Hunters in Colorado are adapting to their environment, particularly their current economic environment.An informal survey of several Durango-area businesses that cater to hunters indicates that it's business almost as usual for the annual fall hunting seasons - in spite of the sputtering economy.
Hunters, according to the feedback, still are buying ammunition - lots of ammunition.
Locally, hunters still are buying archery equipment (deer-elk archery season opened Aug. 29).
Hunters still are buying binoculars, camping supplies, game calls, scopes, GPS locaters, etc.
And hunters still are buying guns, although now they're more interested in used guns rather than new ones.
"We're keeping pace (with past years)," said Jane Gustafson, the owner of Goods for the Woods in Durango.
"Oh yes, we've been busy (with archery customers)," said Gustafson, who handles an extensive line of archery equipment along with traditional hunting supplies, "at least with the residents anyway."
She said the gun-and-ammunition market has been strong all year in Durango, not just as hunting season approaches.
"This whole year has been good," Gustafson said.
"We're selling more guns and more ammunition.
"But they're looking at used guns instead of new ones."
She said it's difficult to judge the number of hunters or general hunting interest from on-site license sales because of the availability of licenses online.
In years past, she said, there would be lines at the store's counter when licenses went on sale.
Not so now.
She said there's no indication that there will be a decline in hunting because of the economy.
"It's hard to say, really," Gustafson said. "Durango certainly has its own ... identity."
A strong resident hunting market always has existed here, she said.
But many new residents are not necessarily inclined to hunt, she said.
"We're gearing up for the season," said Chris Burnett of Rocky Mountain Pawn and Gun in Durango.
"We've seen ... a lot of our regular (customers)," he said.
"We are selling a lot of ammo. We always sell a lot of ammo."
He said hunters seem more excited this year about bagging game for the meat.
"They're stoked about ... putting (their game meat) in the freezer," Burnett said.
He said the early interest from out-of-state hunters seems about the same as in the past.
"We get a lot of out-of-staters," he said, adding that he expects more out-of-state license plates to start reappearing in Durango soon.
Rifle hunting seasons for deer and elk begin in mid-October.
Rifle hunting season for black bears will run Sept. 2-30.
Separate limited elk's first season will run Oct. 10-14.
The combined deer-elk second season will run Oct. 17-25.
The combined deer-elk third season is scheduled for Oct. 31-Nov. 6.
The deer-elk fourth season will run Nov. 11-15.
"I've got a lot of renewed interest from locals for the meat," said Ben Breed, who operates Buck's Livery and provides horse and drop camp services for hunters.
"That's what I'm seeing," said Breed, who's been hunting in the Durango area virtually all of his life.
"I pack out a lot of game," said Breed, who offers trail rides and cookouts in the summer along with fishing trips from his Buck's Livery base near Durango Mountain Resort.
Much like his summer trail-riding operation, Breed said repeat customers already have signed up for drop camps or game packing.
"Thank god for our repeat business," Breed said.
Statewide, the Colorado Division of Wildlife reported early indications are that resident hunting in Colorado will remain relatively stable.
"For Colorado residents, hunting is more than recreation," said Jerry Neal, state public information officer for the DOW. "Hunting is part of their lifestyle. They use it to supplement their food."
As such, he said, hunting remains vital for state residents.
"Hunters will cut back on other things in tough economic times ... things other than hunting," Neal said.
Neal said the DOW is expecting a reduction in the number of nonresident hunters this year because of the economy.
"We are anticipating a decline this year in nonresident hunters," he said.
"Out-of-state hunters incur more expense. They are more likely to cancel trips in tough economic times."
He said the situation is somewhat comparable to fishing in Colorado.
"With the sale of resident fishing licenses, we've seen increases this year," Neal said. "More people this year are staying in the state ... fishing here, and maybe not taking that vacation trip out of state."