One word best describes the 2012 deer hunting season.
“Slow,” said Andy Holland, big game manager for the Colo. Division of Parks and Wildlife (CDPW). “We had the warmest summer and fall on record, so hunters had a little lower success rate compared to recent years.”
Despite the sweltering conditions, 50 percent of all hunters bagged a whitetail or mule deer in 2012. That percentage should increase this fall.
“It’s going to be a good year, particularly for mule deer hunting,” added Holland. “We had a mild winter and our mule deer buck-to-doe ratio is about 31 to 100.”
There’s one caveat to Holland’s prediction: it will be a good year if a hunter was fortunate enough to draw a tag. There are no over-the-counter licenses available in the Rocky Mountain State, and the continued decline in the mule deer population in the western part of the state has prompted the CDPW to reduce the number of hunting permits available in 2013. Brutal winters in 2007 and 2008, mountain lion predation and urban sprawl have substantially reduced the mule deer population. Holland estimates that about 390,000 remain, but the goal of the CDPW continues to be to increase mule deer densities. At the time this was written, it was unclear how the epic floods that hit the Denver area would affect hunting.
The whitetail population sets at about 20,000 animals, found mostly on the Eastern Plains. If you have a deer tag and access to private land, you should be successful this fall. There is some public access along the South Platte, but check with a local game warden to make sure you’re not unknowingly trespassing on private property.
There are no regulation changes to report. **
Anywhere West of I-25 gives you good access to public land where big-bodied muleys roam.
“You could kill a good, mature buck anywhere west of the Great Divide,” Holland noted.