Hunter opportunity and trophy-quality animals in this area are both doing well. There is a wide variety of big game species to hunt in Colorado. Like everywhere else, the most desired seasons in the famous units will take years to draw, but there are many other units that can be drawn with few preference points, especially for the muzzleloader or archery hunter. The western half of the state is known as the western slope and the eastern half is flat and referred to as the eastern plains. Both have quality deer hunting. Landowner vouchers are a great way to pick up a tag without affecting your preference-point totals.
|General Hunting License||N/A||N/A|
|Resident||Resident Youth||Non Resident||Non Resident Youth|
|Deer Draw (Mule Deer & Whitetail)||$34||$13.75||$379||$103.75|
|Deer Over-The-Counter & Leftover||$31||$10.75||$376||$100.75|
|Elk Over-The-Counter & Leftover||$46||$10.75||$626||$100.75|
|Antelope Over-The-Counter & Leftover||$31||$10.75||$376||$100.75|
|Rocky Mountain Sheep||$254||N/A||$2,084||N/A|
Important dates - Big Game Draw (Deer, Elk, Antelope, Moose)
|Application Deadline||April 4, 2017|
|Application Correction Deadline||April 10, 2017|
|Draw Results||June 1st|
|Tag Return||30 Days Prior to Season|
|Harvesting Reporting Deadline (Mandatory)||N/A|
|Minimum Age to Hunt||12 years old|
|Hunter Education||Required for anyone born on or after January 1st, 1949|
|Hunters Orange||Required for all rifle and muzzleloader hunts, excluding sheep and mountain goat. 500 square inches above the waist. Part must be a hat.|
Getting a nonresident tag
- Draw a tag in the public draw
- Purchase a landowner voucher
Tag lottery (Drawing)
Colorado considers all applicants first choices before they consider any subsequent choice. Typically most of the hunt choices are filled during this first pass and there is usually no need for a second choice on the application. In some cases, hunt choices may go undersubscribed and be eligible to draw as a second, third or fourth choice. If an applicant draws any choice other than their first, then they earn an additional point in addition to receiving a tag.
For rocky mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose, the tags are awarded differently through a weighted point drawing system.
Preference points: Colorado uses preference points for their drawings. With a preference point system, the tags are allocated to the applicants with the most preference points. There is no maximum number of points that an applicant can accumulate for deer, elk and antelope. The maximum number of preference points an applicant can have for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose is three. There are no preference points for desert sheep.
Weighted points: Every subsequent year that an applicant for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose is unsuccessful, they are awarded a weighted point. During the drawing the application is assigned a random number, which is then divided by the number of weighted points accumulated by the applicant, plus one. This will render a new number. The first tag is issued to the applicant with the lowest new number and so on.
- Nonresidents are limited to up to 35% of the total number of tags per hunt code for deer and elk, unless that hunt code has taken six or more preference points to draw
- If a hunt code has taken more than six preference points to draw, then the non resident allocation will be limited to 20% of the total number of tags
- Nonresidents are limited to 10% of the total number of sheep, moose and goat tags
- There is no nonresident limit on antelope
Colorado does not have a separate hunting license to purchase. They do require big game hunters to purchase an annual habitat stamp.
Credit cards are accepted (Visa, Mastercard, and Discover). Credit cards will be charged the entire species license fee applied for at the time you submit your application. If you are unsuccessful in the draw, you will receive a refund less the application and preference point fee.
Hunter Safety is required for any hunters born on, or after, January 1, 1949.
Withdrawing or correcting an application is allowed. Corrections must be done by submitting a form online on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.
Four hunt choices
Four hunt choices are allowed per species, but only the first choice is considered for nearly all hunt choices. Most hunt choices are filled before any second, third and fourth choice is considered. If you draw your first choice, then your preference points will be used. If you draw your second choice, you will build an additional preference point in addition to being drawn. Please read “Tag lottery” and “Nonresident allocation” for details on the drawing process.
- Parties may apply for all species except moose and desert bighorn sheep
- The party application will use the preference points of the group member with the lowest number of points
- Residents and nonresidents may apply together, except for sheep and goat
- When residents and nonresidents apply together and draw, the tags are given out of the nonresident quota
- The number of applicants within a group is unlimited for deer, elk, and antelope
- The maximum number of group applicants for Rocky Mountain sheep and goat is two
- Colorado has a landowner voucher program in place
- Landowners must draw vouchers in a separate drawing exclusively for landowners
- Landowner vouchers are valid for deer, elk and antelope
- Landowner vouchers are transferable one time only
- If you harvest a desert sheep or moose, then you can no longer apply for that species
- If you harvest any mountain goat or a Rocky Mountain bighorn of at least ½ curl, then you have to wait five years until you are permitted to apply again
- There are no waiting periods for deer, elk and antelope
Archery: Hunters may not use crossbows during the archery seasons. Bows must have a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds and no more than 80% let-off. No scopes or electronic devices can be attached to the bow. Only broadheads wider than ⅞” are legal.
Muzzleloader: Muzzleloaders must be a minimum of .40 caliber for deer and antelope and .50 caliber on elk and moose. Only loose form powder that is not smokeless or pelletized is allowed. Sabots are not legal in Colorado. No scopes are allowed, regardless of the magnification. No electronic devices can be attached to the muzzleloader.
Rifle: Only centerfire rifles are legal.
License refund, leftover and returned tags
Changes to license refund, reissue and exchange policies
All license exchanges will be charged a fee of 50% of the cost of the original license, not to exceed $25. Read more here.
There will no longer be a list published ahead of time of available leftover permits. Returned licenses will be placed on the CPW site beginning August 1 and licenses will be added to their website during normal business hours. Leftovers and returned licenses can be picked up by both residents and nonresidents.
- Any license that is returned to CPW that took 5 or more preference points to draw will be manually reissued to the next eligible person based on the residency status of the returned license. So if a resident license is returned, it will be reissued to a resident. If a nonresident license is returned, it will be reissued to a nonresident.
- For each license returned, CPW will contact the next five people from the current year’s draw order.
- If one of those individuals accepts the license from the manual reissue process, all of that person’s preference points will be used.
- If a person has a current conflicting license for that species, they may exchange their current license for the one being offered. The exchange fee will be assessed, which is 50% of the cost of the original license, not to exceed $25.
- If none of those five people accept the license from the manual reissue process, it will be place onto the leftover list at random intervals.
- Any license that is returned to CPW that took fewer than 5 preference points to draw will automatically be placed on the leftover list at random intervals.
- Customers who obtain a license from the leftover list will NOT have to use their preference points.
Items to have ready before the big day
- Those who plan to purchase leftover licenses at license agents or CPW offices should be prepared before they arrive. This will help the process run as efficiently as possible.
- If you are planning on purchasing a license, be sure to have the following:
- Your driver's license/state issued identification card,
- Proof of hunter education: hunter education card or a Colorado hunting license with verified hunter education,
- Your social security number (anyone 12 years of age and older are required to give their social security number, if not already on file),
- Your customer identification number (CID), if you have previously purchased a license in Colorado,
- Proof of residency, if you are planning to purchase a resident license,
- A prioritized list of hunt codes for licenses you are interested in.
If purchasing a license for someone else (can only be done IN PERSON), the buyer must bring the following for the hunter:
- A clear copy of both sides of their driver's license/state issued identification card,
- A clear copy of both sides of t heir hunter education card or a previous Colorado hunting license with verified hunter education,
- Their social security number (anyone 12 years of age and older are required to give their social security number, if not already on file),
- Their customer identification number (CID), if they have previously purchased a license in Colorado,
- A prioritized list of hunt codes they are interested in.
Note: You cannot buy a license for someone else over the phone. The option to buy a license for someone else only works in person.
Returning tags/transferring tags
- You can return your tag prior to the start of the hunt for a refund or a reinstatement of preference points, not both
- If you choose a refund, then your preference points are not reinstated
- If you choose to have your preference points reinstated, then you forfeit your license fee
- Must submit your application at least 30 days prior to opening day
- Archery antelope tags are available over the counter in many units
- Rifle and archery elk tags are available over the counter in many units
- There are no youth-only seasons available
- Up to 15% of the doe antelope, either-sex deer and antlerless-elk tags are reserved for youth ages 12-17
- Youth hunters receive a discount on their deer, elk and antelope licenses