Back to News

CPW increases hunting and fishing revenue by almost 20%

CPW increases hunting and fishing revenue by almost 20%

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Thanks to a change in how Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) handled licensing requirements this year, the agency increased its revenue by nearly $16 million in 2019. That’s a 20% increase since the previous fiscal year. In fact, according to The Denver Post, the total license sales for 2018-19 were $96,269,926 – up from the previous total of $80,499,026.

What was the change? Well, beginning last year, those who applied for big game licenses had to first purchase qualifying licenses. Those included small game hunting licenses, spring turkey licenses, resident combo licenses for small game hunting and fishing or a veteran’s lifetime combo license for residents, according to The Denver Post.

Gear Shop bar

“Those work as a qualifying license in order for you to apply for big game hunt,” said Jason Clay, a public information officer for CPW. “The vast majority of that $16-million increase is from that. You could purchase your qualifying license at the same time as you’re applying (for a big game license), but you could not apply without having that in the queue or having done so previously.”

Interested in Colorado’s 2019 season breakdown? Here’s a few numbers from CPW:

  • Big game license applications: 978,668
  • Big game licenses sold: 361,089
  • Elk licenses sold: 215,351
  • Elk, deer, pronghorn and bear licenses sold to nonresidents: 102,444
  • Resident combination (small game and fishing) licenses: 110,511
  • Chances of having your name drawn in the lottery for a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep license: less than 1% (34,724 applied, 299 awarded)
  • Chances of having your name drawn in the lottery for a moose license: less than 1% (52,217 applied, 505 awarded)
  • Chances of having your name drawn in the lottery for a mountain goat license: less than 1% (25,023 applied, 236 awarded)
  • Acres of public land available for hunting: 23 million
  • CPW game management units: 185


Log in or register to post comments.

Brian B. - posted 1 day ago on 01-24-2020 12:21:42 am

Arron - I always appreciate the guys who work hard. I'm not the luckiest so I know all to well about the grind. Anytime you want to talk, give me a shout. Even if we only share some hunting strategies, it is amazing how much you can learn from other people. Feel free to reach out at

Arron J. - posted 2 days ago on 01-23-2020 03:01:00 pm

Brian, great to hear from someone with similar ethos. If you ever need a wingman on a hunt, give me a buzz. Cole definitely sounds like the hunter we should be aspiring to

Brian B. - posted 3 days ago on 01-22-2020 02:05:28 pm

Arron and Cole - I would hunt with either of you two every day of the season. Although, I might not be able to keep up with Cole. LOL. I put on the miles, but not with a spike camp on my back every day! Kudos to you!

Arron J. - posted 4 days ago on 01-21-2020 03:49:11 pm

The animals we hunt are fluid, things change. It's our job as hunters to adapt to change. It's easy to blame too many NRs, point creep, bad wildlife management, no animals, too many other guys hunting, etc., etc. for lack of success. But I assure there are guys consistently killing really good animals every year on OTC/gen tags. CO is not running out of elk any time soon and still has 23 million acres of public land to hunt. Don't succumb to negativity, stay positive, embrace the suck, fail fast, push through, take more step than you thought you could, help another guy out, those, maybe not all, are the x-factors.

matthew a. - posted 4 days ago on 01-21-2020 09:16:14 am
Tampa, FL


Thanks, your opinion has been life altering.

Mike R. - posted 4 days ago on 01-21-2020 08:29:27 am

Who is talking about not making it happen or success? No one except Aaron. Experience and health of the eco system are the two issues at hand. Read back through the thread, your arguing with yourself I guess.

matthew a. - posted 4 days ago on 01-21-2020 02:54:51 am
Tampa, FL


I might not agree with all your comments- but you nailed the last one.


Arron J. - posted 5 days ago on 01-20-2020 10:37:46 am

There are guys that find ways to get it done, and guys that find excuses.

Mike R. - posted 6 days ago on 01-19-2020 08:35:03 pm

Every time your argument hits a dead end you reinvent it, next you'll be talking about how cool Texas OTC is. Cool story bro....

Arron J. - posted 6 days ago on 01-19-2020 11:00:23 am

lol, the Arizona Strip mule deer tag used to be OTC. Google "Utah OTC elk hunt" and watch a bunch of videos of guys that got it done on great OTC bulls. I've listened to guys hunting the best tags complain about unit quality drop while the guy in the next rig was driving out with a 370" bull or 190" buck. Stop bitchin about NRs and go make it happen.

Mike R. - posted 6 days ago on 01-19-2020 08:13:10 am

Sounds like you have some great options, Utah otc and AZ deer, good comparison lol

Arron J. - posted 1 week ago on 01-17-2020 08:31:59 pm

Utah allows NRs to buy OTC elk permits (and keep bonus points). UT also charges about $300 less for an OTC elk tag than CO does. AZ allows NRs to buy OTC deer permits (and keep bonus points). CO has the largest elk population at around 275k. That's the real difference and why CO sells elk OTC tags so generously. CO has about 70% more elk than the next closest state. Relative to trophy quality, 1/3 of CO's Boone & Crockett entries have occurred in the last 10 years. Maybe you resident guys in CO do need a bunch of wolves to decimate your elk herds instead of selling tags to NRs.

Mike R. - posted 1 week ago on 01-17-2020 06:35:42 pm

Yeah Montana was 50/50. There hasn’t been left over licenses in a few years ( except returns If your lucky ). Last year was 2015 for the combo. Yes you still burn points to hunt there. Yes you may draw a second choice in Wyoming. They both sell out, you think Colorado won’t? Seems they are not suffering from a budget shortage. That’s exactly the point, Colorado should adopt a similar system. pick up a second choice or a leftover great, but there should be some regulation. Very far cry from your “no one” argument. As I said before, only state that treats residents and non residents the same for otc. Idaho’s good units sell out with caps ASAP , you think Colorado wouldn’t? Take if from the people that live here. Too many non residents, not just for experience but for conservation.

Arron J. - posted 1 week ago on 01-17-2020 01:39:21 pm

Mike R, I'm well aware that MT has both a preference point and bonus point draw. That is precisely the point that makes your comparison bt MT and CO inapplicable. You cited MT as a state that NRs lose their points when they draw a general tag. I correctly pointed out the differences, specifically that you don't lose preference points bc you draw a general tag. The retention of preference points is a big difference bt MT and saying essentially that MT makes guys lose the points they've been banking for years to draw a premium tag if they acquire a general tag. That is the nub of what is really being discussed. You also do not lose bonus points in MT if you buy a leftover license or returned license. So another big difference with what some guys on here have been suggesting CO do relating to NR OTC elk hunts and forfeiting points. Some years the MT general tags elk and/or deer sell out. Some years they don't. I'm not aware of MT NR general tags ever being 50% draw odds with 0 bonus points, but maybe I'm wrong. Your comparison bt CO's and WY's point system is also inaccurate. You only lose points in WY if you draw your first choice in the draw. Some species NRs can draw a second choice, some you can't. Elk obviously is very rare to draw an antlered tag on a second choice. WY is also handing out about 1/4 of the elk tags CO is. WY sells out its NR general elk tags in the draw on the first choice basis. However, it is inaccurate to say that NRs in MT and WY forfeit all their points if they buy a general tag. In both cases you lose your points (bonus in MT) if you successfully draw a general tag. In WY it would have to be your first choice. In MT, even if you draw a general tag, you keep your preference points, which is how you draw for the best units. The point is, there are scenarios in the point systems in MT and WY that allows guys to get general tags and keep their points. Another big difference between CO and WY is the trophy potential and success rates in CO OTC units do not come close to a WY general elk tag. My facts are right. It remains a fantasy to think that NRs are going to bite on some scheme that burns 5, 10, 15, 25 years of points in CO to hunt a formerly OTC elk unit with 10-20% harvest rates (if in fact CPW were to make that catastrophically terrible change).

Mike R. - posted 1 week ago on 01-17-2020 10:32:13 am

General tag in MT is a draw (preference points vs bonus point) so general is a draw (50/50 with 0)?? Wyoming General is a draw you have to use points as an NR. Without understanding the facts no need to debate

matthew a. - posted 1 week ago on 01-17-2020 03:16:59 am
Tampa, FL


The revenue is going to decline unless resident costs increase. Ive heard the abolishment of OTC Elk tags in CO for 3 years now. Ive heard rhomors that Rinella and some other influential / affluent people are suppprting this effort.

Wolves are in CO, so adios future elk population.

Im weary for the hunters not yet born. Whats in their best intrest? I think the Rocky Mnts needs CO OTC Elk opertunity for their sake. But in order to keep the tradition we should probably be united in this. Sadly, we arent. Sadly, were placing self intrest first.

Arron J. - posted 1 week ago on 01-16-2020 11:39:13 pm

Mike R, I'm glad you mentioned Montana. In MT NRs can BOTH hunt a general tag each year AND keep their bonus points. MT and WY also don't restrict NRs to a single general unit. Every general unit in MT and WY (with the exception of wilderness areas within units) can be hunted. (ID doesn't have a bonus point/draw/accrual system, so ID isn't a relevant comparison.) So, guys actually don't burn their points in MT, WY, and ID to hunt low quality OTC units each year. Whether believing NRs would burn 5, let alone 25, bonus points in CO to hunt a low quality OTC unit is fantasy is of course an opinion. You're also agreeing with my point that CO currently treats NRs well. NRs also treat CO well. I was pointing that out and how foolish it is to think CO could change the current system in order to cram all the NRs into lower quality OTC units and believing NRs would burn their bonus points for that privilege, or lack thereof. Maybe a few guys might, but that is doubtful. The more likely outcome is most, if not all, NRs who are banking bonus points while also hunting OTC units would simply stop hunting the OTC units, resulting in a major loss of NR tag revenue (currently 11x the price a resident pays) for the CPW and local economies.

Mike R. - posted 1 week ago on 01-16-2020 06:39:13 pm

Only problem with Arron’s “no one and I mean no one will burn points” argument is that tons of NR do just that in Montana and Wyoming every year. Draw for general hunts. Idaho has caps on elk and everywhere else is a draw so...... it’s a fantasy? NR are absolutely welcome, I hunt NR every year via the process described above. Colorado is the only decent hunting state that treats residents and non Residents the same in otc. When I say decent that means Oregon otc archery does not count.

Arron J. - posted 1 week ago on 01-15-2020 08:55:25 pm

Things could get interesting in CO the next few years. CPW did something clever in 2017 by allowing hunters to just buy a bonus point without having to front the tag fees and WITHOUT buying a big game license. In 2018 when everyone was sucked in with a bonus point, CPW changed the rules to require a big game license purchase of $81.75 (excluding application fees) in order to buy/maintain bonus points. NRs are now looking at 25-29 years to draw a good Ltd Entry elk/deer tag. Do the math on that. That's today. As point creep continues you are looking at a scenario where guys that got in the last couple years may NEVER draw a decent tag in their lifetime. Once NRs figure that reality out, CO residents may just get their wish and have the state all to themselves and $500 deer/elk tags to make up the revenue shortfall and no new hunter recruitment. No one, and I mean no one is going to burn points to hunt a CO OTC elk unit. That is a total fantasy. The best that will do is drive up point creep and/or reduce total revenue from NR hunters. (Not to mention that no one on this thread has cited any numbers that NR hunters are the ones packing the OTC units.) The money lost to local economies in western CO by putting out the Non-Residents Not Welcome sign, i.e. mom and pop hotels, burger joints, outfitters/guides, etc., would also be staggering. Wolves are going to solve the NR nuisance for you CO residents-only guys anyways.

Mike R. - posted 1 week ago on 01-15-2020 06:11:32 pm

Hey Cole, Who is talking about not killing elk? But 28 days to kill one? My grandma kills bulls ever 27 days during Archery season.

Cole W. - posted 1 week ago on 01-15-2020 11:16:43 am

First off I am a non-resident Hunter in every state except mine, which is Texas. I hunt Colorado every year and have for the past six years all OTC and have no problem killing a bull.
I spent 28 days in Colorado this year covering 166 miles all with camp on my back. I called in 12 bulls to bow rang 10 of which over 300”. I hunted 6 different units and 2 I had never set foot in. I only ran into 3 other hunters/ groups archery hunting. Sounds like a bunch of you cry babies that need to do some more hiking. Without our no resident hunter I believe a lot of your state and local land would be sold off or traded due to under funding. I hunt the east coast all the way to the west. The more hunters we have equals our sport staying around for generations to come. Resident license sold in each state are minimal compared to the funding nonresidents give to every state in our nation. Hunt smarter and quit bitching

Gary H. - posted 1 week ago on 01-15-2020 09:56:04 am

I dont recall anyone say it was impossible to kill an elk. Everyone here and everywhere else is clearly in one form or another bitching about the quality of the experience on OTC tags during the archery season.....

matthew a. - posted 1 week ago on 01-15-2020 09:46:17 am
Tampa, FL

I think its hilarious that so many think Colorado OTC is over crowded and impossible to kill an elk. Every time ive hunted CO OTC I had days with no other hunters around and killed a bull.

You can literally walk in a direction and accidentally find elk. This thread sounds like people want have thier cake and eat it too.

Marshall L. - posted 1 week ago on 01-15-2020 09:26:51 am
Grand Junction, CO

If you want to hunt a pumpkin patch, come to Colorado and hunt OTC 2nd and 3rd season.

Gary H. - posted 1 week ago on 01-15-2020 05:00:58 am

I agree with Mike R to an extent.

But I am not one of the queers or hipsters he speaks of....

I would be ok with only hunting Colorado every 2-3 years if the quality of the hunt improved. Right now there is just too many people on the public lands at any one given time. Its ridiculous.

Mike R. - posted 1 week ago on 01-14-2020 08:09:06 pm

All the Non resident hunters seemed to be upset, which is exactly why Colorado needs to go to a draw for non residents for OTC tags. Too many hipster non westerners living in the state as residents first off and letting non residents infiltrate for $660 is ridiculous, ruins the experience for everyone. Montana charges $1000 for two great hunts but you might draw every other year for otc. God forbid Colorado treats resident otc like non resident otc, but wouldn't be surprising with the queer government inplace from the eastern transplants

Chet C. - posted 1 week ago on 01-13-2020 12:54:55 pm

All these people complaining about Colorado, meanwhile states like Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah have similar if not more severe policies and offer less opportunity for non-residents overall. Almost every western state now requires the purchase of a qualifying license to apply for the draw. I fully expect most if not all Colorado archery tags to be draw only in a few years, and rifle tags will likely follow suit in the next decade or so. It'll be sad when that happens, because a lot of young hunters won't be able to hunt every year, maybe not even for several years. I would rather see most GMUs go to a straight draw (no preference points) with the retention of a few OTC areas/ seasons in low success areas or low success times of the year. Preference points and point creep will be the death of western hunting if we aren't careful.

Gary H. - posted 2 weeks ago on 01-10-2020 10:35:31 am

OTC can still be an OTC with caps and a loss in your PP points.

OTC needs to be capped and unit specific first come first serve and when you get the tag you loose your points.

THIS would drastically reduce the point holder pool and bring things back to an order of where people would be able to draw those top tier tags.

The days of building your points while continuing to hunt an OTC unit should end in my opinion. There are just too many people doing it and the point creep is annihilating people.

At a MINIMUM at least dont let people apply for a preference point if they get an OTC tag. That would also help the situation drastically.

Adam S. - posted 2 weeks ago on 01-10-2020 09:16:56 am

I'm looking on the bright side. Higher cost = less applicants = less point creep

matthew a. - posted 2 weeks ago on 01-10-2020 05:45:38 am
Tampa, FL

Theres a big push to abolish CO OTC opertunity. Thats sad, we need to keep that going for generations to come. Alot of families have a tradition there - and I'm not one of them.

Chad M. - posted 2 weeks ago on 01-10-2020 05:22:13 am

Interesting stats. To put these numbers in perspective... I hear a lot of complaining about "too many hunters" in Colorado these days. But Colorado has 215,351 elk hunters spread across six different seasons (archery, muzzleloader, 1st rifle,...etc.), and they have 23 million acres of public land. I live in Missouri, where we have 476,000 firearms deer hunters -- all in the woods simultaneously for a single 9-day season -- with only 1.5 million acres of public land. It doesn't take a genius to see that, even in Colorado, the hunter density sounds like paradise to a Missourian.

Gary H. - posted 2 weeks ago on 01-10-2020 05:11:38 am

Its borderline theft and deception with what is going on in Colorado in the recent years. Anyone that disagrees with me either is ignorant or has their head buried in the dirt.

They NEED to take points for OTC archery and 2nd and 3rd rifle options to get the quality of hunting back to the way it was.

Arron J. - posted 2 weeks ago on 01-09-2020 04:01:37 pm

Not sure what the number is, but probably a multiple of 5 and that is what non-resident hunters plug into local Colorado economies, motels, gas, food, guides, groceries, last-minute supplies, etc. Most of the non-residents that paid (or "burned" is a better way to put it) those fees did so simply for the privilege of buying bonus points, and did not obtain tags previously allocated to residents.

Torre F. - posted 2 weeks ago on 01-09-2020 03:33:51 pm

All surrounding states have great hunting in part that they don't allow this ridiculous amount of non residents to access so many tags. What a joke. Make them wait years like I do for the opportunity to hunt other great states. Hate to say it but Colorado sucks anymore with there game management. MONEY HUNGRY

Arron J. - posted 2 weeks ago on 01-09-2020 02:27:00 pm

On behalf of all non-residents, you're welcome Colorado.

matthew a. - posted 2 weeks ago on 01-09-2020 01:49:56 pm
Tampa, FL

Of the 96 million collected, roughly 60 million came from non residents. Whats that number going to be post wolf introduction? I hope CPW is ready to pay out millions to ranchers for livestock loss; with half the budget they received last year. Great plan guys - bring the GRIZZ too

Kyle G. - posted 2 weeks ago on 01-09-2020 10:36:55 am
Ozark, MO

Do you know what the comparable revenue was from 2017 license sales? I'm curious to see what their 2017-2018 application process changes resulted in.