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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2018: Colorado Elk and Antelope
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 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.
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
|Application fee per species||$3.00|
|Habitat stamp (required to apply)||$10.00|
|Preference point fee per species|
(deer, elk, antelope)
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*
|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|
Dates for antelope seasons in 2018*
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Colorado's 2018 elk breakdown
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 elk Data Analysis Units
Northwest region Colorado elk DAU populations
|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
|E-10||21, 22, 30, 31, 32||10,920||11,230|
|E-14||41, 42, 52, 411, 421, 521||13,310||14,480|
North-central region Colorado elk DAU populations
|E-3||6, 16, 161, 17, 171||4,490||5,750|
|E-4||7, 8, 9, 19, 191||4,210||4,210|
|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-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
|E-24||70, 71, 711, 72, 73||19,280||19,230|
|E-31||75, 751, 77, 771, 78||18,610||19,030|
South-central region Colorado elk DAU populations
|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-27||86, 691, 861||2,320||2,150|
|E-33||83, 85, 851, 140||16,020||15,440|
|E-53||133, 134, 135, 141, 142||780||880|
2018 winter precipitation
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.
The goHUNT hit list units for Colorado elk in 2018
Top hit list hunt units to consider for 320" or better bulls
|Unit 69, 84||330"+||Archery|
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
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
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
|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|
Colorado's top Boone & Crockett producing counties since 2010 for nontypical elk
|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
Trending bull:cow ratio units
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
The points system
The preference point race
2018 maximum preference points for elk: 31
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
|12, 23, 24||280"+||24:100|
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
|6, 16, 161, 17, 171||280"+||32:100|
|11, 13, 131, 211||300"+||24:100|
|21, 22, 30, 31, 32||300"+||24:100|
|25, 26, 34, 231||300"+||24:100|
|35, 36, 361||310"+||34:100|
|41, 42, 52, 411, 421, 521||300"+||29:100|
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
|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|
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
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
The following DAUs encompass the total number of antelope in Colorado.
Top Colorado antelope DAU populations
|A-1||87, 88, 89, 90,|
94, 95, 951
|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
|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-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-34||211, 12, 23||270||250||34:100|
|A-37||18, 181, 27, 28, 37, 371||850||890||99:100|
|A-38||48, 56, 481||130||150||31:100|
goHUNT’s hit list units for antelope in 2018
Top hit list hunt units to consider for 75" or better antelope
|6/17/161||75"+, 75"+, 80"+|
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
|Las Animas||11||85, 128, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137,|
140, 141, 142, 143, 147, 851
|Moffat||7||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12,|
13, 201, 211, 301
|Huerfano||4||84, 85, 128, 133, 861|
|Jackson||3||6, 16, 17, 161, 171|
|Park||3||39, 46, 49, 50, 500, 501, 57, 58, 581|
|Rio Grande||3||76, 78, 79, 80, 81, 791|
Trending buck:doe ratio units
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
The points system
Managing points and expectations
2018 maximum preference points for antelope: 30
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