The GHHC Hunting Grounds
We are fortunate to be hunting in Colorado's Northwestern Rocky Mountains, along the Piceance Creek Basin, amongst the spectacular Roan Plateau, between the towns of Rifle and Meeker. Our lease includes 17,000 Acres of priivate hunting grounds and 63,000 acres of public land, and falls within two of Colorado Division of Wildlife's game management units 22 and 31.
CDOW's Herd Management Plan for Our Area
Our two hunting Units make up roughly half of the CDW's Herd Management Plan (DAU) E-10 or more commonly known as the Yellow Creek DAU. E-10 is made up of GMU's 21, 22, 30,31 and 32 which includes the Bookcliffs, Piceance Basin and Roan Plateau areas. The elk population in DAU E-10 was relatively low in the 1950’s and has shown steady growth in recent years. The populationpeaked in 2001 at 10,725 elk, and is maintained now at approximately 8,700 elk.
The General Geography
Piceance Creek and the Piceance Basin comprise a large portion of the area. Yellow Creek, which flows into the White River, is the drainage for which the DAU is named. The highest elevation in our DAU is approximately 9,300 and the area is noted for its canyon country to the south and rolling pinyon, juniper, sagebrush, and mountain shrub steppe up north. Steep-sided sandstone and shale canyons are one of the dominant geographic features in our area. The Bookcliffs are a generally continuous, uniformly high cliff formation with canyons and washes running north to south toward the Colorado River. In the upper reaches of GMU 31, large canyons bisect the topography at frequent intervals. The interior portions of the DAU are composed of mesas and rolling sagebrush hills. The wide range of terrain in E-10 provides a variety of physical features that elk populations find very suitable for their needs year-round. The majority of elk summer in the interior of the DAU at high elevations. Winter ranges are generally on the periphery, at lower elevations.
Elk harvest in the DAU E-10 has changed substantially over time, increasing with the population (see graph). About 40 times more animals were killed in 1998 as 1953. In 1953 the harvest was 39 bulls and 10 cows. By 1998 the harvest had increased to a record 2042 elk. The harvest history generally reflects the increasing elk population. The highest harvests have occurred in conjunction with the highest populations. These high harvests have been maintained during the last few years when the CDOW has been attempting to maintain the elk population at about its present size.
Elk Winter Range Information
DAU E-10 has approximately 1757 square miles of suitable elk winter range as estimated by the CDOW. Important private land wintering areas are found in the lower drainage throughout the DAU, including Roan Creek, Parachute Creek, and the Piceance Basin. The lower elevation lands across the DAU comprise the most important winter range for both deer and elk. Favorable snow depths, slope and aspect, and winter temperatures create accessible forage and make these areas suitable for wintering big game. Elk are generally found at higher elevations than mule deer due to their ability to forage in deeper snow conditions. However, during severe winters, both deer and elk are forced to winter at the lower elevations. During light winters, elk often remain at higher elevations.