The animal populations we hunt today are far different when I started 35 years ago,” said Jack Cassidy as he spoke with potential clients at the annual SCI Convention. “We have so many more elk than we used to. When we first started, it was all mule deer hunting, and if you saw an elk, it was a big deal. Now we have more elk than mule deer.”
Whitetail deer are also new to the program and have spread from the Kansas border all the way to the Rocky Mountains. “Colorado does are prettier than Kansas does,” quipped Cassidy with a wry smile, “the reason they migrated West.”
Cassidy and his family guide elk, deer, pronghorn and occasional bear and sheep hunters as a full-time business. Shown in the photo far above: Jack and his grandson Ryan (left) and son, Chris (right). Jack is a former president and director of the Colorado Outfitters Association and has served on many Colorado Division of Wildlife task forces.
“This our 35th year, and we hunt elk between Montrose and Gunnison, Colorado, but our big mule deer and whitetail areas are in eastern Colorado out in the plains,” Cassidy said. “Hunting is completely different than when we started 30 years ago. We used to pack into wilderness areas on horseback. Hunters were different then as well. They saved their money all year to hunt for $350. We packed them in, hunted them for 5 days, and they had a hell of a good time and came back year after year.”
The hunting process was much simpler then, too. Hunters bought the licenses over the counter, showed up and went hunting. “Forget all that now,” Cassidy said. “You have to draw for a tag, worry about where you’re going to go. There’s so much pressure on us to fill these guys because they have to wait so long to get a tag. Plus, the cost has gone completely up. We still have hunters, nice people, but they have a different attitude toward hunting. They are not near in the shape that guys used to be. They can still shoot and have good gear, but they are not physically able to do strenuous hunting, so we had to adjust. We don’t use horses anymore because we have enough people fall off, so we use pickup trucks to get them to the top. Instead of doing a lot of walking, we do a lot of glassing. The license drawing system is also a hurdle for hunters. Luckily, with our landowner preference system, we can draw you in our area without any points. It’s a private land-only tag. On the adjoining public land, hunters need four or five preference points to draw.
Hunting in Colorado has certainly changed. “Thankfully we can still hunt with guys that remember how it used to be and have adapted to today’s hunting conditions,” Cassidy said with a smile.
Click here for more information on Jack Cassidy’s outfitting business.
P.S. Did you know North American Hunter has an online store?