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Colorado hunting season business as usual, despite calls for a boycott

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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A threatened hunting boycott against Colorado in retaliation for its tough new gun laws failed to materialize, according to preliminary estimates from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The state’s main big game seasons ended recently and there’s no evidence that hunters who are opposed to Colorado’s new gun control legislation stayed away in any significant numbers.

In fact, Colorado issued more licenses for some game to out-of-state hunters than in years past, CWP spokesman Randy Hampton told the Denver Post.

“Through the main big game seasons, we were up about 5,000 licenses over last year at this time,” he said. “Just for deer and elk, we were up by about 6,000. Bear licenses sold were up about 1,400. We sold about 2,800 fewer pronghorn licenses, which brought the overall big game numbers down, but that was primarily because we reduced the quota.”

Earlier in the year, Colorado’s Democratic-controlled state legislature passed a slate of new gun control laws that included limits on the size of ammunition magazines and universal background checks, among other measures.

The bills were the source of often-contentious debate at the capitol and ultimately they led to the historic recalls of two Democratic state senators who supported them. An attempt to recall a third senator is underway.

Sportsmen threatened to hunt elsewhere if the bills passed.

“There’s a united front of sportsmen that are tired of having their freedoms and liberties and fundamental rights taken away from them,” Chris Jurney, vice president of the Colorado Outfitters Association, told CBS News in March. “That kind of unity among sportsmen is going to be big, and unfortunately for those of us who live here, we’re going to suffer the consequences of this misguided legislation.”

But the boycott seems to be a bust. Hampton told the Post that final numbers have yet to be tallied, but that net revenue is up over last year “pretty substantially.”

The Post reported that most out-of-state licenses are issued for big game, with the money-maker being elk licenses that are available in limited supply by application only for $589 and then in unlimited amounts over the counter later in the season for $586. Applications for the limited licenses were up by 4 percent from last year, for a total of 469,000.

“If you want to go elk hunting, you are going to come here,” Eric Whirley, owner of Action Taxidermy in Gypsum, told the paper.

“You aren’t going to Michigan to go elk hunting because Colorado changed a law,” he said.

Colorado has the largest elk herd in the United States.

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