Hunting camping amid COVID-19

While Colorado campgrounds reopened this summer in wake of the pandemic, hunters still have to take extra precautions and realize it likely won’t be the same as previous hunting camping trips.

“Camping today may look very different from what you might be used to, but we are excited for people to be able to do so,” said Gov. Jared Polis of the openings, which began on May 12.

While the openings abide by social distancing guidance and recommendations, hunters are advised that local restrictions may still be in place and to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Follow best practices for recreational travel, including bringing your meals with you, filling up on gas prior to leaving home, bringing cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items, and remembering to wear masks when out in public.
  • Avoid close contact with others, especially if you are at higher risk of severe illness.
  • You must have a reservation (for state campgrounds).
  • Plan ahead and prepare. The goal is to eliminate the need for stops to and from your hunting camp.
  • Top off your tank. Fill up your gas tank in your neighborhood before you leave to avoid stopping both to and from your camping destination.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time. Use a cooler and shop at your local grocery store near home beforehand. Make sure you have all the equipment necessary to cook, consume and dispose of waste from your meals.
  • Bring a first-aid kit and keep it handy.
  • If camping in a dispersed area, bring your own portable toilet or other equipment to dispose of human waste properly (public facilities may be closed).
  • Pack out your trash. With limited staff and services, trash and recycling receptacles may not be emptied as often as normal. Overflowing trash can harm wildlife.
  • Look into and respect local restrictions and avoid counties and localities with limitations on recreational activities or travel.
  • Prepare for reduced services. While camping may be allowed, restrooms, trash receptacles and other facilities may be closed or have limited service. Bring your own supplies as a back-up.
  • Be mindful with campfires. Use only developed, approved fire pits when camping. Respect fire restrictions, considering the impact a wildfire would have on first responders. Never leave a fire unattended and extinguish all coals before leaving.
  • Don’t engage in high-risk activities. Know your limits and avoid getting lost or hurt. (Many search and rescue volunteers are involved in other public health activities in their communities).
  • Keep it below 10. Hunt and camp with members of your household and keep your party size below 10. (Make new friends another time — don’t invite visitors to your campsites.)
  • Feeling sick? Stay home. Don’t go if you or anyone in your household feels sick or are having any COVID-19 related symptoms. If you or anyone in your hunting party starts feeling sick, go home.
  • Wash your hands often. If you use a public restroom, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Bring hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and use it often. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
  • Keep 6 feet of physical distance from others not in your household group. Don’t congregate near bathrooms or water sources.
  • If you must stop at a gas station or store, wear a cloth face covering at all times. Wear one when there’s any chance that you may encounter others, such as out on the trail or in the woods.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, or use your inner elbow or sleeve.
  • Keep pets under control. Dogs must remain leashed at all times and maintain at least 6 feet from other people and animals. Avoid contact with other campers’ pets.
  • Have patience and be kind to others. Remember, we’re all in this together. Keep your distance but be courteous.