sold by the end of the day. At closing time at 5 p.m., we still had people showing up." Anyone who was in line before 5 p.m. was not turned away.
Lovell said a certain camaraderie forms between hunters waiting in line.
"The guy that was first in line here had been first in line three other times in the past five years," Lovell said. "The hunters enjoy meeting new people and sharing hunting stories. There were campers and motor homes in the parking lot, and people sleeping in the back of pickup trucks. They brought grills and stoves to make dinner, and coffee in the morning."
"Some of them are almost disappointed that this might be a thing of the past after the Division implements its new licensing system next year."
In Grand Junction, hunters started lining up at 4 p.m. Monday, said the Division's area wildlife manager, Steve Yamashita.
"Hunters were very cordial, and they were really anticipating hunting this year," he said. "The first 30 hunters in line even set up camp the night before and held a poker game."
The Grand Junction office sold about a third more licenses, at 690, than it did last year, with cow and muzzleloading licenses going quickly. "We only had 300 of those licenses at the start of the day, and some people seemed disappointed by that," Yamashita said. "A few people had to walk away because licenses were sold."
But despite the turnout, the majority of hunters had gone through the line by noon.
"Most hunters sounded like the reason they were there was because of additional licenses in additional elk units, as many wanted to hunt bulls and cows this year," Yamashita said. "And we also sold the leftover buck licenses, which we haven't done before. We need a bigger harvest, and we want to get licenses into the hands of people that can do some good for us."
The sales process went smoothly throughout Colorado, with Division employees from biologists to engineers pitching in to help.
"It was a testament to our teamwork and the dedication people within the Division have for it and for the wildlife resource," DeJaynes said. "It takes weeks and weeks of planning for crowds of this size, and we had people from all sections of the Division pitching in to help. Division employees and volunteers did such a wonderful job and it was the smoothest year we've had yet."
Leftover licenses will stay on sale until the Division runs out of them, or at the end of the season.