Big-game season: Know rules, limits

Zach Holder, a district wildlife manager in Cortez, checks a hunter’s license. Carcasses must be properly tagged, and tags must remain with all processed meat. Enlarge photo

Colorado Parks and Wildlife file photo

Zach Holder, a district wildlife manager in Cortez, checks a hunter’s license. Carcasses must be properly tagged, and tags must remain with all processed meat.

By Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Hunting is challenging. Not only must you understand the habits of the animal you are hunting, you must also understand regulations, laws governing public and private lands and your own limitations.

Here are some reminders and things to consider before you start your hunt.

To obtain a license, all hunters born after 1948 must present a Hunter Education Card from Colorado or another state.

You must know the specific rules that apply to the Game Management Unit in which you are hunting. If you violate rules, you can be cited and fined.

Know where you are hunting. You can only hunt in the Game Management Unit that your license specifies.

As you are hunting, be aware of buildings, homes, roads and your overall surroundings. Know what is behind an animal before you shoot. A bullet shot from a high-powered rifle can easily carry for more than 1,000 yards.

Make sure that someone at home knows where you are hunting, your vehicle’s license plate number and where you are staying.

Weather in the fall can change rapidly in Colorado. A day that starts sunny and warm could end with a snowstorm. Be prepared for all weather conditions.

Make sure you can recognize the symptoms of hypothermia in your hunting partners.

Know how to get back to your camp.

Cellphone service is not reliable in the mountains. Don’t expect to contact someone by phone if you are lost or if your vehicle is stuck.

Drink plenty of water. Colorado’s dry air and high altitude can quickly dehydrate you and deplete your energy stores.

Consult Colorado Parks and Wildlife publications to understand antler requirements for taking bull elk.

Do not attempt to shoot at animals that are in areas where you could not retrieve the meat. Know your physical limits.

If you are using horses: Each must have a certificate of health inspection within 30 days of entering Colorado; each must present evidence of a Coggins blood test within a year of coming to Colorado; to combat the spread of noxious weeds on federal lands and state wildlife properties, hay, straw and mulch must be clearly marked as weed-free.

If you harvest an animal, make sure the carcass is properly tagged. Tags must remain with all processed meat.

If you transfer an animal killed by another hunter, ensure that it is properly tagged. You could be cited for illegal transport of a game animal even if someone else made the error.

Do not strap a harvested animal on the outside of your car.

Operate ATVs and OHVs responsibly. The vehicles must be registered in Colorado even if registered in another state. Off-road vehicles can cause resource damage. Know the local travel-management rules for public lands. OHVs also disturb animals and other hunters.

If you see hunters violating laws, report the actions to a wildlife officer or other law-enforcement agency. Actions by a few hunters can reflect badly on all hunters.