Unit #61 Muzzleloader Hunt
Estimated Points to Draw: (Based on 2005 data and the new 80/20 split)
7-8 for Residents (A few may draw with 7)
10-11 for Non-residents
(Note: This hunt will most likely fall in the 80/20 (res/non-res). In which case, non-residents will have a much more difficult chance of drawing.)
Potential Quality of Bucks:
24-28", 175-195" potential. This unit holds some of the largest bucks in Colorado. 200"+ bucks are taken in this unit every year. This muzzleloader hunt could be one of the best hunts available.
For the points you will be investing to draw this tag, we definitely suggest that you put in your time. That is, scout your butt off and make the very most of your hunt. Hold off shooting anything smaller than a good, 27-inch 180 buck the first few days. The potential is there to really harvest a giant. This is one of the best muzzleloader hunts in the state, the points it takes to draw reflects it too!
This unit has been very limited for several years now and the bucks are showing some great quality. Historically, this unit has produced many Boone and Crockett bucks and is starting to produce a good number of them now. There is good access throughout this unit for trucks and ATV's, except down in the deep canyons. The bucks will still be in bachelor groups and living at upper elevations.
Unit 61 has so much good deer habitat that you could harvest a good buck just about anywhere in the unit. The best spots are the higher transition zones from timber to aspen and aspen to oak brush. Get away from the roads, where the deer are getting less pressure, for a better chance at a big buck.
The bucks in this unit have genes for growing high, wide, and heavy antlers. Because of the steep, deep cutting canyons, there are places to get away from other hunters even though the tops of the mesas are fairly easy to access. The DOW's post season counts for buck to doe ratios show healthy buck herds (28/100), but, because of the thick cover available to the bucks, we believe the quality to be better than what they're claiming. With all of the great deer habitat on the Uncompahgre Plateau, the deer numbers are rebounding well from the decreases of the 1990's. So, you could find a 28"-30" buck anywhere in the unit if you hunt hard enough.
Habitat & Terrain:
The Uncompahgre Plateau is a huge mesa that runs northwest to southeast. There's a divide road on top that divides unit 61 (west side) from 62 (east side) with the average elevation along the top around 9,000 ft. There are places on top with black timber (over 10,000ft.), but most of the unit is covered with aspen, oak brush, and bitter brush. The drainages drop quickly off the top to the river bottoms. Steep, rough canyons offer great cover for a trophy buck to hide and grow old. Deer densities are higher on the north and south end of the unit, but you could find a giant buck in any part of the unit. The elk tags have been limited for many years so you can expect to see lots of elk while looking for that special buck. Some of the brush country is very thick, but most of it is suitable to hunting, with some scattered rim rock at the tops of the lower ends of the canyons. Lots and lots of good big buck country.
You can find most of your amenities in the small towns of Norwood or Nucla, but for some items, you may need to drive to Grand Junction, Delta, or Montrose depending on where you decide to hunt on the mesa. There's a large amount of public land on the north end and throughout the national forest, but there's lots of private land on the south end of the unit. Also, this unit is well known for it's large population of black bears. Not only a lot of bears, but some big bears reside throughout the Uncompahgre Plateau.