Hunting in Durango

Humanity is considered to be the apex predator on our planet. The ability to take over most of the world with just our brains and a few tools has firmly put us at the top of the food chain. We show that by using our skills and tools to go hunting, either for food and materials or just for the sport and trophies, and challenging some of the most demanding game and environments around in the search for the best hunt.

Southwest Colorado, and the Durango area, are home to the San Juan National Forest and more than one protected wilderness that attracts people from all over the country to come to test their skills and prove their mettle. The woods are home to several native varieties of big game, from natural predators like bears and mountain lions to the more unusual game like mountain goats and the occasional moose.

With proper permits and tags, hunters from all over can come set up in the woods to search for their next prey, whether that is small game like grouse and rock doves or bigger targets like black bear and elk. 

The prevalent hunting means there are plenty of resources nearby to help out hunters as well, like guides and outfitters for all your needs.

Places to Go Hunting

San Juan National Forest

As a protected and maintained wilderness, the San Juan National Forest is a fantastic place to hunt that attracts hundreds of people from across the country. The mountain forests hide a variety of species ranging from big to small game that can be hunted with the proper licenses and tags. 

If you want the danger and thrill of big game, you can go for deer, elk, mountain goat, Bear or even a mountain lion. 

Or there are the smaller game options like smaller game birds such as turkey, grouse, rock dove, and more. Waterfowl of various kinds are a plentiful option as well.

Weminuche Wilderness

As Colorado's largest wilderness area with nearly 500,000 acres of rugged wild terrain, the Weminuche Wilderness is another world-class hunting ground. 

The Weminuche is known for producing 6x6 and 5x5 bull elk as well as 25-30" mule deer bucks that could satisfy any hunter. There is more game than just deer or elk too. There are other big game selections like bighorn sheep and bear to spice up your hunting expedition.

Smaller games like turkey and several species of grouse are ready to be picked off for sport or maybe Thanksgiving dinner if you find a good one.

What to Hunt

Deciding what to hunt before you head out into the wilderness is one of the most complex parts of hunting. You have to consider if you're hunting for food, a trophy, some kind of combination of the two, or some other reason. 

Depending on that reason, you'll have an easier decision of if you want a bigger game, like a buck or a bear, or a more minor game, like waterfowl or wood grouse. 

Once you have made that decision, you'll be able to prepare for your trip with all the gear and tags you might need. So deciding what to hunt can be a big deal.

Big Game: Bear, Deer, and Elk

One of the mainstays of hunting and what most people think of when hunting comes up is someone bringing home a large buck or bull with a full set of antlers. That buck can feed a family for a few months pretty much on its own, and the antlers end up as a trophy or decoration or even the handle for a new knife. Living off the land like the settlers of old and living the dream. 

Then there's going out for bear. Getting that pelt to show off and a story of your own to tell. One of the biggest types of game you can hunt and a worthy challenge for any hunter.

Big Game: Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats

Big game like bighorn sheep and mountain goats can be a real challenge, but that can bring the most real rewards. Pitting yourself, all your strength, stamina, and skill, against the animals and the environment itself.

Mountain dwelling game like Bighorns and Goats that live above the timberline with just steep slopes and game trails to guide you are difficult goals but, also can be one of the most worthwhile. Get the exhilaration and pleasure that comes from proving yourself by finishing a challenge while also getting a trophy and meat as a bonus. 

Small Game: Turkey and Waterfowl

Small game can offer a lot more hunting options than you might think. Small game is a variety of birds such as grouse, quail, dove, and more. But it is also a bit more surprisingly smaller furred animals ranging from squirrels and rabbits to coyotes. 

Certain small game options can be quite lucrative with their furs and even the occasional bounty. Some species are quite tasty and good for eating if you know how to prepare them right like the classic Thanksgiving turkey. If neither of those is a good enough reason, small game hunting is a great way to work on your hunting skills and ready yourself to move on to larger game.

Things to Know About Hunting in Durango

  • All hunters must have proper permits and licenses before they can go hunting.

  • When doing anything with firearms be sure to handle them correctly and safely for your own safety and that of anyone else nearby.

  • Hunting is often a game of patience and waiting for your shot. Sometimes you may not get anything for days. So be prepared to settle down for a while and bring whatever you need with you.

  • Heading out with an experienced hunter or a guide is highly recommended if you are just starting out at hunting. Even if you aren't new, going along with others is beneficial because you can help each other with equipment and any game you get.