2023 Season Report, Future Booking Opportunities, and Colorado’s Hunting Outlook


The view just 600 yards from one of our new camps

Big News

Just like the previous year, LKS Outfitters grew again! Pack String Ranch Outfitters (PSRO), which was adjacent to Flat Tops Wilderness Guide’s (FTWG) western border, was for sale. After Ken, Lisa, Evan, and Jimmy strategized about the pros and cons, it was a no brainer that PSRO would be a great addition to the FTWG permit area. This new acquisition came with some great horses/mules, tack, and more importantly new camps. The five new hunting camps, base camp, and summer camp treated guests well this past season. The remoteness of these new camps (some taking almost five hours to ride to) are a rarity in Colorado.

Shingle Camp (one of the five new camps)


The snowpack from the winter was like one the “old timers” would have talked about. Needless to say, the summer fishing, day rides, pack trips, and trail clearing was delayed by a couple of weeks. There is no doubt that the winter kill in parts of the state was really bad. We had figured we had just skirted the edge of these bad zones as our wintering grounds stayed open; while 40 miles north there was nothing but carnage. We really didn’t know for sure if we were affected until we got boots on the ground and watched summering elk again. Our suspicion proved correct that the elk populations looked identical and very healthy.

We did a little less fishing this year than in years past, which was by design. The lodge was still under construction and the purchase of the new business kept us plenty busy. We had more miles of trails to clear than ever before and with a huge snow year there were plenty of trees that had to be cut out by hand. We also set our wall tents using log frames instead of conduit internal frames. This meant more cutting and more work for the new camp locations.

The fishing trips we did were still very productive and the additional snow kept the fishing better later into the summer than ever before. We had lots of sheep, goat and moose hunts coming up in the fall and there was lots of scouting to be done as well.

Eric and one of the fisherman from the summer with a little cutthroat

Evan pulling log poles for the frame of a new camp (riding Diesel… one of the new horses)

Shoveling snow out of the trail to get the horses through the first week of July (10,800′ elevation)

Evan P. taking a nap during camp setting

The remodeled basement (new entrance of the lodge) with lockers

Remodeled kitchen/dining room/living room

The new outdoor hangout


Bear Hunting: The bear hunting was polar opposite compared to 2022. In 2022 there was very little to no mast/fruit production. 2023 there was abundant food everywhere! The bears were not as concentrated, as we would like to see but plenty around. The biggest issue we had was that the vegetation seemed so much thicker than years past due to the heavy snow pack. We would glass bears, watch them step behind a bush, and never see them again. The first week of the season definitely seemed to be the best week for the number of bears spotted.

A nice colored phase bear shot on the last day of the hunt


Archery Elk: The hunting was slow the first couple weeks of the season. The warm temperatures had the elk quiet and in the thick dark timber. As the season progressed, the hunting got better. The elk were more dispersed than last year. Less sightings of the “mega herds” (50 plus cows, 1 herd bull, and several satellite bulls) and more small herds (1 bull with 10 cows)… I believe the dispersal of food throughout elevations caused the dispersal.

The guided archery hunters had great success.

One of the bulls from the guided camp

The Derby crew looking “swarthy” after finishing up archery season

Callan packing into Box Canyon


Mountain Goats: Like usual, we had lots of goat hunters in several units with tremendous success. The increase in tag allocations in some units did not have the negative effect I had originally thought.

Guides Trevor and Tyler with the hunter and his big billy


Bighorn Sheep: The sheep hunting was successful as well. We had 3 sheep hunters in their 70’s and were able to put them all on great rams in some physical units

Willis with his ram and guide Fred was able to glass himself up a dead head on the hunt as well.



Moose: We had another great year of moose hunting. We had moose hunters in 25/26/231, 12/23/24, and 49/500

Carl with his B&C 49/500 bull

1st Rifle Season: First rifle season was another warm season for us, but productive. Bulls were still with cows and rutting. Carrying a bugle tube even on the last day of the season proved to be a crucial tool in the pack.

Jurgen showing off some fancy pack work from his hunters bull during first season.

The Bruce group with a nice bull out of one of the drop camps

2nd Rifle Season: Second season continued with warm weather. The long treks to find elk took its toll on both drop camp hunters and guided hunters. When hunters did find the elk they were into them thick and they were holding tight to a small area. Guided hunters shot 3 bulls in one day. The deer hunting was slow. Not from a lack of deer but a lack of mature deer to go after.

The three guided bulls on the same day

Ric, hunting in a drop camp, with the biggest second season buck

3rd Rifle Season: Again, the warm weather continued. The elk were still concentrated and generally on the top. Ken and his buddies came out for the third season. Everyone went home with either an elk or a deer. The big mature bucks that normally appear out of nowhere during the rut never showed but still plenty of smaller bucks and does to be seen.

Ken with his first mule deer

Leland with his first elk and a big backstrap for the freezer

4th Rifle Season: Just as the three seasons before, fourth rifle continued to stay warm. The hunting was tough but long rides to high elevations were fruitful. Many of the deer, just as last year, seemed move to lower elevations and out of the permit area. However, the biggest deer we saw all hunting season were during fourth rifle season

Nate packing an elk out across the top


Post Season/Lion Season: Once the shoes were pulled, tents dried, and everything shut down; Evan, Coulter, and Jimmy spent a little time doing some lion hunting. Coulter got to see his first lion in a tree and harvest it. Evan has been running lions every chance he could before the quota was met.

Coulter and Rooster with their lion

Evan/B.J. on Kate and Coulter with his lion across Patsy

Evan P., Jacob, and Coulter during shut down


Colorado’s Hunting Outlook

Attack on Hunting using Ballot Box Biology: As you probably know, lion and bobcat harvest (and management) is under an aggressive attack in Colorado by way of proposed ballot initiatives. THIS IS NOT ONLY A COLORADO PROBLEM! These attacks are intended to set a precedent which will spread far beyond Colorado and far beyond mountain lions, bobcats and lynx. This attack is part of a movement which is anti-hunting and anti-harvest. That is their goal. The good news is that we can win this! As a 501c4, Coloradans For Responsible Wildlife Management (CRWM) has hired political strategist Pac/West Strategies, along with legal representation from Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, to fight this at the initial Title Board process, the Secretary of State, the Colorado Supreme Court, and, eventually, through an aggressive, well-funded opposition campaign by way of strategic messaging to the voting public.

This affects EVERY hunter, not just houndsmen! If cat hunting is banned you can guarantee the anti-hunters will not stop there. Elk, deer, bear, small game hunting, and even fishing are next.

Please take a few minutes to educate yourselves, explore the CRWM website, and hopefully make a donation (big or small) to protect YOUR right to hunt and fish in Colorado and your home state.


2025-2029 Proposed Season Structures: The key takeaway here is that OTC elk tags are going away. They will start with archery and come 2030 probably rifle tags as well… That means everyone should start building a few preference points. Please note the below are just CPW recommendations which the commission will approve or modify. The full report can be viewed HERE

  • Change to the previous season structure (2015-2019) for regular deer and elk rifle seasons.
  • Maintain the status quo for season structure for early seasons (archery and muzzleloader) for deer and elk west of I-25 and GMU 140; in addition, there shall be an additional stand-alone limited archery antlered deer season that opens August 15th and closes September 1st, annually. This season would be optional and determined on a herd-by-herd basis (DAU/GMU), allowing for regional flexibility. This optional antlered deer season would not replace existing antlered, either-sex, and antlerless deer archery seasons.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) archery: Limit all resident and nonresident archery licenses – limited licenses to be available through the draw by management area (Data Analysis Unit (DAU) or Game Management Unit (GMU)).
  • OTC rifle: Maintain the status quo; keep unlimited licenses available for antlered elk during the second and third general rifle seasons in OTC units. Keep limited either-sex or limited antlered elk licenses available in remaining limited units. All antlerless elk licenses remain limited. Limited licenses issued by GMU/DAU.
  • Addition of an optional* rifle deer hunt during the first regular rifle season (currently elk only).
  • Addition of an optional* second regular rifle buck and doe pronghorn season.
  • A change to the BGSS cycle length was considered. CPW recommends maintaining the status quo of conducting a review of the BGSS every five years.
  • Administrative topics (cow moose): Optional late cow moose season that would be  additional to the regular moose rifle season, and would be valid for all regular rifle deer and elk seasons (with no hunting during the breaks between seasons) when necessary to meet management objectives for moose.

Booking Opportunities

2024 availability:

  • Just a few spots left for archery drop camps
  • For sheep/goat/moose hunting opportunities keep an eye on our BLOG PAGE

2025 availability:

  • One guided rifle spot (3rd season)
  • Two archery guided spots
  • 50% booked for archery drop camps
  • One 1st rifle drop camp
  • One 2nd rifle drop camp
  • One 3rd rifle drop camp

2026 and beyond:

  • Relatively still open across the board but they book quick



  1. Vince MautinoFebruary 29, 2024

    Thanks for the up date.Did you know that Jeanne Horne (J-Bar-J Outfitter) is thinking about selling her permit.? not sure if that would be to far from you.

    1. jimmyFebruary 29, 2024

      Vince, I did know that. Just about all the meeker based outfits are for sale right now.


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