Habitat and small game populations within the core Walk-In Access (WIA) range of eastern Colorado have shown excellent recovery from the drought conditions of 2012-14, however, recovery has been tempered somewhat by significant losses of good Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields in our core pheasant range. In 2018, conditions have been highly variable across the range as summer has progressed, ranging from severe drought, torrential rains, tornado’s, and large hail storms which have really impacted cover in many areas. Generally speaking, southeast Colorado has been extremely dry early but slowly improving, while the northeast part of state saw a dry winter, and a relatively mild spring which quickly evolved into a hot, dry period.
Colorado has had a relatively large number of Conservation Reserve Program land (CRP) expirations across the WIA range, which has had a significant impact on the quantity and quality of land available enrolled in the WIA Program, and ultimately, on some wildlife populations. Regardless, there are still good hunting opportunities available and some new habitats are in development. CPW will provide a more detailed pheasant and quail forecast in October.
Similar to the last few years, a small number of properties will be designated as Novice Hunter Program Properties. Graduates of the CPW’s and Pheasants Forever’s Novice Hunter Program and their mentors are eligible to hunt these properties, with the objective of giving the Program’s new hunters a less pressured opportunity to enter the world of pheasant hunting. These properties will be identified in the Late Cropland Walk-in Atlas.
Hunters note: Access dates for WIA properties do not supersede normal small game hunting season dates. Regardless of access dates for WIA properties, when a particular game species season is closed, hunters cannot pursue that game species on the basis of the WIA program’s access dates.
WIA strives to be a very convenient program with both the hunters who use the program and with the landowners that enroll lands. Other than holding a small game hunting license and associated requirements, a hunter does not need a special permit to hunt on Walk-In Access Properties. However, hunters do need to mindful that their actions when hunting on these lands are a critical factor in a landowner's decision to enroll property in the future.
With that objective in mind, please remember these important regulations:
A. Public access is prohibited from 1 hour after sunset to 1 hour before sunrise, except that when hunting waterfowl, deer, elk, or pronghorn, public access is prohibited from two (2) hours after sunset to two (2) hours before sunrise.
B. Species of take will be restricted as follows:
Lands enrolled and posted as Regular, Late Cropland or Extended Season Walk-In Access Properties are open for the take of all small game, furbearers, migratory game birds and Eurasian collared-doves, except Gambel’s quail, Gunnison’s sage grouse and Greater sage grouse.
Lands enrolled and posted as Big Game Walk-In Access Properties are open for the take of deer, elk, and pronghorn by hunters holding a valid license for the Game Management Unit in which the Walk-In Access parcel lies.
C. Public access is allowed:
From September 1 through the end of February annually for lands enrolled and posted as Regular Season Walk-In Access properties;
From the opening day of pheasant season through the end of February annually for lands enrolled and posted as Late Season Cropland Walk-In Access properties;
From September 1 through the end of the Mountain sharp-tailed grouse season annually, for all lands enrolled and posted as Grouse Walk-In Access properties;
From the opening day of pheasant season through the end of March annually for lands enrolled and posted as Extended Walk-In Access properties;
From the opening day of pheasant season through the end of February annually, for lands enrolled and posted as Novice Hunter Program Walk-In Access properties:
a. A current year’s graduate of the Novice Hunter Program must be present and actively hunting with each group during all hunting activities.
b. Up to four additional hunters may accompany and hunt with a graduate of the Novice Hunter Program.
From September 1 through the end of December annually for lands enrolled and posted as Big Game Walk-In Access Properties.
D. Access shall be by foot only. Entry by horseback, motorized vehicle or other means is prohibited.
E. Access is allowed for hunting only; all other activities are prohibited.
F. Access is prohibited as posted when the landowner is actively harvesting crops.
Access to all Walk-In properties is for hunting only. Hunters must comply with Habitat Stamp
To promote safe hunting and to help landowners efficiently harvest crops, some WIA properties, primarily grass sprinkler corners adjacent to irrigated corn fields, will be closed to WIA hunting when landowners are actively harvesting crops. Specifically, when harvesting machines are harvesting the associated corn field, sprinkler corners are CLOSED to all WIA hunting. In most cases, corners will only be closed for a day or two while the landowner completes harvest. All sprinkler corners will be posted with closure signs in addition to regular boundary signs. Adhering to this temporary closure will help us maintain excellent working relations with landowners, and will contribute to keeping high quality sprinkler corners open to public walk-in hunting.
Hunters may download individual maps to the right.
Hunting licenses and habitat stamps are available for sale online & by phone. Remember, licenses are now by season-year. See "License Requirements" within the 2018-2019 Small Game and Waterfowl Regulations Brochure.
Hunters can contribute greatly to the Walk-In Access Program's success by remembering one of the program's core rules: Be considerate of the landowners who choose to participate in the program and those who do not participate. Other guidelines for the use of these properties include:
Public access to these private parcels will be permitted for hunting small game, waterfowl and furbearers only.
All hunting must occur during established seasons as listed in the 2018 -2019 Small Game and Waterfowl Regulations Brochure.
Park where there is no danger of fire.
Leave no trash in fields.
Do not clean game in or along the edges WIA properties.
Determine field boundaries before hunting.
Access for big game hunting is allowed only with landowner’s permission. Small game hunters will have access to Walk-in properties during big game seasons.
Hunters must walk into enrolled properties.
Access by vehicle, horseback or other means is prohibited.
*The Conservation Reserve Program, commonly known as CRP, is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency. Landowners offer their land for enrollment, and when accepted, agree to establish cover for the life of the agreement, in return for an annual rental payment. CRP fields, when seeded to beneficial cover, can be critical habitat for many species of wildlife.