Elk Hunting in Colorado GMU 500 - Park County

Elk occupy all habitats and areas of the DAU at some time of the year. Densities are low in the open portions of South Park elevation habitats year-round, but especially during the summer when most elk move up to traditional calving and summering areas.

GMU 500 - Park County

Scores


Ease of Drawing
57
 
57
Success
0
N/A
Trophy Potential
25
 
25
Public Access
71
 
71
Ease of Terrain
30
 
30
Room to Breathe
55
 
55
Opportunity
53
 
53
Convenience
97
 
97
Ease of Effort
0
N/A
74
HuntScore

Access Notes


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Bounded on N by Continental Divide; on E by North Fork of South Platte River; on S by US Highway 285; on W by County Highway 9.

A portion of this unit was heavily burned during the Hayman fire. Valid buck tags available for 50, 500, 501; doe tags only in 501. The open forest has produced heavy pressure by hunters along the Forest Service roads. Many roads are not accessible by ATV --get off the pavement and get out on foot for good opportunities! GMU 461 is almost all private propertyÑif you don't know somewhere to hunt, don't apply.

County

Park

Size

162 Square Miles (103,594 Acres)

Land Ownership

29% Private, 71% Public, 68% USFS, 2% BLM, 1% State

Latitude/Longitude

39.3715, -105.8941

Amenities

There are 3 hospitals, 20 hotels, 20 campgrounds, and 9 grocery stores within a 20 mile radius.

Elk Notes


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Elk occupy all habitats and areas of the DAU at some time of the year. Densities are low in the open portions of South Park elevation habitats year-round, but especially during the summer when most elk move up to traditional calving and summering areas at higher elevations. During the winter, most elk move to lower elevation winter ranges as snow accumulates on the higher elevations and northern aspects. Because of the relatively mild and dry winters, winter ranges often extend to above 10,000 feet in elevation.

Some elk, especially bulls, will use windswept ridges at even higher elevations during the winter. Approximately 40% of the DAU can and does serve as winter range in normal winters with some concentration occurring in preferred habitats. During severe winter periods, which are unusual in this DAU, habitat utilization can be reduced to approximately five percent of the overall range. Radio collar studies over the last 10 years have shown significant immigrations of elk from adjacent GMUs outside of this DAU.

Recent estimates range from 200 to 300 elk (10% to 15% of the population) entering the DAU each winter with historical estimates reaching as high as 700 elk (30%). Deeper snow conditions during the 2006/2007 winter may have increased immigration to levels above recent norms. In 2004 approximately 500 additional elk entered the DAU from GMU 49, to the west, for the first time, but returned to 49 in late winter. Elk from GMU 37, south of Interstate 70, and GMU 46 east of Kenosha Pass join herds originating in the DAU during the winter.

Normally, this immigration occurs after the four regular rifle hunting seasons. Since 1997 the winter population estimate for this DAU has included these migrants with the exception of the onetime immigration from GMU 49. Wintering herds of elk can number 200 to 400 animals with these groups occasionally aggregating into a herd exceeding 1000 elk for short periods of time. The largest herds routinely break up into the smaller 200 to 400 animal groups within a few days as they disperse into different areas of winter range.

The groups of 200 to 400 are often short lived, as well, since smaller groups of elk are continuously joining and separating from these herds

HuntScore Tip

Public land and private land percentages can sometime be misleading. A unit may have 80% public land, but a particluar species may only occupy 20% on the entire area. And that 20% species distribution may lie 100% within private lands. Does that sound confusing? Just remember that there are always exceptions to the rule, and land ownership is just one piece of the puzzle.

Management Plan

Elk Management Plan

State Agency Website

Visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Photos and Terrain Notes


The area comprises the center and northern half of South Park, as well as the mountains making up the northern and eastern boundaries of the park. GMU 50 includes the flats of South Park east and south of Highway 285 to Highway 24. It also includes the Puma Hills which rise to make up the eastern boundary of the park itself. Unit 500 includes a small part of the flats of South Park north of Highway 285 and rises rapidly to the top of the Park Range of mountains which make up the northern boundary of the park.

Unit 501 includes the Tarryall and Kenosha Mountain Ranges and descends to the South Platte River valley to the east. Elevations range from 13,822 feet at Mount Silverheels, north of Fairplay, north to 6,100 feet at the confluence of the North Fork of the South Platte River with the main stem of the South Platte River where the river leaves the northeast corner of the area. The area includes much of the headwaters of the South Platte River drainage. The bottom of South Park ranges from 8,800ft to 10,000ft in elevation.

The northern border of the area, along with portions of the Tarryall and Kenosha Mountains, is in the alpine tundra life zone (above 11,500ft) and is characterized by sedges, forbs, and willows. As the elevation drops, subalpine forest is the next lifezone (9,000ft-11,500ft) dominated by subalpine fir, Engelmann spruce, aspen and bristlecone pine forests with interspersed mesas. The montane forest (5,600ft-9,000) contains primarily ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine, and aspen. Riparian areas along most rivers and streams include narrowleaf cottonwood, willow, cinquefoil, current and an understory of sedges, forbs and grasses.

The shortgrass prairie of South Park supports grasses and forbs with fringed sage and rabbitbrush creating a low overstory. Agricultural cropland in the area is now very limited and what remains consists of native grass hay fields in South Park and along some tributaries of the South Platte River. Most historically irrigated croplands have been dried up by transfer of the water rights to municipal uses downstream along the Front Range. As with all of mountainous Colorado, the climate varies significantly with season, elevation and aspect.

Elevations below 7,500 feet are typically warm in the summer and the south slopes generally remain snow free during most of the winter. Elevations between 7,500 feet and 9,500 feet have somewhat cooler and wetter summers with persistent snow cover on north aspects during the winter. South-facing slopes normally remain open or have minimal snow cover throughout the winter. Above 9,500 feet elevation the climate is much cooler and wetter during the summers and north slopes are snow covered all winter except for windswept ridges above timberline.

Elk Drawing Stats (2019)


Total Quota
735
Licenses Drawn
692
Licenses Surplus
0
Resident Quota
614
Nonresident Quota
80
Landowner Quota
0
Youth Quota
60
58%
Average Draw Odds
Choose a hunt below to take a deeper dive into quotas, drawing odds, drawing trends, and harvest data.
Stats Apply For Sex Manner Season
EE500O1A
E
A
O1
EF500L1R
F
R
L1
EF500O1M
F
M
O1
EF500O2R
F
R
O2
EF500P5R
F
R
P5
EM500O1M
M
M
O1
EM500O1R
M
R
O1
EM500O2R
M
R
O2
HuntScore Tip: Nonresident allocations are determined by the average number of preference points a Colorado resident needs to draw a specific license during a 3-year period. For hunt codes that require six or more points for a Colorado resident to draw an elk or deer license, up to 20 percent of licenses may go to nonresidents. For elk and deer hunt codes that require fewer than six points for a Colorado resident to draw, up to 35 percent may go to nonresidents.

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Elk Harvest Stats (2018)


Total Hunters
927
Total Harvest
246
Harvest Male
145
Harvest Female
95
27.3%
Average Success
Manner Season Hunters Harvest
R
L0
15 0
R
P0
12 7
R
O1
71 34
R
O3
123 22
R
O4
39 6
A
A
93 9
M
M
108 36
R
O1
71 34
R
O2
66 30
R
O3
20 5
R
O4
16 6
R
O2
140 33
R
O3
103 17
R
O4
23 0
R
EP
12 7
R
L0
15 0
HuntScore Tip: Harvest statistics are only taken at the unit level and include all harvests of a particular species by a particular manner. However it doesn't go to season level detail. For example, all rifle hunts (Season 1, Season 2, etc) are combined to a single total.