Aaron Berscheid - District Wildlife Manager - CPW
Wildlife Matters by Aaron Bercheid

WILDLIFE MATTERS

Aaron Berscheid - District Wildlife Manager - CPW

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. 

Winter: start planning camping/hunting trips

By Aaron Berscheid

District Wildlife Manager, CPW

Winter is upon us and during this time of year, it can be hard to think about the warm, sunny days ahead that will eventually come. I find myself trapped indoors all too often. I love the time with my family, but we all get cabin fever longing to get out on a trail, or a lake or a hunt.  

Of course, spring, summer and even fall will be here before we know it. And while it may be tough to get outdoors right now, this is a great time to plan your next adventures.

Anyone who camps knows that reservations are a necessity. By thinking of what activities you want to do and places you want to visit, you can get a jump-start on working out the logistics.

I recommend visiting the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website, searching for “camping” or using the “Things To Do” dropdown menu and selecting the camping tab. There, you will find links to our state parks. 

With more than 4,000 campsites and 58 cabins and yur​​ts located throughout the state, CPW offers affordable accommodations with something for everyone. From the outdoor enthusiast to the family looking for a relaxing weekend, the perfect escape is only a click or phone call away.

Did you know you can make camping reservations six months in advance? And you better because most weekends and holidays fill up early. 

For those of you who like variety and seeing new places, our state parks have a Passport program. Visit each of the 42 parks and 15 hatcheries to complete your Colorado experience. We also offer “augmented reality trail missions” at 13 state parks. Missions are free with an “Agents of Discovery” app on your phone. It’s an educational mobile gaming platform that sends users on “missions” to earn prizes.  

If you are traveling to a National Park, you can start planning what to see, which hikes to go on and where to stay. Spending some time at the computer searching out reviews and viewing pictures from other peoples’ experiences will make your time more enjoyable. A little research can also help you find the best times to visit and help you avoid some of the crowds.

For hunters, fall can seem a long time away, especially if you don’t hunt spring turkey. However, now is the most crucial time to ensure success when you do head into the woods. 

Again, you can start planning by going online to the CPW website and pulling up the “hunting” section. You will find all the information you could ever want on hunting in Colorado in print and instructional videos that walk you through the process. 

Brochures for the 2024 big game seasons should be hitting mailboxes and license retailers by the time this article comes out. Take time to study the “What’s New” section as there are always changes.

Use harvest statistics to get a realistic look at what your chances of success will be. Draw recap reports will give you a detailed look at how many preference points it takes to draw a certain tag, or you can purchase the “Preference Point Issue” of Colorado Outdoors, which has this information in an easy-to-read format. 

Then once you have put in your application (deadline is 8 p.m. April 2) you can use the hunting atlas tool to begin digital scouting. Using the different map layers like topographical and satellite will make your “boots-on-the-ground” scouting later much more effective.

Regardless if you are planning a hunt, some back country camping excursions or heading to an alpine lake to chase trout, now is the time to start preparing physically. 

While these adventures can seem a long way off on the calendar, it is vital to begin training now. Hours spent in the gym or on the treadmill now will pay huge dividends when you head to the hills later. As with everything else mentioned above, the work you put in now will undoubtedly make the actual adventure much more enjoyable.  

Winter will eventually end and then the outdoor fun can begin. Will you be ready?

As always, if you have a question, problem or column idea, please email me at aaron.berscheid@state.co.us or call me at 719-227-5231. 

I might even answer your question in a future installment of “Wildlife Matters.”

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