Paddling in to hunt Mule Deer in Colorado. (Or other states).

old270hunter

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I can't think of anywhere to paddle on a river on the Western Slope other than the Co River below Grand Junction or Gunnison anywhere above the confluence of the North Fork, and the North fork of the Gunnison is darn near all private. I'd think I'd only want a 3rd or 4th season tag in those units too if I did it, otherwise the bucks are up far higher in general. Everything else on the Western slope is small water. I kinda grew up in that area, and I'd skip that if I were you.
 

wllm

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A few places. Not the best state for it generally. Look up @wllm old post.

Full disclosure I wanted to make it a cool adventure hunt for my sister, rafting was 100% unnecessary.

If you’re a local it’s pretty obvious where Rinella was hunting in that episode in CO, fully accessible via foot, I think Brody just wanted to float around his old haunts.

Anyway you can definitely do it off of a couple of rivers, without permits. If you want to do it that way, pick a river, locate the sections of public that intersect the river and then figure out which units those are in… and set expectations accordingly.

Also easier to do if you float in, camp in one spot a couple of days and float out.
 

wllm

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There are places in Colorado that this could theoretically be done but so many logistical hurdles make it difficult or not worth it in general in my opinion. By the time fall rolls around most rivers in the state are about at their lowest flows before winter and many become unboatable to rafts and drift boats. The few rivers I can think of that remain boatable in the fall for a craft large enough to get you, your gear, and an animal down the river either have significant whitewater hazards that require expert level boating skills, require hard to obtain boating permits, or have land on both sides of the river that are mostly private or could easily be accessed by a vehicle. So basically some rivers you could boat down but then you would get out and hunt with everybody else on atv's. There are not many wilderness river sections here like farther north, and the streams that do flow through wilderness are generally small and have dangerous rapids that people only run in whitewater kayaks earlier in the year, if at all.

Another hurdle is permitting. If you think the western hunting arena is getting difficult to draw tags, welcome to boating in the West. Same deal. Good river permits are getting damn near impossible to draw with how popular it has become. If you have a large network of boating friends that all apply every year, usually you can get an invite and jump in on their permit but again, this is usually spring/summer. Most rivers that provide good multi-day trips require an application for permits well in advance of your trip and getting these dates to line up with your hunting trip is a monumental challenge in itself since you may draw one but not the other, or the dates you want are simply not available, or the river is too low to boat by September or October.

I won't go too in depth into boating rules and regs but usually camping is highly restricted and you must use designated areas (some that also require advanced reservation and/or have max stay limits of 1 or 2 nights so using one as a long term hunting camp would be impossible) and then packing in your own toilet system - as well as packing it out - are among the many regulations.

I can think of a few rivers where this is possible in Colorado but it would be such a headache for me to make the stars align that it would detract from the hunt. I've been boating and hunting in Colorado my entire life and I just don't think these two activities mix that well here unfortunately. If you find a place do this and it works out for you, for God's sake don't post about it on the internet. Good luck!
I get what your driving at but also, isn’t that hard to do… just saying. Done it a couple of times.

I’m not going to spot burn, but there are some pretty obvious easy sections on a couple of rivers that are easy deer tags 🤷‍♂️.

Bout as far from the Missouri Breaks as you can get but I did a float hunt for ducks on the Michigan River out of Walden, didn’t see a person ran into some moose, awesome adventure.

My favorite float hunt in MT is only about a 2-3 hour paddle, but I’ve done several multi-day deer hunts on that stretch.

Also a lot of the popular rivers that require permits are super easy to draw and or don’t require them in late Oct- Nov (all western states), or in early season so spring bear.

Buying a drysuit opens up some interesting options.
 
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Nick_CO

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I get what your driving at but also, isn’t that hard to do… just saying. Done it a couple of times.

I’m not going to spot burn, but there are some pretty obvious easy sections on a couple of rivers that are easy deer tags 🤷‍♂️.

Sorry about the doom and gloom report in my first post. Yes it is possible, and even somewhat easy in certain scenarios. Especially if you're just looking for the experience of combining a float with a hunt which is what COrookie seems to be after.

What I've experienced though is that most places you can get to on a boat in Colorado can also be accessed fairly easily (or easier) on foot or by vehicle, making the additional costs and logistical hurdles of organizing a float trip not really worth it IMO. There are exceptions of course and I also won't spot burn, but if someone identifies an area they want to hunt and the most logical way to access it is via boat then I think it makes a lot more sense to try and do it.
 

wllm

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Sorry about the doom and gloom report in my first post. Yes it is possible, and even somewhat easy in certain scenarios. Especially if you're just looking for the experience of combining a float with a hunt which is what COrookie seems to be after.

What I've experienced though is that most places you can get to on a boat in Colorado can also be accessed fairly easily (or easier) on foot or by vehicle, making the additional costs and logistical hurdles of organizing a float trip not really worth it IMO. There are exceptions of course and I also won't spot burn, but if someone identifies an area they want to hunt and the most logical way to access it is via boat then I think it makes a lot more sense to try and do it.

Yeah absolutely, every place I've hunted in CO via boat you could access it via a road. MT totally different story, WY to some extent as well.
 

PrairieHunter

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A savvy public land hunter should absolutely use water to their advantage, including floating to gain access. I thought about this a lot over the summer on paddle board float trips.With a bit of creativity a person could use a paddle board to get into some spots.

Most people do not realize how much public hunting is available by using water. Lakes where you can access public land, Glendo is a good example. Other corps of engineer lakes/rivers/streams have an easement which in many cases is the high water mark so there can be a lot of huntable shoreline and land.

I'd consider lake access as well. By fall most boating is wrapped up and many lakes are really low.
 

kansasdad

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Right now on Glendo you might have more miles below the high water mark than you could hunt in weeks, it is so low. (Of course, this is mostly ”barren“ mud flats)
 

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