Colorado Unit 21 Hunting Information

Overview of GMU 21 Hunting Facts

Located on the western side of Colorado in Rio Blanco and Garfield counties directly on the Utah border lies Unit 21. This unit is bounded on the northern end by the White River and Rangely, on the eastern side by Unit 22, the southern end by Unit 30 in Garfield county and as previously mentioned, Utah borders on the west. Hunters that want to get away from the crowds recognize this unit as an escape to hunt without the added pressure and distractions by large groups of other hunters. Unit 21 has been a top trophy mule deer destination for years. Mild winters, good habitat, high protein browse all contribute to the quality of big game.  For more Colorado Unit 21 hunting information check the Info for Cities Near Unit 21 section on the right.

Table of Contents

Unit 21 Species Hunting Info

  • Mule Deer Sihouette Unit 21 Mule Deer
  • Elk Silhouette        Unit 21 Elk       

INFO: Mule Deer Hunting in Colorado Unit 21

Unit 21 is mostly accredited for its trophy mule deer, averaging between 150” and 170” with a trophy potential measurement of 180” and on up. The versatility of the landscape makes this unit a challenging and fun hunt. There is a variety of foothills, grasslands and high elevation mountain ranges. During the archery and muzzleloader seasons, the climate is particularly warm. The water sources become undoubtedly more valuable to the deer during this time. The opportunistic hunter can set up a blind adjacent to one of these water sources and he has a good chance of seeing mules. Being that the archery and muzzleloader tags for this unit are also valid in unit 30 (just south of unit 21), this is a great time to cover some land if your attempts in unit 21 have been exhausted. As the season progresses and the weather cools down, the deer will move out of the barren, snow-covered areas and onto greener pastures, so to speak. Prepare for your hunt by pinpointing good glassing locations using an up-to-date map and scouting beforehand.

SUCCESS RATES for Mule Deer Hunting in Colorado Unit 21

5 Year Estimated Average for Deer
Archery 50%
Muzzle Loader 48%
2nd Rifle 85%
3rd Rifle 85%

Mule Deer TROPHY QUALITY for Unit 21 Colorado

Average Quality 150″ – 170″
Trophy Potential 180″+
Buck to Doe Ratio 34:100

Colorado Unit 21 Mule Deer Hunting FORUM Coming Soon!

INFO: Elk Hunting in Colorado Unit 21

Elk hunting pressure is higher in this unit due to the OTC availability for archery, 2nd and 3rd rifle seasons. Trophy elk are harder to find in this unit, but persistence and tactfulness will pay off for that hunter that puts the work in. The rugged terrain of the basins can prove fruitful if your physical abilities are tiptop. The multitude of trails and roads in this unit make it easily accessible for hunters. However, it can also be a cause for concern since the traffic can be disruptive. If you can get off the beaten path, there are remote areas where you may be more successful. The average quality elk for Colorado Unit 21 measures between 260” and 300” with the trophy potential averaging 300” and up. Every few years, a monster bull gets packed out of that unit measuring 350” plus!

SUCCESS RATES for Elk Hunting in Colorado Unit 21

5 Year Estimated Average for Elk
Archery 14%
Muzzle Loader 15%
1st Rifle 20%
2nd Rifle 10%
3rd Rifle 10%
4th Rifle 12%

Elk TROPHY QUALITY for Unit 21 Colorado

Average Quality 260″ – 300″
Trophy Potential 300″+
Bull to Cow Ratio 24:100

Colorado Unit 21 Elk Hunting FORUM Coming Soon!

Available Hunts for Colorado Unit 21

Info for Cities Near Unit 21

Lay of the Land in Unit 21

Total Acreage: 569,344 acres over 889.6 square miles

Total Public Land: 498,000 acres or 87%

Land Ownership Mix: 13% Private; 87% Public; BLM: 494,144 acres; State Land: 6,208 acres; Other Govt Owned: 3,328 acres

Species: Black Bear, Elk, Mule Deer, Moose

Elevation Variances: 4,300 ft. to 8,900 ft.

Terrain Difficulty Overall: Mild to Moderate

Land Coverage/Vegetation: 50% evergreen forest, 39% shrub/scrub, 6% deciduous forest, 2% barren land (rock/sand/clay)

Unit 21 Boundaries: Rio Blanco, Garfield County Colorado) bounded on North by White River, on East by Monument Gulch, Colorado 64, Monument Gulch Road, Rio Blanco County Roads 103 and 26; on South by Douglas Creek-Roan Creek Divide, Douglas Creek.-Salt Creek Divide, Evacuation Creek.-Salt Creek Divide and Bitter Creek-West Salt Creek Divide; on West by Utah.

Colorado Unit 21 Topo Map

Terrain in GMU 21 CO

As mentioned above, the terrain in Unit 21 is very versatile, depending on which area you are hunting. The northern territory along the White River is a drier climate with rolling hills and shrub/scrub land cover. The western side along the Utah border is a higher elevation and predominantly colder due to its altitude. The southern end of the unit is a greener, more lush environment with evergreen forested areas. The eastern area of the unit has a mix of dry land densely populated with short shrub cover. The more difficult terrain is going to be in the western and southern portions of the unit.

Vegetation in GMU Unit 21 CO

The vegetation in Unit 21 is a variation of desert plants with shrub cover and evergreen forested areas. As previously mentioned, the northern portion of the unit and eastern side is predominantly dry with those drier climate thriving plants. Water is more scarce and that is a disadvantage for wildlife, but an advantage for hunters looking to find an area where the animals will congregate. The vegetation in the western and southern ends of the unit is more densely populated with evergreen forest.

Access Points in GMU 21

The roads mapped throughout Unit 21 form a network of access for hunters. As far as highways go, there is Colorado SH-139 that runs North and South. There are several unfinished roads that 4X4 would be preferable to trudge through. Be mindful of which areas are banned for motor vehicle use including ATVs.