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2020 hunting pressure
I’m curious what everyone saw as far as hunting pressure goes. For me, it was bad. I have been hunting certain areas in my draw unit every year for 20 years, either helping other hunters or with my own tag. A couple of these areas I’ve literally never seen another in that entire time. This year, it was daily encounters with other hunters. Good for them because none of these areas are easy access so couldn’t be mad but it was frustrating running through plan A-Z and not getting away from the pressure. The G&F didn’t increase tags so I can’t really explain it. I listened to Aron Snyder of Kifaru’s podcast and he mentioned this about his area in CO. What about 2020 made it like this? Maybe for some it wasn’t like this. Maybe the question is rhetorical simply because it’s 2020??.
I hunt on private land that has little or no trespassers. So, I had no issues with other hunters.
Covid and no Canadian border crossing is my guess. Everyone found their outdoor zen this year. Does your unit usually sell all the tags drawn. Are leftover tags usually sold out?
I hunt a general area so it can get pretty crowded, but this year was the worst I’ve ever seen...by far.
I hunted a draw unit in Colorado that took 6 points to draw. It's the 3rd time I've hunted the unit; I hunted it in '07 & '10 when it was easier to draw. Tags are limited in that unit and there was no increase in tags. However I experienced the heaviest hunting pressure I've ever experienced anywhere, even in OTC units. I saw or heard other hunters almost on a daily basis and sometimes multiple hunters in a day. I called the same 2 guys in 3 times and it seemed that I couldn't get away from them.
My take on 2020 is that a lot of people weren't working due to covid so instead of hunting their normal 10-14 days they hunted the entire season. Also I wonder if some people might have developed the mentality that the world is going to hell and things might get a lot worse so they better get out elk hunting while they still can. I also wonder if the stimulus checks actually resulted in some people having more disposal income to use for hunting.
Another factor might have been kids being out of school and being able to go on hunting trips. Without work or school people had fewer commitments and more free time.
In the WY general unit I hunted, the USFS supervisor stopped by my camp and told me he had never seen so many bowhunters. He was upset because it was his and his son's long time spot too. He blamed fires for displacing some people from the Snowies, the new young female biologist who was telling any NR who asked that they should hunt exactly there, and some loose lips publicizing it on hunting forums. He was really bummed out.
I'm a NR from 8 miles south of the border so I can't complain about NRs, but there were hunters from at least a dozen midwest and eastern states all trying to hunt basically two big drainages, running all over each other. As bad as any CO OTC area I've hunted. I went to different areas and found basically the same. I stuck with it because there were bulls, but some mornings it was a race to bugles, and a lot of the elk fled into wilderness areas where we couldn't hunt.
I have ran into a little of all of it. All the kids events were cancelled the whole year which left me with more vacation then I e ever had. I have always planned for rainy days don’t effect my family financially like some. I didn’t get a stimulus check. Guess that’s a reward for workin hard and makin sacrifices that others won’t, but it won’t keep me from huntin. I knew my kids school schedule would be covid jacked so I put us in for our iowa deer tags. I had 23 days off in November and got him to hunt a real deer rut, somthin he’s never had in the heavy pressure wisconsin farm country. I hunted Nebraska for a week and left him in iowa for 7 days to hunt on his first real “on his own” hunt. He didn’t kill. But had a great week with grandpa, had 2 big buck encounters and passed on 12 bucks. My daughter came home from college 2 weeks early Because the college didn’t want them back after thanksgiving break and have gotten a bunch of bonus hunting days with her. I didn’t think she’d see the woods for 4 years until she was done when she left for school. Weird year- You just have to be flexible until this is over. We’ve had a great fall- it’s just been different. IMO- it will be back to normal or a little less pressure next fall. I think the economic fallout from this pandemic is gonna hit a lot of people hard the next couple years. It seems things are always slow to get going after a set back- and the new administration policies will not help
Tons of Vegas riff raff and California idiots going camping for the first time. It was so bad here in Southern Utah we actually started renting our 18' travel trailer for a ridiculous amount and had it rented every weekend through the end of September. I hope Disneyland reopens and they go back to their normal routines. Almost got hit twice by dipshits racing around on side by sides they had rented. Archery season was a joke.
What happens when you become successful, guys are gps tagging ya and following you to your spots.
I helped a buddy and first time hunter in the Idaho Beaverhead unit. First time there for either of us. Never seen that many hunters...anywhere! We still got into bulls almost every day but it took creativity, lots of hiking and stress management when others blew herds out with stupid moves.
On my archery deer hunt, there was very little pressure after 3 years of crazy pressure.
My elk hunt was actually a rifle draw with only 50 tags for the whole unit. As expected I didn’t see a single hunter anywhere. It was fantastic.
More people in the woods than ever before
No mystery - shut off the economy and folks had time but weren't broke yet. Lots of recreational stuff that involves being in crowds was closed.
This was the most hunters I've ever seen in the woods. Also there were more NR than residents hunting. I usually have most places to myself, but not this year.
Didn’t make it out west this year but I can tell u the fishing pressure on the coast this year was the worst I’ve ever seen. No one working so everyone just partied and fished
Not only hunting but every type of outdoor activity. All recreational equipment sold out. Plus everyone became a farmer...couldn't find canning supplies anywhere.
Hunted MT for the third year in a general unit and there was by far more recreation than the previous years put together. At one point there were 6 groups trying to hunt one small herd with a bugler. And to add to the fracas , here come UTV's, dirt bikes, wood cutters and cowboys trying to find moo cows scattered throughout the mountain range. The locals we talked with said they had never seen this much recreational pressure. Here's hoping 2021 is more normal.
I thought hunters welcomed new hunter recruitment. What is going on here with some of these responses? Is more hunter recruitment a positive or a negative? Or, is it just good if they hunt somewhere else, but not in your area? Kind of like the crossbow dilemma. Lol!
I would also add, travel is cheap! Cheap gas, cheap flights.
I hunted Iowa and Nebraska for 3 weeks. In the spots I hunted, all public I saw 4 hunters the entire time. Shawn
Yes, more pressure this year from what I saw. I think many of us who've been around the block a few times are frustrated at the increase in pressure in areas we hunt vs years past. But there is a new generation of hunters that will do anything to get their face plastered on social media, and use every gadget available to do it. I think hunter recruitment is great, but I'm not a fan of a lot of what is coming with it. Getting around is easier than it used to be, and all these gadgets make hunting easier.
It started during turkey season and is still happening today in our late bird season. No work, cheap travel, no kids activities, stimulus and PPP programs have people with income and free time, no other entertainment options, and social distancing have all combined for unprecedented hunting and fishing pressure throughout the US.
Yes, increased hunter recruitment and easy weapons means increased pressure on the resources. And we all know what comes next.
In area 41 it was was the same thing as how crowded it became after September 15 rolled around as then it becomes a crossover over area where 850 more hunters had the option to archery hunt the last 2 weeks of September. I’ve hunted this area for many years but after this year I will take my chances on the draw in an area that doesn’t have a crossover season.
Not elk hunting but I didn't see anymore people than I usually do deer hunting in Indiana.
Anything that could be done outdoors while distanced has seen a huge increase in participation. Simply cause we couldn't do much indoors or even outdoors in a group. Golf saw its biggest increase in rounds from the previous season in over 20 years.
In PA, more people in the woods than 2019. Deer are not coming out in the open during daylight.
Well, I hunted a LE unit in Wyoming ... I saw ONE other hunter, and he had beer in camp, so it was a positive encounter! Honestly, I was surprised how little the pressure was -- though I only hunted two days, and those were weekdays.
Unreal number of camps in Gen area I hunt. Mostly deer hunters. Saw one other archery elk hunter, but he is a local as well. Had two run ins with local rancher that was running grazing fences with his entire family. 3 four wheelers and Sxs's. All out just checking fences that had been rebuilt last year after a fire. He was not running cattle on forest this year just out for a joy ride. Local Forest Service had a discussion with him after I spoke to them.
Interestingly enough, the rifle elk hunt in this gen area was the lowest amount of pressure I have seen in 20 years. Places there are usually multiple camps, were empty. Camps that have been there every year for 20+ years, for weeks on end, were gone. Saw two other hunters entire season actually in the field and this is in a very popular gen unit. Wondering if everyone burned their vacation during the deer season.
People either out of work/school, or doing it remote, which you can make work via a camper, this also removed the "have to squeeze it into a weeks vacation" and that put more people in for longer times.
I can't compare to previous years as this was my first in the area I was in, but locals said "don't bother hunting the first week, after that you will be alone or with only locals". Well I was pulled out of snow by non-residents way after they were "supposed" to be there
The guys that normally hunt for 5-6 days now have 3-4 weeks of vacation they can’t burn on a vacation. When the normal tag hunters start hunting 10+ days instead of 5 it gets crowded. Add additional hunters in otc units and there you have it. Even without additional tags guys were in the woods longer equating more people in the woods at once.
I hunted an OTC unit in Colorado with a buddy during ML season. I had an archery tag. I have not hunted this area before, and I expected it to be a lot more crowded. We were the only ones in the area we hunted, but there were many hunters the next drainage over. Lots of fresh sign and a few brown flashes ghosting through the timber. We were off of a popular hiking and dog walking trail. Saw a few locals hiking daily on the main trail.
I didn't elk hunt this year because I blew up my shoulder and had to have it rebuilt. Friends who hunted Colorado and Idaho reported much the same as everyone else here, people everywhere. Couldn't get away from them. Some hunters, others just covid campers out and about.
Definitely as Glunt and others have said, most had plenty of free time and still plenty of money.
But I also can't help but wonder if phone mapping app data is getting shared, either intentionally because it's so easy to share, or unintentionally because the data isn't secure...
SO, I cant really say. We had limited tags in WY. Not awesome tags but not general. We hunted almost 30 days for elk and ran into 1 guy and his son on horses. Found elk almost every day. It was the least pressure of any hunt I have ever been on. Definitely way less than even the unit 2 bull tag I had last year.
Archery antelope again in a decent WY draw unit was empty. During archery season saw one other truck and during the rifle season I ran into one truck hunting coyotes. Spent 4 days chasing lopes with the rifle.
Rifle deer general area in WY was an absolute zoo with hunters even really late in the season. The weather was balmy and nice and in one morning I Had over a dozen vehicles pass me. I turned around and found another place where I sat for a full day and glassed only ever saw 2 guys around lunch time.
Seriously it was one of my best years ever in terms of other hunters with the exception of the one morning where I witnessed a never ending train of atvs racing up the road.
Data will show it wasn't "more hunters", but rather the same number of hunters with more time to hunt, which translates into more man-days in the woods. Weekend Warriors became two week hunters. And hunters are concentrating efforts in many areas. In N.CO, this was happening before COVID, even in the LE units, because deadfall and beetle kill have choked many areas where hunters used to hunt. So they concentrate where access is more hunter-friendly.
Then throw in social media. People post exact drainages and mountains to hunt (you listening, "Born and Raised"?) Knowing thousands, maybe tens of thousands, will watch or read it. If you happen to hunt one of those areas, as I did this year, it goes from low pressure to overrun very quickly.
Seems like everyone is jumping on the backcountry backpack train also. Never seen so many heading miles and miles back in there to hunt elk. It was packed at trailhead I hunt with guys packing in. We hunt from camp up a nasty steep hill to good ledges everyone walks past. We were 1 to 2 miles in but tough hiking, and had it to ourselves. Guys packing out were frustrated with crowding! Cameron Hanes influence.
We hunted a heavily pressure draw unit in MT. Saw lots of nice campers and met a bunch of people complaining about crowds and low elk numbers. We had a great hunt with good bulls everyday and never had any encounters with other hunters. We killed three 6 points in 6 days. Maybe I’m lucky but in 10 years of elk hunting, I have only ran into a handful of hunters once I had packed in. All different units too.
Had a type 9 tag in Wyoming this year and only saw 4 other hunters, all but one on the roads the whole season. The one lone hunter we saw back in there was on a horse with his guide and wrangler being the pied piper blowing his horn every 100 yards :) Kinda funny actually. As soon as they went by and were out of sight and ear shot 100 elk came out from the pines below them !!!
Here in Utah, the campers were out definitely having a good time of it. Every camp spot in the mtn's was full with trailers and tents as far as you could drive or hike. With all that said my one buddy and his whole family tagged out between all the seasons. One of the youngest sons got his first deer right in the middle of all the mayhem. A nice 3x4 muley !!!
Here on the front it's exactly the same as usual. Lots of friendly folks wishing they had the canyon to themselves. Today is the last day of archery elk season and I have to go to work this afternoon. Couldn't dig up any this morning and even got a flat on my fat tire on the way down in the snow. Taking it as a sign it's time to call it a year. A damn good one to say the least. Sorry for those who had a tough go of it.
This year was a LOT more crowded then in the past, and not all were hunters, lots of hikers and ATV/UTV users.
Archery elk, LE unit in NM...same unit as last Year, same areas...easily twice as many hunters (NF Land).
Also, rifle shots cracking off daily during the late bow Season. Mostly locals (NM license plates)
Absolutely no presence by Game and Fish...didn't see a single rig.
Yep sure, it was pretty busy out there this year! It was a grind but worth it!
When the going gets tough the tough get going!
Same for us in CO. Began hunting an area in '94 when it was OTC - over the past several years it takes 3 points to draw. More hunters this year then ever in the past.
Same thing in WY - used to get a tag every year, now takes 3 points. On our way headed out there last year (2019) we jinxed ourselves, talked about how nice it was that we seldom saw another hunter. Every single day we all (4 of us - split up in different spots) saw multiple hunters.
My hunting partner and I invited a friend and his dad. They brought a friend. Still saw fewer than normal people in the backcountry we hunt regularly in CO. In PA I had fewer trespassers than normal and property only took two (known) deer due to lack of pressure. One rifle one archery. So I am noticing less pressure. The PA public land nearby had a pretty big opening weekend for rifle deer then petered off substantially.
I hunted 76 in ID and had no issues with pressure, crowding, etc. Deer herd is in miserable shape so that may have influenced the crowds. We do walk in a fairly good way so I think some folks are just not interested or able to get where we were.
In the AZ I’ve never in my life seen it so bad but...... I wouldn’t say it was just “hunting pressure” though. There were just hundreds and thousands of people camping and recreating in the woods all spring to summer and into the fall. Even during the week. The pressure on resources was insane! God willing next year will be different.
In my opinion the number of folks taking up bowhunting is out pacing the number of people taking up gun hunting. For example, in some OTC Colorado units there will be more archery hunters in the field during Sep than rifle hunters during first rifle season. Granted, 1st rifle is a draw regardless of the unit but many units only require 0 to 1 point to draw. So my point is, the old days of less people bowhunting than gun hunting is over, especially for elk hunting.
Being that it was a draw unit and you ran into hunters where you previously never saw another human, I’d say the media and the growing popularity of backcountry hunting definitely plays a hand. There are so many YouTube videos and buku podcasts and threads on the forums these days on the subject.
The OTC unit I hunted, it was bad! I’ve never seen or experienced anything like it! If you could park a 5th wheel, bumper pull, motor home, mini van, bicycle, dirt bike, utv, atv, pickup truck, suv, horse, mule or llama, it was parked there.
I know people are blaming the kids and social media but I blame the baby boomers, your at the age where half of you are retired and the other half have saved there money and can afford to do many hunts a year along with accrued vacation/covid time. Damn baby boomers ;) Can you tell I’m a bIt jealous
Elk hunting has definitely become more popular over the past ten years and at a noticeable rate. Between tv shows and the internet the exposure and the ability to research and plan for a hunt from your couch has enabled a landslide of new elk hunters out there.
This year was notably the biggest increase I’ve seen. More pressure for sure. But as always the newcomers don’t get very far. Although my more remote spot actually saw a couple people as well which is very unusual.
In spite of that the elk surprised us. They stayed low. Lower than ever actually which still has me scratching my head. But regardless of what the elk are doing it’s definitely more fun with less people around than this past season. I hope this gets back to normal whatever that is some day. Not getting my hopes up. The only thing that gives me hope is that none of those pilgrims killed anything. I saw one local pack out a small 3x4 raghorn so he might not be back either. You gotta think the cup is half full. Any elk hunter knows that.
I hunted Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming for 12 days this fall. It was my first time there so I cannot fairly compare to prior years. I couldn't get over the number of non-hunter campers and trailers. Plenty of hunters as well. It was a real circus at times!
Tom, it's like that all spring and summer. During the week it's a little better. Not my favorite place to go!
everything in life is about time, money and resources. time: people had more time to devote to hunting/outdoor activities due to covid. money: gov't give aways . resources: better gear(vehicles, weapons, clothing and camping), better technology, abundant knowledge (internet). hard to say what effect on time and money biden and covid will have. Technology will be ever expanding making anyone confident to perform tasks.