Contributors to this thread:
RFW a new issue?
So I already hate the RFW program enough. It is not a good deal for anyone but the wealthy land owners who are using it to make more money. That being said, I heard of a disturbing new direction.
The big ranches are using the profit from hunting that is pimped out for only them, to turn around and but even more property to enroll in the RFW program. So far I have not researched it much, but it seems like it could become a huge issue in years to come as land exchanges go. What will prevent a 3 Forks ranch from controlling all of unit 4 and 5 access or Elk Horn from gobbling up all of unit 3?
Has any one else heard about this issue? Are RFW ranches allowed to grow and get bigger? If so maybe we all need to push for a limit to the size or amount that an RFW program can become?
They have always been able to enter into agreements, and band together with neighbors to meet the acreage requirement to enroll. Unit 40 was this way, and I believe still is. Schroeder sold out, and I think gore got out too. The trinchera is 170,000 contigous acres, I think it's own dau.
Lot of bitterness to land owners you have there. Without RFW zero percent of the public would get on these big ranches. At least 10% of tags go to the public with the program. Most landowners I have got to know work their ass off for what they have. I certainly don’t think any of them owe me any hunting rights. I am certainly appreciative of the ones that do let me hunt.
From what I have seen on RFW properties, the rancher typically turns over the hunting part of the program to an outfitter. Most ranchers don't want to deal with hunters. The outfitter probably makes more than the rancher, but then he has a lot of expense as well.
Pretty sure the ranchers are not making huge amounts of money off this program. Certainly not enough to justify adding more land to what they already have to deal with.
There are several RFW properties that are combined with different ownership. Pretty sure that type of agreement is typically through the outfitters as well.
Not sure how a RFW would "gobble up" an entire unit. They can't buy BLM or USFS land and the program is only on private land - it does not apply to any BLM or USFS leases that they have.
Compared to many eastern states, Colorado has significantly more public land. Try out Texas sometime - no BLM and very limited USFS. You have to pay or know someone for access to any hunting, including the limited public drawing systems.
I have hunted pronghorn on RFW & took my daughter elk hunting on one. I think it's a great way to get access to ranches I would never be able to afford. They do pull in multiple ranch owners to garner the acreage. I'm not sure how the ranchers benefit, but the ones I have seen are not all one ranch.
So it does not concern anyone that these large ranches are slowly getting a monopoly on the wildlife and the land? I know several smaller outfitters that are struggling to keep leases because the larger RFW outfitters are looking to buy out and expand. I am not sure how a smaller outfitter will keep a float if the cannot compete with the large RFW guys?
As for access, that is an absolute joke. 10% of tags for RFW? Then the 10% that we get are restricted to portions of the ranch after their paid hunters etc.
It was a horrible mistake and never should have been allowed. Since we now live with it, do we need to monitor it or are we happy to have a system where a few really big outfitters control entire sections of land and animals?
COELKER, can you provide some specifics to back all of this up? Who are these smaller outfitters that are struggling because larger RFW outfitters are "looking" to buy out and expand? Who are these larger outfitters?
I have zero allegiance to RFW but I hunted a property for deer last year and did not experience what you and another have said on here. We were the first group on the property for deer and we had another timeframe to come back. There were zero restrictions on the ranch except for one hike in only area to keep from pushing animals off the ranch. I killed a decent buck on day two and probably could have done better in the later RFW season. This year, I killed a bull on public next to a different ranch enrolled in RFW. The guys on the ranch let me pack my bull down to the ranch edge and they hauled it out for me and even put it in the walk in cooler before I picked it up. They said I should hunt the ranch with the same points it took to this public hunt. I probably will one year. I'm just not seeing this horrible mistake. Again, if you reply, please include specific examples. It makes the topic easier to discuss.
The first mistake was to start down the road of using wildlife and the opportunity to hunt as currency to be used to pay private businesses. The second (and ongoing) mistake is under-valuing the wildlife and over-valuing what we get in return for it.
If someone wants a quick look at how much value our wildlife adds to private land, just flip through a real estate magazine and see how much wildlife and the opportunities associated with it adds to rural property.
Coelker- If DOW did away with RFW what makes you think the general public would have any access to the private land? A couple things would happen. First instead of 10% of the hunters being people that drew to hunt on the ranch it would be zero. Looking at the points to hunt the RFW people must think it is good or would not burn the points they do on the tags. Second the people that hunt on the ranches would either get a land owners tag or need to draw a tag in draw areas. At least now if you are hunting public land or property not enrolled in RFW you do not have to compete for tags with those that hunt the RFW ranches. It does not add to point creep for those of us that hunt NF and BLM in the same unit.
I don't know how you figure "large ranches are slowly getting a monopoly" Even if they are adding more land to RFW it land that was already a private ranch that most likely was not open to the public to hunt before hand.
I’ve hunted RFW and thought it was a great hunt and experience. My complaint is that the private hunters are allowed to use rifles during archery season. So if you hunt an area near one of the ranches it kind of messes things up for you. With the benefit of guaranteed tags, on private land,with 90 days, and guides, do they really need to allow rifles during archery season?
Look through the regs at the different options for seasons.
There are early rifle seasons that overlap archery for deer, elk, bear, sheep and goat. Many of these are on private but there are a ton of them that are on public land right over the top of archery season. These are in addition and also overlap the muzzle loader seasons.
Contrary to popular belief, we do not have an "archery only" season west of I-25 in Colorado.
If you guys look it up, RFW started with the land owners in unit 40, where the actor Ricky Schroder (sp) couldn't hunt his own land because it took to long to draw a tag, so he piloted the RFW program, it just grew from there. Outfitting of any method is business, and in some cases big business. I have nothing against RFW as it does allow public access to PRIVATE LAND, no matter how limited, and then gives the landowner the chance to hunt their own land if they chose to do so, considering human nature I bet everyone posting here would be doing the same thing if they owned game rich land. The only program I have issues with is the voucher system allowing voucher tags to be used on public land where most wait years or half a lifetime to hunt the unit, but again it's all about the money. Treeline, good point, archery only units during certain weeks, not archery only season, I'm all about hunting opportunity no matter the weapon used.
I have to disagree with the statement that RFW is not a good deal for anyone except the landowners. I am sitting in a cabin on a RFW ranch as I write this. We have had 100 Colorado resident hunters this year and I can assure you that the majority are very happy with the opportunity the program gives them. Most of these people would never get on a property like this without the program. There are a couple of other statements above that aren't really accurate. While it is true that the public only gets 10% of the total of private tags for antlered animals, they also get the remaining 90% in antlerless tags. Many of the serious hunters on this forum are not interested in cow or doe tags, but a great number of the general public are very happy to get these tags. Our success rate on the public hunts is much higher than the state average and we have many happy hunters who come back year after year. We also allow access to every acre on the ranch that is hunted on the guided hunts. I can also say that on this ranch we voluntarily restrict the 2 peak rut weeks to archery only hunting for our paid hunters. This is strictly enforced with no exceptions. Another positive to the program in my opinion is that only Colorado residents are eligible to draw these tags. We see many threads on this forum [which I generally agree with] about how CPW is increasing opportunities for out of state hunters at the expense of residents. RFW is one example of residents getting priority. Overall I believe it is a good program.
Brun, you are the exception. Look at the Hill ranch for example, primos, the crush etc. are on there banging bulls in the rut in September with rifles. While the average joe resident who draws gets the sweet dates of mid to late November to hunt elk. While some ranches may be good to the draw hunter many cater there dates and top end bulls to the big money and tv clients.
I guess if you focus on what other folks get, rather than what you're getting, you will be unhappy. If you want to hunt those ranches in September, open up your checkbook.
But I've had some good rifle hunts on RFW properties, and have put a few elk in the freezer as a result. The average guy won't pony up the money to hunt the Hill Ranch, but if he draws, he can hunt for free there. It's a compromise, and not a bad one.
Not focusing on anything just telling it like it is. Yes, it is a good opportunity that might have never materialized without the program. To think though that residents are getting the best they have to offer your fooling yourself.
^Yeah, but if the alternative is getting "nothing" sometimes its ok to give the "best" to the folks who actually own the land to dispose of as they choose. If I owned a big piece of land, you can bet my friends and family would be waaaay ahead of the general public on the list of who gets what.
Orion, what makes you think that the general public is entitled to the best the private ranch has to offer? The program works with/for the landowner getting opportunity's to hunt 'their' own land or outfit/guide clients, in exchange to allow a certain amount of public/non-paying hunters to hunt 'their' land during the times/places agreed upon between them (the landowner) and CPW, bad karma hit it spot on. As an OM I have measured some of these animals the 'public' had access to when they drew the RFW tags, these animals were just as good/big as most the paying clients animals. As others have said as well, opportunity at even cows/does the odds increase greatly and the competition from other hunters is far less. It's all about what your willing to pay for period.