Understanding Elk in Colorado
By Chad J. Bishop, PhD.
As hunters, we commonly seek out information on the animals we hunt in hopes it will explain exactly when and where to find them. We quickly learn, time and again, it’s not that simple. All too often, we find that what works one time fails miserably the next, and we can go from a state of euphoria to desperation in the course of just a few hunts. Much of this inconsistency can be attributed to variability in animal behavior, weather, and habitat conditions. Over time, however, we gradually improve our hunting skills by combining our understanding of the animals with lessons learned from our many hunting experiences. Thus, it is beneficial to understand the ecology of the animals we pursue, as long as we keep our expectations in check and appreciate that the systems we hunt can be extremely variable. My objective here is to present a basic picture of elk ecology in Colorado. My hope is to give the novice elk hunter a better idea of where to begin and to help the seasoned hunter make a little more sense out of past experiences afield.