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Application Strategies for Youth: Part 3 — Colorado

Photo credit: Luke Dusenbury

If you've been following along, for 2023 we are again covering hunting opportunities for youth. Many of us have kids who are now able to hunt and most states offer youth specific hunts or price breaks on tags. The opportunities to get your kids out hunting in the West are probably better than you think.

In this series of articles, I will explore opportunities in the West for youth hunters. This third article will cover Colorado.

If you're looking for other states with youth strategies, check out the following articles:


Your Insider account offers draw odds specifically for youth in states where those opportunities exist. To explore those odds, log into your Insider account, hover over the Insider icon in the header bar. When the pop-up box appears, select “Draw Odds.” Next, select the state you are researching and when the option for types of residency show, select the “youth” option. Finally, select the species you are interested in researching.

Within the Filtering 2.0 portion of your Insider account, you can also scroll down to the “Select Season” dropdown menu and, if there are youth only opportunities, you can find and research those as well. 

Explore Draw Odds here



Youth may apply for a tag at age 11 if they will turn 12 years old before the end of the hunting season that they applied for. Youth cannot hunt with the license until they turn 12. Youth can apply for preference points if they turn 12 by Dec. 31 of the application year. Every youth will be required to complete a hunter’s education course before applying and they are required to carry a copy of their hunter’s education card with them in the field.

Colorado does have an apprentice license that provides a one-year waiver on the hunter’s education requirement. It can only be used once and allows for the purchase of hunting permits. The hunter must be accompanied by a mentor in the field. The apprentice must be at least 12 years old and the mentor must be at least 18 and have completed a hunter’s education course themselves.


An adult cannot transfer a hunting permit to a youth hunter in Colorado.


Bows must have a minimum of 35 lbs draw weight. As of 2022, there is no rule for let-off maximum. Muzzleloader rules are more restrictive than most states: pelletized powder, smokeless powder, sabots and scopes are not permitted. Open or iron sites are mandatory.


Colorado youth application, license and permit costs (12 to 17 years old)


Qualifying license (annual small game)



Application fee (per species)



Youth deer license



Youth elk license



Youth antelope license



Youth bear license 



*There is no preference point fee so we highly recommend that you apply for and build points for moose, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goat for your youth. An adult point fee for those species is $100 per species. 

**All other license costs for youth are the same as they are for adults 

What makes Colorado a great state for youth hunting? 


Colorado is generous to youth hunters, especially when it comes to price. In order to apply in Colorado, an applicant must purchase a qualifying license. For both resident and nonresident youth, that license is $1.40. Each species that a nonresident youth applies for is an additional $10.00. There are no point fees for youth and you can apply for points only. The license costs are also very moderately priced (as you can see above): $115 for a deer, elk or antelope youth license. In essence, you can take a nonresident youth to Colorado to hunt one of the species above for $125. 

One other tip concerning cost to apply: In Colorado, the $100 preference point fee that an adult applicant pays for moose, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goat is not charged for youth applicants. Applicants need three points to be considered in the draw for those species. After you have those three points, you have the chance to apply and hope to get lucky and not pay for the point or apply and pay for the point as well. Considering the nonresident odds with three points and 20 points in often a less than 2% difference it may not be worth paying the $100 point fee every year. The bottom line: build those points for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat for your youth before they have to pay the $100 point fee as adults.


Colorado doesn’t offer special youth buck or bull permits that are set aside specifically for them.

Colorado offers a minimum of 15% of limited hunting licenses for doe antelope, antlerless and either sex deer and antlerless elk for each unit for youth (12 to 17). Those permits are available through the state draw for each season and method of take. If youth enter more than one hunt code on their application, all codes listed must qualify for youth preference (i.e. doe, antelope, antlerless elk, doe or either sex deer).

In Game Management Units 54, 55, 66, 67 and 551, youth preference is 50% for all antlerless deer licenses. 

Youth also receive preference on ALL HUNT CODES available in the Secondary Draw.

Colorado offers some extended hunts for youth. Youth who have an unfilled limited antlerless deer, antlerless elk or either sex elk license after their original seasons end can participate in any open rifle antlerless deer or elk hunt that begins after the last day of the season on their original license. Antlered licenses, OTC licenses and either sex rifle elk licenses cannot be converted to extend seasons. For more details, see the youth hunting section within the Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations.

Perhaps, the best opportunity in Colorado is in the sheer number of hunts they offer. Colorado is a true preference point state, meaning that the applicants who apply for any given hunt are given the permits regardless of whether you are an adult or youth. There are hunts for individuals with zero points on up to a couple decades’ worth of points. There are even some hunts that can still be drawn as a second choice, which will allow you to draw a tag as your second choice and build a preference point with your first choice. There really are great elk and deer hunts that can be drawn with zero to only three or four points and there are many OTC elk hunting opportunities. Colorado has archery, muzzleloader, second, third and fourth rifle seasons in most units and some even have early rifle hunts. Use your Insider account’s draw odds and Filtering 2.0 to find the best hunting opportunities for your youth and take them to Colorado. You will not regret it!

Start your Colorado research now on Filtering 2.0


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