Craig’s ‘Elk Hunting Capital’ continues to promote multiple opportunities

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In 2012, Northwest Colorado’s town of Craig officially achieved a status that residents and recurring tourists had known for years.

The designation of “Elk Hunting Capital of the World” became a true trademark for the city, largely thanks to five years of effort by local businessman John Ponikvar, who put forth the time and money in the venture in order to brand Craig in the right way.

More than a mere slogan, the title is one that remains an important part of promoting all the area has to offer to incoming hunters from around the globe.

Melody Villard, director of Moffat County Tourism Association, cited an article from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation publication Bugle Magazine — May/June 2015 — that references the town as a hunting hub thanks to the 55,000 elk in a 50-mile radius that “account for more than a fifth of the elk in Colorado and about as many as exist in the entire state of Washington.”

The article lists Craig as No. 8 on Bugle’s listing for Elk City, USA, with the top spot going to Estes Park across the state. Villard said there are multiple considerations for the ratings on the list — one of which is the ratio of humans to animals — though she believes Craig and Moffat County’s results speak for themselves.

The “Elk Hunting Capital of the World” still plays into that, she said, increasing visibility of the Northwest corner of Colorado across multiple media, be it in the form of a bumper sticker or online.

“There’s definitely highlights and articles that showcase that tagline,” she said, noting that Web searches for “elk hunting” continue to redirect people to Craig, the economy of which benefits from millions of dollars brought in by hunters.

The challenge is ensuring that advertising like this provides an accurate expectation for hunters. Though the herds around Craig are massive, the number of tags and licenses given for elk in a given year isn’t always what it should be, Villard said.

“The draw situation has really impacted our area in the last few years,” she said.

Christina Oxley, director of Craig Chamber of Commerce, said the “Elk Hunting Capital of the World” topic continues to “spark conversation” within and outside the community, but the key is making that brand work to its full potential.

“Like any marketing campaign, a brand is just a piece of it, and you’ve got to be actively out there promoting it,” she said.

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