Colorado Unit 31 Hunting Information

Overview of GMU 31 Hunting Facts

Located east of Unit 30 on the western side of Colorado, bounded by the Colorado River on the southern boundary line, sits Unit 31. Located in Garfield & Mesa counties, Unit 31 has a large expanse of private ranches that may impede public access points. However, the unit still contains 260,769 acres of public land which comprises approximately 58% of the total unit land area. Unforeseen events such as the Pine Gulch Fire in 2020 have resulted in thousands of acres of charred land. However, this will spark fresh new growth and will be an advantage in the future. The entire unit did not burn so there are some areas that were unaffected by the fire. There is significant evidence that big game is very resilient to environmental changes such as wildfires and their aftermath.  For more Colorado Unit 31 hunting information, check out the Info for Cities Near Unit 31 section on the right.

Table of Contents

Unit 31 Species Hunting Info

  • Mule Deer Sihouette Unit 31 Mule Deer
  • Elk Silhouette        Unit 31 Elk       

INFO: Mule Deer Hunting in Colorado Unit 31

Since the 2020 Pine Gulch Fire has been detained, the future of the mule deer population is bright. There is already new growth sprouting and the landscape is recovering well. That being said, we can all remain hopeful that the mule deer population will thrive and be better than ever before in Unit 31! This unit has rugged terrain that is difficult to navigate through unless you have been physically conditioning yourself to prepare for your Unit 31 hunt in Colorado. The weather in Colorado hunting Unit 31 is primarily described as cold, making the early rifle, muzzleloader and archery seasons more successful for most. The mule deer will then feed on the sagebrush that serves as their main winter food source. There are numerous creeks and drainages that offer refuge to the wildlife on those hot summer days. The winters may be cold, but the summer temperatures in western Colorado can soar into the nineties. It should also be noted that tags purchased for Unit 31 can also be used in Unit 32 and vice versa. The average quality mule deer in Unit 31 averages 140” through 160” with the trophy potential measuring 170” and up.

SUCCESS RATES for Mule Deer Hunting in Colorado Unit 31

5 Year Estimated Average for Deer
Archery 40%
Muzzle Loader 50%
2nd Rifle 55%
3rd Rifle 65%

Mule Deer TROPHY QUALITY for Unit 31 Colorado

Average Quality 140″ – 160″
Trophy Potential 170″+
Buck to Doe Ratio 31:100

Colorado Unit 31 Mule Deer Hunting FORUM Coming Soon!

INFO: Elk Hunting in Colorado Unit 31

As is typical in a hunting unit with high elevations and cold winters, the elk and other wildlife in unit 31 will begin their migratory descent from the mountains as the food supply becomes scarce from frostbite. Being that the elk tags are OTC for 2nd and 3rd rifle season, the hunting pressure is much more substantial during these seasons. The pressure will eventually push the elk away from the public land and onto private land, where they feel safe. The Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area is home to one of the few wild mustang herds in the United States. The wild horse herd is very beloved in this area. However, elk are not their biggest fans. The mustangs are known to tear up the land and to overgraze, causing a rift in their relationship with elk and other big game. You can pretty much narrow down your search for elk by eliminating the places they most likely are not to be, such as snow-covered higher elevations and in proximity to the wild mustang herd. The various altitudes and erratic landscapes throughout Colorado unit 31 allows a perfect place for hunters to venture into the nooks and crannies, providing distance from other hunters and less pressured elk and mule deer. The average quality of elk in unit 31 averages between 260” and 300” with the trophy potential measuring 310” and higher.

SUCCESS RATES for Elk Hunting in Colorado Unit 31

5 Year Estimated Average for Elk
Archery 18%
Muzzle Loader 30%
1st Rifle 30%
2nd Rifle 18%
3rd Rifle 18%
4th Rifle 20%

Elk TROPHY QUALITY for Unit 31 Colorado

Average Quality 260″ – 300″
Trophy Potential 310″+
Bull to Cow Ratio 24:100

Colorado Unit 31 Elk Hunting FORUM Coming Soon!

Info for Cities Near Unit 31

Lay of the Land in Unit 31

Total Acreage: 450,000 acres or 703 square miles

Total Public Land: 261,000 acres or 58%

Land Ownership Mix: 42% Private; 58% Public; BLM: 256,000 acres; State Land: 2,048 acres; Other Govt Owned: 2,432 acres

Species: Black Bear, Elk, Mule Deer, Moose, Pronghorn

Elevation Variances: 5,250 ft. to 9,035 ft.

Terrain Difficulty Overall: Moderate

Land Coverage/Vegetation: 42% shrub/scrub, 34% evergreen forest, 13% deciduous forest and 6% barren land (rock/sand/clay)

Unit 31 Boundaries: (Mesa, Garfield, Rio Blanco County Colorado) bounded on North by Colorado River-White River Divide; on East by Roan Creek-Parachute Creek Divide and Kelly Gulch; on South by Colorado River; and on West by Bookcliffs, Little Salt Wash-Roan Creek Divide, Big Salt Wash-Roan Creek Divide and East Salt Creek-Roan Creek Divide.

Colorado Unit 31 Topo Map

Terrain in GMU 31 CO

Settled along the Colorado River, the southern portion of Unit 31 is challenging terrain, even for the most seasoned hunter. Its steep canyons and rocky surfaces pose an obstacle that can only be tackled when one has some experience and know-how. The high altitudes in Unit 31, located primarily in the northern and western sides of the unit, incorporate the Rocky Mountains theme by laying out a picture-perfect landscape with evergreen trees and mountainous terrain.

Vegetation in GMU Unit 31 CO

As mentioned above, the higher elevations of Unit 31 contain the evergreen forest full of aspens, spruces and firs. The lower elevations contain a blend of pinyon, juniper and sagebrush. By observing the state of the vegetation (broken stalks, eaten off of, leaves missing, rubs in bark) and other scouting techniques, a hunter can clue in on the location of big game in Colorado Unit 31.

Access Points in GMU 31

County Road 204 runs southeast and northwest in the unit, beginning in De Beque. Be mindful of the rules and regulations of the site you are hunting. Horseback and ATVs are permitted in most areas. Wet weather conditions can create washed out trails and roads. Be prepared with 4WD and chains.