Summit Treestands
Unit 55 colorado
Mule Deer
Contributors to this thread:
WI Shedhead 22-Jan-20
ESP 22-Jan-20
Vids 22-Jan-20
IVL 22-Jan-20
RT 22-Jan-20
Twinetickler 22-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 22-Jan-20
Orion 22-Jan-20
Orion 22-Jan-20
Orion 22-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 22-Jan-20
Twinetickler 22-Jan-20
WI Shedhead 22-Jan-20
MichaelArnette 23-Jan-20
Treeline 23-Jan-20
TXCO 23-Jan-20
Orion 23-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 23-Jan-20
Treeline 23-Jan-20
Orion 23-Jan-20
Jahvada 24-Jan-20
Orion 24-Jan-20
Jahvada 24-Jan-20
Chasewild 24-Jan-20
Treeline 24-Jan-20
tkjwonta 24-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 24-Jan-20
IVL 24-Jan-20
Treeline 24-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 24-Jan-20
IVL 24-Jan-20
Pop-r 24-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 24-Jan-20
Treeline 24-Jan-20
Orion 24-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 24-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
Treeline 25-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 25-Jan-20
Pop-r 25-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
Treeline 25-Jan-20
Treeline 25-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 25-Jan-20
Ermine 25-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
Orion 25-Jan-20
kylet 25-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 25-Jan-20
tkjwonta 25-Jan-20
midwest 25-Jan-20
WV Mountaineer 26-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 26-Jan-20
Branden 26-Jan-20
Treeline 26-Jan-20
Branden 26-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 26-Jan-20
Branden 26-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 26-Jan-20
SBH 26-Jan-20
Branden 26-Jan-20
Orion 27-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 27-Jan-20
Surfbow 27-Jan-20
Orion 27-Jan-20
Orion 27-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 27-Jan-20
Branden 27-Jan-20
JSW 27-Jan-20
Deercy 28-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 28-Jan-20
KSflatlander 28-Jan-20
whipranger 28-Jan-20
Nick Muche 29-Jan-20
KSflatlander 29-Jan-20
PECO 29-Jan-20
JSW 29-Jan-20
Grey Ghost 29-Jan-20
KSflatlander 29-Jan-20
crestedbutte 01-Feb-20
From: WI Shedhead
22-Jan-20
Looking for some advice if some of my other hunt draws fall through. I have 15 deer points. Is it worth it to put in for 55 for archery, or else looking to hold out and do the 3rd rifle and hunt with a bow in 55, 67, or 66. I have hunted 67 before and have private access in the sage flats on the northwest part of the unit.

From: ESP
22-Jan-20
I hunted a unit next to 55 but in the same basin. Last year’s winter was very hard on them. I struggled to find any deer let alone a legal deer. That was a common theme of the few people I ran into who had deer tags.

From: Vids
22-Jan-20
Sort of depends on the type of hunt you want. If you want high country while they're in velvet, do the archery hunt. If you want to see more deer down low I'd go third season during the beginning of the rut. If it were me, I would go 3rd season just because you can't beat the rut for action. Also, I wouldn't burn 15 points on a 7 point archery hunt but would burn 15 points on a 13 point hunt any day. Just my $.02

From: IVL
22-Jan-20
Unit 55 is not worth 1 point! don't waist your points. The winter kill was way more than they (CPW) will tell the truth about. They tried to cover it up by advertising that there was an abundance of mature deer in the Unit. in hopes of selling more tags in the famed unit! That was a huge Lie! I hunted the unit several times, my last personal hunt was in 2005, I took a 228" buck. I hunted it with my son this year in 2019 with high hopes of repeating 2005 success, but summer long scouting produced poor results, optimism of early snow before his 3rd season rifle tag, brought some hope. but the reality of covering every hunt-able piece of land in the unit only produced 2 bucks older than 2 1/2 years old. both bucks needed at least 2 more years for our liking. we saw very few does and three bucks that were small fork horns. the biggest bucks were found in the town of Gunnison. To say it was Disappointing is an understatement! I've hunted, camped and recreated in unit 55 for over 35 years. It was sad for me to experience what i did. I'm a Colorado Native, I have lived in the state my whole life, and i can tell you the days of finding 180"+ bucks behind every tree in 55 are over! its heart breaking but True! I'm a mule deer fanatic and this was once a truly great unit to harvest a trophy, but not anymore.

From: RT
22-Jan-20
No way on earth would I use those points on that unit.

From: Twinetickler
22-Jan-20
The problem in CO these days is there isn't a golden unit anymore. Gunnison is hurting, Eagle is worse and with 15 points you can't go into thinking you are guaranteed a great hunt, because there just isn't a slam dunk. With that said I would look at a 3rd season hunt, you are way over pointed for most archery hunts. Maybe hold off until 2021 when those 3rd season dates are super late?

From: Grey Ghost
22-Jan-20
IVL,

As a Colorado native, also, your post saddens me. What's the cause for the decline in deer herds down there, in your opinion? I know bears and lions are usually blamed for the problems with the elk in the SW corner, but no one can conclusively defend that opinion with actual bear and lion sightings. Have you seen more predators, lately?

Matt

From: Orion
22-Jan-20
Are you serious Matt? You can't hike down here without running into a bear or a pile of scat. I had forty different bears on a game came from July to the end of September. That is just one spot in one canyon. Have three other areas with just as many. My daughter and I both shot bears in September and they were the 14th and 15th different ones we saw.

From: Orion
22-Jan-20

Orion's embedded Photo
Orion's embedded Photo
Daughters bear, not bad for a twelve year olds first one.

From: Orion
22-Jan-20
To the OP you waited about 5-6 years too long for 55

From: Grey Ghost
22-Jan-20
Thanks Orion.

You're the first hunter who has actually witnessed an increase in bears and lions in the SW, that I've seen. Where I hunt in CO, bears and lions are a very rare sighting. I see sign of them all the time, but don't actually put my eyes on them. Interestingly, the most lion and bear sign I've ever seen was up in one of the trophy elk units in the NW last year. Yet, the elk seem to be doing very well up there, if not better than ever before.

I guess that proves wildlife management is not as cut and dried as some claim.

Matt

From: Twinetickler
22-Jan-20
I hunted unit 25/26 Eagle county on a 4th season deer hunt, everywhere we went we ran into bear sign. Big tracks and big shiz. There for sure are plenty of ursus americanus in CO. Deer hunting was horrible if you were curious.

From: WI Shedhead
22-Jan-20
Thanks for your insight. I would really like to hunt them in the rut and 3rd season being that it’s 9 days. I have a pretty full November this year with an Iowa tag and a Nebraska deer hunt. I’ll look into those late deer dates next year

23-Jan-20
Yeah definitely not worth burning those points on whe you could draw it and a few other units with a Couple points! Draw that rifle tag

From: Treeline
23-Jan-20
Tons of bears and lions in SW CO.

Worked down in Durango in 2017 and was shocked at how many bears were in that area. Saw several lions driving back and forth to work from Vallicito as well.

CPw really seems to have strange ideas about how to manage and increase the deer herds.

We have had several big winters that have really hit the deer in several areas and yet CPw does not significantly cut deer tag numbers nor seasons to help the deer recover. Buyer beware!

CPw has stopped feeding deer in rough winters and has also stopped private citizens from being able to feed the deer and elk to help them through these rough winters. Guess we should all pray for global warming...

Predator numbers have significantly increased statewide over the last 30 years with stricter seasons, lower quotas and elimination of government trappers. Bears, in particular, focus on deer and elk fawning grounds when they come out of hibernation. With no spring bear season or baiting to draw those bears and kill them, they go to the best food crop available in the spring. Hunting bears in the spring, with dogs, or baiting was made illegal about 25 years ago in Colorado by a voted on constitutional amendment. Lots of “Colorado hunters” voted for that amendment... Probably have “Colorado hunters” Voting to bring in wolves in the next election...

The state’s population has boomed as well. Lots of development and additional traffic state wide. McMansions popping up on winter range and additional fences and traffic in migration corridors. Although this probably has a lower impact to the deer than the previous factors.

All these factors combined make it very difficult for deer herds to recover from bad winters.

CPw has also recently instituted a deer management concept focusing on killing more mature bucks over a large portion of the state - increasing rifle buck tags by up to 50% and decreasing archery tags by up to 50% in those same units even though rifle tag numbers were already 90% of the tags before the increases. Supposedly, to limit the spread of CWD, although that logic doesn’t work. Will likely increase the spread of CWD and also hurt fawn recruitment due to late breeding and birth dates.

Hard to believe it was not that long ago that mule deer were the cash cow for CDOW. Also hard to believe that the state’s hunters pushed for statewide limited tags when our deer herds were in better shape with higher populations than they are now.

Although Colorado has historically had the best mule deer hunting in North America (numbers and quality), CPw seems intent on destruction of the resource.

From: TXCO
23-Jan-20
Ive hunted 55 many years and can attest to seeing multiple bears on every trip. The winter about 3 years ago cut tags and changed the herd dynamics. Then the scarcity and history of the unit kept getting higher point holders. A few years ago it was 3-4 points for a R and 4-6 for a NR. Now its 7-10 for NR. Why is it getting more exclusive with two bad winters and cut tag numbers? Its kind of backwards tbh.

From: Orion
23-Jan-20
Treeline is spot on as I live just south of Vallecito. Its amazing the number of predators we have now that we didn't even ten years ago.

From: Grey Ghost
23-Jan-20
" Also hard to believe that the state’s hunters pushed for statewide limited tags when our deer herds were in better shape with higher populations than they are now."

I was right with you until this statement. IMO, the state-wide limited deer draw was the best thing they could have done for the dwindling Mule deer herds. I've noticed an increase in deer numbers around my place since they implemented it.

You also neglected to state one of the obvious reasons for the decline in deer populations. In many areas the elk have simply displaced them. I hunted around Meeker for 30 years as a kid and young adult. The area was renowned for having some of the best deer hunting in the state. When I first started hunting there at the age of 10, it was rare to even see an elk. Now, there are elk everywhere and the deer population has plummeted.

Matt

From: Treeline
23-Jan-20
GG,

Look at the mule deer population trends over the years. We just thought we were in trouble when we went to all draw for mule deer.

I agree that going to all draw for deer was a good concept. What is concerning is that the deer populations have not recovered and CPw does not seem to be doing anything to improve the situation.

I did not agree with archery deer being limited, however. Arizona archery deer is primarily not limited and has much more opportunity with September, December and January archery seasons. Archery hunting does not impact deer populations as much as rifle hunting and that is better understood in Arizona.

The first couple of years of the "all draw" showed great potential. Increases to tags in a number of areas and additional early and late rifle seasons knocked the top off rapidly in the years that followed.

With elk as the current "cash cow" for CPw, where do you think they will focus for herd numbers?

From: Orion
23-Jan-20
Matt your same scenario can be said for bears down here. Growing up it was rare to see a bear, now Ray Charles could see them we have so many

From: Jahvada
24-Jan-20
The OP did not miss it by 5-6 years units in the Gunny basin have not been close to the same since 2008 that winter was a game changer for sure. Add in that in 2016 as well as the 2018 winter were also extremely hard on the deer and the heard is where it is. At this point and with the late rifle season date change in 2020 they will never recover.

Also interesting with the new archery dates forced down deer hunters throats by the "elk only CBA" the early season is not worth spending that many points on as in some units archers will have 4 days to hunt before 300 win mags start blasting 1000 yard shots at the same deer we are hunting effectively ending the archery deer season..

Also I can see with how the deer debacle went this year or it is clear at this point the "elk only CBA" cares about otc elk and flat out threw deer hunters under the buss to get the starting dates their "membership" wanted for otc elk - as otc elk is all that matters right?? This process forced archery deer to get pushed a entire week or more so deer hunters up high lost a ENTIRE WEEK OF HUNTING!! Thanks again CBA some of us do appreciate and see your efforts!

With how the debacle went this will be looked back on as the worst change for archery deer EVER in Colorado basically eroding the experience to the point of is it even worth hunting deer archery? So deer hunters are forced to sacrifice basically everything - just for the otc elk hunters to get a extra week to hunt. Again thanks "elk only CBA"

Lets look at facts or Colorado now have the WORST start dates for deer archery of any WESTERN STATE. Again mule deer hunters lost a entire WEEK of hunting and once the deer shed their velvet and the 300 mags start banign away at 1000 yards it is pretty much over any way.. But hey worth it for the otc elk "membership" due to a sacked study we sent out right "elk only CBA"!!..???

Sad but I can see why bow hunters are getting forced into hunting rifle season as it is honestly the best choice. But hey the "elk only CBA" got a extra week for OTC elk yea!!! Clear to see that the CBA only cares about elk and that position is forcing deer hunters to the later season and I think you have figured out that hunting later is be the best choice available to you.. As it is plain to see that the later starting date of archery to appease the otc elk hunters did more than any change in the past 40 years - to flat out ruin archery deer experience and the reality is that the "elk only CBA" just does not care...

From: Orion
24-Jan-20
Your right nothing will not top pre 2007-2008 Gunnison Units. But 2012-2015 was pretty good and something we will probably never see again so yeah the OP is too little, too late. I'm afraid we will be hunting forkies after the next couple years of super late dates CPW decided to implement to finish off what was once a great resource

From: Jahvada
24-Jan-20
I agree orion and when a guy blows 10-20 points and cant find a 180" buck most will pop a 140" then call it a 160" to save face when they face why they wasted that many points.

I did a 4th season deer hunt this year with my 76 year old father - not in the gunny basin but he burnt 18 points and it was worth every point as much fun as we had in the end we ate the tag but still a great hunt so to the op the units are out there ya just got to find em and they at this point are not in the gunny basin.

From: Chasewild
24-Jan-20
I'd burn those points so fast. Whether it's the Gunnison or elsewhere, you can have a great hunt without having multiple opportunities at good deer.

From: Treeline
24-Jan-20
The Gunnison basin heyday of the late 90’s up to 2008 was a product of very limited deer tags (no 4th rifle or early rifle seasons), mild winters, and feeding stations to help them get thru the winters (some DOW but mostly private).

During the big winter of ‘08, CPw refused to start feeding and even threatened to occur citations for private feeding of the deer and elk. There were several nonresident groups (from Texas) that sent truckloads of hay and feed that were not allowed to help. Winter feeding will continue to be illegal in Colorado due to concerns about potentially spreading CWD.

CPw reduced tags in those units, but still continues to have early velvet (on top of bow hunters) and late rut rifle hunts that take a heavy toll on the mature bucks.

The predator populations remain high in the Gunnison basin as well. Predator numbers increased with increased prey populations and the predator population curve lag has been maintained by limited seasons and quotas on the apex predators. Impacts from predation on the deer herd are more pronounced when the population has been stressed. Recovery will take significantly more time with 24/7/365 predation.

On top of the above, current CPw deer management is focused on reducing mature buck numbers to potentially reduce the spread of CWD. The logic truly escapes me with this concept. Tag allocations were adjusted in NW CO in ‘19 to kill more bucks - particularly mature bucks. This concept is currently impacting parts of Eagle County that is historically the highest B&C mule deer producing county in North America.

Without significant changes in deer management policy and strategy ( predator control, further tag reductions, and reinstatement of winter feeding), the Gunnison basin will likely never recover to the “good old days”.

From: tkjwonta
24-Jan-20
With all the negative reports on the deer herd out of CO, do you residents have any insights as to parts of the state that weren't hit by the recent winter die-offs and predator issues? I hunted 35/36 last fall on a leftover tag and didn't see a single buck in 4 days of hunting. I've got 5 points and looking to burn them soon. I had been looking at a couple units in the gunnison basin, or maybe an early Sept rifle hunt but I haven't heard much optimism about any of those options recently.

From: Grey Ghost
24-Jan-20
"Lets look at facts or Colorado now have the WORST start dates for deer archery of any WESTERN STATE."

Umm....I hunt deer with my bow from Oct thru December in Colorado. The western slope isn't the only ball game in town for deer hunting.

Matt

From: IVL
24-Jan-20
Burn your Points now there is no reason to build deer points much past 2 or 3. Good deer can be found in any unit in Colorado. If you continue to hold on to them your missing out on good hunting that continues to dwindle away every year. The new policy CPW has adopted to slow the spread of CWD is going to eliminate the upper age class of bucks for a long time.

From: Treeline
24-Jan-20
Tkjwonta,

Eastern CO still has some decent hunting. Totally different than the high country. Mostly private land, flat, later dates. Still some great bucks out there, but getting tougher to find a place to hunt and a lot of outfitters have locked up access. Your best bet from out of state would be to talk to an outfitter out there. Not cheap for the good ones.

There are still good bucks in many mountain units as well. Just getting fewer due to several hard winters and the current CPw management plus, the high country archery season dates have been wreaked. You can still have a good DIY hunt West of I25 though. Many of the units that take a ton of points are absolutely not worth it though.

From: Grey Ghost
24-Jan-20
I think the chances of killing a trophy buck is far greater on the eastern plains of CO. I have a wall full of heads to back that up, too.

While most of it is private, and leased up by outfitters, there is 88,000 acres of public walk-in access that sees very little deer hunting pressure. Just 2 weeks ago, I saw a legitimate 200" buck on one of those properties, while pheasant hunting. You have to do your homework, and I suggest a fair amount of scouting, but there are opportunities to kill a trophy buck on the eastern plains without paying an outfitter. The 3 month season, that includes the rut, is a huge bonus, too.

Matt

From: IVL
24-Jan-20
To answer your question about large predators, GG, yes i have seen a lot of Bears and lions all over the state. I have hounds and i hunt lions every year. Used to run Bear as well. the Bear situation is so out of control in this state, its and understatement! how could it not be, Bears have the best nose of all big game animals, they come out of hibernation hungry, once their digestive tract gets settled they are ready to feast on the new fawns and calves that are hitting the ground. Its easy pickings! they live to be 25-30 years old, most bears in this state don't know what its like to be hunted. cows and does are being breed and they are giving birth but they don't make it to the winter when the DOW does their count. CPW knows this but the ballot measure handcuffs all sound management of bears. It needs to be reversed, but chances of that happening in this day in age are slim and none. lions are hard on all species especially the young adults and mature animals. they are especially hard on the Bighorn sheep. there's no balance among all the predators in the state, and that includes us as predators!

From: Pop-r
24-Jan-20
I've hunted the Gunnison basin since the late 90's randomly but have spent as much time in parts of it as anybody in that time I believe. Definitely more bears now than ever! I've never seen a lion but I know where you could tree one the first day. (SW CO is the same from my experience) I didn't know they had completely stopped feeding as they (CPW) were still baling the hay and storing it as of last year. I didn't stick around late enough to see them feed it but they baled it & put it in the barn. (Maybe for CPW horses?)

From: Grey Ghost
24-Jan-20
Since this thread remains off-track, I'll repeat my private response to IVL.

I have a few problems with blaming bears and lions for the dwindling elk herds in SW Colorado. First, the CPW biologists, who actually study this stuff for a living, have ruled out predation as the cause.

Second, if bears and lions are the reason, then why haven't we seen the same problem elsewhere in the state where herds are stronger than ever?

Third, it wasn't that long ago when ranchers and farmers in the SW pressured the CPW into a cow elk slaughtering program to reduce the numbers of elk. Where were all of these bears and lions then?

Fourth, why are all these bears and lions just targeting elk and deer offspring? Have they decided livestock is no longer palatable? I haven't read anything about a huge increase in livestock predation due to bears and lions down there, or anywhere for that matter.

Sorry, the dots just don't seem to connect with that argument, for me.

Matt

From: Treeline
24-Jan-20
They’ve stopped pretty much all the winter feeding of deer and elk due to concerns about concentrating them and spreading CWD.

From: Orion
24-Jan-20
Matt if they didn't think bears were a big part of the problem why did our limited September season go from 200 tags to over 600? Why is the nonresident price now $100. Your right their are multiple factors but to say lions and bears are not a part of it is ignorant.

From: Grey Ghost
24-Jan-20
Orion,

To think that bears and lions have suddenly lost their appetite for livestock in the SW, and for elk, deer, and livestock, in general, elsewhere in the state seems ignorant to me. But I'm no expert.

Matt

From: Orion
25-Jan-20
Matt they kill plenty of livestock also. CPW killed twenty three bears down here a couple years ago that were killing chickens, goats, and sheep.

From: Treeline
25-Jan-20
CPw tracks how many bears they kill versus hunters.

The bears they kill have typically been trapped and relocated once then cause trouble again.

I looked but could not find a graph that I have seen starting before the bear fiasco in the 90’s.

It showed the number of bears killed by hunters vs the number killed by the DOW. The DOW was killing very few bears prior to losing spring hunting, baiting and dogs.

Within 2 years, the DOW was killing more bears per year than hunters.

From what I recall, the number of bears killed by the State was more than hunters in every year since that and there were a few where the State killed over 2x the number of bears as hunters.

Pretty F-d up!

How much does it cost us (the license buying hunters) for this? When each one of those bears could be a source of revenue!

If CPw had a clue, they would have told the people complaining about bears that their hands were tied by the amendment. Put it back on the ballot and get it reversed.

From: Grey Ghost
25-Jan-20
Sorry guys, the bear and lion argument still doesn't hold much water for me, for the reasons I stated above. Sure, they kill some livestock everywhere in the state each year, but there hasn't been an explosion of those incidents anywhere. Elk cow to calf ratios have fallen from 60 per 100 cows to only 20 in the SW. If predation was the reason, then I'd expect to see a similar drop in livestock, and ranchers would be screaming about it. But we haven't seen that, anywhere.

I know many of you are still fuming about Amendment 10, and are looking for a reasons to say "I told you so" to the jackwads who pushed it thru. I remember all the doom and gloom predictions how elk and deer hunting was going to be ruined by it. None of that happened. In fact, elk populations have grown in many parts of the state during the nearly 30 years since spring bear hunting/baiting/dogs went away. I didn't like it, either, but it hasn't been the disaster some of you predicted.

BTW, for years I bought a bear tag to have in my pocket during elk season in case I happened to stumble upon one. I never filled one of those tags. I've never even had a close encounter. Perhaps I'm a crappy bear hunter, but surely I would have had a few opportunities, if the bear population was as out of control as some of you claim. Finally, I stopped wasting my money on bear tags.

Matt

From: Pop-r
25-Jan-20
It's just in the last 6 yrs or so that I've seen many bears and have seen quite a few in that time (approx. 25) Prior to 2012 I saw ONE bear in CO. I started hunting there in 1996 and have most every year since. There's something up with that. Maybe I'm just going where they live?

From: Orion
25-Jan-20
Well there it is folks since Matt can't kill a bear there aren't that many around. Hey Matt maybe you should check out the CPW's article how they hung their hat on a number of around 10,000 bears for the whole state then when they actually studied them they found out we have over 20,000 bears with a majority of those on the west slope.

From: Orion
25-Jan-20

Orion's embedded Photo
Orion's embedded Photo
How many elk calves you think this bear could eat?

From: Orion
25-Jan-20

Orion's embedded Photo
Orion's embedded Photo
Or this one?

From: Orion
25-Jan-20

Orion's embedded Photo
Orion's embedded Photo
How about him?

From: Orion
25-Jan-20

Orion's embedded Photo
Orion's embedded Photo
or these two or the forty some others that are on this cam? Or how about the twenty that are on another camera on another pond? Or the dozens of others that are on other cams in different canyons?

From: Treeline
25-Jan-20
I had been PMing GG about the issue and will keep it brief here.

The “argument” that bears aren’t killing livestock does not hold water.

Livestock owners protect their investment.

Us, as wildlife owners are severely restricted from protecting our big game from predators.

Particularly during the critical birthing season when the bears come out of hibernation.

CPw’s predator counts are notoriously low.

And their statements that predators are not negatively impacting ungulate populations are false and politically motivated.

From: Treeline
25-Jan-20
PS Orion, we need to talk! After over 30 bear tags, I have yet to drop string on one in Colorado!

From: Grey Ghost
25-Jan-20
Orion,

Do you know for fact that some of your trail cam pics aren't of the same bears? By the same token that my hunting experiences don't reflect the bear populations of the entire state, neither do yours.

I live in cattle, deer, and elk country. In 25 years, I've seen a grand total of 3 bears, the last one was 8 years ago. I own livestock, and I help rancher neighbors who run hundreds of cattle whenever I'm needed. I hunt for 4 months for deer and elk every year out here, rarely missing more than a week or two in the woods during that time. I've never found a bear or lion killed carcass, I've never heard of any livestock being killed by bears or lions, and I've never heard of anyone killing a bear or lion, here. Meanwhile elk have thrived, deer have held steady, and there's more cattle than ever. Those are just my observations in my area.

So, let's assume for the moment that predation is truly the cause of the dwindling elk herds in the SW. Simple question...then why haven't we seen the same problem elsewhere in the state? The ban on spring bear hunting/baiting/dogs applied to the whole state almost 30 years ago. Yet, we are to believe the SW corner is the only place bears and lions have thrived to the point of decimating the elk herds? If so, what caused that unique phenomenon only in the SW?

It's an honest question. Unless you have definitive proof that the CPW is lying to us about the impact of predation on ungulates, it's just your conspiracy theory. I'll side with the experts who are tasked to manage our wildlife, and have done a decent job of it, IMO. Remember, it was only a century ago when elk populations in Colorado were estimated to be only 500-1000 head, now it's 280,000. But then, you probably don't believe those numbers, either.

Matt

From: Ermine
25-Jan-20
I think there are ton of bears in Colorado. Talk to the officers. The one Local to me kills a lion or a bear every week because they are breaking into houses and stuff. And we don’t have the bear numbers that some places do.

Go to the auction in January and take a look at all the bear hides from the Dow. And those are the ones they killed and kept. A lot get wasted.

I don’t know how much of an impact it has on deer and elk but it has to have a little affect. It’s more sad and frustrating for me because if that spring bear ban didn’t happen we wouldn’t have so many bears being wasted. Hunters could be killing them and using the meat and supporting business to tan/ Mount the hide.

As far as deer goes. It’s kind of scary the direction they are headed. It’s an all out assault in mule deer it seems.

From: Orion
25-Jan-20
For decades, Apker said, wildlife managers have relied on old studies that estimated Colorado was home to between 10,000 and 12,000 bears.

“That’s what we hung our hat on for almost 15 years because we didn’t have anything else,” Apker said. Matt, this was a quote in the newspaper from CPW on an article when they admitted we have double the bears they thought we had. So your going to trust their numbers? If you can't see the differences in the bear photos I don't know what to tell you. How many pics do I need to post. Also you need to get out of your bubble and go talk to CPW or go to the auctions like Ermine suggested. Go see all the pelts of problem livestock killing bears are their and it is a fraction of what they kill.

From: Orion
25-Jan-20
https://www.postindependent.com/news/local/colorado-bear-population-much-bigger-than-expected-new-study-finds/ Matt here is the whole article before you accuse me of making up that quote

From: Orion
25-Jan-20
https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/12AG%20FY11%20Legislature%20Rept%20Game%20Damage.pdf

Matt, here is some more good reading by the state check out the numbers for bear killed livestock. Almost 500,000 dollars and that was only for the year 2010-2011. It has progressively gotten worse you can look at all the years reports

From: Orion
25-Jan-20

Orion's embedded Photo
Orion's embedded Photo
Here's another bear pic

From: Orion
25-Jan-20
https://www.denverpost.com/2016/10/22/colorado-may-kill-more-bears-mountain-lions-to-boost-deer-population/

Hmmm according to this CPW admits the bears and lions are having adverse affects on fawns and calves

From: Orion
25-Jan-20

Orion's embedded Photo
Orion's embedded Photo
Looks like the bear losses are all over the state and the SW isn't the worst area

From: kylet
25-Jan-20
I hunted early archery in the basin in 2017. Found some real big deer, but numbers were down.

From: Grey Ghost
25-Jan-20

Grey Ghost's embedded Photo
Grey Ghost's embedded Photo
Umm...I don't think that chart is indicating bear-related claims, Orion. It's simply showing what damages the claims paid for.

Speaking of Game Damage Claims, I found this chart from your link interesting. I'm not sure exactly what it's suppose to be showing us. It shows they paid almost a million dollars for sunflower damage around 2008. I can only assume that means crop damage from sunflowers. What do you suppose caused all those sunflowers to overtake those crop fields? Could it have been the result of deer and/or elk overgrazing those fields? And why do they just specify "Bears" around 2005, but don't mention any other predators in any other years. Was that the only year they paid damages for bear problems? It's a confusing and uninformative chart, if you ask me.

Matt

From: tkjwonta
25-Jan-20
There was some Utah data posted on another forum from collared infant fawns in 2018/2019 and in some units they found over 50% of the collared animals were killed by bears/lions in their first year. I don't know what those numbers would look like in Colorado, but Utah's deer herd is trending down as well...

From: midwest
25-Jan-20

midwest's Link
Good judge.

26-Jan-20
I'm from and live in WV. I hunt in Western and South Western CO. I have never been elk hunting there that I didn't see bears. I'm not glassing them up either. I'm seeing them at hunting ranges. And, lots of them. There are few places where there are as many or more bears then WV. However, that area of CO is one them. There are also quite a bit more lion sign versus 12 years ago. It truly is amazing that guys from out of state can come and see the bears we do. By doing nothing more then elk hunting.

From: Grey Ghost
26-Jan-20
It must be something in the water in the SW. I hunted 28 days in the NW corner during elk season last year. I saw bear and lion sign, but I never laid eyes on one, even glassing. Nor did any of the guys in my camp.

Matt

From: Branden
26-Jan-20
I have seen very few bears in Colorado. Kind of surprising since I spend a ton of time glassing.

For everyone that sees and thinks Colorado bears are a problem. You should invite people to come shoot them. I’m sure there are quite a few hunters that would love to come shoot a bear.

From: Treeline
26-Jan-20
Pretty much are. Nonresident bear tags are cheap $100.

Come kill one or two.

Colorado bears are my nemesis. After probably 30 tags, still no shots taken.

Seem to just fine on them anywhere else...

From: Branden
26-Jan-20
I’m not saying Colorado should invite hunters. I’m saying the individual’s that say there is a problem should invite hunters.

If I think there is a problem and there are multiple people that are more than willing to help me fix the problem. I’m going to invite them to help me fix the problem. Not just keep talking about it.

In this case I would start a post with something like this.

“I can help point you in the right direction for bears in Colorado. Tag fee is $xxx and these are the season dates. Send me a pm if interested.”

I’m sure there would be multiple people willing to help.

From: Grey Ghost
26-Jan-20
Branden, I wish you posted more often.

That's the whole point I've been harping on. Something in the SW is causing the predator/prey imbalance, if predation is the cause, then why haven't other areas experienced the same imbalance? It doesn't add up in my simple mind. I wish some one could educate me.

Could it possibly be that SW ranchers pushed the CPW into an elk eradication program that wasn't needed? Prior to that the elk where thriving, and bears were no problem.

Or, could it be increased human populations in that area has consolidated elk breeding/calving/rearing grounds to where they are easy prey for bears?

Or is there a disease, or an environmental/climate change component involved?

Matt

From: Branden
26-Jan-20
I’m not saying predators aren’t a problem.

I’m saying if someone perceives them to be a problem and has hundreds on cams they should ask for help in getting rid of the problem.

There are a lot of problems out there. Some are easy to solve some are hard.

Knocking down the bear population seems like an easy problem to solve if a person that sees a lot of them every year wanted the problem solved.

From: Grey Ghost
26-Jan-20
Agreed.

Address the problem, and move on. Pretty simple, really.

Matt

From: SBH
26-Jan-20
Branden- I don’t think a lot of guys are going to give up their spots and I invite other guys into the areas they hunt for elk and deer in the hopes that a few bears get killed.

From: Branden
26-Jan-20
SBH if someone has a problem and a means to fix the problem, but won't, then they should quit complaining.

Also I don't agree. If there are 20+ bears coming into a camera I am sure there are a ton of better places to hunt for deer and elk. Also if I was to make that type of offer I would try to filter the hunters a little and ask them not to come hunt deer or elk there if that is where I hunt. Most bowsiters probably would honor that. Some might not.

For this specific problem whats the fix than? Colorado will never allow bait, spring bear, or hounds again. Do you try to get the game and fish to pay government hunters to come kill the bears in "your spot"? Or do you kill 1-2 bears a year out of there and keep complaining?

I bet a guy could even do a swap hunt. Help a guy get a bear in Colorado. Then head down to Texas and get an exotic in February. Or maybe info on elk in NM, or whitetails in Kansas, etc. I look at it as a win win.

Anyway that would be my solution if I had a bear problem. If someone has a bear problem they can handle it however they like. It would be nice though if when they came online to complain about it they said something like "I had a flock of bears in the main drainage I hunt elk in this year. I am going to try .... to cut the bear flock down to a herd."

Regards, Branden

From: Orion
27-Jan-20
We kill lots of bears but thanks Branden. My son turns 12 this year and my daughter will be thirteen, now that we can get 2 tags each our goal is take 6 mature boars this year. Your also right my bear spots are not where I hunt deer or elk they are in low elevation, thick oak brush and choke cherry canyons. I have helped others kill bears as well. I am not going to invite every Tom, Dick, and Harry from the internet to hunt my spots they take just as much work as other species

From: Grey Ghost
27-Jan-20
So you complain about too many bears, while blaming the CPW for the problem, and you know where to hunt them in good numbers, yet you want to save those bears and your spot for yourself and your family to hunt. Got it.

Matt

From: Surfbow
27-Jan-20
"Again thanks "elk only CBA""

Yes, low deer numbers are the CBA's fault, its science...it must be...haha

From: Orion
27-Jan-20
And my friends. Your right Matt I'm not going to invite every bowsiter and their brother. Glad your calling a guy out who is doing his part and killing lots of bears every year. Seems like you can't even kill one. CPW admitted they didn't give real bear numbers I posted the article for you don't need to cast blame they admitted to it themselves. You don't need my spots just come down to Durango grab a bear tag hit any trailhead and you can kill one its that simple. I also hope that if you had kids you would give them priority also.

From: Orion
27-Jan-20
The problem is most guys don't want to give up elk time to kill a bear. Get serious and give up a few days of archery elk and you can kill bears every year. I solely focus on bears the first week of September. We sit ponds and travel routes between food sources not for everyone but it works. For those guys reading this thread that want to truly kill a bear come down hit Junction Creek, Missionary Ridge, and Middle Mountain areas and you will kill bears.

From: Grey Ghost
27-Jan-20
I don't expect you to invite every Bowsiter, nor do I have any real desire to hunt them in Durango. It's just odd to me that you complain about too many bears, and you have the spots and knowledge to put a serious dent in the population, yet you want save those bears for family and friends to hunt. Seems like you want have your cake and eat it too.

Edit: Orion, I rescind the comment above, since your last post actually did something to address the problem. I'm sure a few guys will note the spots you shared with us, and try to kill a bear down there this year. If I don't draw the trophy elk unit tag that I expect to this year, I may consider a trip to Durango this fall.

Matt

From: Branden
27-Jan-20
Orion I understand. The bear problem obviously isn’t a big enough problem to you. If it was a bigger problem I’m sure you would find a solution.

Good luck this year. I hope both your kids are successful.

From: JSW
27-Jan-20
I've been telling people for decades that there are more bears in Colorado than the G&f is willing to admit. A recent study identified 385 different bears within a 5 mile radius of Durango. Do you realize just how small an area that is for 385 bears. The population was multiple times higher than previously estimated. Hence, the 4 fold increase in licenses in the SW units.

Matt uses his own cherry picked information to justify his stance. Why spend so much time arguing with someone who doesn't pay attention to the research.

Predators are known to have a huge impact on survival rates of fawns and calves. In some places significantly higher than others, for no known reason. It's also different from year to year, depending on many unknown factors.

From: Deercy
28-Jan-20
I had a farm in Kentucky that I ran trail cameras on. I had a food plot on it with several cameras set over it. One day when I was checking the plot I found a tiny set of fawn hooves close to one of my cameras. No sign of anything out of the ordinary other than the obvious evidence that something had eaten a fawn. Never got a picture of any predation but it made me notice every doe that didn't have fawns. I ran a camera over a pretty good watering spot this year. There was a group of 7 cows that was consistently there that only had 3 calves in the group. Made me wonder.

From: Grey Ghost
28-Jan-20
"Matt uses his own cherry picked information to justify his stance. Why spend so much time arguing with someone who doesn't pay attention to the research."

Yet, that's exactly what you did with your "385 bears in a 5 mile radius" information. Pot, meet kettle.

Predators are known to have a huge impact on survival rates of fawns and calves. In some places significantly higher than others, for no known reason.

Umm, I think that's exactly the point I've been making, repeatedly. No one knows the reason for exploding bear populations and declining elk herds in the SW, or they won't admit it, if they do know. I think multiple factors have caused it, and I hope the CPW and hunters figure out the solution, quick.

Matt

From: KSflatlander
28-Jan-20
JSW- 385 bears within 5 miles of Durango equals about 1 bear per 130 acres. That’s 10Xs the density of Vancouver Island which has one of the highest density of black bears in the world. That is really hard to believe. Do you have a source for this “recent study” you’re talking about that shows this data?

From: whipranger
28-Jan-20
How come every thread turns into a cluster f*&# nowhere near to original topic

From: Nick Muche
29-Jan-20
Whip, how come? Well, only lately because GG must debate everything.

From: KSflatlander
29-Jan-20
Nick, that must be it. It's all GG lol. GG isn't debating himself.

Seems to me that many threads go off the rails when people post BS with nothing to back it up and others call them out.

From: PECO
29-Jan-20
It all stated when the Community Forum went away, not.

From: JSW
29-Jan-20
If you google SW Colorado bear study, Heather Johnson, you can find the information. The 385 number came directly from presentations done by either Heather, the biologist or Lyle Wilmarth, the trapper for the project. It was an amazing study and I followed it for several years, attending about a half dozen presentations and even helping to provide funding to facilitate a presentation for P&Y. They identified over 385 different bears in the area over a 3 or 4 year period from DNA samples. That was the last number that I heard. I'm not sure the project was finished when I was told that number. There is no disputing that most western states have significantly more large predators today than at any time in our lifetimes. I've seen studies that have shown one bear to kill 18 calf elk in one night. While that's an anomaly, it doesn't take very many bears, cougars, coyotes and wolves to have a huge impact on calf/fawn survival. If big game hunters aren't united behind aggressive predator control we are making a huge mistake.

From: Grey Ghost
29-Jan-20
"There is no disputing that most western states have significantly more large predators today than at any time in our lifetimes.

There's also no disputing that most western states have significantly more prey for bears than they've had in the past. Cause and effect, perhaps?

I do agree, however, if you feel your area has a predator/prey imbalance, then hunters should use every opportunity they have to address the solution. Perhaps kill a bear or two before chasing elk? Just a thought.

Matt

From: KSflatlander
29-Jan-20
JSW- I gleaned the SW Colorado bear study last night before I posted. That is why I asked you about the number. I was hoping you would post a link to the study you are referencing and cite the page the data is on. I couldn't find it myself. Maybe it isn't the same study?

To the OP, I elk hunted unit 55 a few times 5-10 years ago. Feel free to PM me if you want my somewhat dated intel in some areas of Unit 55.

From: crestedbutte
01-Feb-20
I have a cabin about 9 miles away in the backcountry north of Crested Butte. I have been mule deer hunting back in there since 2000. 2000-2008 was absolutely incredible mule deer hunting. However, since winter 2008 the population, quantity of bucks and age structure has definitely taken a nose dive . I attribute that mainly to a few of the horrific winters the Gunnison Basin has had (2008 & 2017). That being said, I would not burn a bunch of built-up points to hunt Unit 55. That unit is a 4 pt unit max.

Bears on the other hand are a different story all together. At my place (in the early 2000’s) you were lucky if you saw 1 bear during a 2 week Summer vacation stay there and we did a lot of glassing from the deck. Now, you may see about 5-6 during a 2 week stay. This year, I should draw for mule deer and will be buying a bear tag!

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