GMU 2: Trophy Territory

While most every hunter hopes to bag a trophy, the chance to actually get a monster bull begins with research, preparation and patience. It also helps if you’re hunting Game Management Unit 2.

Western Colorado boasts some of the finest bulls in the country in the far reaches of this area of Moffat County, with more than 200 located near the border with Utah and Wyoming. The opportunity to hunt in designated “trophy” area is determined by a draw and point system that allows hunters to accumulate points each hunting season.

These preference points are species specific; hunters wanting to harvest a trophy bull elk will accrue points for many years in the elk category before drawing a license. Currently, it takes 18 points for a Colorado resident to draw a license in Unit 2. A non-resident will wait 22 years for the opportunity, but points alone don’t guarantee a license through the draw.

The 2014 quota for Unit 2 is 33 hunters, out of its 1,293 applicants. Twenty-four licenses went to Colorado residents, five went to non-residents and four to unit landowners.

Tony Erickson hunted Unit 2 two years ago and has no problem with the long wait. “The hunt was well worth the wait,” he says. “We saw big bulls every day. I mean 340-point (Boone & Crockett) bulls every day in shooting range, less than 300 yards.”

Hunters don’t need to hunt each year to gather preference points. However, non-hunter preference points — which were once a minimal $3 fee — jumped to $40 in 2014 for those who didn’t hunt last year. Mike Swaro, with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, says the fee increase is in part to encourage more hunters to participate in yearly hunts.

“They need to have at least an annual fishing license to avoid that charge,” he says. “It raises additional fees for wildlife management.”

Another way to draw a trophy unit hunt is found in the Hybrid Drawing. A hunter with at least five preference points entering the draw with a correct hunt code automatically will be entered into the Hybrid Draw for a chance to be randomly selected for 20 percent of the licenses issued.

Throughout the years, the number of preference points required has climbed steadily as more hunters reach higher totals with their stockpiled points. Today’s 18-year-old applying for his first Unit 2 preference point may very well need 22 points or more when his number is called in the year 2036.

For Erickson, his 21-year wait resulted in the hunt of a lifetime. “We called him into range and got him about a half-hour after daylight,” he says. “There were four bulls in the herd, and this was the biggest. What can I say? He was in the meat plant by noon.”

— Dan Olsen