Public Lands & Waters photo

Tamarack Ranch State Wildlife Area
: northeast Colorado
Size: 10,696 acres
ZIP: 80751

“There’s room to roam, and some very nice deer get taken here every year,” Baskfield says of Tamarack Ranch, which lies in the wide cottonwood river bottoms bordering the South Platte River, about 60 miles from the Nebraska border. The terrain here is flatter than at Simmons, and it’s easy for hunters to see lots of bucks chasing does before the rut. Food plots are maintained on the area, and surrounding private lands are heavily farmed with the aid of irrigation. The abundance of water in what is essentially a desert is a huge deer magnet. To gain an edge, pack hip waders and cross the Platte before setting up to hunt. “Put the river between you and the rest of the hunters,” Baskfield advises, “and let them drive the deer to you.”

Big Game Access Program
: southeast Colorado
Size: 87,000 acres

This year for the first time, Colorado will give big-game hunters walk-in access to private land for public hunting. Based on the state’s popular walk-in program for small game hunters, the pilot Big Game Access Program will lease 87,000 acres of public land in southeast Colorado, much of it in excellent whitetail range. The lands target both pronghorn and deer habitat, with the deer sites focusing on the wooded river bottoms that hold the most whitetail in the southeastern corner of the state. Hunters must buy a $40 permit to gain access to the lands, which are listed in the Big Game Access Program Atlas available at license outlets and on the Division of Wildlife Web site. If all goes well during the three-year trial run, BGAP could expand statewide.