Editors note: This is one of several articles from Colorado Parks and Wildlife that will run in the Outdoors section in the next several weeks to prepare hunters for the upcoming fall big-game hunting season. For this and more stories, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website at http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/PressReleases/pages/pressrelease.aspx?PressId=7907.
By Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Every hunting season, officers for Colorado Parks and Wildlife hand out thousands of tickets for violations that cost hunters hundreds of thousands of dollars.
While some of those tickets are for flagrant violations of wildlife regulations and hunting laws, many more are for minor violations that could have been avoided.
Hunters should remember that not only can they be fined for violations, they also can lose their hunting privileges in Colorado and the 34 other states that cooperatively participate in a wildlife compact agreement.
Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager for the San Luis Valley, explained that hunters need to set aside time to review the Colorado Big Game Brochure. The brochure explains many of the common violations and how to avoid them.
Hunters must know their responsibilities when they get into the field, Basagoitia said. Wildlife laws are written to protect a valuable resource and for safety.
Here are some of the more common violations that occur every year:
Not wearing fluorescent orange You must wear at least 500 inches of daylight fluorescent orange, plus a head covering of the same color. Camouflage orange and mesh orange do not qualify.
Carrying loaded firearms in or on vehicle Rifles must not have ammunition in the chamber while in or on any motor vehicles. For those riding ATVs, rifles and bows also must be in a closed case and fully unloaded (chamber and magazine). Most accidents involving firearms occur in or near vehicles.
Shooting from a road Before firing a shot, you must be at least 50 feet off of a designated state or county road, and just off Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management roads.
License not voided After you kill an animal, you must void the license immediately.
Improperly attached carcass tag The carcass tag must be attached to the animal. The best way is to cut a hole in the hide and attach with a tie. It is OK to wait until you get back to camp or to your vehicle to attach the carcass tag.
No evidence of sex Be sure to leave evidence of sex naturally attached to the carcass. Evidence includes the head, the ovum or the scrotum.
Waste of game meat Big-game meat can begin to spoil at 38 degrees. To keep the carcass cool, remove the hide as soon as possible after the kill to allow for air to circulate around the meat. Reduce the mass of the carcass by quartering the meat or boning out the meat.
Place the meat in a cooler as soon as possible. Even in cold weather, a carcass should not hang outside for more than 36 hours.
Because game meat contains very little fat, it cannot be aged like beef. The so-called gamey taste is caused by spoilage, not because the animal is wild.
To learn how to field dress a big-game animal, see the video at http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/Videos.
Shooting a spike-antlered elk Hunters who hold a cow elk tag sometimes shoot spike bulls. Be sure of your target. If you are shooting at a long distance or in low light conditions, it can be difficult to see spike antlers. If you are not absolutely sure, do not shoot.
Illegally tagging an animal You can place a tag only on an animal that you shot. You cannot trade tags with other license holders or use tags of other license holders.