Leftovers ready for dishing out next week at the big-game hunting license table reflect opposite trends among Colorado's elk and deer herds and corresponding adjustments to limited license numbers.
Because elk hunters have been successful at trimming overpopulated elk herds in many parts of the state in recent years, the number of cow elk licenses the Division of Wildlife offered this year slipped 10 percent from 2005.
Meanwhile, a growing deer population in northwestern Colorado resulted in 22 percent more doe licenses, plenty of which still remain after the main drawing in June.
All leftover, limited elk and deer licenses will go up for grabs - first come, first served - starting 9 a.m. Tuesday at wildlife division offices and stores that sell hunting licenses.
On Aug. 9, the next day, the division will start selling leftovers on the Internet. The agency postponed Internet sales one day to eliminate electronic competition with in-person sales on the first day.
For hunters hoping to bag that cow elk, this could be the last year of a long-running feast. While the number of cow elk licenses dropped only 10 percent this year, much heavier cutbacks likely are in store for 2007.
"We've reduced elk in some areas," said Tom Remington, the division's chief terrestrial biologist. "So we're ramping down (cow tags) now, and we're going to see even bigger cuts."
Colorado's statewide elk population stands at about 258,000 animals, which is down from 275,000 in 2005, when hunters killed a record 63,336 elk. Last year's harvest fell to 56,462 elk because of generally unfavorable weather.
But gradually, generous allotments of cow and either-sex elk licenses have trimmed elk numbers closer to game managers' long-term objective of 204,000 animals.
After seven years of all-limited deer hunting, mule deer numbers have climbed from worrisome lows to above objective in several areas.
The number of doe licenses rose to address the growth, but buck tags were reduced about 2 percent, the result of several years of phenomenal hunter success with trophy bucks.
The leftover license banquet for the fall hunting seasons consists of 53,000 limited elk tags, most of which are for private land only, and 37,800 deer tags.
The wildlife division has posted a list of available leftover licenses on its Web site, www.Wildlife.State.
CO.US, under Hunting and Big Game. The agency will update the list every 20 minutes after the licenses go up for sale online Aug. 9.