I’ve got some news for anyone who hunts the state of Colorado!
As a nonresident who has bowhunted elk there for the past three years, I got a call from Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (CPW) last night—along with thousands of other hunters—to participate in an on-the-spot, hour-long “town hall meeting” with a panel of state public land and wildlife managers. Colorado adopts its Big-game Hunting Season Structure on a five-year basis and, because the current cycle ends in 2014, CPW was taking the opportunity to begin accessing the effectiveness of various measures to begin planning regulations for 2015-2019.
Though the hour was up before the panel addressed my question, one topic gaining considerable traction was how the state handles its preference point system. Of interest to residents and nonresidents alike, multiple hunters pushed for being able to bank their preference points. Currently, let’s say you have 17 points but you need 20-plus points to draw an elk tag in a given quality unit. You are still years away from drawing and either may not live long enough or be in good enough shape to hunt by the time you draw, or you simply have to forego hunting other units altogether as you would have to give up all 17 points to draw a tag that takes five.
Now how great would it be if you started with those same 17 points, put in for a tag in a lesser-quality unit that took five and were permitted to keep the other 12? Then you either build up toward 20-plus points again, or you use the remaining 12 to try and draw a tag for several more lesser-quality units and get multiple outdoor excursions out of the deal. Hunters with fewer points in reserve would benefit, too, as hunters at the top of the preference-point pyramid would burn off some of their points over the next few years, leveling the playing field. Colorado tried this system in 2006, I believe, but it was cancelled the following year.
As I type this, CPW is taking input from hunters via phone and email so if you’re one of thousands of bowhunters—or hunters in general—who have been accumulating preference points in Colorado, feel free to share your thoughts on this or any other issue. Additional season-structure topics you may want to weigh in on include length and timing of seasons for different species and hunting methods, the portion of licenses that will be limited or unlimited, the balance among different kinds of hunting opportunities and the number of licenses available in each game unit. Annual regulations will draw on the wildlife data gathered by CPW biologists, wildlife managers, hunters, landowners and the general public. Call 303-291-7572 or visit: cpw.state.co.us
At the end of the call, the moderator said CPW will be calling 25,000 Colorado residents over the next few days to conduct another town hall meeting. If you’ve got a Colorado zip code, be thinking of questions you want to ask in case your number comes up!