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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2018: Colorado Elk and Antelope

 

2018 Colorado deer and elk application strategy article

Colorado's 2018 elk and antelope application overview

Jump to: New for 2018 State Information Draw System Elk Breakdown Antelope Breakdown

Almost a quarter million hunters take to the field in pursuit of elk every year in Colorado. Compared to other states, this number is unmatched. Colorado has the largest elk population and offers an opportunity for anyone interested to hunt elk. Over half of the units are open to over-the-counter (OTC) archery and OTC second and third season rifle hunting. In addition, Colorado has a preference point system for elk and, with only a few points, you can experience a good hunt. Plenty of opportunity is definitely a plus for Colorado elk hunting.

The downside for Colorado elk is that trophy potential is limited to a handful of hunts that require so many preference points that most of us may never be in contention for those. This is not to say that a 320”+ bull isn’t possible in other areas, including OTC units, but truly big bulls are a rarity in Colorado.

If you want a chance to hunt elk, Colorado provides the best opportunity to do so every year. There is a seemingly endless amount of quality elk habitat, no wolves, no grizzlies, and you can pick from a variety of hunting seasons. Use the information in this article and in Filtering 2.0, Unit Profiles, and the Draw Odds pages to find a hunt that meets your objectives. Take into consideration your number of preference points, season/weapon, and style of hunting. Colorado is a great state to hunt elk—whether you’re a seasoned pro or are traveling out-of-state to hunt elk for the first time.

Most hunters who apply or plan to hunt Colorado are not thinking about antelope and rightly so. Colorado is not the best state to hunt antelope. Antelope habitat is limited and the habitat that does exists is largely private land, but there are still some opportunities for those willing to dig in and do some research. Trophy potential is not particularly enticing, although a few book bucks are annually harvested. In all, the upside for Colorado antelope is that there is no nonresident/resident license quota split and there is an OTC archery option. Antelope hunting in Colorado definitely is not on par with its neighbor to the north Wyoming, but it does offer an additional chance to get into the field and hunt. If you are applying for other species, antelope is definitely worth considering.

Note: The application deadline for Colorado is midnight on April 3, 2018 MST. You can apply online here or via telephone at 1-800-244-5613. Paper applications are no longer available.



Why Colorado for elk and antelope in 2018

  • Get the chance to hunt every year; over half the units have OTC opportunities.
  • Target rich environment with ample amounts of public land.
  • Experience great archery and muzzleloader rut hunt dates.
  • Participate in combo deer and elk hunting opportunities during most seasons.
  • Don’t worry about nonresident/resident quotas for antelope; there are none.
  • OTC archery antelope hunting is available throughout much of the state.


New for 2018

Licensing system change

Colorado new licensing system

  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) transitioned to a licensing, pass, and reservation system in January 2018. All customers—new and existing—need to have a unique email and password to create an online profile in the new system. This process does take some time, so we highly suggest taking care of this well before the application deadline for those of you who apply the last few days before the deadline. Start the process here.
  • Applications are now paperless for all species. You must apply online or via telephone.
  • You are no longer required to front the fees for permits when applying. You will only pay the $3 application fee per species and the $10 habitat stamp. The permit fees will only be charged if you successfully draw a permit. The preference point fee will only be charged if you are unsuccessful in the draw.
  • Preference point fees will be $40 for deer, elk, and antelope.
  • The credit card on file will be charged for your permit between June 4 and 8 if you are successful in the draw.
  • Applicants applying as a group must choose a group leader and that individual must apply first by selecting “I am a group leader” on the application prior to other group members applying.

Muzzleloader bullet change

Round ball bullets for muzzleloaders are now a minimum of .50 caliber. This applies to deer, pronghorn, and bear. Round ball bullets for muzzleloaders are now a minimum of .54 caliber for moose and elk.

Elk: Hunts/season changes

  • Muzzleloader and rifle licenses for Units 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 77, 78, 711, 741, 751, 771 are now cow or bull only hunts, not either-sex.
  • Late cow rifle dates in Units 50, 500, 501 changed to Dec 22 to 30 to avoid seasonal road closures.
  • Regular muzzleloader and rifle season cow licenses in Unit 54 are now list A.
  • Private land only cow hunt dates have changed in several units; see regulations for details.

Antelope: Hunts/season changes

  • Units 49, 500 are open for muzzleloader and rifle seasons.
  • New regular doe rifle seasons in Units 101, 102.
  • New regular buck and doe rifle seasons in Units 15, 26, 231.
  • New unit groupings 3/301, 4/5, 131, 214/441 for muzzleloader season.

License price increases

  • Nonresident price increased for elk from $644 to $661 in 2018 (bull or either sex). Cow license increased from $484 to $496 in 2018.
  • Nonresident price increased for antelope from $389 to $396 in 2018.
  • Price reduced for residents by $3 per license.


State information

To view important information and an overview of Colorado’s rules/regulations, the draw system and preference points, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map, check out our State Profile. You can also view the Species Profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy units.

Colorado State Profile Elk Profile Antelope Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • The deadline to apply for Colorado is midnight MST on April 3, 2018.
  • Apply online here or by calling 1-800-244-5613.
  • New for 2018: You no longer have to front license fees to apply.
  • All applicants must create an online account to apply online.
  • Youth may apply for a preference point if they turn 12 before Dec 31, 2018. Youth may apply as long as they turn 12 prior to the end of the hunting season applied for.
  • Applicants born after Jan 1, 1949, must have completed an approved hunter’s education course before applying and you must carry your hunter’s education card with you while you hunt.
  • Hunters age 50 plus, or military personnel, who have not completed hunter’s education can take a one-time online test to test out. Cost is $24.50 and you must pass with 90%.
  • Corrections to applications can be made by submitting a form on the CPW website.
  • Successful applicants will be charged between June 4 and 8. If the credit card used to apply is not valid to charge between those dates, you have until June 20 to pay for your license online, at a CPW office, or by phone. If you fail to pay you will lose the license and the preference points required to draw the permit.
  • Draw results will be posted on or before June 4 to 8. Make sure your credit card information is up-to-date. If it is not, they will attempt to contact you via email.
  • You can return your license (tag) for a refund or reinstatement of preference points, but must submit your application at least 30 days prior to opening day.
  • If you return a drawn permit and want your preference points reinstated, you will not receive an additional point for 2018.
  • When you draw a nonresident license it also includes an annual fishing and small game license that is valid through March 31 of the following year.
  • If you check the box on the application for leftover licenses, then you will be a sent a list of all leftover licenses after the draw in June.
  • Preference Point codes:
    • D-P-999-99-P (deer)
    • E-P-999-99-P (elk)
    • A-P-999-99-P (antelope)
    • M-P-999-99-P (moose)
    • S-P-999-99-P (sheep)
    • G-P-999-99-P (mtn goat)

Cost to apply

Item Cost
Application fee per species $3.00
Habitat stamp (required to apply) $10.00
Preference point fee per species
(deer, elk, antelope)
$40.00

* License cost ($661 nonresidents, $46 residents) will be charged only if you are successful in the draw.

The seasons

The season dates for the western portion of Colorado have moved back one day again for 2018. The archery season is nearly a month long while the muzzleloader, 2nd rifle, and 3rd rifle are all nine days. The highly sought after 4th season rifle hunt is only five days long, but should occur in conjunction with the mule deer rut.

Dates for elk seasons in 2018*

Season Dates
Archery Aug. 25 to Sept. 24
Muzzleloader Sept. 8 to 16
Second rifle elk season (west of I-25) Oct. 20 to 28
Third rifle elk season (west of I-25) Nov. 3 to 11
Fourth rifle elk season (west of I-25) Nov. 14 to 18

* Unless otherwise noted in the brochure tables

Colorado statewide elk harvest - updated 2018

Dates for antelope seasons in 2018*

Season Dates
Archery Aug. 15 to Sept. 20
Archery OTC Aug. 15 to 31 (buck only)
Sept. 1 to 20 (either sex)
Muzzleloader Sept. 21 to 29
Rifle Oct. 6 to 12

* Unless otherwise noted in the brochure tables

Colorado post hunt antelope population estimate - updated 2018

For a season-by-season weapon breakdown, check out our Colorado elk and antelope species profile.



The draw system

Understanding the draw

Nonresidents are limited to up to 35% of the total licenses for any given hunt code for elk. The only exception is for hunts that have required six or more points for a resident to draw on average for a three year period. For those hunts, the quota split can be up to 20% for nonresidents.

There is no quota split for residents and nonresident antelope licenses.

Point system

Colorado is a true preference point state for elk and antelope where the applicants with the most points for any given hunt will draw the licenses. A preference point is awarded for each year an applicant applies and is unsuccessful in the draw. An applicant can use the “preference point only code” as their first choice (with no other choices) if they simply want to build a point. The preference point code for elk is E-P-999-99-P and for antelope it is A-P-999-99-P. There is no random component of the drawing for nonresident elk.

What about the hybrid draw?

Colorado has a hybrid draw for some deer, elk and antelope hunts. This is designed to give hunters who would normally never have enough preference points to draw these top-tier licenses at least some random chance in the draw. If a hunt has required ten or more resident preference points to draw on average over a three year period, up to 20% of those licenses will go in a random draw called the hybrid draw. A minimum of five preference points is required to be considered in the hybrid draw. Group applications are not permitted in the random hybrid draw. Residents that meet the minimum five points have a slim random chance to draw some of the best elk hunts in the state if they choose to apply for them.

So why do nonresidents not have a chance for elk licenses in the hybrid draw?

The random hybrid draw occurs after the regular draw and the nonresident quotas are already met in the regular draw for almost every hunt so there are no nonresident permits available for the hybrid draw. The only hunts that are likely to be drawn under the current system by nonresidents are antelope hunts, which do not have a nonresident quota. A nonresident could draw one the of best antelope hunts in the hybrid draw as long as they meet the criteria stated above.

Hunt choices

Colorado considers every applicant's first choice before moving to your subsequent choices. In order to draw a license as a second choice, there essentially has to be more licenses than applicants who listed it as a first choice. Our Draw Odds will help you filter out hunts based on your personal preference point level. This will help you see hunt choices that are within your reach. If you draw a hunt as a first choice and hunt, your preference points will be purged. If you draw a hunt with your second, third or fourth choice, you will retain any points you had and build one for that year as well as receiving the license to hunt. There are hunt options that can be drawn as a second choice, be sure to review the odds for second choice hunts.

Pay close attention to the season code in the regulations when you apply; there are hundreds of hunt codes. Double check to make sure you are applying for the hunts you want.

Group applications

There are no limit for numbers of applicants in a group except for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Two may apply in a group for those species and they must both be residents or both nonresidents. Residents and nonresidents can apply together in a group for other species. Group applications go into the draw with the lowest number of preference points of any individual in the group. Example, three applicants with two, three and six points will go into the draw with two points. The group leader must apply first and all other group members must use the same person as their group leader to go into the draw. Colorado will not over allocate to give everyone on a group application a license if there are not enough licenses in the quota. For example, if there is a group of five and there are only four licenses in the quota, that application will be rejected. As previously stated, nonresidents and residents can apply together in a group; the nonresident licenses drawn in this type of example will come out of the nonresident quota.

License returns

As previously noted, a drawn license can be returned. If you return a license you can choose to receive a refund or you can have your points reinstated. If you return a license you will not receive a point for that year’s application.

Colorado has a reissue process for returned licenses. Licenses that required less than five preference points to draw will be placed on the leftover list at random intervals. Licenses that required five or more preference points to draw will be reallocated to an alternate applicant if possible. CPW will contact up to five of the next alternates in line trying to reallocate the license; if no one takes it will go into the leftover list. If a resident returns a license it will go to a resident, if a nonresident returns a license it will go to a nonresident.

Other tag opportunities

Leftover limited licenses have gone through the draw process and still have a quota remaining. When you initially apply you can check the box to have a list of the leftover licenses sent to you “If unsuccessful send me…” If you select that, in June, CPW will send you the leftover list with instructions on how you can apply for those licenses. That application deadline will be July 3. Beyond the leftover drawing any remaining licenses will be sold OTC starting Aug. 7 at 9:00 a.m. via phone or in person at a CPW office. On Aug. 8, any remaining licenses will be available online.

As noted above, all returned licenses that take four or fewer preference points in the current year’s draw will be available for purchase the week after they are returned and processed. Those are randomly posted on the leftover list as they are returned and can be purchased on a first come first served basis starting in early August. It’s worth checking that list periodically if you did not draw a license; every year some good licenses are turned in.

If you buy a leftover license your preference points are not used. If you buy a returned license that took less than five points to draw initially your points will not be used. If you are selected as an alternate for a license that took over five points to draw and you accept it, your points will be purged.

Final thoughts on the draw

Don’t forget: licenses for draw hunts are awarded to the applicants with the most preference points. There are no random selections. Every year a massive amount of applicants apply for hunts that they have no chance to draw. We often hear from hunters who review the top picks for trophy bulls and apply every year hoping for a license. For those top-tier hunts, there are far fewer permits than there are applicants at each point level, which means it will take one additional point every year to draw. The point creep is so bad for those that if you are just starting out you may never draw those. For example, Unit 201 archery elk has had one nonresident license, which was allocated to an applicant with 26 preference points last year. There were 199 applicants below that level from 25 to 0 points that applied for that hunt also. For perspective, if you currently have 20 points you could still need another 18 years to draw that license.

While checking your draw odds be sure to further investigate the Draw Odds detail page of each unit you are interested in. That can give you the detailed breakdown of how many applicants are at each point level. Use those to determine how long it may take to actually draw the license you want.

TOTAL NUMBER OF COLORADO ELK TAGS DRAWN 1ST - 4TH CHOICE - updated 2018

Percent of COLORADO ELK TAGS DRAWN 1ST - 4TH CHOICE - updated 2018


 

Colorado's 2018 elk breakdown
 

Bull elk taken with Little Creek Ranch
Bull elk taken with Little Creek Ranch — A goHUNT Business Member

If a trophy caliber bull is your ultimate goal, building points in Colorado is likely not worth it. The hunts that can produce those types of bulls are so few and the years required are so great that it’s really not worth it. On the other hand, if you are looking for an opportunity to hunt elk, Colorado is a great state. The population is healthy across the western two-thirds of the state and you don’t have to wait years for a chance to hunt; you can purchase and hunt the OTC units every year. In addition to all the OTC hunts, Colorado has so many options in the one to five points level. With a set number of permits, these types of hunts can be fun and fast-paced hunts for a mature bull with less hunting pressure than OTC options.

Current elk herd condition

Colorado elk populations peaked in 2006 at nearly 292,000 elk statewide. Since then, CPW has focused their efforts on harvesting more elk to bring the population within objectives; however, as of 2016, they still estimate the statewide population at 277,750. Colorado manages their herds in 31 different Data Analysis Units (DAU) with the various units placed in unit groups. The following tables will give you the estimated populations for the top DAUs and the units within each group.

Colorado post hunt elk population estimate - updated 2018

Colorado elk Data Analysis Units

Colorado elk data analysis unit map
Source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
 

Northwest region Colorado elk DAU populations

DAU Units Population
2015
Population
2016
E-1 2, 201 1,230 860
E-2 3, 4, 5, 14, 214, 301, 441 22,910 23,760
E-6 11, 12, 13, 23, 24, 25, 26,
33, 34, 131, 211, 231
41,350 40,990
E-7 15, 27 5,450 4,760
E-10 21, 22, 30, 31, 32 10,920 11,230
E-14 41, 42, 52, 411, 421, 521 13,310 14,480
E-21 10 4,050 3,900
E-47 1 200 200

 

North-central region Colorado elk DAU populations

DAU Units Population
2015
Population
2016
E-3 6, 16, 161, 17, 171 4,490 5,750
E-4 7, 8, 9, 19, 191 4,210 4,210
E-8 18, 181 4,550 4,600
E-9 20 2,460 2,260
E-12 35, 36 3,850 3,590
E-13 28, 37, 371 6,200 6,120
E-16 44, 444, 45, 47 6,490 6,550
E-18 50, 500, 501 2,060 1,980
E-38 29, 38 1,410 1,250
E-39 39, 46, 391, 461 2,120 2,080
E-51 51, 104, 105, 106, 110, 111 1,500 1,510

 

Southwest region Colorado elk DAU populations

DAU Units Population
2015
Population
2016
E-19 40 3,040 2,490
E-40 60 1,980 2,210
E-20 61, 62 8,820 8,590
E-24 70, 71, 711, 72, 73 19,280 19,230
E-52 53, 63 3,460 2,750
E-35 64, 65 6,010 6,040
E-30 74, 741 4,890 5,000
E-41 54 3,070 3,580
E-25 66, 67 6,490 6,060
E-34 76, 79 4,720 4,510
E-31 75, 751, 77, 771, 78 18,610 19,030
E-43 55, 551 4,270 4,950
E-26 68, 681 3,060 3,380
E-32 80, 81 9,810 9,010

 

South-central region Colorado elk DAU populations

DAU Units Population
2015
Population
2016
E-17 48, 481, 56, 561 3,020 3,100
E-22 49, 57, 58 3,670 3,910
E-23 511, 512, 581, 59, 591 3,190 3,130
E-55 682, 791 270 270
E-11 82 3,910 5,580
E-27 86, 691, 861 2,320 2,150
E-28 69, 84 2,240 2,160
E-33 83, 85, 851, 140 16,020 15,440
E-53 133, 134, 135, 141, 142 780 880


2018 winter precipitation

Colorado snow water equivalent as of late March 2018
Colorado snow water equivalent update as of March 15, 2018. Source: National Resources Conservation Service

There has been a stark contrast between this winter and last. Last year, portions of Colorado experienced early heavy snowpack and late freezing conditions. Almost the entire state ended up with 120% plus of normal snowpack in 2017. On the flip side, this winter has been dry and warm. Recent precipitation has helped, but most basins in the southern half of the state will not reach average snowpacks. Statewide precipitation is 70% of average. The only areas near normal levels of precipitation are in the North and South Platte basins, which are in the north-central portion of the state. The northwest portion of the state (Yampa and White basins) is currently 77% of normal while the southwest portions (Gunnison, San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan) are 56% or less of normal.

The upside is that survival should be very good throughout the state. If spring and early summer rain is decent, then antler development could be average, but it’s unlikely to be a banner year for trophy bucks and bulls.

Western 2017 precipitation percent of normal
Utah, Colorado and Wyoming February 2017 precipitation as a percentage of normal. Photo credit: Colorado State
 


The goHUNT hit list units for Colorado elk in 2018
 

2017 bull elk taken with High Timber Outfitters
2017 bull elk taken with High Timber Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

Top hit list hunt units to consider for 320" or better bulls
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Seasons
offered
Resident points
to draw
Nonresident points
to draw
Unit 201 370"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
Early rifle
21 (32%)
22 (15%)
23 (27%)
26
26 (50%)
26 (4.4%)
Unit 2 360"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
Early rifle
20 (51%)
20 (21%)
21 (12%)
25
25 (33%)
26 (56%)
Unit 10 350"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
Early rifle
18 (61%)
20 (41%)
20 (17%)
24 (50%)
25 (50%)
25 (22%)
Unit 40 360"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
First rifle
Second rifle
Third rifle
Fourth rifle
6 (23%)
6 (5%)
9 (33%)
8 (67%)
8 (73%)
8
10 (50%)
16 (80%)
22 (40%)
14 (50%)
12 (33%)
11 (40%)
Unit 851 370"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
First rifle
Second rifle
Third rifle
Fourth rifle
8 (13%)
10 (29%)
15 (67%)
16 (33%)
18
18 (67%)
12
21
22
23
22 (17%)
23
Unit 61 350"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
Early rifle
First rifle
13 (58%)
16 (92%)
18
11 (62%)
20 (14%)
22 (30%)
23 (9.1%)
21 (82%)
Unit 1 350"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
Early rifle
14
14
17 (80%)
NA
NA
23 (33%)
Unit 76 340"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
Early rifle
First rifle
Second rifle
Third rifle
6 (13%)
8 (19%)
16 (80%)
6 (62%)
5 (68%)
6 (85%)
13 (29%)
18 (5.9%)
21 (50%)
14 (43%)
13
11 (60%)
Unit 49 340"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
First rifle
Second rifle
Third rifle
Fourth rifle
4 (72%)
6 (75%)
7 (15%)
4 (52%)
4 (52%)
4 (52%)
4 (64%)
11 (56%)
11 (44%)
4 (30%)
4 (30%)
4 (30%)
Unit 20* 330"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
First rifle
Second rifle
Third rifle
Fourth rifle
Late rifle
4
4 (75%)
4 (60%)
3 (17%)
4 (88%)
3 (63%)
4 (14%)
NA
6
17
8
7 (75%)
3 (50%)
5
Unit 501 330"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
First rifle
Second rifle
Third rifle
Fourth rifle
2 (60%)
3 (9.1%)
3 (67%)
1 (18%)
1 (18%)
1 (18%)
2 (15%)
5 (20%)
3
1 (21%)
1 (21%)
1 (21%)
Unit 69, 84 330"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
First rifle
Second rifle
Third rifle
Fourth rifle
2 (78%)
3 (44%)
4 (79%)
2 (7%)
3 (59%)
2 (79%)
2 (71%)
4 (42%)
4 (75%)
3
3
2 (75%)
Unit 66 320"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
First rifle
Second rifle
Third rifle
Fourth rifle
1 (51%)
3 (7.7%)
0 (73%)
0 (96%)
0 (57%)
0 (50%)
5 (57%)
15 (89%)
1 (11%)
0 (27%)
0 (25%)
0 (75%)
Unit 67 320"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
First rifle
Second rifle
Third rifle
Fourth rifle
2 (86%)
2 (50%)
0
0
0 (57%)
0 (51%)
3 (56%)
10
0
0
0 (54%)
0 (27%)

* Archery Unit 20 odds for the E-M-020-01-A code.


What is the Bosque del Oso?

This area within Unit 851 is composed of large private ranches and a 30,000-acre State Wildlife Area (SWA) known as the Bosque Del Oso. Annually, elk move off of the adjacent private lands and winter on the SWA. The third and fourth rifle seasons here offer very good low-pressure hunts for great bulls. There are other hunts also, but the better hunts are the later in the season.



How to uncover hidden gem elk units

Bull elk taken with Powderhorn Primitive Outfitters

Bull elk taken with Powderhorn Primitive Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

OTC elk hunting and draw options that require five or fewer preference points to draw are the most intriguing options when you are digging for hidden gems. Better than half of the units offer OTC archery, second and third season rifle opportunities. Repeatedly hunting the same unit or units year after year will allow you to learn the unit, elk behavior and, ultimately, could be the key in allowing you to harvest a big mature bull on an OTC hunt. Utilize our Filtering 2.0 feature to find OTC seasons that have trophy potential of 310” or better. Additionally, the harvest success and public land filters can assist you in narrowing down the best hidden gem options. Visit the unit profiles, which offer terrain and other information like bull:cow ratios that can help you determine which unit is right for you. There are very good OTC options to hunt elk in Colorado.

There are many hunts for all weapon types that can be drawn with five or fewer permits. In reality, the trophy quality is not significantly better than the OTC units in most cases, but these hunts can provide a fun hunt with less hunting pressure. Consider primitive weapon hunts (archery and muzzleloader). The season dates for these weapons provide very good opportunities to find and hunt bulls during the rut. The bulk of Colorado’s upper elevation summer range is public land; whereas, late-season hunters can experience issues with elk concentrating on private lands. Utilize Filtering 2.0 and the filters provided to find those hunt opportunities.

Something important to consider in Colorado is that the state collects harvest data specific to the unit even though hunters can hunt a variety of units within most unit blocks. For example, the muzzleloader hunt in Unit 3 is also valid in 301. Harvest success was 0% for that hunt in Unit 301 and 27% in Unit 3. All the harvest occurred in Unit 3; consider that when you are looking for a unit to hunt within a unit block.

Once you jump up to the 10 to 20 preference point range there are far fewer hidden gem options.

Top units to consider for 310" or better bulls on OTC hunts
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Bull:cow
ratio
Unit 3 320"+ 20:100
Unit 30/31 320"+ 24:100
Unit 35/36 310"+ 34:100
Unit 44/444 310"+ 27:100
Unit 18/181 310"+ 36:100
Unit 28 310"+ 44:100
Unit 511 320"+ 22:100
Unit 521 310"+ 22:100
Unit 60 320"+ 33:100
Unit 79 310"+ 27:100

 


 

B&C entry trends for Colorado elk

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Colorado's top Boone & Crockett producing counties since 2010 for typical elk

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Moffat 6 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12,
13, 201, 211, 301, 441
Mesa 4 30, 31, 40, 41, 42, 60, 61,
62, 411, 421
Park 4 39, 46, 49, 50, 500, 501, 57, 58, 581
Jefferson 3 29, 38, 39, 46, 391, 461, 501
Eagle 2 25, 26, 34, 35, 36, 361, 44, 444, 45

* Six other counties with two entries.

Map of Colorado's typical elk B&C all time entries 2018

Top 10 B&C typical elk locations since 2010 - Colorado 2018 app strategy

Colorado's top Boone & Crockett producing counties since 2010 for nontypical elk

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Las Animas 5 85, 133, 134, 136, 137,
140, 141, 142, 143, 147, 851
Fremont 3 58, 581, 59, 591, 69, 691, 84
Moffat 1 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12,
13, 201, 211, 301, 441

Map of Colorado's nontypical elk B&C all time entries 2018

Top 10 B&C nontypical elk locations since 2010 - New Mexico 2018 app strategy



Trending bull:cow ratio units

2017 elk taken with Western Outdoor Adventures

2017 elk taken with Western Outdoor Adventures — A goHUNT Business Member

You may have noticed that we provide data on bull to cow ratios for each hunt unit in Colorado. Male to female ratios are a critical measuring data tool for wildlife managers and indicate the current status and health of the herd. A higher bull to cow ratio may indicate that a unit could have a higher availability of mature bulls compared to a unit with a lower bull to cow ratio. More bulls equates to more bulls to hunt and harvest. When selecting a unit or comparing several units, you should take this into consideration to help your decision. For a complete understanding of male to female ratios, please refer to a recent article covering this in depth. All of this information can be obtained and sorted in Filtering 2.0.

Top Colorado units for bull:cow ratios

Unit Bull:Cow
ratio
Trophy
potential
Public land
%
Unit 10 65:100 350"+ 78.3%
Unit 82 52:100 300"+ 70.9%
Unit 20 44:100 330"+ 55.9%
Unit 28 44:100 310"+ 69.5%
Unit 103 44:100 NA* 14.9%
Unit 371 44:100 270"+ 85.9%
Unit 37 44:100 300"+ 74.3%
Unit 682 40:100 290"+ 16.5%
Unit 50 38:100 300"+ 44.9%
Unit 500 38:100 300"+ 70.7%
Unit 501 38:100 330"+ 91.4%
Unit 15 38:100 300"+ 67.2%
Unit 27 38:100 300"+ 56%
Unit 39 36:100 300"+ 68.8%
Unit 40 36:100 360"+ 62.6%
Unit 46 36:100 280"+ 75.4%
Unit 391 36:100 290"+ 10.9%
Unit 461 36:100 310"+ 23%
Unit 18 36:100 310"+ 88.7%
Unit 181 36:100 310"+ 62.3%
Unit 69 35:100 300"+ 38.5%
Unit 84 35:100 330"+ 29.9%
 
* Little to no trophy potential

 

The points system

The preference point race

2018 maximum preference points for elk: 31

COLORADO RESIDENT ELK POINTS GOING INTO THE 2018 DRAW

COLORADO NONRESIDENT ELK POINTS GOING INTO THE 2018 DRAW

COLORADO ELK PREFERENCE POINTS GOING INTO THE 2018 DRAW

Managing points and expectations

I have 0 to 5 elk preference points. What can I expect?

Applicants with a few preference points should consider the fact that, currently, there are very few good hunts that can be drawn in the five to 15+ point range and the best hunts are probably not within reach in your lifetime. Before you start down the road of banking points we highly encourage you to explore the options first.

Currently, when reviewing the odds, it makes more sense to draw a permit every few years and go on a fun hunt.

Archery elk hunts to consider with five or less preference points
(not in order of quality)

Units Trophy
potential*
Bull:cow
ratio
12, 23, 24 280"+ 24:100
39 300"+ 36:100
48 310"+ 25:100
49 340"+ 31:100
57, 58 310"+ 31:100
66 320"+ 17:100
67 320"+ 17:100
69/84 330"+ 35:100
500 300"+ 38:100
501 330"+ 38:100

*Trophy potential can vary between units. The number displayed represents the highest potential of any unit within the unit block.

Find your resident archery elk draw odds with zero points here

Find your nonresident archery elk draw odds with zero points here

Muzzleloader elk hunts to consider with five or less preference points
(not in order of quality)

Units Trophy
potential*
Bull:cow
ratio
3, 301 320"+ 20:100
616, 161, 17, 171 280"+ 32:100
11, 13, 131, 211 300"+ 24:100
14, 214 280"+ 30:100
15, 27 300"+ 38:100
21, 22, 30, 31, 32 300"+ 24:100
25, 26, 34, 231 300"+ 24:100
35, 36, 361 310"+ 34:100
39 300"+ 36:100
41, 42, 52, 411, 421, 521 300"+ 29:100
46 280"+ 36:100
53 300"+ 30:100
54 300"+ 27:100
55 300"+ 28:100
57, 58 310"+ 31:100
60 320"+ 33:100
62 320"+ 18:100
63 280"+ 30:100
69, 84 300"+ 35:100
79 310"+ 27:100
500 300"+ 38:100
501 330"+ 38:100
551 300"+ 28:100

*Trophy potential can vary between units. The number displayed represents the highest potential of any unit within the unit block.

Find your resident muzzleloader elk draw odds with zero points here

Find your nonresident muzzleloader elk draw odds with zero points here

Rifle elk hunts to consider with five or less preference points
(not in order of quality)

Units Trophy
potential*
Bull:cow
ratio
35, 26, 361 (first rifle) 310"+ 34:100
48 (first, second rifle) 310"+ 25:100
49 (second, third, fourth rifle) 340"+ 31:100
57, 58 (first, second, third, fourth rifle) 310"+ 31:100
69/84 (first, second, third, fourth rifle) 330"+ 35:100
500 (first, second, third rifle) 300"+ 38:100
501 (first, second, third, fourth rifle) 330"+ 38:100
551 (first, fourth rifle) 300"+ 28:100
20 (fourth, late rifle) 330"+ 44:100

*Trophy potential can vary between units. The number displayed represents the highest potential of any unit within the unit block.

Find your resident rifle elk draw odds with zero points here

Find your nonresident rifle elk draw odds with zero points here

If you are starting from scratch, then you really should view Colorado as an opportunity state. Use our Filtering 2.0 feature to find an option that will be a good fit for you or search our Outfitter Directory to find an operator that leases a ranch with great hunting.

I have 5 to 10 elk preference points. What can I expect?

As noted, there are not many hunts that offer a hunt equal to the number of points it takes to draw. If you are within this range we encourage you to take an inventory of the number of points you have and compare it to the hunt you are hoping to draw. If the point creep appears to be to great there are a few options. Unit 40 archery can be good with a guide or access to private land. Unit 4/5/441, 12/23/24, 23/24/33, 48, 67 muzzleloader can be good. Unit 20 (second, third, late rifle) also offers the opportunity for a good bull although it may require some research and hard work, and access to private land can help.

Find your resident elk draw odds with 10 points here

Find your nonresident elk draw odds with 10 points here

I have 10 to 15 elk preference points. What can I expect?

Once again there are not many quality hunts representative of the number of points it takes to draw them. Research the point creep on the top tier hunts to see if banking points is worth it. If you want to draw a hunt, the best options within this range are Unit 76 archery, Unit 49, 66 muzzleloader, Unit 49 (first rifle), 76 (first, second, third rifle), 40 (second, third, fourth rifle).

Find your resident elk draw odds with 15 points here

Find your nonresident elk draw odds with 15 points here

I have 15 to 25 elk preference points. What can I expect?

If you are toward the upper end of this point range, you are most likely looking at the top tier Units 2, 10, and 201. Depending on where you are at, it could still take several more years. It’s probably worth sticking it out if you can. If you are in the 15 to 20 point range, those hunts could still take a couple decades to draw and you might consider a few of the other options like Units 851, 61, 76, or 40. Overall, this point range is a tough spot to be in. Your only real options are to sacrifice points to go on a hunt that takes far fewer points to draw or stay the course and hope to last long enough to draw a good license.

Find your resident elk draw odds with 25 points here

Find your nonresident elk draw odds with 25 points here



Colorado's 2018 antelope breakdown

2017 antelope taken with Western Outdoor Adventures

Antelope buck taken with Western Outdoor Adventures — A goHUNT Business Member

Colorado has an estimated statewide population of almost 81,000 antelope. While this number is significantly smaller than states like Wyoming or Montana and the trophy quality is poor in comparison to Wyoming, New Mexico or Arizona, Colorado does offer enough opportunity to experience a decent antelope hunt.

Antelope occupy the lowland sage steppe and grasslands throughout Colorado. The best habitat and the bulk of the populations are located in the northwest portion of the state bordering Wyoming, the south-central portion bordering New Mexico and scattered across the eastern plains. There are also smaller populations in the valley bottoms tucked away between the more traditional mule deer and elk units.

Colorado offers limited quota hunts for archery, muzzleloader and rifle antelope. In addition, there are also units where you can archery hunt with an OTC license. Finding a place to hunt on public land can be challenging for OTC archery hunts, but there are some opportunities if you are willing to do some research and are handy with a GPS and land ownership layer. The better rifle hunts will require quite a few points to draw, but the muzzleloader and archery hunts can be drawn much quicker. The harvest success for those hunts is lower; however, it’s one way to hunt better units with far fewer points.

The draw system for antelope is similar to elk and deer; it works on a preference point system where the applicants with the most points draw the permits. The only real exception is that there is no resident/nonresident quota split for antelope. Overall, Colorado is far from a premier antelope hunting destination. Instead, it should be looked at as another fun opportunity to hunt.

Current antelope herd condition

Colorado manages their pronghorn herds in distinct DAUs. Populations are up overall. This winter has been very light across much of Colorado with warmer temperatures and below average precipitation winter survival should be good.

Colorado Antelope Data Analysis Units
 

Colorado antelope data analysis unit map
Source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

The following DAUs encompass the total number of antelope in Colorado.

Top Colorado antelope DAU populations

DAU Units 2015
population
2016
population
Buck:doe
ratio
A-1 87, 88, 89, 90,
94, 95, 951
7,240 6,060 32:100
A-2 99, 100 1,690 1,670 32:100
A-3 6, 16, 161, 17, 171 1,680 1,460 34:100
A-4 93, 97, 98, 101, 102 590 640 22:100
A-5 120, 121, 125, 126 3,660 3,530 43:100
A-6 112, 113, 114, 115 3,280 3,340 26:100
A-7 128, 129, 133, 134, 135,
140, 141, 142, 147
9,040 9,530 42:100
A-8 110, 111, 118, 119, 123, 124 11,270 12,410 45:100
A-9 3, 4, 5, 13, 14, 214, 301, 441 13,260 17,690 47:100
A-10 11 1,290 820 31:100
A-11 1, 2, 201 900 630 37:100
A-12 116, 117, 122, 127 1 1,200 41:100
A-13 130, 136, 137, 138, 143, 144, 146 520 3,500 35:100
A-14 68, 79, 82, 681, 682, 791 2,150 1,570 29:100
A-16 80, 81, 83 840 820 43:100
A-18 132, 139, 145 1,750 750 68:100
A-19 103, 106, 107, 109 1,930 2,270 35:100
A-20 69, 691, 84, 85, 851, 86, 861 3,160 2,780 46:100
A-23 66, 67, 551 500 500 60:100
A-30 49, 50, 57, 500, 501, 511, 58, 581 1,360 1,340 35:100
A-31 59, 591 290 280 70:100
A-33 9, 191 1,450 1,410 81:100
A-34 211, 12, 23 270 250 34:100
A-36 7, 8 620 630 29:100
A-37 18, 181, 27, 28, 37, 371 850 890 99:100
A-38 48, 56, 481 130 150 31:100
Statewide 79,160 80,920  


goHUNT’s hit list units for antelope in 2018

Top hit list hunt units to consider for 75" or better antelope
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
1/2 80"+, 75"+
3/301 80"+, 75"+
6/17/161 75"+, 75"+, 80"+
11 80"+
67 80"+
80 80"+
81 80"+
87 80"+
50 75"+

 


 

How to uncover hidden gem units

The real hidden gems for antelope are within the limited quota archery and muzzleloader and OTC archery hunts. Generally speaking, Units 3, 6, 16, 17, 161, 171, 11, 67, 80, 81, 87, 88, 2, 201 have large enough tracts of public land to offer a good hunt. Of the OTC units, the Comanche National Grasslands located in Units 135, 130, 137, 144, 145 are good options.

For the limited quota archery, muzzleloader and OTC archery permits, use the Filtering 2.0 tool to search by draw odds, season, and then filter down by harvest success and trophy potential to find those units that offer the best option.

Beyond that, some map and GPS work will allow you to whittle those units down to specific areas to hunt.

Colorado's top Boone & Crockett producing counties since 2010 for antelope

County No. of
entries
Units found
within county
Las Animas 11 85, 128, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137,
140, 141, 142, 143, 147, 851
Moffat 7 1, 2, 3, 4, 511, 12,
13, 201, 211, 301
Huerfano 4 84, 85, 128, 133, 861
Jackson 3 6, 16, 17, 161, 171
Park 3 394649505005015758581
Rio Grande 3 76, 78, 79, 80, 81, 791
 

Trending buck:doe ratio units
 

Antelope taken with Hill Guides and Outfitters
A great antelope taken with Hill Guides and Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

You have probably noticed that we provide data on buck to doe ratios for each hunt unit in Colorado. Male to female ratios are a critical measuring data tool for wildlife managers and indicate the current status of the herd. A higher buck to doe ratio may indicate that a unit could have a higher availability of mature bucks compared to a unit with a lower buck to doe ratio. This doesn’t always indicate that the bucks will be the highest scoring, but a higher ratio equates to more bucks to find and harvest. When selecting a unit, or comparing several units, take this into consideration to help your decision. For a complete understanding of male to female ratios, please refer to a recent article covering this in depth.

The interesting discovery is that the top areas with the highest buck:doe ratios are not found in the top trophy producing areas or units that require 10 plus points. Several of these top buck:doe ratio areas are also available to hunt with an OTC license. All of this information can be obtained and sorted in Filtering 2.0. These are some serious sleeper areas to consider!

Top Colorado units for buck:doe antelope ratios

Unit Buck:Doe
Ratio
Trophy
potential
Public land
%
Unit 18 99:100 NA* 88.7%
Unit 27 99:100 65"+ 56%
Unit 28 99:100 NA* 69.5%
Unit 181 99:100 NA* 62.3%
Unit 37 99:100 75"+ 74.3%
Unit 371 99:100 NA* 85.9%
Unit 9 81:100 70"+ 31.4%
Unit 191 81:100 75"+ 50.7%
Unit 59 70:100 70"+ 40.4%
Unit 591 70:100 70"+ 99.5%
Unit 132 68:100 70"+ 4.7%
Unit 139 68:100 75"+ 3.9%
Unit 145 68:100 65"+ 20.9%
Unit 66 60:100 70"+ 80.6%
Unit 67 60:100 80"+ 83.6%
Unit 551 60:100 75"+ 86.4%
 
* Little to no trophy potential


The points system

Managing points and expectations

2018 maximum preference points for antelope: 30

Find your draw odds

I have 0 antelope points. What can I expect?

You have some options and, by using the Draw Odds portion of the site, you’ll find that there are permits you can draw for every season and weapon. The issue that you will run into is that these areas are almost entirely private lands and access is very limited. For these types of hunts, your best option is to use our outfitter directory to contact a guide who will have some options to access those lands. Your next best bet is to build points, dig into some map and GPS research and take advantage of the OTC archery hunts.

Find your resident antelope draw odds with zero points here

Find your nonresident antelope draw odds with zero points here

What can I do with 5 to 10 antelope points?

Archery Unit 3/301 is likely the best option for a bowhunter toward the bottom end of the point range. Muzzleloader in Unit 67 or 50/57/58/501/581 are fair options. You might also consider Units 87, 88, 135 rifle. If you are closer to the 10 point end of things, you may consider continuing to build points as there are some good opportunities in the 11 to 13 point level. You could also consider applying for one of the hybrid draw hunts and hope you are one of the lucky few that randomly draw a great permit.

Find your resident antelope draw odds with 10 points here

Find your nonresident antelope draw odds with 10 points here

What can I expect with 10 to 15 antelope points?

Unit 3 muzzleloader and rifle, Unit 6/16/17/161/171 muzzleloader, Unit 11, 81, 57/58/581 rifle and Unit 161 rifle are all within this range. All of which can be very good hunts for a great buck. The likelihood of killing a Boone and Crockett buck are low but all offer good opportunities at a mature buck.

Find your resident antelope draw odds with 15 points here

Find your nonresident antelope draw odds with 15 points here

What can I expect with 15 to 20 antelope points?

The best hunts are going to be rifle hunts in Units 67, 79/791 and 2/201. There are good amounts of public land, trophy potential is good and these units will all offer a fun hunt.

Find your resident antelope draw odds with 20 points here

Find your nonresident antelope draw odds with 20 points here

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