Aaron Berscheid is a district wildlife officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Aaron covers the “wild” side of Northeast El Paso County, including Black Forest, Falcon, Peyton and Calhan. He also covers some of Elbert County, north of U.S. Highway 24 and south of State Highway 86, including the towns of Elbert, Kiowa, Ramah, Simla, Matheson and a small portion of the Limon area.
The temperature is cooling down at night, the smell of fall is in the air and that means I am back spending many hours in my pickup conducting hunter patrols. So it’s a good time to share some things that you may encounter in the Falcon/Black Forest area during this new hunting season.
As you probably know, the vast majority of the Black Forest and Falcon areas are outside of Colorado Springs city limits. So there is no law against discharging firearms or bows in these areas. Of course, that means hunters can, and likely are, hunting in these areas.
Maybe you’ve seen people in camouflage clothing, wearing bright orange or pink vests and hats, and wandering around area fields and woods with bows or rifles. They may be walking through fields with dogs. They could be scanning the horizon with binoculars, perched in trees or just hiking in the woods.
Did you ever wonder if what they are doing is legal? Well, I’ll try to answer your questions as to what is allowed while hunting and when is the appropriate time to call Colorado Parks and Wildlife over a hunting incident.
Our Black Forest and Falcon region is home to large herds of pronghorn, deer and even some elk. All that wildlife attracts hunters. And it also creates challenges as this area is also getting more populated with houses and people (and only getting more crowded).
So is hunting in these areas legal? It’s not a simple question.
If someone is hunting in an area outside of the Colorado Springs city limits or outside of a neighborhood governed by covenants and a homeowners association, then hunting is legal.
Now, if that hunter does so in a careless manner that endangers life or real property, then we have a problem. This could be someone shooting at houses, vehicles or other people while hunting.
These incidents are unusual. But if this occurs, call CPW, or 911, immediately to contact a wildlife officer.
The most common violation in this area is hunting on private property without permission. Trespassing can be common because a lot of the properties in the Black Forest and surrounding areas are the proverbial “5-acre lots.” This means that someone has enough area to hunt, but not very much of it. A fleeing animal can quickly cross property boundaries before it falls and a hunter is obligated to give chase and recover the harvested animal. This can cause trespassing issues.
Or, a hunter might shoot across property lines due to simple error or due to a lapse in judgment.
If someone is hunting on your property without your permission, call CPW or Colorado
State Patrol (non-emergency line 719-544-2424).
If you suspect a violation, please try to get identifying information about the hunter or their vehicle. Often, the response time of a wildlife officer will occur well after the event and after the suspect left. Having detailed information, like a license plate, can be the difference between justice being delivered or a case going cold.
For those of you who hunt in the Black Forest/Falcon region, please remember that there are a lot of people in the area and a lot of people watching. I want you to be out enjoying the outdoors (even if it is literally in your backyards), but please do so safely and ethically.
Whether you are the only human for miles or hunting on a 5-acre parcel, what you do matters and makes a difference for everyone and the continuation of the hunting tradition. Do not put yourself in a position that could jeopardize the safety of anyone, including yourself, and do not be a bad example for other hunters.
I find there are three prevailing views among the public toward hunting: Those who loathe hunting; those who enjoy hunting; and those who do not hunt themselves, but are ambivalent about the sport.
Those who oppose hunting are never going to be convinced otherwise. And hunting enthusiasts are never going to be convinced it is bad. I don’t believe you will ever sway those two opinions.
I ask those who hunt to remember the third group. Those who don’t have a strong opinion. Please don’t be the hunter who turns the third group against hunting.
If you are ever in doubt about whether a hunting situation is legal or not, you can always call the CPW office at 719-227-5200 during normal business hours, or State Patrol Dispatch at 719-544-2424 if it is after hours or an emergency.
Got any other hunting questions, wildlife problems or column ideas? Please email me at email@example.com or call me at 719-227-5231.
I might even answer your question in a future installment of “Wildlife Matters.”