Colorado 3rd season?


Well-Known Member
Jan 20, 2011
Hey guys, I've been an archery hunter for a long while now and I'm going to put in for a rifle hunt this year. I know my unit really well during September and early October but have never been up there past October 10th. It's at higher elevations with several 14ers in it and goes down to around 8k. My question is will mule deer hang out and rut here? Or will they move down to their winter ranges by the middle to end of November? I've been watching some videos where it looks like guys are having success up higher with decent amounts of snow. I assume if the mountains get pounded with unusual amounts of snow they will move down but I know the ski resorts don't even open til thanksgiving weekend so snow isn't typically that deep. This is central Colorado I'm taking about. Any input would be great.
Hey Chad...delayed answer, and probably not what you want to hear, but..."it depends". Really. As you allude to, it is more a question of weather and snow than it is a date on a calendar. As you probably know, sometimes you can be at 10,000' feet in 2 feet of snow in mid-October, and sometimes you can be there mid-November and hardly have any.

I've taken my kids first season to hope they don't freeze, and it is bitter cold and snowy, only to go almost a month later with my own tag and sit around camp at 10,000 feet shirtless catching some rays and napping. Impossible to predict.

Question is slightly confusing since you mention 3rd season and then also mention rut in mid-late November. 3rd season happens usually late Oct/early Nov, well before the rut typically (on purpose I suppose to avoid having rifle hunters hunting in the rut).

Nevertheless, unless the high country is just hammered with deep snow, many of the deer will stick around up high. They won't be in the deep snow on N. slopes, but many S or E facing slopes will melt off with a few good sunny days and deer will stick around. My experience is most tend to hang out lower overall (quantity-wise) than elk, but there are still some nice ones up high. The bigger factor will probably be rifle season pressure, vs. archery pressure - there tend to me many more hunters in the woods, and rifles going off which will move them elsewhere more than a few snow storms.

Best bet is to have 3-4 good options that vary in elevation and distance from the road. Try your favorite spot, and if some snow shows no tracks, you can move on to plan B and not waste your time. just depends...won't know until you try it, and if it's great this year, it may not be great next year depending on weather etc. Gotta be flexible usually and have Plan A, B, C, D etc. Good luck.
We only have 3 regular deer season here (Co) first one this year is Oct 22-30,2nd is Nov 5-13,3rd is Nov 16-20 and those dates also happen to be 2nd,3rd,4th elk season.

My buck tag if drawn takes in 4 game units so pretty good size and elevation 12K to 7500K and if hunting 3rd elk season for deer lot of pressure as you can hunt deer same season as your elk tag also. The first two deer seasons units I hunt they also have draw for doe tags and last is bucks only.

Last year I drew 4th season cow tag and bucks were down but weren't herded up. You need the snow but need temp to drop also.
Hey Tom, I hadn't looked that 4th season happened that late this year or this 5yr stint. It didn't used to go much past mid-November (I don't recall it going into the 20s of November but I've hunted 3rd the last couple years). To clarify, I'm a Colorado native (and still live here) and have frequently hunted 4th season. I'm very familiar with how both deer and elk are hunted at the same time, etc. My bad on the season dates. However, I still stand by what I said though...just trying to give some advice since no one else had.

I guess the only thing I'd add if the rut starts is you need to find the does since that is where the bucks will be headed (kind of obvious I guess). However, I still them up high some in mid November if there isn't too much snow. Although, again, there tend to be larger numbers lower at least in the different units I've hunted.
aspenbugle, Only reason I post about deer/elk same season (dates) was for OP and the hunting pressure since he's never hunted past Oct 10.
Understood. Thanks. Yes I agree, quite a bit more pressure. Although 4th doesn't tend to be as bad as 2nd and 3rd since many areas offer over the counter tags then. However they all are more pressure than archery.
Thanks again for clarifying.
Understood. Thanks. Yes I agree, quite a bit more pressure. Although 4th doesn't tend to be as bad as 2nd and 3rd since many areas offer over the counter tags then. However they all are more pressure than archery.
Thanks again for clarifying.

It's little hard to say how much pressure is on 4th season compare to archery. Archery is month long season vs 5 days for 4th season and deer tags are cut way back. Unit I hunt 4th season 2015 was 270 buck tags and that's for 4 units when you consider that 2nd/3rdseason had 3275 buck tags,1640 doe tags.
Thanks for the replies guys. I'm going to get in there for the second season and see how it goes this year. Hopefully the snow isn't too deep by then. I'll be in there for first rifle for elk so I should know a little bit more about the area by then too.
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