Guides Outfitters & Brokers
When you are hunting in Colorado, your compliance is required with many wildlife laws. These regulations exist to promote safety and to protect a valuable resource – our state’s wildlife. Officers issue hundreds of tickets every year for hunting law violations. Many of these costly citations could have been avoided if hunters were familiar with state wildlife regulations.
Colorado prides itself on its diverse natural wildlife, so it is only fitting that state law acts to preserve and protect it. Hunters must be aware of the various laws around hunting wildlife in the state in order to avoid fines and penalties. One of the more interesting but lesser-known laws that hunters must observe is Samson’s Law. Samson’s law places stiff penalties on those who illegally hunt trophy animals so we can protect the lives and populations of Colorado wildlife. If you are a keen hunter in Colorado, keep reading to find out how this law may affect you.
Even the most diligent hunters can make mistakes. Colorado’s hunting regulations can be quite complicated – hunting a certain species of animal might be allowed one season, but not allowed the next. In addition to being aware of which game can be hunted during each specific season, hunters must also be well-versed in other types of rules and regulations. It is not unusual for hunters with the best of intentions to receive a fine from $50 to $10,000-plus, depending on the violation in question. While most hunters are conscientious and careful, in Colorado, they are likely to unwittingly commit a violation of some sort.
Hunter’s the 2021 Colorado Big Game Hunting Brochure is out! Order one, pick one up at your local CPW office or review it online. This is a must for every hunter, read it, know it, live by it, because you are required to understand the laws for hunting in Colorado. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse; the Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer’s will be out, and they will be checking you to see if you are following the laws. Knowing the laws will not only help you to potentially avoid receiving a citation, but it will make for a safer hunt, for not only you but everyone else that is in the field!
With most big game seasons ending, the waterfowl season in Colorado is ramping up for January. Rifle Plains Deer season will go through January, but most of the deer, elk, and pronghorn seasons have come and gone. Many big game hunters will turn instead to dark geese, ducks, and eventually snow geese.
Colorado hosts a large number of capable outfitters for those hunters who don’t feel like messing with a large decoy spread and finding a spot to hunt away from the public crowds. For a modest fee, outdoorsmen and women can sit in comfortable blinds and focus on camaraderie and socializing and let their guide worry about decoys and calling.
Public ground in Colorado can be at a premium in January when most of the lakes have frozen. The few public areas with open water on rivers or sloughs will see a lot of foot traffic from Colorado duck and goose hunters. Public land hunters will benefit from extensive scouting and long hikes with their gear.
As with any hunting season, it’s important to know what you and your hunting companions are required to carry. Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officers will be checking waterfowl hunters for proper licenses and equipment through the end of the season. If you receive a ticket, it is vital to talk to a Wildlife Lawyer to learn your options. One of our experts in our Wildlife Law group will walk you through the options you have — we are here to help you.
Last Spring, when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed several bills into law that restricted magazine capacity and mandated stricter controls on gun sales, there was a cry for a boycott of the Colorado big game industry. Hunters, outfitters, and proponents of the Second Amendment called for both residents and non-residents alike to boycott the big game hunting season to show the State how they felt about the new laws. After the dice fell, the results are in and Colorado sold more licenses this year than they had in 2012. The boycott missed its mark.
According to the Denver Post, Colorado Parks and Wildlife sold about 6,000 more deer and elk licenses than 2012 and about 1,400 more bear licenses than in 2012. This was an overall increase of about 4% in the number of limited license applications since the previous year. The Colorado hunting and fishing industry brings in roughly $1.8 billion a year.
So why was the boycott ineffective? While it is impossible to know exactly why the boycott failed on the individual level, some other trends have shown up. The legislature signed Hickenlooper’s bills into law only just before the deadline for big game licenses. This timing may have made some hunters choose between standing up for themselves or missing an entire season. Further, nonresident licenses make up about 80% of the licenses sold in the State. The nonresidents may have been unaware or apathetic to the changing laws and boycott.
So what does this mean for the hunters of Colorado? It means that a change came and went, without too much backlash on the State itself. It means that Colorado hunters are being restricted in their Second Amendment rights without being able to voice their concerns. It means the State can keep rolling, with or without, the hunters of Colorado.
If your Second Amendment rights have been infringed upon or if you need to talk to a Wildlife Law Expert, contact Welsh Law, LLC. toll-free at 888-458-0991.
From the Steamboat Pilot and Today:
Steamboat Springs — The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife and the Miller Creek Ranch in Meeker are offering big-game hunters an opportunity to apply for a limited number of private-property elk and mule deer hunts beginning Nov. 3, according to a news release.
Interested hunters must submit an application by 5 p.m. Wednesday to Colorado Parks and Wildlife — Meeker Office, Attn: Bailey Franklin/Special Miller Creek Ranch Hunts, P.O. Box 1181, Meeker, CO 81641. The application can be found at https://cpw.state.co.us/.
Nine hunts will be available to hunters who already have drawn limited deer and elk licenses for Game Management Unit 23 during the 2012 big-game hunting seasons. In addition, one public bull elk hunt will be available to any big-game hunter who plans to purchase an unlimited, over-the-counter bull elk license for the third rifle season in 2012.
On April 25, the Colorado House of Representatives passed House Bill 1330. Championed by State Representative Jon Becker, House Bill 1330 would create an appeals process for Colorado hunters and anglers with suspended hunting or fishing licenses.
Specifically, the Bill would give a person with a hunting or fishing license suspension the ability to petition the commission of wildlife to reinstate their privileges. A hunter or angler could petition the commission up to three times after half of their suspension was served if the commission determines that the outdoorsman in question is unlikely to offend again, has maintained a clean record since receiving the suspension, and finally, only if the suspension is their first. In the alternative, if the suspension is a lifetime suspension, a person can only petition after 10 years of the suspension has been served.
If the commission determines that the suspension should be administratively ended, the Bill allows the commission to order a $300.00 maximum fee, 40 hours of service on wildlife projects, or the completion of an educational course to be determined by the Commission.
The Bill could completely change the legal landscape for first-time violators. Prior to this Bill, a hunter or outfitter would face significant administrative penalties without an appropriate recourse. In Mr. Becker’s own words, "[t]his bill gives hunters and anglers in Colorado an avenue for appeal they’ve never had before. House Bill 1330 affords sportsmen a hearing process that will help them pursue their passion for years to come if no wrongdoing can be found."
Not only does this bill give a hunter or angler the ability to continue to hunt or fish in Colorado, but it would also affect his or her rights in other states under the Wildlife Violator Compact. In other words, if a violation occurred in Colorado, the other 35 states could choose to adopt any suspension levied by Colorado. Similarly, if Colorado chooses to reinstate a hunter’s privileges, other states will also likely be forced to consider the same. In fact, states across the board may begin following Colorado’s lead.
House Bill 1330 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
Stay tuned. We’ll follow this one for you and keep you posted.
Cody Doig, Esq.
Famed rock musician, conservationist, and political activist Ted Nugent pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a federal wildlife violation after he failed to recover a wounded black bear three years ago on an archery hunt in Alaska. Mr. Nugent agreed to pay $10,600.00 in fines and restitution and stated "I’m afraid I was blindsided by this, and I sincerely apologize to everyone for it."
Mr. Nugent, even as a well-traveled and savvy hunter, was "blindsided" by a labyrinth of hunting rules and regulations. Alaska, like every other state, gives each hunter the affirmative responsibility to know the laws that control every hunt. In Mr. Nugent’s case, he was responsible for knowing that even "wounding" a bear in Alaska is the functional equivalent of "taking" a bear and would satisfy Mr. Nugent’s bag limit even if the bear was never recovered. See Alaska Hunting Regulations here. Ignorance of the law is no defense and mistakes of this caliber can cost you thousands of dollars in fines, and perhaps more importantly, your hunting privileges.
Mr. Nugent’s case, however unfortunate, clarifies an extremely important lesson. Hunters, unlike football players or boxers, must heavily rely on their moral compass to decipher right and wrong. As Aldo Leopold observed in his flagship work, A Sand County Almanac:
"[a] peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact."
Already, hunting forums across the internet rage about whether and for how long Mr. Nugent should have followed the wounded bear and if he should have hung up his bow REGARDLESS of whether it was illegal to take another bear. See, https://www.monstermuleys.info/xf/threads/nugent-guilty-again.14426/. Hunters across the country offer different perspectives and most are contingent on a host of facts that no one but Mr. Nugent would understand. In fact, Mr. Nugent may have made a remarkably ethical decision. This however is of little consequence in court and clearly shows why we as hunters cannot afford to rely on our common sense notions of ethics in the wild. Our privileges as hunters may be guided by our ethics, but they are controlled by the law.
Planning your hunt, whether it’s an over-the-counter archery trip in Colorado, or a dream quest to Alaska, requires more than looking at maps. Your success is contingent on knowing the laws and following them closely. If you have a big hunt in the future, call us and let us help you figure out exactly what you need to do (and not do). Or saddle up next to Mr. Nugent.
Cody Doig, Esq.